-     09/25/12 I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD. FOR NOW, LET'S BURN
I made it back alive from my first Burning Man experience. Words don't really do it justice, but I did my best to convey at least some of the wonder and amazement that each day on the playa delivers. If you've never been, GO. If you've already been, maybe you need to go back! I know I do. Click the "TRAVEL" button at the top of this page to read all about it and see Ben Cruz's fabulous photos.
-     05/24/12 DO STOP BY MY ITALIAN VILLA NEXT TIME YOU'RE IN UMBRIA
3 day Bachelor Party in Bogota, followed by 4 days in Rome & 6 days at an Umbrian villa plucked straight out of a dream. All in the name of love. Not a bad deal.
CLICK HERE to read all about Italy
I also made a mix just for driving through the Italian countryside that you might dig. You can peep it by clicking the link below: LATEST MIXES
-     MY SENTIMENTS EXACTLY
Wheat pasting I came across on Crosby St recently.
-     WORDS OF WISDOM: THELONIOUS MONK'S SAGE ADVICE, 1960
-     03/02/12 BEING OLD AS DIRT, I FINALLY HAD TO GET READING GLASSES
Old guy is old. I bought a giant fake fur hat to divert attention away from them. Am I doing it right?
-     JULIANBEVAN.COM = YOUR ONE STOP SHOP FOR ALL YOUR BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS
Last October, my dearly beloved Vittoria Serao gave birth to her second child, Victor Parker. She & big poppa Menno asked me to create the birth announcement card, which they printed in Utrecht, Netherlands - where they lay their heads and beds. I was pretty pleased with the end result if I do say so myself. I should note: it was wholly inspired by the previous announcement for the real boss of the family, first child and biggest cheese, Pollux Primrose. All blessings be upon her.
When folded, this is what the front looked like.
Once unfolded and rotated, you saw this.
-     YOU TOO CAN BUILD YOUR VERY OWN NAVAJO TIPI
Last year I spent a weekend in the Catskill mountains helping a group of people prepare for a Native American tipi ceremony. Anne has been down with the Native American Church for several years now and I've slowly been learning more and more about it.
The NAC was founded in Oklahoma in the 1880s as a way of preserving Native American traditions that were on the brink of extinction due to many factors like relocation, government persecution, and the work of Christian missionaries. They have incorporated the traditions of many of the different Indian nations in to their ceremonies. About 30 years ago they began welcoming in outsiders. I am not a practitioner myself, but I've been very impressed by how incredibly compassionate and generous the members of the church are with everyone they encounter. They really seem to practice faith, love, hope, and charity in every single aspect of their lives.
The NAC doesn't hold any kind of weekly services. They only come together when there is a specific person or cause which they feel would benefit from communal prayer. This can be church members in a personal crisis, a health crisis, or even family members going off to Iraq. It can also be for environmental causes of various sorts. I thought it would be cool to go up there for the weekend and learn how to build a tipi. This particular ceremony was for a woman involved in a bitter custody battle with an abusive husband. Many people drove from 3 or 4 states away just to pray for her, and she was a complete stranger. These prayer ceremonies are at least a 12-hour affair, starting at around 7pm and going all night, finishing up in the morning when the medicine man determines that it's finished.
This particular tipi was being run by a Navajo elder, Jake Singer, who showed up early in the morning to supervise the building of the tipi and the fireplace within. Originally from the Navajo reservation in Arizona, he is a decorated Viet Nam veteran and now walks the earth as a medicine man. He is also a very cool dude.
Once the center of the tipi had been determined, a 30-foot circumference was drawn in the dirt using a stick and a piece of rope anchored at the center. Another straight line was drawn in the dirt from the east edge to the west edge of the circle. This created the orientation of the circle and thus the tipi, with the center of the doorway being exactly 0 degrees.
Nineteen wooden poles were standing leaning up against a nearby tree. The poles were long, thin tree trunks, stripped clean of bark and branches, about 8 inches in diameter and 23-26 ft long. The thick base of each had been cut in to a wedge for anchoring in to the ground.
Though the basic framework is essentially a tripod, on this day, four poles of equal length were chosen by Jake to be the basic framework. The Navajo style dictates that 2 poles be set up to form a doorway from the very beginning. The four poles were laid on the ground in a V-shape, two on each side, with the base of the poles on the eastern edge of the circle, and the apex pointing west, bisecting the center line.
The top of the poles formed an intersection about 3 feet from below the end. Jake secured a long rope to intersection point of the first pole. Once the first pole was tied, he moved on to the the next pole, tying it tightly at the same location with the same rope, leaving only a couple inches of slack between each pole. This resulted in four poles that were tied closely together at the intersection, with the same rope, yet could move independent of one another.
We then lifted the apex of the poles and walked them upright. The closer we got to vertical, the more difficult they became to steady. Once upright, the base of two poles were spaced 3 feet apart at the east edge of the circle, forming a doorway, while the base of the two remaining poles are dragged around the circle until they are equidistant from each other and the door, roughly 120 and 440 degrees. This established the framework.
After the framework was up, one by one, we placed the base of remaining poles at the edge of the circle and gently leaned them down in to the cradle formed by the intersection. This was done clockwise, as is everything with tipis, both inside and out. There is a specific protocol for just about everything.
It took two or three men per pole to keep them from falling over - at least for the white folk. Pete Yazzie, my Navajo brother, had no problem placing the poles all by himself. He is also a very awesome individual.
After four poles were placed, Jake would take the long rope that was anchored to the intersection and run it around the outside of the circle, securing the new poles tight to the intersection. He did this at a surprisingly swift speed, with a big smile on his face. There was no question he had been doing this his entire life.
Next was the biggest, longest pole, which had the huge piece of heavy canvas covering already attached to it. The base of this had to be placed at the 180 degree mark opposite the doorway, and then lowered down in-between the two doorway poles. It was insanely heavy and very precarious to place. If you let it loosen from its anchor in the ground, it swings upwards with tremendous force, like a trebuchet. It almost took a few mofos heads off more than once.
Once we finally got it, we then unwrapped the canvas and stretched it around either side of the framework. It already had a doorway cut out of one side, and once unfurled, the two sides met up perfectly where our two doorway poles sat. Wooden stakes stitch the two sides of the covering together.
More wooden stakes anchor the base of the covering in to the ground.
Once the covering was staked in, we went inside the tipi and pushed each pole out as far as we could, creating a taught skin. This is done for both structural integrity and best acoustics for singing and drumming.
The final piece of the puzzle is threading two long poles through the external flaps that cover the hole at the top of the tipi. These two poles wrap around either side and can be adjusted to let light in or adjust for the direction the wind.
Pete seemed pleased with our ability to follow instructions.
Once completed, the two flaps form the shape of eagles wings, with the intersection of the door poles representing the eagle's head.
So there you have it! Just a few hours later, the sun went down and the real fun began.
-     THE SPIRIT'S IN IT
About 10 years ago I crossed paths professionally with a guy named Kendrick Reid. I was an art director at Eyeball NYC and he was the Creative Director of Comedy Central. We started working together on show opens and network identity stuff. Very soon in to our working relationship, we discovered we both shared a love for house music (the black kind). I was a Shelter head and he was a Paradise Garage veteran and Hubert St Shelter head from way back. I started giving him mixes and we soon became fast friends. These days I count him on a short list of people I'd gladly give my life for. He's a solid brother.
A year or two after we met, Kendrick casually mentioned to me that his dream DJ Julian mix would be all gospel house (!). This sounded nuts to me, as I don't exactly walk with the lord on a regular basis. However, in the last decade or so I've hung around enough house clubs at 6am on a Sunday morning to grow to love my share of gospel house music. When played at the right moment, it's just the thing for what ails you. Not to mention, it can really get a NY crowd in to a frenzy. After all, it's really a direct link to the roots of American music and the great aural tapestry black folks began weaving 400 years ago. To love black music is to not only love the Blues, but to love Gospel as well. There's no escaping it.
Though Kendrick only mentioned his mix request one or two more times in passing, in the back of my mind, I always did intend to complete it. Maybe because we've had so many spirited debates about religion over the years. Maybe cuz I got a little spirit in me after all. Fast forward to the very end of 2011 and I'll be damned if I didn't I finally get this mix together. So if you feel the need for some Jesus in your ears, you can download your own Sunday service below.
click to stream- right click/control click to download
Reverend James Cleveland mixtape intro
The Djoon Experience feat Kenny Bobien - Old Landmark (Joe Clausell's Mission For Today mix)
Jasper Street Company - He's Alright (138 EDIT)
VMC - The Rock
VMC - The Rock (Piano Dub)
DJ Romain & Darryl D'Bonneau - It's The Spirit (83 West Mix)
Children of the underground feat Tracy Brathwaite - Oh Happy Day
Shawn Christopher - You Can Make It (B's Preacher Man Mix)
Ann Nesby - So Much Joy
Kenny Bobien - Father (Frankie Feliciano Remix)
Bebe Winans - Thank You
Michael Watford - Michael's Prayer
Patti Labelle - The Spirit's In It
Ann Nesby - Praisin' His Name (Grant Nelson remix)
Peven Everett - Church
Copyright - He Is (138 EDIT)
Melba Moore - My Heart Belongs To You
Voices feat Dawn Tallman, Michelle C Jeffries, & S Pope - Can You See The Light
Barbara Tucker - I Get Lifted (The Bar Dub)
Donna Allen - He Is The Joy (138 EDIT)
Kenny Bobien - I Shall Not Be Moved
Celestial Choir - Stand On The Word
Aretha Franklin - Mary Don't You Weep
Even better than my holy mixtape, in my search for gospel tracks old and new, I rediscovered an album that's been sitting on my record shelves for years. Aretha Franklin's "Amazing Grace" (1972 Atlantic Records).
Brothers and sisters, I cannot say enough great things about this record. The 8 minute version of "Mary Don't You Weep" is worth the price of admission alone. Aretha recorded this in her own church, The New Temple Missionary Baptist Church, in Los Angeles in 1972, at the peak of her abilities. The album went on to win the grammy and become the highest selling gospel album of all time. It was remastered and re-released in 1999 as a two disc set of the complete un-edited recordings. Even if you don't love the lord, you will probably love this record.
-     HAND SKILLZ FOR DAYZ
Last year while wandering the Lower East Side some random Thursday, I happened upon a gallery opening - the U.S. premier showing of Iraqi-born Dubai-dwelling calligrapher Wissam Shawkat. Jeff Staple had brought him over to Reed Space to show the NYC graf scene how this cat gets down. I was truly blown away. Like the title says: dude has hand skillz for dayz.
check out more of his work HERE
-     4TH OF JULY, 2011. I GUESS I WAS FEELING IT
pic by Fabiana Viso
-     11/28/10 VENI VIDI VICI
these photos were taken by Kevin D HartnellSee more of his work HERE
Well, it finally all happened. After three intense months of strategy, coordination, and preparation (mental, physical, & musical), the Sluggo reunion finally happened. And from our perspective at least, it was nothing short of AMAZING.
I think I can safely speak for the entire band when I say that we are all still reeling from the whole experience. Everything came together so perfectly that night that we can still hardly believe it.
The crowd that showed up for the 2010 Jockey Club reunion was truly inspiring. So many old friends came out of the woodwork, not only from all over Cincinnati, but the country as well. Friends from San Francisco, Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and elsewhere. We felt so much love in the room, it was impossible to not give everything we had in return. A few people told me Sluggo was the first band they ever saw at The Jockey Club. A kid in his late 20s told me had bought our "Contradiction" EP when he was thirteen and he had been waiting fifteen years to see us. There was even a handful of young kids who knew the words to the old songs. It was so fucking cool. We want to thank all of you for making this reunion one of the most epic nights on stage that any of us can remember.
It's hard for me to convey just how much this gig meant to all of us. What started out as almost a lark back in August, grew to mythic proportions in just a few short months. None of us really anticipated how wonderful it would be to get back together after all these years and play Sluggo songs. As friends. As musicians. As former hardcore disciples now (sort of) grown up. We had so much fun just reconnecting with each other, let alone the music, we hardly wanted it all to end.
And yet, for these past three months, there was this Nov 20 date looming in all of our minds. We only had ONE hour. ONE shot to get it right. Every song had to be perfect. Every note. Every change up. Everything. And the Tshirts had to be awesome. And the banner had to be big enough. And we needed enough stickers. And to make matters worse, Ben Cruz & I had committed to filming the event and professionally recording it on a 24 track hard disk. So it was no longer just a gig. It was the ONLY gig. And it was the gig that would be preserved on film and on tape, for all eternity. I think it damn near consumed some of us.
As the day finally approached, I kept saying to the other guys "I just want this shit to happen, already!" I really did. We were incredibly eager to relieve this weight, and just get out there and see if we could deliver at the level we had convinced ourselves was possible. A Jockey Club Reunion means a lot to us. The JC was our home, and is fused within our DNA forever. Performing for the JC crowd is an honor that we all took very seriously, and we were eager to prove ourselves to the hometown crowd, not to mention all the friends and family in attendance.
When it finally came time to hit the stage, we all understood it was now or never. These past three months had lead us to this point. Now, we just had to fucking bring it home.
My own performance aside, as the lead singer, I can say with full confidence that the Sluggo rhythm section really delivered the best Sluggo set I ever heard. The band was just incredibly tight and ferocious. When all players jumped in at full speed, the sound and fury was undeniable. And the thunderous stops on a dime were so precise, I was just awe struck. I heard the same reaction from so many people afterwards. Richard Hell, who flew in from New York, kept asking me "How on earth did those guys get so tight in just a few weeks?". Praise from Caesar, indeed. Chris Donnelly had worked tirelessly for months to craft the perfect set. The right Sluggo songs. The right covers. In the right order. At the right speed. We all followed his lead. Eric Moreton was just a fucking beast on drums. He pulled so many little fills and accents out of his bag of tricks that very night, it was if he had just been toying with us during rehearsals. Tom Byrne played possum for weeks as well, then came out all guns blazing the night of the show (I knew he was gonna pull that shit). Karl Meyer was at his precision best, pouring molasses all over the chunky guitar riffs to create that Sluggo crunchiness that we had all come to expect. Peter Aaron rounded out the latter half of the set with his signature wild abandon and classic, teeth-grinding stance that just screams rock n roll.
As for myself, I hadn't been on stage singing in front of a crowd in 25 years. I was insanely nervous up until the very moment we walked on stage. Once up there, I just decided to cast off my fears, get lost in the moment, and play the gig like it was my last night on earth. And it felt like the crowd was really with us, which just made it easy. We walked off stage just entranced. All of us agreed, it simply could not have gone better.
Again, I cannot thank you guys enough. The crowd at the Southgate that night really made it all worth it. Just a perfect storm of awesomeness from all sides.
On top of all that, all of the bands that played that night delivered a great show.
Uncle Dave Lewis kicked things off with the Wolverton Brothers backing him up. Dave hadn't changed a bit. I'm glad to report he's still the provocative oddball he always was, and his music sounds as original now as it did 30 years ago. He's one of Cincinnati's true mavericks. I was trying to get up the courage to confess to him that Chris D & I used to prank call him when we were 14. We had seen some skit of his on his public access show that involved him begging for money on the street, and we would call him up and whisper in to the phone "can I get a quarter for a cheese sandwich?". The Wolverton Brothers were in fine form, and it was great talking to Tim Schwallie, who I hadn't seen in years.
The Speed Hickeys hit the stage next, and really impressed the hell out of everybody. Rick Hickey is one mean mother fucking guitarist. And he makes it look so effortless too! It'd been a long time since I had seen a three piece get up and deliver that great of a show, and I didn't even know one song. Everyone in Sluggo was raving about them.
SS-20 brought it all home with a great set of classics and new material. All of us in Sluggo were so fucking high from the adrenaline rush of the show, we couldn't even understand how Chris could manage to play yet another blazing hardcore set 30 minutes later. But blaze he did. Jughead was thankfully the same old Jughead, and was as kind and gracious to me as ever. He really took Sluggo under his wing from the very beginning, and made us little punk-ass kids feel welcome in that dark, seedy club in Newport filled with freaks and weirdos twice our age. It was great to see him still out there giving them hell. The die hard fans were loving it.
Overall, it was a perfect night. All of us in Sluggo want to sincerely thank Chuck & Betsy from Aurore Press for including us in this year's Jockey Club Reunion. We had more fun than anyone can imagine.
The Sluggo documentary is well underway. Just a few more interviews and we get in to editing. I'll keep you posted on the progress in the coming months. Now, time for me to get back to making some DJ mixes god dammit.
-     RADIO FREE SLUGGO 88.3 ON YOUR AM DIAL
Two days before the Southgate show, Karl, Tom & I stopped by the "On The Way To The Peak of Normal" show on WAIF Cincinnati to tell some old punk rock stories and spread the word about the gig. We show up at about 1:06.00 in the recording.CHECK IT OUT
-     11/10/10 POSTER FOR THE SLUGGO REUNION - ONLY 10 DAYS AWAY!
Thank god this show is finally almost here. I have about 20 friends and family flying in to Cincinnati just for the gig. I feel insanely lucky for the opportunity to get back together with these guys. It's been an incredibly fun 3 months. Stickers, Tshirts, and a banner are all being printed this week. I've been documenting the whole process in glorious HD with my boy Ben Cruz, and we hope to make some kinda movie out of it when it's all said and done. Stay tuned for some clips after we shoot the live show. Be there or be lame.
-     SOME ANCIENT PHOTOS FROM 1983
Karl recently scanned these in. Taken at our practice space in 1983. I was 14 at the time. Fresh faced indeed. I used to make my own graphics on Tshirts with sharpees. In the photo I'm wearing a shirt with a big iron cross that says "Wonderama" on it. Iron Crosses were the most punk rock of all symbols and Wonderama was about the least punk rock TV show in history. I guess I too had a penchant for irony.
We took this photo as a joke, posing like our heros, Minor Threat, from the back cover of their 1981 EP "In My Eyes"
-     08/13/10 FROM THE PUNK VAULT: BEFORE MUSIC BLOGS, THERE WERE THESE THINGS CALLED FANZINES
A long time ago, in a midwestern town far, far away, I had my own fanzine. I was 14, and opinionated, and all the cool kids were doing it, so why not me?
I started my own punk rock fanzine at age 14. I named it "Payson Briggs", after this goofy kid in my middle school. He was actually a very nice kid - just a bit goofy. And he had a weird name. And I guess it was an inside joke between my best friend and I, so that was the name. After Payson's father got wind that there was an independent magazine (LOL) named after his son, he called me up and threatened to sue me if I didn't change the name. So I promptly changed it to Poison Briggs, and I published five issues between the fall of 1983 and the spring of 1985.
Having a punk rock fanzine was the most awesome thing in the world, because it gave you a reason to connect with other fanzine creators from all over the country (and the world). You'd mail them your zine, they'd mail you their zine. Most of them were free. There was no money to be made. The only cost was postage. We were all motivated by pure creativity - and, even better, connectivity. Through the fanzine I made punk rock friends from all over. We would trade photos and stickers and flyers and cassettes. We would write content for each other: record reviews, show reviews, breakfast ceral reviews, scene reports. If I was in their town, I could crash at their house, and they could crash at mine. Through the zine, I knew what has happening in the punk underground in almost every major city in the country.
And this was all done through the U.S. Mail if you can believe it. We had no worldwide web, so we just improvised one anyway. Coming home from school at age 14, to find a huge stack of mail waiting for you almost every day, was really cool. You felt like you were part of something bigger than yourself. An underground movement.
My zine was made by hand - laid out with glue and scotch tape, then xeroxed at a local printing shop. I typed the first three issues on the family typewriter. By the fourth issue, we had gotten our first Macintosh, so I switched to dot matrix printing. What I didn't create myself, I cut out of magazines and newspapers and pasted in the blank spaces of each page. This could be anything from random headlines taken out of context, snippets of news articles, cutouts from religious pamphlets - you name it. Everything was fair game. I was inspired first and foremost by Winston Smith, the master collage artist of the Dead Kennedys. His impact on the graphic sensibilities of the hardcore generation cannot be overstated. And all of this meticulous laying out of elements was surely a big factor in me ending up being a professional graphic designer.
I started out printing about 50 copies - giving them to friends and mailing them to other zine creators. By the last issue, I was up to about 300 copies, and I was getting requests from all over the world (if you can believe it...). Punk rockers had a unusual thirst for knowledge of what was going on elsewhere. We wanted to know every band, every flyer, every sticker of everything punk, no matter where it was. There was so much to uncover, and so much great music. And again, nobody made a DIME from any of it. So there was nothing to ruin it (yet).
I recently dug up the original layouts for all five issues from that aforementioned magic box of hardcore memorabilia in my parents' attic. I present them to you here, unedited. My next project is to start scanning in all the OTHER fanzines I still have from that era, from Cincinnati and beyond. Stayed glued to your computer screens for the latest postings!
CLICK to view issue - if the blog page is still loading, these zines might take a minute to load, so please be patient
CLICK to view issue
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-     FROM THE PUNK VAULT: SLUGGO INTERVIEW FROM JANUARY 1985
This is from an Athens, Ohio fanzine called "Incentive"
-     FROM THE PUNK VAULT: SQUIRREL BAIT, MAURICE, & THE LOUISVILLE SCENE
Disclaimer: My knowledge of the entire scope of Louisville hardcore is admittedly very thin, as my exposure was limited to the years 1983-1986, and I only really knew a few mother fuckers. For a better overview of the complete history, I urge you to check out this very thorough site
In the hardcore days of my youth, just about every surrounding city of any size had some kind of a scene. Columbus. Dayton. Athens. Akron. Indianapolis. Lexington. Etc. Outside of Cincinnati, the scene I was most familiar with was Louisville, due to my relationships with a couple local bands.
Louisville has a rich history of punk starting in the late 70s, growing out of the Louisville School of Art scene and a local hangout called 1069 Bardstown Road. This scene spawned groups like The Babylon Dance Band, No Fun, The Endtables, Your Food, and The Dickbrains, among many others. Most of these bands had broken up by the time I was old enough to know about them, but my Louisville friends spoke of them all with great reverence.
Babylon Dance Band
above photos/flyers stolen from:
The grand daddies of Louisville Hardcore in 1983 were Malignant Growth. Starting in 1979, "The Growth" developed a loyal following throughout the underground punk scene of the entire midwest. Though they only recorded one demo tape to my knowledge, their live shows were nothing short of epic. I mostly caught them opening for national touring acts at the Jockey Club, where they always left a lasting impression. They only ever released a demo tape, which is considered quite rare.
Two other bands that The Growth had seemingly taken under their wing were Squirrel Bait and Maurice. My crew and I bonded with the Squirrel Bait and Maurice guys pretty much instantly. We were all the same age, from similar backgrounds, and shared strikingly similar tastes in music and zines and punk rock in general.
David Grubbs from Squirrel Bait was one of those kids who, the instant you met him, you knew he was the smartest guy in the room. Even at 17, he seemed wise beyond his years, and he was helping shape Squirrel Bait's sound in to something that was already moving well beyond the narrow thashy confines of hardcore punk. Within the decade, the Squirrel Bait guys would go on to form a host of bands like Slint and Gastr Del Sol, who are now counted among foundation cornerstone bands of post rock/indie rock/math rock/etc. David is now a professor of music at Brooklyn College, as well as enjoying a solo career as a singer/songwriter. I really need to go look his ass up one of these days.
Squirrel Bait released two records and one posthumous 7". The 1985 "Squirrel Bait EP" and the 1987 "Skag Heaven", both on Homestead Records, and the 1989 "Motorola Cloudburst" on Ajax Records. Their records went largely unnoticed outside of our tri-state scene until people like Bob Mould from Husker Du and Evan Dando from the Lemonheads starting praising them in mainstream mags like Spin. They did manage to tour for a bit before breaking up in 1988. Their reputation has only grown since then. I guess I can say "I'm proud to have know them when...".
HIT THE TRAIL FANZINE
David also had his own fanzine, Hit The Trail, which if you read it now, displays a shocking level of professional writing considering his age. I only managed to save these four issues below.
CLICK to view issues 4,5,6,7
if the blog page is still loading, these zines might take a minute to load, so please be patient
Maurice were equally on their own planet, both musically and mentally. I remember that I used to think of them as the midwest version of the DC band Void. Heavy, confusing, and almost scary. Your reaction to a Maurice show would invariably be nothing short of "WTF?!", because they were just that weird. I became very good friends with Sean "Rat" Garrison, the singer. He was a super intense person, screamingly funny, and totally fucking insane. We traded music and fanzines and drawings and spent hours on the phone talking bullshit about The Misfits and movies and cool looking skeletons.
Maurice never released any recordings other than a few home made cassettes, which are considered very rare. If anybody out there reading this has one, I would LOVE to hear it.
After Maurice broke up, Rat and Mike Bucayu went on to form Kinghorse, who got signed to Caroline and developed a heavy following until they disbanded in 1995. Drummer Britt Walford and guitarist David Pajo went on to form Slint and Tortoise and a bunch of other widley heralded bands of the post rock/math rock genre. David Pajo now has a solid solo career as a singer/songwriter. Not sure who Britt is playing with these days.
Rat and I lost touch, sadly, but I have always counted him as one of my greatest childhood acquaintances, if for no other reason than I have never met anybody remotely like him since. Nor do I expect I ever will. Rat, if you're out there, get at me dog.
Rat & Glenn Danzig
BORN TO LOSE FANZINE
Rat too had a fanzine, which may be a bit much to absorb for those unfamiliar with him. But to know him is to love him. I think there were nine issues in total but I only have these six. I even drew the cover illustration for issue #6 because I was just that cool.
CLICK to view issues 2,3,4,5,6,7
if the blog page is still loading, these zines might take a minute to load, so please be patient
bands spawned from Squirrel Bait/Maurice
-     FROM THE PUNK VAULT: SOME OTHER CINCINNATI FANZINES
Chris Donnelly, Sluggo guitarist, had his own fanzine called "Fish", which is what inspired me to create mine. I think he may have only ever published five issues. I only saved three of them, and I think my issue #3 is missing all of the interview pages.
CLICK to view issues 1,3,5
if the blog page is still loading, these zines might take a minute to load, so please be patient
"Sub Cin" was pretty professionally put together, and was very dedicated to showcasing the local talent. I don't know how many issues were published. I only have the first in its entirety.
CLICK to view issue 1
I have a bunch more Cincy zines that I will add to this blog posting, either as selected highlights or whole issues, once I scan them all in.
-     08/08/10 FROM THE PUNK VAULT: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SLUGGO
I recently dug up a treasure trove of punk rock memories from a box in my parents' attic. Lots of photos, flyers, stickers, vinyl, fanzines, and even my very first spiked wristband. This is all from about 1983-1985. I've gone through a bunch of the Sluggo stuff, of which there is sadly very little of. Most of it I include here. Check the rest of this month's blog post for a sampling of other archives from the midwestern hardcore scene. I have yet to delve in to the fanzines, which I hope to scan in and post for all the world to see sometime later this month. Some of the dates below may be way off. I'll be able to more acurately date stuff after I re-group with these guys in the fall.
Sluggo was formed in the fall of 1983. I met Chris when I first transferred to Walnut HIlls High School, at the beginning of 9th grade.
I was aware that there were a few other punk kids at school, but I was very shy, and didn't really know how to meet any of them. As luck would have it, Chris one day reached out to me at lunchtime, asking me what the hell I knew about the band Seattle hardcore Poison Idea. I knew very little about Poison Idea, but I had drawn their logo with a sharpee on the left thigh of my favorite pair of jeans anyway. I had recorded a handful of their songs off of "Search & Destroy", the only punk radio show within 500 miles. One week prior to meeting Chris, I had gone to see The Necros in Indianapolis, and I had memorized the layout of the Poison Idea logo from a sticker on the Necros' drum kit. I think my photographic memory for logos impressed Chris, as he was also in to graphic design like me. We became friends, and within a couple of months, he asked me if I'd be interested in auditioning to be the singer in a new hardcore band he was forming. I went down to their practice space in some weird building downtown, where Andrew was living at the time, and I dutifully sang the lyrics I was given. My best friend David Hinsch, also auditioned. I got the gig, and our friendship never really recovered.
Karl, and Andrew had grown up together with Chris in Hyde Park, a neighborhood just a few minutes away from where I lived in North Avondale. I think all three of them had gone to the same elementary school and high school, at least for a time. Andrew was not really a hardcore punk kid like the rest of us, He was just Karl's friend, and he liked music, so he was game to try anything. I remember he used to listen to a Zapp's third album in his car a lot, which had just come out. I still love that record. Karl was the real motivational force behind the band. He was organized and determined, he could play the bass, and he had his own car. That's all you really needed to start a band. He had a quirky quality to him, kind of like an old man trapped in a young kid's body, but he was incredibly nice to me and I soon became fast friends with all of them.
the original 1983/early 84 lineup from L to R:
Karl Meyer - bass
Me - vocals
Andrew Hamilton - drums
Chris Donnelly - guitar
I'm pretty sure the above photo was taken at a loft party of sorts at our second rehearsal space, which was down on 2nd st, near the river, just past that McDonalds-lookin' bridge. We did a few gigs there from what I recall. There was a running joke in the U.S. hardcore scene about all punk bassists wearing a Black Flag "My Rules" T shirt. I don't really know how it got started, but Karl insisted on wearing it as much as possible. I think it was an early attempt at irony on our part.
The second, and longest lasting lineup, Spring 84 - Fall 85 (I think)
clockwise from top
Me - vocals
Chris Donnelly - guitar
Eric Moreton - drums
Tom Byrne - bass
I think these photos were taken at the Jockey Club in 1985 by David Gonzalez.
After Andrew quit, we found Eric Moreton to take over on drums. He is a super-sweet, very soft-spoken guy, and yet he could play nice and loud, so he was a perfect fit.
For a short period, Karl moved to second guitar and Pete Wegele (formerly Tommy Rott, now Peter Aaron) played bass. Pete was going to college in Boston at the time, so he was never really around for more than a few months at a time. Prior to this, He had lived in New Jersey, where he started a band in 1980 called Sand In The Face. SITF continued to make music after he moved to Cincinnati in about 1982. Pete later moved to New York City, changed his name to Peter Aaron, and founded The Chrome Cranks, who made noise all over the world for over a decade, and recently got back together to play some sold out shows in New York. I ran in to him for the first time in many moons last year at the Boris show, at All Tomorrow's Parties. We had both just come from seeing a Husker Du reunion set with Bob Mould and No Age, so the timing was perfect.
Tom Byrne was the former bassist of Human Sufferage from Columbus. I think they had recently disbanded around the time that Tom went to college at Miami University (of Ohio) in the Fall of 1984. I think Chris got in touch with him and he agreed to join the band. He also had a van, which for a punk band was as good as having our own 747. We had met Human Sufferage when they played the all ages show that Karl & Clem had put together at the South Fairmont Community Center in March of 84. I think Squirrel Bait was originally supposed to headline but I don't remember what happened.
Sluggo made two additional demos, one with that final lineup, but eventually broke up in the Fall of 1985. I think we just kind of ran out of steam. Chris & I were drifting apart as friends and I was growing increasingly more distracted by my desire to see a real live girl naked.
Chris went on to form The Mimis, and later on Shag - a roots funk band that built a huge following in the midwest and toured the country for most of the 90s. He most recently played with the re-formed Gang Green at last year's JC Reunion in Cincinnati.
Eric Moreton went on to found the highly acclaimed Middlemarch in the 90s, as well as many other bands since. He's currently playing in The Readystance in Cincinnati.
Tom Byrne went on to found The Highwaymen in the late 80s. He's currently playing in Kentucky Overflow in Dayton, which includes Don Thrasher, formerly of Guided By Voices.
So all of these guys have kept at it musically for their entire lives. Yelling in to a microphone with no real singing ability only goes so far, so I became a DJ instead. Go figure.
The first sticker we ever made, screen printed on vinyl
some later stickers. I think I was the one who suggested we use that kid from the Captain Crunch gang. WTF was his name anyway? Nelson? Not sure. I think Chris might have done the second one. or maybe he laid out both. Can't recall. We printed these cheaply on xerox sticker paper. i still have a few lying around.
The Contradiction EP, front and back covers. We recorded the 8 song EP on Dec 17th, 1983 at Group Effort Sound Studios. I think it was the first time any of us was in a recording studio. Karl formed a record label, Shag Dog, and we printed 1000 copies. We paid for it with money that Karl's grandparents gave him. or something like that. Maybe it was $600. Or maybe $1000. Whatever it was, it was a king's ransom to a bunch of 14-16 year olds. The name Shag Dog came from some graffiti that was written on a wall in green house paint just outside of Mt Lookout Square in Cincinnati.
Christ & Karl wrote most of the songs and the lyrics. I only wrote the lyrics to one song, Suburban Haven, which are still a source of embarrassment to me 25 years later.
One of the greatest days of my life was the day that Maximum Rock N Roll, the bible of American punk rock in the 80s, gave our record a good review. I saved the issue. You can read the review and a few others below.
Hard to believe our record came out the same month as Sonic Youth's first EP. We even had an offer to sign to their label Homestead at one point, thanks to Squirrel Bait going to bat for us. Like idiots, we passed on the offer, because Homestead said our record wouldn't come out for a year. So essentially, we passed up a chance to be one of a handful of bands on that historic label that is now credited as being the very foundation of modern indie rock. Ah, youth. Corrosion of Conformity tried to get us signed to Metalblade instead, but the label didn't bite. I often think how radically different my entire life would have been had either of those deals gone through. The road we take is long and winding, ain't it? No regrets. No remorse. Isn't that the name of a Metallica song?
The Steve Goodrich skatepunk version of the paper sleeve to the Contradiction EP. I think I only ever made one or two of these. Probably just one. I had taken some photos of my friend Steve Goodrich skating at the D.O. banks in Clifton, and I though it would make a good alternate cover for the record. I think the only people who ever even saw this was Steve, myself, Chris, and Pete Wegele, the first record collector that I ever knew. Pete immediately recognized its future value to punk archivists like himself. I just made it out of boredom cuz I liked the photos.
On the right is the test pressing of the EP that I still have. Blue label. Completely blank. I don't think it's ever been played. The inscription in the run-out is the same pressing number as the original 7": 312037-A and 312037-B
Sing along at the Jockey Club. Faces I seem to recognize from L to R: Nathan Hodge (maroon shirt), Chris Mashburn (white Tshirt, leaning in, back towards camera), Chris Thomas, Me, David Gonzalez, Steve Hull, Chris Donnelly. The person in the flannel shirt behind Steve could certainly be John Randolph but we'll never really know.
That's all I have for now. I will make it my mission to collect more stuff from the other band members in the coming months. I'll say this much: It's really cool to look through a box of stuff from 25 years ago and still remember so many details. Thank god I had the foresight (and sentimentality) to save so much of it.
-     FROM THE PUNK VAULT: SLUGGO FLYERS
Comments forthcoming on some of these gigs once my memory gets jogged a bit more
-     FROM THE PUNK VAULT: SOME FLYERS FOR OTHER BANDS/SHOWS OF THAT ERA
These flyers are a mix of my own meager collection and a bunch that I grabbed from other sites on the web. The one thing that is so obvious to me looking through these flyers is just how great of an influence Winston Smith was on the graphic design of the punk movement. His collage work for the Dead Kennedys was the fundamental design building block of every fanzine and flyer ever made in the 80s. There were certainly other artists as well. Andy Palmer, who did a lot of the artwork for the UK band Crass, and almost single handedly introduced stencil art to a new generation of disaffected youth. (credited with reviving the anarchy symbol, so popular amongst us punks). Also: Raymond Pettibon, Shawn Kerri, Gary Panter, Jamie Reid, Pushead, Cynthia Connolly - to name but a few.
MDC was the first punk band I ever saw live. It was actually not this particular gig. This was about a month or so later. The first time I saw them was outside in Columbus Ohio at a Rock Against Racism concert. They played with the Crucifucks, but all I can remember is being completely blown away by them. Though I had been listening to punk rock for a year or so, I had never seen that kind of energy and anger up close. It blew me away. Having gone to a real live show, and bought an album directly from band in the back of their van, I finally felt like a real punk rocker. My life would never be the same.
A month later they played again in Dayton and I drove up there with one of my creepy older comrades from the Communist Party (long story). Rebel Truth and Adhereance played as well, and they were both great. But to tell you the truth, I think I liked any live band at that moment, because it was all so new to me.
This is the second show I ever went to. At the time, I only knew one other punk rocker on the entire planet, and that was my best friend David Hinsch. At that time, the only lifeline that connected us to the hardcore punk world at large was Handsome Clem Carpenter's weekly "Search & Destroy" show on 88.3 WAIF am. Clem hosted the show with this weird kid named "Hockey Punk". I taped the show religiously, and used to literally slam dance in the dark in my bedroom while my parents were downstairs wondering WTF was happening to their son.
Clem would always announce all of these punk shows, both in Cincinnati and the greater tri-state area, and I was dying to get out there and experience more live music. One week I summoned up the courage to call the radio station and just beg Hockey Punk for a ride to the Necros show in Indianapolis. He was a bit taken aback, but with some pleading he finally agreed to it. He told me to wait outside of Wizards Records early Saturday evening and he would come by with a van and pick me up. Lucky for me, my parents were cool enough to let me travel to another state with a bunch of people I didn't even know.
I had my Mom drop me off at the record store. Within minutes a light blue van pulled up. A large weird kid in a hockey jersey got out. He looked nothing at all l like I had pictured him from his voice on the radio. He was oversized for his age, he had this terrible bowl haircut, and he somehow had the face of a 35 year old man on the body of a big clumsy kid. His voice was unmistakable. He waved me over to the van and I got in. There was no windows on the side of the van and no seats. Jackie Repellent was driving. She had black spiky hair like Stiv Bators, and she was the most punk rock girl I had ever met. I think here was a fourth person in the van, but I can't remember who he was.
We drove to this warehouse in Indianapolis and caught the whole show. Malignant Growth was great. The Necros were fucking amazing. I bought a Tshirt from them that I wore every other day for the next year.
I don't even know if The Subhumans even showed up for this, because all I remember is Scream. There was about 35 people in the entire Jockey Club, but Scream was fucking fantastic. Since the breakup of Minor Threat, Scream was really flying the flag for Dischord and DC Hardcore at the time. I'm pretty sure this was before Dave Grohl from Nirvana was in the band. I bought their album at the show, which I still have to this day.
I remember Die Kreuzen brought their own smoke machine, and it was one of those smoke machines that just smelled awful. The singer had an amazing blood curdling scream that he could somehow maintain for an entire set. Their music was heavy and dirgey and noisy as fuck. I think their first full length album had just recently come out. Prior to that, I only really knew a few songs from their classic "Cows And Beers" EP.
I made this flyer from an Albrecht Durer engraving that I xeroxed at the pubilc library. Dr. Know was one of those Oxnard bands on the Mystic label that seemed to be ubiquitous in 1985.
This was the second of the two Dead Kennedys shows at the Jockey club. My band Sluggo had opened up the night before. Musical Suicide were our main rivals as far as billings. When I met Jello before the gig he made some very dismissive, condescending about how he had heard there was some kind of local rivalry going on about who would open for them on what night. Fuck that guy. Active Ingredients was a great band from Lexington who we were friends with.
Dave and Peter from Squirrel Bait had been raving about Big Black for months before this gig. Come to think of it, they might have even arranged the entire gig with Big Black so that they could finally open for their idols. Squirrel Bait was great, as always. Big Black really impressed me. There was absolutley nobody doing this kind of abrasive noise punk at the time. At least not like this. Steve Albini was this weird super nerdy guy, but his antagonistic stage presence was intimidating. He sang weird songs about rape and incest and all sorts of fucked up sexual shit that I couldn't quite wrap my head around at age 15. Still, I was very conscious that this was some new kind of punk rock that nobody really fully understood yet. Little did any of us know how influential he would grow to be on the entire planet.
After the show, Big Black, Squirrel Bait, and Sluggo all went to somebody's apartment in Clifton Heights and shot off fireworks til the wee hours of the morning. Why somebody had fireworks in May is anybody's guess.
The Circle Jerks were an epic live band, and Keith Morris was one of my personal heroes. He had a cast on his right leg for the entire show. I remember him saying that he was drunk and stoned and fell off of a water tower in Southern California.
Articles of Faith were another band I really looked up to. To me, Vic Bondi always seemed like this punk rock war veteran from the late 70s . He really knew how to command a crowd. At the show I bought a purple funeral arm band with the band's logo printed on it. I wore it to school every day for a month. My mom kept telling me that it was weird and creepy to wear a funeral arm band. You can see part of it in my 9th grade class picture (in that bunch of photos I posted here in the blog).
I made this flyer. I remember cutting out the image from an article about the Cambodian Killing Fields in National Geographic.I was really in to Battalion of Saints at the time, so this gig was awesome. I had a connection with them via the artist Marc Rude, who did a lot of flyers and album covers in the California HC scene (Misifts "Earth A.D" album, etc). Visual artists in the HC scene were all super accessible, You could write them a letter and send them some drawings of your own, and they would immediately write you back - sending you cool shit. Pushead. Fat Pat. Brian Walsby. All of these guys were mad cool. Most are still at it, from what I hear.
I remember watching bands like GBH and The Expolited and thinking that British punks still seemed to stuck in the 70s. The whole loud n snotty thing just seemed kinda played out to me in 1984, and it lacked the no frills/no pretensions attitude that U.S. Hardcore seemed to embody. That said, GBH sounded great that night, and their "City Babies..." album still rules.
There were two bands that seemed to call the Jockey Club their home away from home - DOA and Husker Du. At least that was my perception. These bands would play there at least once a year, and each and every time they were always amazing. I think this was the second Husker Du show that I saw. Their sets were epic. There was something incredibly anthemic about their songs. Anthemic, yet super personal and emotional. I guess it makes sense that they went on to be one of the most important bands in history. Squirrel Bait got to open for them too, the fuckers. The Bait were always a few steps ahead of anybody else in Cincinnati, with good reason. They were on "some next shit" from day one.
Raw Power were an awesome band from Italy. European bands coming through town was a real rarity, so we were all super intrigued with Raw Power. I remember my friend David Gonzalez invited them to stay over at his house after the gig, and I think they ended up living there for a week. They barely spoke any english, but we all got along great anyway. David's mom was really puzzled as to why there was a bunch of Italian punk rockers in her kitchen every day, but she just went along with it.
This is actually the back cover of an issue of Suburban Muckraker, Pete Wegele's fanzine.
I remember this show very well. I had yet to fully grasp The Cramps schtick, because the whole shockabilly thing was just confusing to me at 15. But I did buy a 7" of "Garbageman" at that weird used record store on Calhoun Street. The show was fantastic. Lux Interior was just so fucking nasty and slinky. Less like a human being and more like some kind of weird vampire creature. He was pouring red wine from a bottle all over himself and the audience. I also remeber him knocking a hole through the drop ceiling and hanging from the rafters. He had these super tight leather pants that were barely clinging to his body. You were waiting for his cock to fall out for the entire show. R.I.P. Lux.
Rat, the singer for Maurice, was one of my best friends for a while. His girlfriend was oddly fond of me, and used to do things like mail me her fingernail clippings. For some reason he was cool with it. I remember once they stayed at my house and her brother did nothing but talk about "wrasslin' for 24 hours. Maurice guitarist, Dave Pajo, went on to a stellar solo career as a singer/songwriter. I'll be seeing him live at this year's ATP festival. Their drummer Britt Walford went on to be in Slint and The Breeders and a bunch of other bands that people now view as legendary. Who knew?
I made this flyer. This was the first time they played at the JC. I was a Msifits fanatic at the time, so Glenn Danzig forming a new band and then actually touring in Cincinnati was like the second coming of Jesus for me. Karl, Chris, and I interviewed the band for somebody's fanzine. Maybe it was Dave Grubbs. We were completely star struck. Glenn was super cool with us. Eerie Von was hilarious. Just being in the same room as the singer for The Misfits was almost too much to bear. After that gig I kept in touch with Glenn and bothered him as much as possible. Rat (from Maurice) and I used to do 3-way calls to his grandmother's house in Lodi New Jersey where he lived. We would quiz him about different pressings of Misifts 7"s and get him to tell us stories. I remember we told him we wanted to dig up a grave in his honor. He took a deep breath. There was a long silence. Then he just said "trust me on this, DON'T do it".
Zero Boys were an awesome band from Indiana. I think I still have one of their 7"s. Toxic Reasons were another JC favorite. I recall having great respect for both bands, and also that they seemed to be from a slightly different era to me, AKA 1979-1981, rather than 1983. Funny how in retrospect a few years doesn't really mean much.
I think this also came from a fanzine. The Violent Femmes gig was mind blowing. Nobody knew what to make of them. They were so much better than just a punk band. They wrote real songs. Pop songs. Witty songs. They were simply brilliant. And once I saw them live, I realized that there was other music that was so much bigger than my little hardcore scene. So much more important. And so much more original.
This was the only time I ever saw Black Flag. It was a very big deal for them to be playing at the JC. Henry was well in to his "fuck everybody" persona phase, and I must admit I was really mesmerized by him on stage. It was as if the songs meant nothing. It was more like performance art. He was simply there to provoke, and get the audience to hate him as quickly as possible. A lot of punk bands would try to do this, but it came naturally for Henry. He was a master at antagonizing a crowd - bringing them to the brink of storming the stage and ripping him to pieces. Not an easy thing to do.
Sidenote: I remember complaining about the show being $7. Many of us had this perception of Black Flag as having sold out. Being rock stars. What a joke. Years later when I read his tour memoir "Get In The Van", I realized just how far from the truth that was. These guys toured non-stop for a decade and never made a fucking dime. I think I'm still embarrassed about being so ignorant.
Flak was a very short lived band made up of a bunch of my friends. I think they only played at the JC twice.
Holy shit I forgot about The Dickies. These guys were on another level.
P.S. If anybody out there reading this has any Jockey Club flyers, I would love to add them here.
-     FROM THE PUNK VAULT: PHOTOS FROM THE JOCKEY CLUB
These are some random photos from The Jockey Club. A few belong to me, but most were stolen from
The Jockey Club Myspace page
R.I.P. Myra McKee (far right). My best friend lost his virginity to her in 9th grade by claiming he was moving to another city, and just wanted her to take his virginity before they never saw each other ever again. As unethical as that may be, I was very impressed with his chicanery at the time, and very jealous of him becoming a man way ahead of me.
Steve Hull (R.I.P.) & Handsome Clem
I remember this night. It was in the back of The Jockey Club. I think this might have been the same night that Johnny Ruzsa took photos of us playing live for the record. So this would be December of 83 I'm guessing. Karl freaked out when he saw all of the dents in the roof of his car. I remember the faces of all of these people, but sadly most of the names escape me.
Karl Meyer, Dan Vogt, John Randolph, Handsome Clem
Parking lot of the Jockey Club
Karl Meyer, Me in my DKs Tshirt. In the lower right corner you can see that Articles of Faith funeral arm band that I was very fond of.
-     07/20/10 ALYSSA MILANO IS HAVING MY BABY & NIKE IS MAKING MY SNEAKERS
Back in February, I was approached by Phil Del Burgo, Jim Fitzgerald, and Jimmy Fingers from VH1 for an exciting new project. They needed a design for a physical award to be given out at a new award show they were launching. VH1 had partnered with an organization called Do Something. Do Something gives grant money to young people under 25 who are doing good / changing the world, through non-profits, volunteer work, and the like. They needed a physical trophy to give the recipients, as well as a logo/brand identity. Jimmy asked me to collaborate with our old friend and dope-as-fuck artist ESPO (aka Steve Powers) to come up with the grand concept for the award.
The task was to dream up something iconic, aspirational, wholly unique, emobodying the spirit of kids, and would look awesome on stage in the hands of the recipients. In addition, if we could work in the exclamation point from the existing DS brand - all the better. ESPO and I presented a whole mess of initial brainstorm ideas. If you really want to read them all, click the PDF link below.
These are some of the initial concept sketches.
I was really pulling for the bat signal idea, but alas, it was not to be. Below are some of the final sketches that resulted from the first few meetings. I did most of these from poolside at the Four Seasons in Colonia, Uruguay. Not a bad workspace, I can assure you.
The winged sneaker was chosen as the winner. Credit for this actually goes to my good friend Melinda Gray, who suggested it during a group brainstorming exercise in Buenos Aires. She gets mad props. So I gathered a bunch of sneaker reference and went about designing a high top sneaker with wings - something I had never dreamed I would ever be doing, mind you. The web was full of sneaker pics, and the wings were an easy thing to picture, as I had spent so much of my childhood drawing superheroes like Thor and Hawkman.
The above sketch was given to a company in NY called Award Society, who sent it to China for a mold to be sculpted by hand from a hunk of clay. Below are some photos of the clay models we recieved over the next few months. I would take the photos and alter them in photoshop, with notations in red, then send them back to China (last photo).
Simultaneoulsy, I was designing a logo to be inspired by the award. Here's some of the original sketches.
The final logo that was chosen and refined.
Some of the key art that VH1 produced. A company called Bombastic did the 3D shoe and the show package, which was nice and clean and simple.
The award show was really cool, and I was a bit shocked at how good it felt to be part of it in my own measly way. The kids were truly inspiring. And even the celebrities they honored were doing an incredible amount of good in the world. The shoe was everywhere. On stage in the hands of recipients. In the graphics. In Pepsi commercials. It was pretty cool.
This is Wilfredo Perez Jr. He's the first person in his family to graduate from high school. Before starting medical school, Willfredo spent a year in Haiti, where he created a Public Health and Education Program. He trained 16 Haitians to be public health workers, treating 1200 patients.
The girl on the left is Jacqueline Muraketete. She was a survivor of the Rwanadan genocide. She founded the Jacqueline's Human Rights Corner in 2007 to educate people all over the world about genocides of the past. Delivering over 100 speeches at schools in the last 3 years. She recently opened a community center in her Rwandan village.
Alyssa Milano won an award for using Twitter to raise $92,000 for clean water wells in Ethiopia. Sadly I wasn't there to get her to sign my VHS copy of "Embrace of The Vampire"
Snoop D-O-double G won an award for all the work he does with little league sports teams. This is the second award of mine that he has held in his hands. We're practically married.
The girl in blue is Jessica Posner. She won the $100,000 grand prize. She co-founded a community center in the Kibera slum in Nairobi to combat gender inequity and poverty. 66% of girls in Kibera trade sex for food as early as age six, and only 8% of women in Kibera ever attend school. Through the Kibera School for Girls, the first free school in Kibera, and the Shining Community Center, Jessica has helped over 5,700 residents gain education and employment.
Last week VH1 told me they are in negotiations with Nike to create a limited run of sneakers next year, inspired by my design for the award. These would be given to the recipients and sold in limited quantities I guess. So that might be kinda cool too.
Last but not least, even my personal hero and man-crush The Old Spice Guy got involved. Is there anything he can't do?
-     SOME RANDOM PHOTOS FROM MY LIFE
-     WE'RE ON A MISSION FROM GAHD
TELL IT ELWOOD
Rumors abound of a Sluggo 25th Anniversarey reunion November 20th in Cincinnati. Somebody is claiming all the original members are flying back to do this gig, including Peter Aaron from The Chrome Cranks (NYC 1990s, recently re-formed) & Sand In The Face (New Jersey 1980). I also heard something about Naked Raygun from Chicago possibly headlining. Or was it Toxic Reasons? Holy shit TOXIC FUCKING REASONS! Definitely worth booking a flight on the concord.
For the basic story, I found a pretty cool write-up about the history of midwest punk including Sluggo
KILLED BY THE MIDWEST
A random list of awesome bands I can remember sharing a stage with at one time or another:
Batallion of Saints
Sun City Girls
A song I still kind of like. Recorded in 1984. Who the fuck puts this shit on Youtube?
-     05/01/10 THE SITE IS FINALLY BACK UP
So my (former) webhost, Globat, thought it would be hilarious to just suspend my account indefinitely without warning. I was charged with "using excessive bandwidth". Guess I just blew up too damn fast for my own britches. After much distress and no Email for more than a week, I moved everything over to a brand new host and I now have my own VPS account (like a boss). So what used to cost me about $100/year will now cost more like $1000, which blows, but I'm king of my own castle, so nobody can fuck with me. So be it.
-     R.I.P. GURU FROM GANG STARR. CHECK OUT DJ PREMIER'S TRIBUTE MIX
Guru from Gang Starr died two weeks ago after an extended bout with cancer. My sincere condolences go out to his family and loved ones.
Guru was one of the true Brooklyn originals, and he really managed to set himself apart from the masses with his monotone, off-kilter flow. Having he and Primo rep Brooklyn as hard as they did in the 90s and beyond was a real source of pride for those of us who live here. He used to hang out at a lot of parties that Jules Gayton and I used to spin back in the day, and he was always mad cool with me.
Despite all of the drama surrounding Guru's death and his shady "manager" Solar (NOT MC Solar from France), Primo stepped up and delivered a dope final tribute to his former partner. The way he comments on the situation using Guru's own words is fucking masterful. I am as in awe of Primo's skills today as the first time I saw them live in 1991. He would do all of the cuts to each song live, with the original vinyl, and I'll be damned if I ever saw him skip a record even once.
R.I.P. Guru my brotha. You're above the clounds now for real.
Click HERE for the mix hosted elsewhere
01. Gang Starr "Betrayal" (Feat. Scarface)
02. Gang Starr "Intro" (The First Step)
03. Gang Starr "Execution Of A Chump" (No More Mr. Nice Guy Pt. 2)
04. Gang Starr "Name Tag" (Premier & The Guru)
05. Gang Starr "Speak Ya Clout" (Feat. Jeru the Damaja & Lil Dap)
06. Gang Starr "Peace Of Mine"
07. Gang Starr "Eulogy"
08. Gang Starr "Royalty" (Feat. K-Ci & JoJo)
09. Gang Starr "Daily Operation" (Intro)
10. Gang Starr "In This Life
" (Feat. Snoop Dogg & Uncle Reo)
11. Gang Starr "Above The Clouds" (Feat. Inspectah Deck)
12. Gang Starr "The Planet"
13. Gang Starr "Daily Operation" (Intro)
14. Gang Starr "Next Time"
15. Gang Starr "93 Interlude" (Unreleased Moment Of Truth Interlude)
16. Gang Starr "The Militia II" (Feat. Rakim & WC)
17. Gang Starr "Intro" (HQ, Goo, Panch)
18. Heavy D. "A Buncha Niggas" (Feat. The Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, Guru, Rob-O & Third Eye)
19. M.O.P. "Salute Part II" (Feat. Guru)
20. D&D Allstars "Hot Shit" (Feat. Big Daddy Kane, Sadat X, Guru & Greg Nice)
21. Gang Starr "PLAYTAWIN"
22. Gang Starr "Soliloquy Of Chaos"
23. Group Home "The Legacy" (Feat. Guru)
24. Gang Starr "Conspiracy"
25. Gang Starr "Stay Tuned"
26. Gang Starr "Zonin'"
-     04/04/10 JUST GOT BACK FROM ARGENTINA & URUGUAY. WHO WANTS STEAK?
You can see all my photos by clicking the "TRAVEL" button at the top of this page
-     THIS YEAR'S PITCH TO MY BEACH HOUSE MATES
This year's letter was in the form of a corporate presentation, complete with charts and graphs and stats. So far the response has been outstanding.
Check out the whole document HERE
-     I COME FROM A LONG LINE OF GANGSTAS
Speculation is swirling among my extended family after this prison release form from my great great great grandfather, George Althorp, was discovered in Tasmania. The story indicates he was a ploughman in Yorkshire, sentenced to LIFE in prison for stealing a sheep in 1827. After spending years on a prison hulk in England, he was shipped to Australia, where he eventually earned a full pardon in 1840.
This was big news to me, as prior to this, nobody in my family was aware of (or at least never admitted to being aware of) any convicts in our family tree. The facts do remain a bit unsettled, because we also discovered records of another man named George Althorp who arrived in Australia at about the same time. For the time being I'm happy to consider myself the great great great grandson of an O.G.
Click HERE for a bigger version of this document.
-     THE 40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE LOFT
I was lucky enough to attend the 40th Anniversary of The Loft on Sunday Feb 14th. If you don't know about The Loft, you betta axe somebody. There are numerous detailed accounts of its history both online and in print ("Love Saves The Day" by Tim Lawrence, for one). I didn't bring my camera, so the photos you see here I stole from other blogs.
Suffice it to say that David Mancuso is pretty much the cornerstone foundation of underground dance music culture as we know it, and neither I nor any other DJ you like would really be here today without David and those that he influenced. As a DJ, it is always an honor to be there, touching base with the mothership as it were.
Going go to The Loft is like going to a big family reunion with this extended disco family you never knew you had. The vibe is incredibly warm and inviting. Everyone is smiling. Everyone is ecstatic. Everyone recognizes just how rare and special the moment is. Such experiences are incredibly hard to create once, much less for 40 YEARS straight (!).
As usual, David held court behind the turntables. Intensely focused and in the zone. His set up alone is a real sight to behold. Two 5 foot stacks of criss-crossed cinder blocks, held together with duct tape. A big fat Thorens turntable perched atop each under the glare of a stainless steel desk lamp. A stack of milk crates holds up his 2 channel pre-amp, which is simple two rotary knobs. He does not blend records whatsoever. Each record is payed in its entirety, from beginning to end, with a short break for applause afterwards - everyone is truly grateful for each and every song. It's really somethin' else.
The crowd comes in every shape, size, race, and age you can think of. Old people dancing with canes. 12-year olds goofing around. Babies on the shoulders of parents. Old school clubheads dipping and diving in Loft battle mode. Adolescent kids of original Loft alumni soaking in their weird, freaky disco legacy. Uptowners. Downtowners. Envoys from all five boroughs. Japanese & Europeans of every stripe - many of whom flew in to NYC just for the event. The vibe is pure bliss. Wide grins on each and every face. Everyone basking in each moment, conscious of just how unique and special this party is.
The music was great as always. A lot of mid tempo disco. Some loft standards: "Expansions". "Don't Go Lose It Baby". "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This". Etc. Sister Sledge's "Lost In Music" never sounded better. The breakdown just seemed to go on and on and on. The EPIC avalanche of balloons that descended upon us during Teddy Pendergrass' "Only You" created an unparalleled FRENZY. It was like being thrown in to an adult size Chuck E Cheese Ball pit. Balloons bouncing off your face every second. Balloons popping all around you BANG! BANG! like fireworks. It was one of the most perfect moments of orchestrated chaos I've ever witnessed.
Needless to say, I cannot recommend this experience enough. You owe it to yourself to know what the perfect party experience feels like.
-     I HANG OUT WITH POET LAUREATES. YOU HANG OUT WITH A BUNCH OF SCRUBS
My girl Tina Chang was recently named poet laureate of Brooklyn. How 'bout them apples?! The New York Times did a nice story on her. They even mentioned my boy Claude, her loveable screw-up and baby daddy. Their son's name is Roman De Castro. That kid is gonna get so much ass it's not even funny.
Click HERE for the NYT article
-     MY EMMY FINALLY CAME IN THE MAIL. DID YOURS?
Once again, IN YOUR FACE, FRONTLINE!
-     01/22/10 LETTER FROM A FRIEND WHO SURVIVED THE QUAKE IN HAITI
Brother Julian Thank you.
I have been meaning to call u too since I got back. There is so much going on. I also meant to send you this message. Here it is.
Peace Love and Blessings
Most of you who grew up with Constant and I were already worried about our family in Haiti once you heard about the earthquake. One thing you did not know was that we had left for Haiti on Monday Jan 11th. Yes we were there, and thank God that we survived the unimaginable, and witnessed more dead bodies than I thought humanly possible.
Most of our family have been accounted for. Still, there are many others we haven't heard from. The quake has devastated most of Port-au-Prince, the city. While we were there, I felt that the people had lost their sense of reality. Not having any trust, even in nature. A crowd of lost souls without any destination. At night we all had to sleep in the middle of the road. The whole neighborhood divided in groups of 15 to 20, using two vehicles on each corner as shields. We were Constantly praying that it did not rain at night. I went walking on the hillside, just to relieve some of my own personal fear and confusion, and the damage was mind boggling. The aftershocks, every 2 to 3 hours, constantly reminded us that there could be another quake at any moment . No one felt safe. With the lack of communication, and the rumors flying every 5 minutes about a tsunami, I saw crowds heading up the mountain late at night looking for safety. The constant paranoia really made everyone feel totally on edge, and you ended up asking yourself, Why me? Why Haiti?
When we had the chance to leave it became even harder to say good bye. Leaving behind your family and friends. People that you grew up with, knowing that they have nothing left and all of their hope is gone. I felt guilty and it was a personal blow, and I quickly remembered this: I survive for a reason.
The next morning we did leave Haiti. I was happy to come home to NY and extremely sad what I left behind.
Food, and shelter are the most essential. They need it right now. We have to go back within the next few weeks to relocate family, and provide them with pretty much everything. They need shelter, antibiotics, medicine, clothes, food. Basic human everyday necessities.
We cannot depend just on the international aid. Those of us who have the capability should do what we can. Haiti is extremely complex geographically. To reach each family member and and help them is a very difficult task.
God gave me life to continue my mission, so we are asking for your help to give my people some hope for a better tomorrow.
We are very grateful to be alive and thank you for all your support
This is a letter I received 2 days ago from my old and dear friend Lionel Bernard. many of you NYers may know him personally, as he has been involved in the downtown club scene since the mid 80s. He was an original member of The Toasters, as well as a lead singer in the band Unity 2. I was in a Haitian band with him for a couple years, called VODU 155. We also threw parties together in the early-90s under the name VODU 155 at Sybarite, Nells, Bond St, and different locations around the city. This is a video of Lionel being interviewed by MSNBC as soon as he landed in Miami
Lionel and his brother were in Port Au Prince and survived the earthquake. They are gathering donations and supplies and going back in a few weeks, to try and put the lives of their immediate family back together in some way.
For years Lionel, like so many Haitian expatriates I have met, has been back and forth to Haiti on a regular basis, taking on the role as caretaker of not only his extended family, but practically his entire neighborhood. Such is often the burden of those that "make it" in some way.
I know that many of you have already given generously to the Red Cross or other organizations. If so, feel free to disregard this. If you have not made a donation yet, I thought a some of you might find the idea of contributing directly to the efforts of this man and his family appealing. I can personally vouch for the legitimacy of this small fund and its mission. It's a cliche, but in a situation like this, even a few dollars goes a long way. He has set up a paypal account specifically for this. Thanks for reading.
DONATE HERE - HELP MY FAMILY IN HAITI
-     01/14/10 SAD DAY FOR MUSIC - R.I.P. TEDDY PENDERGRASS
Words can hardly express how much suckier the world is today for me, upon hearing of the death of Teddy Pendergrass. Teddy's voice has been with us since 1972, when he first broke through as the vocalist on Harlod Melvin & The Bluenotes "If You Don't Know Me By Now". He may be best known to you for some of his countless other hits, such as
"Bad Luck" 1975
"Wake Up Everybody" 1975
"Don't Leave Me This Way" 1977
"Close the Door" 1978
"Only You" 1978
"Turn Off the Lights" 1979
"Come Go With Me" 1979
"Love T.K.O." 1980
Aside from Barry White, Teddy was one of the first vocalists that really allowed me to connect with the slow jams of the late 70s. "Love T.K.O." is an amazingly powerful song. Tragic and sad, yet still incredibly sexy. He captures heartbreak so well in the tone of his voice, while still making you feel like slow dancing, or slow fucking, or both. Being such a student of dance music most of my life, opening myself up to slow jams like that did wonders for allowing me to truly appreciate the downtempo side of Black American music. Simply put, if you have ever appreciated D'angelo or Mary J Blige or Maxwell or Whitney, you have appreciated Teddy.
I credit my better late than never awakening to the power of TP to my good friend Jules Gayton, a DJ and music lover of the highest order, who was not afraid to drop "Love TKO" or "Close The Door" in a club full of Hip Hop thugs, to remind everybody in the room just exactly where the soul of all these R&B slow jams lies. It certainly didn't hurt that, at the time, Ahmad had sampled "Close The Door" for "Back In The Day", so it was easy for thugs and lovers alike to make the connection to the source material.
In a similar tradition of spreading the love, my friend Timmy Richardson stayed up late last night and made a Teddy Pendergrass tribute mix. It's posted on his site, and it is a perfect way to embrace TP's memory on this sad, sad day. I urge you to give it a listen, and join us in mourning the passing of one of America's great voices.
TIMMY RICHARDSON'S TEDDY PENDERGRASS TRIBUTE MIX
Come Go With Me Teddy Pendergrass
Close The Door Teddy Pendergrass
Somebody Told Me Teddy Pendergrass
Ill Never See Heaven Again Teddy Pendergrass
If You Dont Know Me By Now Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
When Somebody Loves You Back Teddy Pendergrass
Wake Up Everybody Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
The Whole Towns Laughing At Me Teddy Pendergrass
Feel The Fire Teddy Pendergrass & Stephanie Mills
This Gift Of Life Teddy Pendergrass
Joy Teddy Pendergrass
And If I Had Teddy Pendergrass
Nine Times Out Of Ten Teddy Pendergrass
Hold Me Teddy Pendergrass & Whitney Houston
Bad Luck Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
Turn Off The Lights Teddy Pendergrass
Youre My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration Teddy Pendergrass
I Dont Love You Anymore Teddy Pendergrass
Only You Teddy Pendergrass
The Love I Lost Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
Dont Leave Me This Way Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
Life Is A Song Worth Singing Teddy Pendergrass
Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose Teddy Pendergrass
I Miss You Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
It Shouldve Been You Teddy Pendergrass
I Want My Baby Back Teddy Pendergrass
Love T.K.O. Teddy Pendergrass
Its Time For Love Teddy Pendergrass
-     THIS GUY'S ILLUSTRATIONS RULE
For my birthday this year, David Evans gave me two very small comic books that fit in the palm of your hand. Both are by California-based illustrator Mark Todd. The first is called "BAD ASSES", and chronicles just about every bad-ass that ever landed on TV or film screens. It includes bad-ass men, women, and cars.
The degree to which my own definition of bad-ass aligns with Mark Todd's definition of bad-ass is truly uncanny. Not only did he big up both Snake Plisken from "Escape From New York" and The Kraken from "Clash of the Titans", but he even went so far in to my brain as to shout out James Bond's white Lotus from "For Your Eyes Only" and the big evil car from the incredibly under-celebrated movie 1977 B-movie "The Car" - a movie that I have carried a torch for in a solitary vigil for my entire life.
To make things even cooler, he made another smaller comic called "LAME ASSES", which once again seemed to be ripped directly from own psyche. I urge you to seek out these awesome comics.
Mark Todd's website
-     MOST AWESOME RANDOM WEB PICTURE I'VE SEEN ALL DAY
-     01/10/10 IS THIS THE COOLEST THING EVER OR WHAT
click to enlarge
For my birthday last year, my man my mellow David Evans did me the huge honor of creating a pyramid list of just about every mixtape I have ever done. It's hand drawn, pencil on paper, and is currently hanging on my wall. I should have taken this photo before I had it framed under glass, but you get the idea.
David is a Milwaukee-born artist and screenwriter and all around stand-up guy. He is currently based in LA, where he works as an art director with world class film makers like Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, & Michael Mann, among others. He's a crazy-talented mother fucker who I am proud to call my friend. He's also a sloppy drunk with pitiful delusions of Tekken grandeur.
David and I first met at Do Hwa, the restaurant where he bartended, way back in 2000 or so. This was the only bar where I've ever actually had my own tab. You know, like those dudes in old movies that say "Put it on my tab, Joe". That was me. Well, myself and Ben Cruz, to be precise. We shared the tab, which consisted of an endless supply of Patron tequila sold to us at cost. Ah, the ol' dot-com boom days. Seems like we hardly knew ye.
David is currently working on a new screenplay and a comic book and about ten other hair-brained-schemes I can't keep track of. I will keep you abreast of his rise to super stardom as it continues to develop.
According to the pyramid, David's partial to "I Get Lifted" from 2003. You can hear it by clicking the link below
I GET LIFTED
Some close up shots
-     QUINCY JONES IS MY HOMEBOY
From time to time, I rotate the records that sit on display on my record shelves. Some are permanent, like my copy of "Love Supreme", but most rotate in and out. I recently dug out this copy of Quincy Jones' 1969 classic "Walking In Space" LP on CTI Records, signed by Quincy himself. It reads:
Keep rockin' bro
I managed to score this when I was DJing Quincy's birthday party back in about 1995. The event was held at a big theater on 44th street. Brandy and a bunch of other R&B cats from Quincy's record label performed for him. I played Quincy tunes all night long, digging deep in the crates for a lot of his older, pure Jazz stuff. When I was finally introduced to the maestro, he looked up at me and said "man, I haven't heard some of those tunes for 20 years!". He was mad cool and graciously signed my copy of "Walking In Space". I was appropriately awestruck.
For an idea of what the record sounds like, click the link below. One of my favorite QJ tracks.
It's a classic Quincy record everyone should own.
BUY IT HERE
-     TWO MORE OLD MIXES RESURRECTED
Today I unearthed two more mixes from 2003.
The first is "Chill The Fuck Out", which is mostly mellow, mid-tempo, electronica type shit. There's a bunch of songs on there from the first Verve Records remix compilation, which I had just purchased a few days before making the mix. It also contains Nitin Sawhney's "Moonrise", which is far and away Joe Clausell's finest work as a remixer.
CHILL THE FUCK OUT - 2003
The second is "Fear and Loathing", which I made for a road trip to Vegas that I took with my good friends Ben & Serge. Serge grew up in Uruguay and had little exposure to classic rock, so he asked me to make a mix for the car that would introduce him to to some basics. So the mix is just that - nothing your average American kid hasn't heard a thousand times. Peep it if you're feeling nostalgic.
FEAR AND LOATHING - 08/03
-     01/03/10 NEW YEAR'S EVE INNA BROOKLYN STYLE
The New Year's Eve party at my crib went off without a hitch. We had a nice, intimate crowd, and I can safely say a good time was had by all. I DJ'd for about 7 hours straight and it was just one of those nights where everything flowed perfectly. I played everything and anything: disco / house / hip hop / dancehall / rock / jazz / techno / whatever. I kinda wish I had recorded it, but I'm also kinda glad I didn't. At midnight I played the cheezy synth intro to Europe's "The Final Countdown", followed by an air raid siren, followed by this song:"Life Is Something Special" by The NYC Peech Boys.
Some of the music played appears on my latest mix, "Instant Party 4 a Mixed Crowd", which can be found in the mixes section of this site.
I bought this crazy 3-headed disco ball contraption on Canal Street at 5:30pm the same day of the party, which made a HUGE difference in the overall vibe. Believe me my friends, the power of good lighting should not be overestimated. By the end of the night, our apartment was trashed beyond belief, and we had a sleeping yeti down for the count on the big blue couch. It took a few days to get things back in order, but I think I can walk around in bare feet again. Though I'm quite sure I'll be finding pieces of confetti in every nook and cranny for the next 5 years.Thanks so much to everyone who came - even the random, drunk weirdos that wandered in from other parties in my building.
Special thanks for all the pics below, which were taken by Melinda, Serge, Min Soo, Dave, & Patricia.
-     LIST OF SONGS I BARELY REMEMBER PLAYING ON NEW YEAR'S EVE
I pieced this list together from the pile of vinyl and CDs that were strewn all around the turntables the morning after. They're in alphabetical order cuz I have no idea what the order they were played in actually was. I'm sure I'm leaving out a bunch of stuff, as this doesn't really seem to cover the 7 hour span of the evening. If you were there and you remember some other songs, please Email them to me. If you're looking for any of this music, just about everything listed shows up on a mix or two from over the years.
The song of the night seemed to definitely be the Pizza Hut/Taco Bell song, cuz I was getting texts and Emails about it all weekend long. Sometimes the simplest ideas are indeed the most brilliant.
A Tribe Called Quest - Check The Rhyme
Althea & Donna - Uptown Top Ranking
Aybee - Filt
The Beastie Boys VS David Bowie - Fame (138 remix)
Beyonce - Crazy In Love
Willie Bobo - Spanish Grease
Brainstorm - Lovin' Is Really My Game
The Brand New Heavies - Never Stop (Heavies ext mix)
Cuarteto D'aida - Las Mulatas Del Cha Cha Cha
Das Racist - Combination Pizza Hut & Taco Bell
Dolle Jolle - Balearic Incarnation (Terje remix)
The Doobie Brothers - Long Train Runnin
El Chicano - Viva Torado
Peven Everett - Got To Get Down
Dennis Ferrer - Son Of Raw
Doug E Fresh - The Show
Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On (Steppers' remix)
Stan Getz - One Note Samba
Grand Puba - I Like It
Grandmaster Melle Mel - The Message
Gwen Guthrie - Peanut Butter
Herbie Hancock - Watermelon Man
Donny Hathaway - The Ghetto (live version)
Loleatta Holloway - Hit & Run
Rita Indiana - La Hora De Volver
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (138 EDIT)
Michael Jackson - The Way You Make Me Feel
Michael Jackson - You Rock My World
Grace Jones - My Jamaican Guy
InI Kamoze - Hot Stepper
King Sunny Ade - Ja Funmi
La Super Banda - Cinco Pa' las Doce
Barrington Levy - True Experience
Loco Dice - Flight 7475
LTD EXchange - Corazon
Mala Fe - Los Tigueres
Maluca - El Tigeraso
The Mary Jane Girls - All Night Long
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes - Don't Leave Me This Way
Van Morrison - Moondance
Mystikal - Shake Ya Ass
The NYC Peech Boys - Life Is Something Special
Johnny Osbourne - Budda Bye
The Pharcyde - Passin' Me By
The Phenomenal Handclap Band - 15 to 20
Pinchers - Bandilero
Perez Prado - Mambo #5
Prince - Forever In My Life
Prince - Sexy Mother Fucker
Tito Puente - Oye Como Va
Radiohead - Everything In Its Right Place (Afefe Iku remix)
Pete Rodrνguez - I like it like that
The Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil (neptunes remix)
Carl Hancock Rux - Lamentations
Robin S - Show Me Love
Silver Connection - Fly Robin Fly
Soft House Company - A little Piano
Soul II Soul - Back To Life (long version with the 3 minute acapella intro)
Sound Dimension - The Real Rock
Reggie Stepper - Whining Skill
Donna Summer - Love To Love You Baby
Sylvester - I Need Somebody To Love
Shelly Thunder - Kuff
Rainer Truby - To Know You
Trussel - Love Injection
Glenn Underground - Mental Black Resurrection
Claude Von Stroke - Big n Round
Stevie Wonder - As
Womack & Womack - Baby I'm Scared of You
The Wonder Band - Whole Lotta Love
Zhane - Hey Mr. DJ
-     FINALLY ADDED ONE OF MY ALLTIME FAVORITE MIXES
Happened to notice the other day that I had somehow overlooked adding a mix called "Sunshower" to the site. It's one of my personal favorites, and was recently voted to similar status by my good friend David Evans. All two of us can't be wrong, can we?
It starts out very mellow and grows to a smooth funky uptempo groove towards the end. It was made during a long lazy summer where there was a definitive need for what we call "wind down" music, which were CDs we would put on just after getting home from a very late night out. The best case example of this would be my friends and I staying out all night dancing at Shelter, then stumbling out of the club and getting on the train at 7am, heading directly to Fire Island without sleeping. We'd drop our bags, put on "Sunshower", then find an empty beach chair on the deck and collapse. This was the best way imaginable to sleep off the previous night's bad decisions. It also was a surefire way to endear all of us to the songs on the mix.
If you never downloaded it, allow me to humbly suggest that right now is as good a time as any to do so. It's buried down the list in the "whatever" section of the mixes page, with the other mixes from 2003. You can also get it right here, right nizzow.
electrosacher - evenings
amp fiddler - possibilities
gil scott-heron - guerilla
erykah badu - bump it
max sedgley - slowly
the blackbyrds - mysterious vibes
barry white - strange funky games 'n things
sade - by your side
junior murvin - cool out son
alicia keys - you don't know my name
dr. buzzard's savannah band - sunshower
henrik schwarz - feel da vibe
carl hancock rux - lamentations (you, son)
alex kid - trindade
geraldo azevedo - berekeke
prince - crazy you
-     12/31/09 BRAND NEW "GALLERY" SECTION ADDED FOR EPIC LULZ
For years people have been bugging me to put up some of the weird / stupid / hot / scary / lulzy images that I find on the web. I decided it was indeed time to do that. I take no credit for the content. I suppose I'll have to update this from time to time. The gallery can be seen by clicking the GALLERY button on the left vertical navigation of this page.
-     PARTY AT MY HOUSE. MAYBE EVEN TONIGHT
I will be DJing under the influence, so please bear that in mind during transitions from song to song. Also on the decks will be DJ Sam Hyde & DJ Matty Matt, though both of them won't be arriving until 3am after their normal/square gigs finish. Should be epic or at least not suck.
I even made a new mix to give out to the party guests. It's filled with songs that I may or may not be playing tonight. You can download it from the MIXES section. Here's the playlist:
INSTANT PARTY 4 A MIXED CROWD
sebbo - elephanze ce danze
major lazer - pon de floor
claude von stroke - big n round
das racist - combination pizza hut & taco bell
the wonder band - whole lotta love
the bee gees - you should be dancin' (terje edit)
fatboy slim - weapon of choice
santo gold - say aha (tepr remix)
mishal moore - oh lord (138 EDIT)
italian secret service - not the same
the london jazz four - things we said
the rolling stones - sympathy for the devil (neptunes remix)
the gorillaz - it's dare (DFA remix)
yoko ono - walking on thin ice
sebastien leger - rhythm
meyland visti - yes ma'am (all night long)
gino soccio - dancer
ruben blades - plastico
cesar 830 - descarga
maluca - el tigeraso
rita indiana - la hora de volver
mala fe - los tigueres
michael jackson - billy jean (138 EDIT)
dolle jolle - balearic incarnation (terje remix)
michael collins - sunrise
chaz jankel - glad to know you (dub)
chaz jankel - glad to know you (vocal)
i-level - give me
slick - space bass
dennis ferrer - hey hey (dub)
dennis ferrer - hey hey (vocal)
jerome syndenham - sandcastles (138 splinter EDIT)
-     12/26/09 OK FINE, HIP HOP IS NOT COMPLETELY DEAD
In October of 2007, in this very blog, I declared Hip Hop to be, for all intents and purposes, completely dead. It was a wrap. Or as my boy Fabian would say: "dat shit is straight reynolds". Many would say that October of 2007 was about 10 years too late, and you could make a case for that too, but I had been holding out for a hero. Alas, my hero never came. Instead, for our sins, the lord gave us Soulja Boy, who swiftly convinced me that I should stop kidding myself and face the truth: Hip Hop sucks.
"it's out there, you just gotta dig". Yeah yeah, I'd heard that too. And I believed it for a long ass time. And I suppose I knew there must still be a gem or two to be found here and there, but the ever-increasing rarity of these so-called gems, coupled with the fact that these so-called gems could really no longer keep a so-called dance floor interested, seemed to indicate these so-called gems might not be so shiny after all.
You see, as a DJ playing in clubs for a good 15 years, I had a very simple litmus test for the current state of Hip Hop. All I had to do was stroll down Fulton Ave in Fort Greene on any given evening. If the newest / latest / hottest shit coming out of the cars on Fulton was dope, then I could rest assured that Hip Hop was doing just fine. After all, Brooklyn lies firmly within the fertile crescent of the fabled five boroughs, so if we don't know good Hip Hop, then who the fuck does?
What's the significance of the hot shit, you ask? Allow me to explain. As a working DJ, to put it plainly, it's very important that the hot shit be the dope shit. The hot shit any particular week is the new song that the people on your dance floor are waiting for that particular weekend. The dope shit means that's it's actually dope, i.e. GOOD and/or DOESN'T SUCK. And as a DJ, you want to be playing dope shit, i.e. good music. But you are also required by the drunk screaming masses and the club owner to play the hot shit. So you want the two to be one in the same. Makes your life easy, and makes being a DJ very very fun.
As a DJ, I think I was very good at delivering a whole night of dope music, new and old, while still managing to work in the hot shit du jour. To me, that's what the art of DJing is. The hot shit will invariably keep the asses on the dancefloor, which leaves you the other 98% of your set to do something interesting with, while still keeping those asses out there. Lazy DJs just play that week's top 10 five times in one night. Funk dat. My nightly goal was to never play a song more than once. Only occasionally was I feeling a song so hard as to break this rule and run it twice (GZA's "Liquid Swords" comes to mind...).
So flash back to 2007: the music I was hearing out of cars on Fulton St was now just fucking horrible. Combine that with the fact that those so-called gems that I had to dig for, those so-called gems that would supposedly maintain my faith in Hip Hop, those very same gems would literally clear the dancefloor, and a floor-clearing song is a DJs kryptonite.
So I threw in the towel. I turned over a new leaf, and decided to live by my own new mantra:
THERE'S TOO MUCH GREAT MUSIC IN THE UNIVERSE TO WASTE YOUR TIME PLAYING BAD MUSIC
What it lacks in poetic fluidity, it makes up for in fundamentally undeniable truth.
This was meant to be applied to both DJing in clubs and DJIng in my bedroom. If being a working Hip Hop DJ in NYC meant I had to play music that sucked, then I didn't want any part of it. I'd just stay home and make dope mixes and put them on my site, and if people dig it, then great, and if they don't, they get the gasface.
I suppose I could have looked for gigs with more esoteric crowds of discerning Hip Hop heads, but that was never really my thing. My thing was playing for the masses. For the regular folk. I always told myself if the day came that my own Hip Hop tastes were no longer in sync with the tastes of the Jeeps on Fulton Ave, then I would politely bow out and let some younger kid with shitty taste have my spot. Good luck with that sucka.
So that's what I did. And I was happy about it. And that's all well and good.
But here's the thing, see. Truth be told, I really missed Hip Hop. I missed it somethin' awful. This feeling had been gnawing at me for the last few years. My subconscious kept saying "Really, son? You're just gonna walk away like that? Forever? ForEVER ever? Really?"
Shut up brain! You're not the boss of me.
So about a month ago, I reached a breaking point. I decided my 40 months in the desert were over, and I could play like the prodigal son and come back to Hip Hop. After all, since I wasn't really playing in clubs any more, I could refine my Hip Hop criteria to be all about the dope shit, and I could happy leave the hot shit to the sucka DJs and their dimwit crowds.
After all, The hot shit has been terrible for some time now. It started with the Dirty South takeover of the late 90s and has just snowballed ever since. And I don't blame those Cash Money Clik kids, really. They did their thing and got theirs. While they did seem to obliterate the art of MCing in the process (R.I.P.), at least they knew how to make a dancefloor move. And if the East Coast had truly been making hot shit at the time, they wouldn't have lost their spot. So I don't blame the Dirty South, I blame us. We had the crown. We got lazy and didn't change shit up, and somebody else got hungry and came with some new shit and took it. A hard lesson learned, no doubt.
Will hot shit Hip Hop, i.e. top ten joints, ever return to being actually great? I kinda doubt it. That ship has sailed. Just be glad you got to dine at the buffet so many damn times while it was in port.
There was a hot second where some of us thought Kanye might bring it back. After all, he was a bonafide underground Hip Hop producer making hot tracks for years before he blew up. And he was kind of a decent MC. And his first few hits were promising. Then that fool lost his damn mind. So we can rest assured if there's a savior out there, it ain't him. I mean, shit - A few weeks ago I saw a video of two white college girls doing a stand up routine called "who said it: Kanye or Hitler". You know his ass is done when nerdy white girls can bust on him just using his own words.
And many NYers had similar hopes for Jigga but, simply put, no 40 year old billionaire is gonna save Hip Hop. Wrong generation. And the belly is way too full. New music comes from hungry mofos. Always has. Always will.
Anyway, what was the point of all of this? Oh right, the prodigal son. Well, like the prodigal son, when I finally did return home, I was richly rewarded. I spent the month of November digging for new Hip Hop - anything from the last three years really, and I think I did in fact find what I was looking for. There truly is some dope shit out there. Don't believe me? Please check out my new mix "HIP HOP THAT DOESN'T SUCK" on the mixes page of this site.
Do you have to dig? Yes, of course you do. But with the interwebz at your fingertips, digging for good music is SO EASY these days. Seriously.
The great news? Hip Hop isn't dead, it simply that the divide between what is HOT and what is DOPE is now too wide to breach. So pick a side and live with it. I know where I'll be.
-     100 DAILY INSTANT MESSENGER SIGNATURES IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
these are mostly random phrases that come to mind when I boot up my AIM at 10am every day and change my signature. A daily sampling of current events, poetic parables, internet memes, and music/movie/TV show quotes that are burned in to my psyche for some reason. Upon review, I guess they sort of make up a list of things that we're on my mind in the last year or so - snapshots from my own cerebral zeitgeist.
People often ask me "um, WTF does your sig mean today?". I've given a brief description below each, and made many of them hotlinks so you can see the relevant media item yourself. If you already know all 100, we must have been separated at birth, and we should promptly reunite to wage war on mankind and begin our thousand year reign on earth.
01. I got served by Poseidon
an apt description of the labor day incident in which a wave dumped me on the sand in Fire Island, ripping my right arm out of it's socket. Took 4 hours and 4 doctors to get it back in place
02. how can she slap
a weird clip from 2008 that became a meme of sorts via the gif wizards
03. black hole from super collider kills us all today. Also, the McRib is back
a popular doomsday scenario that I thought was gonna solve all my problems
04. a love supreme
the title of my favorite jazz album of all time
05. I, for one, welcome our new ant overlords
probably kent brockman's finest hour as a cartoon TV newsman
06. shamwow mother fuckers
this crazy wigga right chea'
07. if a tree falls in the woods and it hits a mime...
can't recall which one of these bald geniuses said this, gary larson or steven wright
08. we're puttin' on the foil
Line from the greatest sports movie ever made
09. ezekiel saw the wheel
a line from the catchiest gospel song of my childhood
10. i was saying boo-urns
definitely Hans moleman's finest hour
11. you cannot petition the lord with prayer
line from a record I listened to a lot when I was 12
12. i'm a loner dottie, a rebel
You knew this one. I know you did
I think you'll agree this speaks for itself
14. next up, the airing of grievances
you know... For the rest of us
15. ichi ni san chi
from the dopest electro track of all time
16. de world, Chico
great line from a great movie
17. you are number six
great line from one of the coolest TV shows ever
18. hut 1 hut 2 hut 3 HUT old dirty bastard live and uncut
he's the ODB as you can see
19. rodents of unusual size
who knew they were midgets all along?
20. Breaking: Biden sworn in on Necronomicon
a running joke among satanist nerds the day after he was sworn in
21. gaeta the traita
yes, I was a BSG nerd, big time
22. whizz bang what a hang
my favorite song from Axis:Bold As Love
23. R.I.P. Jeremy Bentham
Locke was dead. Or so we thought
24. uptown top ranking
one of the greatest reggae songs of all time
25. my life = conference call about a sheep's undercarriage
I did a bunch of projection animations for Tylenol PM, and we had lengthy conference calls about exactly how much anatomical detail the sheep's undercarriage should have
26. in this economy, I can't afford to be seen with you
having grown so weary of the phrase, my boy Alan and I had a plan to make all these "in this economy..." Tshirts. We were gonna be so rich
27. R.I.P. Lux
Lux Interior, lead singer of the Cramps and one of the greatest front men a band could hope to have in any era, died on Feb 4th. I was lucky enough to see them in about 1985 and they were totally fucking awesome
28. otm shank
everyone's favorite bollywood hunk
29. galactica actual up in this piece
best Sci-Fi TV show of all time. Yeah, I said it
30. tony clifton returneth
Joaquin Phoenix is definitely the Tony Clifton of 2009. Everything old is new again
Mr. Clifton, in case you forgot
31. magic beans > stupid cow
I have no idea why I used this as my signature but you can't really argue with the logic
32. R.I.P. Joe Cuba, king of boogaloo
Joe Cuba died on Febrary 15th 2009. He made a lot of great music and had a cool mustache
33. i love to singa
34. about the moona and he juna and the springa
my favorite cartoon of all time
35. turn your watch back, about 100,000 years
The B-52s at their best
36. water no get enemy
the first Fela song I ever fell in love with. Also on my Hell's Kitchen Xmas mix from 2001
37. food is for losers
38. through the looking glass
this is from when I went on my first juice cleanse - 5 days of veggie juice & 5 days of master cleanse. I felt like a new man
39. you're stuck in here with ME
The best line from the best character in The Watchmen, played by Jackie Earle Haley, who was also great in Breaking Away (1979)
40. i hear ichat BOOPS when there are none
this is simply true. I really do
41. a pox on, at the very least, YOUR house
I believe this re-phrasing of The Bard was particularly relevant at the height of the swine flu scare
42. plate, or shrimp, or plate of shrimp
Infinite wisdom from the Repo Man movie. You should know this
43. the bebe rebozo of motion graphics
44. the brenda vaccaro of motion graphics
45. the dabney coleman of motion graphics
46. the scatman crothers of motion graphics
47. the bella abzug of motion graphics
48. the bootney farnsworth of motion graphics
49. the eli wallach of motion graphics
50. the brian austin green of motion graphics
51. the keshia knight pulliam of motion graphics
52. the fairuza balk of motion graphics
53. the robert loggia of motion graphics
54. the charles nelson reilly of hip hop DJs
these are mostly just the first names that popped in to my head. In some cases, I have just always liked the sound of them. Others are people who are so hilariously lame that they are actually cool. My old boss and mentor John King would use the name Bebe Rebozo anytime he wanted to describe a complete idiot. Fairuza Balk represents all the goth girls I never got to sleep with when I was 16. Looking at all of these faces in one bunch, it's admittedly quite a strange bunch LOL
55. it's gettin it's gettin it's gettin kinda hectic
A much sampled line from this song. Once it gets in your head, fuggedhaboutit
56. science: 47 million - churchy la femmes: 0
reference to the missing link story, ned flanders, and the turtle from the Pogo comic strip circa 1950
57. Mariana Trench > you
the Mariana Trench is 36,000 feet deep. WTF have you done?
58. alphabet song & twinkle twinkle song = SAME SONG : O
Am I really the last person on earth to figure this out???
59. tyler perry = the black Jim Varney
while discussing Tyler Perry with a bunch of black folks, most of whom found him embarrassing, I had a revelation that Tyler Perry is simply the black Jim Varney AKA "Ernest". He produces, writes, and directs all of his movies. He has a HUGE following. Makes tons of money. And most people would be embarrassed to admit they had sat through one of his films. Needless to say, this comparison was not warmly received by the black folks I presented it to. Funny thing is, I thought I was rather clever for coming up with this. Come to find out that there is at least one other person out there that already thought if it and had already made this JPG below. Ain't that a bitch?
60. pork chop sandwiches
very hard to pick a favorite Fensler GI Joe PSA, but this one is up there
61. R.I.P. kwai chang caine
I used to watch this show then run around my house walking all sideways like Caine. You know, where he steps his back foot behind his front leg to move forward. I was a total king fu master
62. best mj song = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHBqKfbt4W4
I actually go back and forth between this and "Heartbreak Hotel", but today I'll stick with this
63. mas dinero mas problemas
brooklyn stand up
64. shakedown nineteen seven nine
I never get sick of this song, evene after all this time
65. a new life awaits you in the off-world colonies
one of those movies I can never get out of my head
66. your ideas intrigue me
67. and i'd like to subscribe to your newsletter
one of those Simpsons lines that seems to work in so many situations
68. the coporate cosmology of arthur jensen
the greatest movie speech of all time is not by Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glennross, but rather by Ned Beatty in Network. And more importantly, his speech is 100% true
69. howler monkey staring contest champion 2009
check my photos from Nicaragua in the travel section of this site
70. scale strokes & effects or fucking die
I mean seriously. Ever get on someone else's computer and use Adobe Illustrator? What are these maroons thinking?
71. burritos are sleeping bags for ground beef
think about it
72. play him off keyboard cat
hands down the best meme of 2009. The Tshirt below will be included in time capsules of the aughty-aughts for years to come. mark my words
73. welchkins VS keebler elves. Who wins?
think about it
74. big girls need love too
dream it. Live it
75. got a car full of girls and it's goin' real swell
I always thought this line was so odd. what gangsta calls anything "swell"?
76. jim cunningham says love > fear
I don't WANNA be afraid anymore
77. purple stuff > sunny d
prove me wrong
78. bring her on and let her scream
a great Mark Twain quote about writing. Rather than tell people that a lady screamed, bring her on and let her scream
79. free your mind and your ass will follow
incredibly simple yet truly profound words from one of my idols, Mr. George Clinton
80. kanye failocaust 2009
I was way ahead of the curve on this hating Kanye thing
81. friiiiiiiiiiied neckbones and some homefries
mr bobo laying it down
82. lost in the clouds again
83. seven swans sevens swans seven swans
I went through a real Sufjan Stevens phase this year, 5 years late. You should too
84. my cellular phone reigns supreme
I always found this Mobb Deep line extra absurd for some reason. Great song. I think QTip produced it, which explains why it is mixed really badly. Love that kid, but he is a god awful mixer. So many of his records sound like he mixed them on a bad pair of headphones and never bothered to check them on a real system. Ahvell
85. radio. suckaz never play me.
I had a ball this year working on the VH1 Hip Hop Honors Def Jam Tribute show. Got to dig out all of my old 12"s. Chuck D is still the man
86. in the dark all cats are grey
funny, I always thought Robert Smith wrote this line. Turns out it was Benjamin Franklin talking about his sexual penchant for octogenarians. What a nut
87. brb, gleaming the cube
rivals solar babies and prayer of the roller boys as gayest movies of all time
88. happiness is just a faming moe away
I guess it must be obvious by now just how much of my brain is taken up by random moments from The Simpsons
89. hey janelle, what's wrong with wolfie?
Is there anything creepier than Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking in a woman's voice?
90. the truth is never told during the 9 to 5 hours
a telling quote from our man in Las Vegas, Mr Hunter S Thompson
91. bearodactyl > pterodactyl
this comic simply rules
92. brb, going rogue
don't kid yourselves. Americans are indeed dumb enough to elect this woman president
93. castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually
you should really own this record
94. i too like turtles
I never get tired of this ancient meme
95. in control in effect so what the heck
big daddy kane at his finest
96. aka THRILLHO
probably only funny if you play video games. Also, note the 1980s Maxell print ad reference in the composition of the first shot
97. this guys says the horse can do
outta nowhere, this song was stuck in my head for a week
98. maybe the lateness of the hour
you MUST see the 2009 documentary SOUL POWER - about the 1973 concert in Zaire that preceded Foreman & Ali's Rumble In The Jungle. Bill Wither's performance of "Hope She'll Be Happier" is the reason I saw it twice in the theater, and the reason I'll be buying the DVD. It is breathtakingly sad. Also, I recently put that song on a mix, "Blue Winter", which you can find in the mixes section of this site
99. Peep my emmy award winning commercial
100. this is the best bah-ree-toe I've ever eee-ten
just try to get this song out of your head. I dare you
-     12/15/09 HEY WHADDYA KNOW, I WON AN EMMY
Alec & I coordinate our victory leap ever year, and 2009 was no different
I recently won an Emmy for a promo spot I did for The History Channel to promote their "Nostradamus:2012" show. It aired about a year ago. The program was the 3rd highest rated show in the channel's history, which gives you an indication of just how paranoid and gullible people really are. After watching the promo, my father said it was "appropriately alarmist for The Palin Nation". The win came as a total surprise, as I didn't even know we were in the runninng. We beat out CNN, NBC, CNBC, CBS, and PBS.
IN YOUR FACE, FRONTLINE! (always wanted to say that).
WATCH IT HERE
-     BROOKLYN BOY GOES TO A NASCAR RACE, FINALLY FEELS AMERICAN
I was in Miami 4 weeks ago for my first ever Nascar race. Leroy & Clarkson, my new home away from home, was kind enough to send me down there along with a crew of 3 other dudes to get the full Nascar experience; so as to better design, animate, edit, and creative direct a graphics package for the Speed Network. The event in question was the Homestead Ford 400, the very last race of the Nascar season, where the cup chase champion is crowned. Speed is a cable channel that covers racing in all forms. For the Nascar sprint chase, they primarily cover everything but the races. Leroy & Clarkson is in the midst of building a beautiful graphics package for the channel which I have been tasked with overseeing.
We arrived on Saturday night and got a room at Townhouse on Collins & 20th. I stayed at Townhouse back in 99 or so, before the entire hotel was even complete. Back then, 20th was the ass-end of Collins, surrounded by empty lots and older abandoned apartment buildings long since replaced by towering hotels of every shape and size. There was even a weird strip club across the street with a Roman coliseum motif on the exterior. It was my first lapdance on a bed. And my last, come to think of it. I'll say this much: lapdances on beds are not as over-rated as one might think.
That evening in Miami was relatively uneventful. Drinks in the warm 78 degree air of the rooftop bar of Townhouse. Dinner at Nobu. More drinks at the always epic Delano, and the obligatory stop at the Deuce on 14th. We finished up at some horrendously cheesy Latino club on Ocean Drive, where the semi-topless leopard-skin bikini-clad girls dancing on the bar (that lured us in from the street) were quickly replaced by some gigantic gay dudes dancing to reggaeton. Talk about a bait-n-switch. My comrades kept giving me the "dude, why the fuck did you take us to a gay Cuban nightclub?!" look.
We headed out to Homestead racetrack in the early morning. It's about an hour from South Beach. The amount of police presence on the street as you approach the track made it clear they were expecting a massive crowd.
As we got closer I started to get oddly excited. I have virtually no interest in racing, or any sport for that matter, but I have long been aware that there was this huge chunk of American culture that I was embarrassingly ignorant of. I mean, Nascar is immensely popular in the states. Second only to football. And I think they actually generate more revenue than any other sport. It's akin to knowing nothing about the superbowl for your entire life, then sort of stumbling upon it one day and being like "DAMN... who knew?".
Our first hurdle was getting our all access super mega duper backstage press passes. This took place way out behind the track. One thing that is immediately clear at any Nascar event is the amount of sponsorship in play. Logos logos logos, for as far as the eye can see. And each sponsor has a large crew of people needing restricted passes of some sort. So all of that needs to be sorted out far in advance of race time.
This took place in a small building and truck trailer way out behind the track. The chick in front of me in line was wearing the most awesome race day outfit. Checkered flag knee-high boots, black pleather Checkered mini-skirt about half an inch below her finish line, and a rather flattering checkered halter top that did its very best to uplift her large, sagging breasts. She had tattoo of two crossing checkered flags on her right rear muffin top. The makeup and nails were similarly on theme. I wanted so bad to take a photo, but I was not prepared to get in to a fight with her bearded biker boyfriend.
We finally got inside the gate at around 11am. The race was not to start until 3:30pm. We arrived so early so that we could get the full tour of the grounds before the action kicked off, and hopefully get some B-Roll footage between the four of us. Our only task, other than soaking in the Nascar culture, was to photograph and film whatever elements of the environment we could possibly use for the graphics package. I brought my pocket-sized point-n-shoot camera. Graham, the lead designer on the project, brought a Canon D5, the rolls royce of digital cameras. It shoots fucking HD video for god's sake. He even brought his own steady cam rig. He looked like a professional. I looked like an aging Hip Hop DJ from Brooklyn completely out of my element.
Once inside the gate we got a taste for the midway that exists outside of the track - an endless, dizzying circus of automotive industry-sponsored attractions to lure potential customers in with raffles and games of chance and huge displays of bad-ass gas-guzzling wonder. It was a sight to behold. Logos as far as the eye can see. The Ford pickup truck remote control car speedway. The Border Patrol recruiting station and sponsored stock car display. The Coke Zero country music jamboree. The Penzoil this. The Chevy that. And on and on and on. The sheer scale of it all was impossible to ignore. Loudspeakers were blaring a cacophony of car-centric carnival barker shtick in every direction.
We made our way over to the Speed Race Day broadcast center sponsored by Home Depot. Our generous benefactors were there in full force, in the middle of a live broadcast to a growing crowd of Nascar enthusiasts. Speed hosts a live pre-race show on their network that is immensely popular. We weaved in amongst the crowd, trying to soak it all in and not look like total doofuses.
I was impressed by the brand loyalty displayed by the race fans. Almost every single person was wearing a shirt that represented their favorite driver, and thus the companies that sponsored him. In addition, I saw countless people with tattoos of their hero's car number. I have seen a fair number of NY Yankees tattoos in my time, but this was some next level shit. Especially considering that drivers do indeed change sponsors and car numbers in their career. These people were die-hards. That is something that I cannot help but respect.
After an hour or so in the midway, we asked our boy Zach from Speed to take us in to the infield, to show us where the real racing preparation was going down. He promptly picked us up in a 6-seater golf cart and we made a B-line for the tunnel beneath the track. I felt like such a VIP. "Out of my way, sunburnt masses!"
The infield was a whole 'nother scene. The infield was packed with thousands of VIPs. Who the hell knows who they were. Friends and family of drivers? Nascar people? TV network people? Employees of car sponsors? Wealthy fans? I have no clue. All I know is that there was a mess of mutha fuckaz back there, and everybody was flossing their all access pass.
The infield was fascinating. The amount of unfettered access we had was truly hard to believe. If you have any kind of pass, there is virtually NO division between you and the drivers and their pit crews. You can stand right there as they pull the car out of the truck, and right there when they push it up to the inspection station. You can run your fingers over the hood. You can take photos of the car's interior. You can walk right up to where the pit crew is preparing for the race and just stand there, ice -grilling them if it tickles your fancy. You can walk out on to the freakin' race track and graffiti your name on the 3rd turn. There is almost no area that is off limits. It's fucking crazy. Like being able to walk out to the 50 yard line before the super bowl and sit down and text your ex-girlfriend. NUTS. In our post-9/11 world, I have never seen any public event with so little security and so little restriction.
The start of the race is truly epic. After all the drivers have been introduced,a woman comes out and sings the national anthem. And when she does, every single person in the entire place takes off their hat and bows their heads. People come out of the garages and buildings expressly for this purpose. Total silence. Total reverence. When she finishes, an oversized 6-wheel pickup truck comes around the last turn, dragging behind it the biggest American flag I have ever seen. It was like a giant cape, flowing in the wind. The crowd leaps to their feet and goes nuts. And just as the flag crosses the finish line, 4 fighter jets go ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM right overhead, buzzing the stands. And just as that happens, fireworks explode in the center of the infield. Then the engines start. Like I said.... EPIC. It was seriously one of the most patriotic moments I have ever witnessed.
So finally, after being there for almost 5 hours, the race starts. The cars do a few laps with the pace car. Once he gets out of the way, everybody floors it and the low rumble becomes a deafening scream. Like fifty 747s taking off at once. It was thrilling.
Sadly, our mission that day was really about shooting B-Roll before the race started. So once the cars were out on the track we couldn't do much else. We stayed for about another half hour before heading back to the airport to make it home in time for Dexter.
some more random photos
this LOLfiretruck was doing wheelies on the track before the race
they let fans out on to the track before the race so they can personally sign the finish line
saw this in the parking lot on the way out. guess there's more than one way to claim victory for the south.
-     COOL UNCLE IS COOL
I took my sister, my friend Carey, and nephew Aidan to see Metallica at Madison Square Garden last month, and it fucking ruled.
It was Aidan's first big concert. He's 14. Metallica was my first concert too, when I was 16, so it really felt kinda full circle for me.
You may find this hard to believe, but when I saw them on the Master of Puppets tour, opening for Ozzy, most metalheads HATED Metallica. The crowd literally sat in their seats and booed for the entire set. Myself and about 20 other people were standing up cheering like wild and banging our heads. That was 1986. 5 years later, of course, those same boo-urns mother fuckers were making Metallica the #1 band in the world. Bunch of bandwagon jumping pansies, all of you.
The MSG show was fucking epic. Amazing laser show, badass columns of flame that changed color on beat, and an awesome setlist that covered chunks of all of their great albums and completely ignored the lame ones (*scroll down for setlist). Only song I was praying for was "The Thing That Should Not Be" but sadly, it was indeed not to be
We also had amazing seats, about 3 rows up from the floor. the stage was in the center of the Garden, so the band was constantly running around to all corners and giving everybody a great show. It felt really therapeutic to stand on my feet and pump my first for 2 hours, and who knew I'd remember all the words to "Trapped Under Ice" 24 years later.
If you're a Metallica fan of any sort, I strongly urge you to see them before you die. You will not regret it.
I stole all of these photos from other websites, except for the first one, which shows you how close our seats were.
Almost Like Your Life (Death Magnetic)
The End of the Line (Death Magnetic)
Creeping Death (Ride The Lightning)
The Shortest Straw (And Justice For All)
Fade To Black (Ride The Lightning)
Broken Beat & Scarred (Death Magnetic)
My Apocalypse (Death Magnetic)
Sad But True (Black Album)
One (And Justice For All)
The Judas Kiss (Death Magnetic)
The Day That Never Comes (Death Magnetic)
Master of Puppets (Master of Puppets)
Dyers Eve (And Justice For All)
Nothing Else Matters (Black Album)
Enter Sandman (Black Album)
One Last Caress (Misfits cover!!!)
Trapped Under Ice (Ride The Lightning)
Seek & Destroy (Kill Em All)
-     11/09/09 HALLOWEEN 2009
This past Halloween was the first time I dressed up in years. I had some downtime prior to the night in question, so I decided to make my very own longcat costume. "WTF is longcat?" you ask? Hopefully one of these 80,200 google entries will illuminate this for you
LINK - Longcat is long
I searched high and low for a white, stuffed animal cat that most resembled the fabled feline. Alas, there was none to be had. Every toy store in the city seemed to favor long-haired cats, and never white ones. After searching high and low, I eventually found a light brown leopard with brown spots suitable for longcat conversion.
So if you wanna be cool like me and make your own longcat, this is how it's done:
STEP 1: cut stuffed cat in half / attach either end to white cardboard tube using gaffers tape + wood glue
STEP 2: attach the now long cat to a 5-foot wooden broom handle, using two zip ties (4 carrying overhead)
STEP 3: spray paint the whole thing white. Repeat this 5 times until the cat looks kinda grey and crappy
STEP 4: Buy Jesus costume at that insanely crowded costume joint on Broadway and 12th street
STEP 5: Spend hours and hours cutting out a stencil with an Xacto blade and spray with black spraypaint
STEP 6: Leave all of this by your radiator for 8 hours so that it dries in time for you to go party
STEP 7: Put costume on at 8pm, realize that you spray painted the wrong side of your costume (D'OH)
STEP 8: Repeat step 7, but stencil the FRONT (DUH). Let the whole thing dry again. Be late for dinner
STEP 9: Meet up with crusty crew, hit the town. First 2 photos by Patricia Yoon, the sexy black pussy
First stop was an insane 2 floor house party that Matty Matt was DJing on 10th St & 6th Ave in Manhattan. His crew always goes all out for Halloween, so the level of costume commitment and the energy in the party was off the meatrack. These pics were all taken by Matt, cuz I had no camera. You can check his photoblog here:
LINK - Matty Matt - photographer to the starry eyed
or listen to his sweet DJ mixes here:
LINK - Matty Matt's site
Matt & Heather, vamped the fuck out as usual
The Hallways were mad dark, but lined with gold reflective paper, and random flashbulbs would go off, temporarily blinding you and throwing off your whole sense of space and time (ok maybe that was just me)
Like all Matt & Heather endeavors, the sexy bitches were rolling deep
This was the view from the dancefloor, overlooking 6th Ave. Madness.
Please smurf me back to your smurf mushroom village and leave the smurfin' smurf boots on
Next stop was the Turntables On The Hudson party at a huge Chinese banquet hall under the Manhattan Bridge. It was mad crowded but the music was great, as always. My boy Gordon was busy on percussion while Nicodemus & Mariano did their thing on the 1s & 2s. This party is always a solid bet. Much respect.
After that I wandered around the Lower East Side in the rain with a bunch of drunkards and druggies until it was time to drag some freaks back to my apartment and watch The Great Pumpkin til 7am on DVR. Never did make it to Shelter. Oh well.
-     ACTUAL CONVERSATION WITH MY PARENTS
My parents had just returned from 6 weeks in the old country. While abroad, my mother bought my father a Diesel scarf. The following conversation ensued soon after we arrived at their house.
MOM: "Have you ever heard of the company Diesel?"
She pulls out a brown scarf made by Diesel.
ME: "yeah sure"
MOM: "I thought it was just perfect... as you know, your father drives a Diesel car... but as it turns out, there's no relation between the two whatsoever"
My father does indeed drive a diesel Volkswagen Jetta
DAD: "Wait a second... does this have anything to do with that fellow Vin Diesel?"
ME: "Yes Dad, Diesel makes scarves, gasoline, and actors"
DAD: "Does Vin Diesel have any new recordings?"
-     CREEPY PHOTO OF ME FROM 1987
courtesy of Andrea Porytko via Facebook
-     NO JOB FOR A MONTH? GET ME ON THE NEXT FLIGHT TO AMSTERDAM
These pics were taken in Amsterdam & Utrecht in October. Many thanks to the coolest cats below sea level (ChiChi, Vicky, Menno, and Pollux) for their hospitality and company.
We, Vicky, Menno and Polly have a guest.
He, Julian (circular beard and half long hair)
sleeps in the attic
He is friendly, American, and pees not
in the sink nor in the broom cabinet.
No reason to worry, in short.
Wednesday he's gone again.
Until that time, you could run in to him
He'll probably say "hello". You can reply
the same, or smile friendly. Both are nice.
On behalf of Julian, thanks for the hospitality.
-     9/29/09 HOME MOVIES
-     HIP HOP HONORS 2009
This past summer I was given the honor of designing the graphics for the 2009 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. I had done the first two years, and then had consulted a bit on the fourth. This year's show was a tribute to Def Jam, and I found myself quickly put forth in midtown conference rooms as the resident expert on Def Jam's history and legacy. Lucky for me, I had a pretty good handle on that. Partly due to my devotion to Hip Hop for so long, but also due to the fact that my sister Sheelagh was hanging around with the Beastie Boys in the early Def Jam days, so she got to witness the foundation being laid by Rick & Russell. In 1986 she handed me a rough mix of the debut album of a certain Mr. James Todd Smith, also known as LL Cool J. "Rock The Bells" was just about the coolest shit I had ever heard. Rick Rubin's ability to mix loud guitars with Hip Hop was a big part of me straying away from punk rock and becoming a full time Hip Hop head.
I worked with Jimmy Fingers and VH1's internal creative team to come up with the concept for the graphics as well as help figure out the print and on-air promotional end of things. I produced the graphics at Stardust with my friends Carey Janks, Fabian Tejada, and Anabella Zubillaga. The wireframe design is based on the iconic Def Jam tonearm logo, which appeared on all of their 12" singles.
I went to the taping of the show, which was a lot of fun. The BAM Opera House was packed with any and every Def Jam vet you'd expect to see. I got to meet Rick Rubin after the show, which was cool for me, as I've been a fan of his productions since day one. He even thanked me and gave me a little namastι for doing the graphics.
Public Enemy. KRS One.
Ghostface. Mary J & Method Man.
EPMD. Foxy Brown.
DMX. Scarface & Ludacris.
Some stills from the show open. You can view the quicktime by scrolling below the images. It was a real bitch to finish, as the Maya effect that makes those cool wireframe strokes also generates these little glitch pixels at random. There were thousands of these, and the only way to get rid of them was to paint them out, frame by frame, in After Effects. We were working at 60fps for an interlaced HD delivery, so that meant there were about 1500 frames to hand-paint. A labor of love, for realz. I'm very happy with the end result. Carey Janks & Fabian Tejada did an amazing job of making it all happen.
These were the original hand drawm storyboards
These are stills from the final show open
-     THE UNBELIEVABLY EPIC THREE DAYS OF THE 2009 ALL TOMRROW'S PARTIES MUSIC FESTIVAL
If you aren't already aware, All Tomorrow's Parties is a 3-day indie rock/underground music festival that takes place at an old Catskills resort in upstate New York every September. It began in England about 10 years ago, and has since begun branching out around the globe. This was second year it was held in the states. Each year the festival organizers choose one band to curate the entire weekend. Last year it was My Bloody Valentine. This year the monumental task was given to the Flaming Lips.
Disclaimer: it may become abundantly clear upon reading this that I know almost nothing about the current indie rock scene, so please forgive my ignorance.
My boy Jesse has been raving about The Flaming Lips to me and anybody else who cares to listen for years and years. I do believe he has even gone so far as to call them one of the greatest Rock n Roll bands on the planet. A bold statement, for sure, but this dude knows his music. So when Jesse sent the word out to my extended crew about a boy's weekend upstate to hear his fvaorite band and all of the favorite bands of his favorite band, I couldn't really say no. Nor could anyone else, for that matter. I think all of my friends share a slight regret at not seeing more live music on the regular. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to remedy that, as well as have some quality bromance time with the old gang. Most of us knew almost nothing about the lineup at all. We just figured it was worth a leap of faith. I am also always eager to hear brand new music without any preconceived opinions, and this festival was chock full of just that. Jim Jarmusch, when interviewed at the very same ATP, said something to the effect of "whenever I get depressed, I just think of all the great music I have yet to hear". Words to live by.
The Raleigh is an old relic of a resort from the Borscht Belt heyday of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, when middle and upper class New York jews had to drive all the way up to The Catskills to be let in to a country club. The outside looks more like an abandoned hospital, and the interior looks eerily similar to the hotel in The Shining. Long runway-length hallways with hideous, worn-out casino carpeting. Weirdly-fancy 1950s living room furniture that seemed borrowed from that end scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It appeared that it had been all but abandoned for the last forty years, frequented these days only by groups of Hassidic Jews who, viewing the art of suffering as a divine mandate of sorts, don't seem to mind one bit that absolutely nothing has been fixed, painted, cleaned, or replaced in the last thirty years. Hassidim, it is my understanding, believe it is God's will that they still be wandering in the desert, paying for the chosen people's lack of piety, which motivated God to bring down the temple of Jerusalem in 586 BC. That's a long fucking time to still be waiting for room service. But it will be pretty sweet when it arrives.
The Raleigh had almost no staff to speak of. Just a few security guards at the front door, one of whom came in to check us in at the front desk. There was nobody to carry your bags. Nobody answering any phones. Nobody taking massage appointments. There was no smooth jazz playing in the lobby. There was no busy hotel bar with live jazz trio. There were no brochures listing hotel amenities. There were no other guests in sight.
The security guard pointed us in the direction of our rooms, way down in "The Kennedy Wing". What little signage might have lead us there was in Hebrew, and withering away, just like everything else. Along the way, down long dim hallways, there were glass cases against the walls containing dusty golfing trophies and vases of plastic flowers. It felt a little like exploring the hull of some old sunken cruise ship. Like those urban explorer sites you see on the web.
Jesse had reserved two rooms for the seven of us. Each room had two narrow double beds big enough for two small children, if they tucked their feet in and had an incestuous relationship. These beds had one fitted sheet each, two wafer-thin pillows, and a small rectangular comforter just big enough to cover the surface of the mattress. Apparently top sheets and comforters hanging over the side of the bed were another luxury Yahweh was not too fond of. The carpet was old and soiled. The TV was broken. Most of the lights didn't work. Nor did the heat. The towel rack in the bathroom was rusted and bent. The place was such a dump, they should have been paying us to stay there.
I waited until Ben dropped a bag on bed #2 and I immediately leapt on bed #1 loudly declaring "I got dibs on Andreas! I got dibs on Andreas! The German sleeps with ME!". He may be 6'1" and from The Black Forest, but at least he doesn't snore. Ben snores like a god damn freight train. I'm a bit of a Polar Express myself, mind you, but not nearly as bad as the Bronx Behemoth. Serge quickly realized he had unwittingly drawn the short straw in that deal - big time.
We dropped off our bags, had a quick drink or two, and headed back to the lobby to catch a 10-minute bus over to the other resort, Kutsher's, where the actual ATP festival was already underway. Our Venezuelan crew (Alfred Fabiana Marcus Laura Anabella) had booked tickets early enough to get a room at Kutsher's, so our first order of business was to meet up with them and get some tequila flowing while the night was still young.
If we had been on our game in April or May, we would have reserved rooms at Kutsher's, where the ATP is actually held. There are only 400 rooms, and they sell out quickly, so festival organizers offer up The Raleigh as option B for attendees; running a non-stop bus service to and fro, all weekend long.
Once the sleeping arrangements brokered, we did some shots of tequila and headed out to the lobby to catch the next bus to the festival. It was about 11pm and time was-a-wastin'.
Kutshers was quite a different scene. It's an old resort, from the exact same era as the Raleigh I would guess, but it seems to have maintained just enough steady flow of nostalgic vacationers over the years to feel slightly better up-kept, and not nearly as haunted. They even appeared to have bought all new furniture in about 1979 or so, putting them at least two decades ahead of The Raleigh in the interior decoration department.
The lobby was crawling with garden variety hipsters and a deluge of mostly music nerds transplanted directly from Williamsburg and many other Williamsburgy locales around the globe. Dark-rimmed glasses wearing misfits with a penchant for tight black jeans and Converse All Stars. These are not annoying fashion hipsters, though. These are white music nerds, who are really quite tolerable I assure you.
We only made it to one show that night, which was The Jesus Lizard. I thought the band was tight but David Yow just sucked. Plenty of kids were stage diving and carrying on, so the crowd seemed in to it. I was bummed that we had missed both Iron & Wine and David Cross earlier in the evening.
I was, however, very excited to see the main venue, "Stage One", where we would be spending so much time for the next few days. Stage One was a semi-circular arena, with several elevated tiers. There were no seats, so everybody stands, which is fine by me. Looking around the room, you could easily imagine these tiers filled with a maze of cocktail tables with little lamps, like that scene at the Copa Cabana in "Goodfellas". The room must hold about 2500 people comfortably. You could get a good gander of the stage from anywhere. The acoustics were solid, and the sound quality of the system was excellent.
The show ended at around 1:30am. We explored the hotel for a bit afterwards. There were a few different lounges that were somewhat lively, filled with nothing but nerds talking about music. DJs played old school Hip Hop and dancey rock n roll. A piece of blue-cake-frosting asbestos ceiling fell in to Serge's drink. Like I said, this place was totally falling apart. The complex is surrounding a small man-made lake, so lots of people were outside smoking and milling around. It was kind of bizarre to see this crowd of music nerds transported from a dive bar on Bedford Ave straight to the edge of a lake in the Catskills.
We had a few more drinks at Kutsher's and decided to go catch a bus back to The Raleigh. While we were outside, some really chatty English dude started talking to me, asking where he could buy drugs. His demeanor was tweaky as fuck, as if he had plenty of drugs already, but he swore up and down he was stone cold sober and looking to get hooked up. I told him he was probably out of luck, man. A minivan taxi pulled up and we all hopped in, dragging the English weirdo with us.
By now everybody had a nice Friday night drunk on to some degree or another, which I blame for some nameless pervert among us asking the taxi driver to "take us to your finest strip club" (paraphrasing). We were in the middle of fucking nowhere and it was 3am. Such a bad idea. Yet on we went.
We pulled in to the gravel parking lot of The Jade Lounge - a seedy backwoods disaster if I ever did see one. There were only about 5 cars in the parking lot. We rushed inside to get one last drink and a sad, desperate gander at the local corn-fed talent.
It looked more like a dimly-lit elks lodge than a strip club. Wood floors. A pool table. Kind of empty in the middle. An L-shaped stage wrapped around the far corner behind the bar. There was three guys at the bar stuffing dollars in to a fat woman's brassiere. A fourth guy was passed out cold, with his head flung over the back of his chair and his mouth hanging open. There were only two ladies dancing, one gigantic white woman chatting up the patrons while a slightly-less gigantic latina woman worked the pole. The white chick was about 250 and shaped like something out of Dr Seuss. All torso and shoulders with thin little legs. She had two weird pancake breasts that seem attached at remarkably different levels of elevation on her chest. It was a shit show, for sure.
The buggy English guy was horrified.
"FUCKIN ELL! Where the fuck have you blokes taken me? You're fucking mad if you think I'm gettin' a dance with one a 'em". He kept grabbing my arm and pleading "whateva' yew fucking do, don't yew fucking leave me 'ere!"
Since I had pulled him in to our cab, I was now his best friend. "Yeah yeah, no worries".
The whole vibe was depressing and sad. We only stayed about 20 minutes. Just long enough for the two Calexican brothers to buy Jesse a lapdance with the gigantic white girl. She lead him in to the back, through a storage room, to another hallway with a dingy couch in the corner. He was a good sport about it. The quote of the night was "Don't touch these honey, I got three kids to feed". Good times.
We fucked around back in the hotel room for a bit, drinking tequila and listening to the Calexicans' ipod. Serge and I went out exploring at about 5am and found 5 guys from Pennsylvania in a room smoking weed and drinking bourbon. The weird English guy from earlier was somehow now with them, though they didn't know him either. Serge and I were drunk and apparently acting strange enough for these kids to keep asking us if we were cops. When we revealed that we already knew the English guy from a local strip club bathroom earlier that night, they were doubly confused.
We soon headed back to the Kennedy wing and crashed, drifting off to sleep to the Led Zeppelin lullaby album that had graciously gifted to me earlier that day. It was fucking perfect.
We woke up around 10am and traded Ben snoring stories before mounting up and heading in to beautiful downtown Monticello for a an old-fashioned diner breakfast.
We rolled up to Kutsher's at about 1:30pm. After a quick rendezvous with the Venezweirdos, we rushed down to Stage One to catch the last half of Sufjan Stevens. To my amazement, the auditorium that had been filled with loud punk fans slam dancing to Jesus Lizard was now completely silent. I swear you cold hear a pin drop. We walked in and made our way silently through the crowd.
I had never heard Sufjan Stevens before. He played the banjo and the acoustic guitar and sung in this beautiful whisper voice that probably got him beat up a lot as a kid. He had a small band with him and they seemed to play just the perfect amount of minimal accompaniment to keep the sound quiet and keep the audience in a state of hushed awe.
LINK - This is actual footage from the show
LINK - This picture is crappy, but you can hear just how quiet it was
It was magical. It felt more like a church service than a concert. It only took a few songs for me to think "wow, this is some really beautiful music I'm witnessing". He was performing his 2004 album "Seven Swans" in its entirety. There is a running theme of religious hallucinations in the lyrics that I picked up on immediately. This just endeared me to him even more. After the show I went out to the lobby and bought the album on vinyl. I've been listening to it almost daily ever since. Supposedly his new album is all about the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
As soon as Sufan finished we headed over to Stage Two, where Bridezilla was about two songs in to their set. We waltzed in and found a good vantage point with no trouble at all.
LINK - One of their videos
LINK - A clip from the show
One of the greatest thing about this whole festival is the size of the crowd. They keep the tickets limited, so there is never too many people in any show. Hence, there is never a line to wait in, never a rush to get there. There's always plenty of room. Such a simple idea, but a great one nonetheless.
Another wonderful aspect is the lack of corporate sponsorship. No teams of promotional flunkies handing out free samples or trying to sign you up for The Discover Card. No tables of cell phone accessories or nasty energy drinks. Such a shunning of corporatism is almost unheard of in this day in age. Actually, I'm quite certain it is completely unheard of for a festival of this magnitude. Bravo ATP. Bravo.
Bridezilla was aiight. Not really my thing. I think they're from Australia. The saxaphone player did this very odd thing where she played her horn in very short notes, that sounded more like samples of a sax that were cut up. Go figure.
We left the Bridezilla show a few songs early and headed back to Stage One for Grouper, who is basically just a chick on a stool playing this weird, dreamy, droning ambient noise on a guitar and sort of singing here and there. It was interesting but not really grabbing me. Maybe if I was on 6 vicodin or something, but my 3pm sober was not cutting it. She did have cool projections behind her.
LINK - An unofficial music video
After Grouper it was back to Stage Two for a guy who calls himself Atlas Sound. He was sitting in a chair, playing guitar, and working some kind of sampler or keyboard. He's a very funky looking dude. Tall and lanky and kind of caved-in, like he's been badly photoshopped. Somebody said he was born with a form of gigantism. He's also the singer for this band Deer Hunter, who were playing later that day.
LINK - A clip from the show (with kinda crappy sound)
By late afternoon I had a pretty good read on the crowd that was in attendance. It's really pretty remarkable. It's as if they take all of the douchebags that you hate from any concert experience and remove them, leaving just true music nerds like yourself. No fashionistas. No shirtless suburbanites pumping their fists. No chicks up on dudes' shoulders flashing their tits. No wall street assholes with box seats. NONE of that. Just people who are like "holy shit this is my favorite fucking band and I'm so fucking happy to be here". It's really, really cool.
At some point in the day, well in to our respective altered states, The Venezweirdos and my crew came across an entire hallway filled with plastic colored balls about the size of an orange. It was like the Chuck E Cheese ball pit for adults. You can imagine my excitement. Like somebody magical wizard had dumped them all over the hallway, just for us! A huge plastic colored ball war ensured, and lasted pretty much the rest of the weekend. We started seeing them all over the hotel. Anytime we would spot one, there'd be a mad trampling race to grab it and bean the nearest person squarely on the forehead. They were plastic and hollow so nobody lost an eye. Good times.
The next show we attended was Anti-Pop Consortium. I was never a fan, really, but they put on a decent show and one of their MCs does have relatively mad skillz. El P played on the same stage about an hour later. He was actually pretty damn good, but he just never did it for me as an MC.
Dead Meadow was awesome. They play this Black Sabbathy bluesy rock, and manage to get a really nice, heavy, slow groove going out of just a simple three piece. It's stripped down and honest and just kinda kicks ass though you're not exactly sure why. I've downloaded a bunch of their albums in the past few weeks but none of them seem to live up to how good they sounded live.
LINK - One of their old songs
The Melvins were surprisingly great. I never really got in to any post-80s punk rock, and the kind of people I know who have told me that they dig The Melvins have always been a bit suspect to me. Turns out I was totally wrong and they actually kick ass for dayz. Their singer/guitarist wears a ridiculous Satanic robe and looks like a cross between sideshow bob and shleprock from the Flintstones. They had two Bonham-esque drummers and the whole outfit was tight as a mother fucker.
LINK - The singer, King Buzzo
After the Melvins we ran over to Stage One to catch Shellac - one of Steve Albini's side projects. I hadn't seen Albini since about 1985, when I went to see Big Black & Squirrel Bait. Squirrel Bait were my boys, so after that show we all went back to some chick's apartment and shot off fireworks until 3am. Shellac's set was off-key and abrasive and challenging, just like Big Black. Short bursts of noise followed by wise-ass spoken word shit over repetitive riffs that seemed to be trying to test the audience's tolerance for enduring them. Their drummer Todd Trainer is the most rock n roll dude you could ever fucking imagine. Like Keith Richards and Iggy Pop and the tall skinny creature from The Gorillaz had a baby. We were all in awe of him.
LINK - This is a clip from the show
Animal Collective closed out the day late Saturday night. Two guys with samplers and keyboards and one guy with a guitar. They totally blew me away. It sounded like nothing I have ever heard in my life. Abstract electronica that throws out just about all rules of conventional music that I know of. Layers upon layers of sound. Endless loops and delays. Sounds weirdly chaotic, yet still has just enough form to keep you engaged, with occasional tremendous crescendos that reach a rave-like frenzy. Their latest album has been widely compared to "Pet Sounds" by more than a few critics. Imagine early Pink Floyd, and Phillip Glass, and The Beach Boys, filtered through rave culture, but with little if any recognizable structure. It was cool. I have no idea if their records could live up to what they did live, cuz every song just blended in to the next in this seamless layered way. It was hard to comprehend how even the members of the band could be keeping track what they were doing.
LINK - One of their videos
After the last show we all ran around the lake in the dark and found a deserted playground with swingsets and one of those big giant hanging discs that can fit ten people on it. It was rusty and made a horribly loud creaking sound as it revolved. The stars were intensely abundant and looked like they were painted on a high ceiling overhead, Out of nowhere, a little gnome-shaped hippie appeared and started spinning these glowing balls around. He barely said two words. It was so fucking bizarre and yet perfect at the same time. We gave him a joint for both his impressive spinning light show performance and his perfect timing. We got back to the hotel around 3am and made margaritas in the room for an hour or so before listening to "No Quarter" in lullaby form and falling asleep. I'm telling you, this Led Zeppelin Lullaby album is like taking 3 Ambien.
So that was Saturday, and it was fucking EPIC. I kept saying to Ben and Serge and anybody who would listen "This is our real life! We are actually having this much fun!" I was truly beside myself with joy.
Sunday was more of the same magic. A never ending plastic ball war between the two rival camps kept us on our toes at all times. The bands were diverse and interesting and occasionally fantastic.
We stopped by Walmart in the morning, to buy some ammo for a final assault on the Venezweirdos. The plastic ball ammunition was growing thin, and we needed a decisive strike. That was my first time inside a Walmart. Holy mother of GOD is that place gigantic. You could have parked seven 747s in there. They were oddly devoid of plastic colored balls, but we did find twelve cans of silly string and one of those super loud air-horns. Now all we needed was the perfect moment to strike.
The Boredoms played first on Sunday. Holy fucking shit. INSANE. Nine drummers beating the fuck out of drumkits while that crazy dreadlocked japanese guy screams like a banshee and bangs on a wall full of guitars with metal pipes. It was outta this world. Talk about a wake up. I've been told they sometime perform this same show with 77 drummers. Bananas.
LINK - This video doesn't do it justice in any way shape or form
Boris played mid-afternoon on stage two. Before the show I ran in to Peter Aaron, the bass player from my old band Sluggo. He later went on to form the Chrome Cranks, who are old enough to be doing reunion shows these days. We hadn't seen each other in about 15 years. He told me he was a music writer living upstate and was still playing in several bands. It was great to see him.
Good lord, Boris was the some of the slowest heaviest music I have ever witnessed. Like somebody playing a heavy metal album in a black hole where time has been slowed down to 1/25th the original speed. People call it sludge rock or drone metal or god knows what. They were unbelievably loud. Like being hit in the chest with 40 sledgehammers for an hour. I had only heard them once before, on the soundtrack to the Jarmusch movie "The Limits of Control" (which I highly recommend - both soundtrack and film).
LINK - This is a clip from the show
NO AGE w/ BOB MOULD
The icing on the cake treat for me on Sunday was the No Age show of all Husker Du songs, with fucking Bob Mould on guitar and vocals. Husker Du was one of the greatest American hardcore bands of my era. I saw them several times as a kid. This show was the first time Bob Mould had played any of their material in decades. I felt like I was 15 again. "Makes No Sense At All" was the standout for me, but "New Day Rising" and a cover of Johnny Thunders' "Chinese Rock" also brought the house down.
LINK - A clip from the show
BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW
Black Moth Super Rainbow's AIR-esque groovy electronica made for the perfect find a chair and take a rest set. And I really do love the name of this band. Twas perfectly relaxing.
LINK - One of their videos
THE FLAMING LIPS
The Flaming Lips closed out the weekend late Sunday night. You can only imagine the energy in the room. Everyone there had just had the coolest three days of their lives. Playing to three thousand peolpe who are so grateful to you for curating this epic weekend of awesome music meant they couldn't have had a more willing and excited crowd.
They had a big LED curtain behind the stage. The show began with solarized 60s-lookin video of some naked chick dancing around. She then laid down and spread her legs, revealing a pulsating strobe light vagina. The Vagina grew and grew until it filled the whole screen. Then, to the crowd's delight, a door opened in the middle of the vagina, and the band emerged, one by one, stepping out on to a ramp that lead down to the stage. All but the singer, who appeared from behind the ramp, encased in a plastic cocoon. This cocoon soon inflated to a big atlas-sphere size bubble. When the band started, the singer started rolling around in the big bubble on the heads of the crowd. Then 100 giant plastic balls feel from the ceiling and confetti cannons exploded and people lost their damn minds. Somebody told me this is how all Flaming Lips shows start. All I know is that it was hilarious and fucking AWESOME.
LINK - This video kind of captures it, albeit from a very narrow vantage point
Once the giant plastic balls fell from the ceiling all over the venue, it was abundantly clear that the small plastic balls that we had been warring with all weekend were a subtle, guerilla foreshadowing of the Flaming Lips manic live show. Kinda cool, no?
After the Lips did their last encore, we rushed outside to plan our silly string assault. We waited fifteen minutes, until we were confident the Venezuelans were safe and sound in their room, hopefully winding down and off guard. I had a key to their door, so I gathered my troops behind me, pushed it open, and let loose with the air horn why everybody else rushed in, two-fisted silly stringing the fuck out of the place like a John Woo movie.
Not only were they a bit surprised, they were also sitting ducks. When we ran in, the Venezweirdos were all lying on the ground on their backs, with their legs and feet in the air, like turtles, with one of them CROWD-SURFING on the hands and feet of the others. There was no music on. They were just singing some Flaming lips chorus at the top of their lungs. It was fucking hilarious. After the air strike, we all took turns crowd surfing. Good times.
All in all, three of the most epic days of my life.
I owe you a beer (and $500 - call me)
If any of this sounds like fun to you, I strongly encourage that you attend in 2010.
-     TERRIFYING TUESDAY AT THE BROOKLYN MASONIC TEMPLE
I first heard Sun O)))) when they appeared on the soundtrack to the Jarmusch film "The Limits of Control", where they collaborated with the Japanese drone metal band Boris. Having just seen and loved Boris the week prior at the ATP festival, I was eager to get the other side of the story. I received a warning from the show promoters earlier that day via Email.
You may notice all of SUNN O)))'s albums feature their mantra MAXIMUM VOLUME YIELDS MAXIMUM RESULTS. The Blackened Music Series will be adhering to SUNN O)))'s wishes for this performance. The Brooklyn Masonic Temple is not restricted by any noise limitations. This show will be loud. This will be a show you will feel with your entire body. Please fortify yourself accordingly.
As you might imagine, this only enticed me more. My boy Marcus, who was going to the show too, swore that this was an ominous warning about the much-fabled "brown note" (South Park).
The show began with a burst of smoke from a smoke machine, and some kind of recording of druid chanting. This brought cheers from the crowd, who were eager to have their faces melted off. Not so fast, thought Sun O)))). The druid chanting continued... and continued... and continued...while smoke filled up not only the stage, but the entire auditorium. This was no quick operation. We stood there for what must have been 20-30 minutes, while the fog slooooooowwwwly rolled in from the stage. Reaction from the crowd was part restlessness, part bewildered amusement. The fog eventually got so fucking thick you literally could not see 30 feet in front of you. The stage was completely obscured except for the red lights above.
Thirty minutes later, outta nowhere, a loud crunchy guitar chord BOOMED from somewhere out of the fog. Like the bass scream of that creature from that movie Cloverfield. The crowd roared. Finally! Let's get it started. Like I said, you couldn't even see the stage anymore, allowing the band to literally sneak out there under cover of fog sometime in the previous half hour. Hilarious.
So the droning began. Simply one guitar and one bass, turned up to 1000, down-tuned to some Hellish off-key pitch that only a demon could love. And it was LOUD. Loud and slow as molasses on a winter's day. No drums. Just an endless droning combination of bass and guitar playing the same note for as long as the feedback could sustain it, before a slight chord change drags it up or down a notch. Did I mention this was loud? It was fucking LOUD. Deafening. Like being inside the slowly churning bowels of some great behemoth.
Twenty minutes in to their set, you could still barely see them. If you concentrated really hard, occasionally you would see some hint of a guy in a wizard's robe, somewhere in the mist. But only for a moment, and then he'd be gone again. Hilarious. Eventually, a third robed wizard appeared. He began speaking in one of those evil death metal voices, reciting some long abstract poem about something evil like a dark chasm or some shit. His voice was amplified to such an absurd degree that it was just as loud and bass-filled as the guitars. Each word was a kick in the throat.
So now it's 45 minutes in, and you're thinking to yourself "yeah, I guess this is pretty interesting". And it was, however I wasn't sure if it could hold my attention for two hours. But apparently Sun O)))) was way ahead of me.
The evil poet wizard receded back in to the mist, and a newer, much much more evil wizard appeared. This wizard was something entirely different. He wore a huge robe made from shards of broken mirrors, and a gigantic crown made from the same - like a bizarro statue of liberty from the ninth plane of Hell. His voice was about 50 times as loud and 50 times as deep and bass-filled and he was altogether 1000 times more evil than the previous Def Jam poet. And if that wasn't enough, he soon unfolded his clenched fists to reveal that all of his fingertips were red lasers that shot out in straight lines wherever he pointed his hands. Given the pea-soup thickness of the fog, you can only imagine how incredibly dramatic and effective this little theatrical trick was. And when he turned his hands inward, towards his face and head, the red lasers bounced off of all the mirror shards and created this incredibly evil spectacle of red laser spikes bouncing off of him and out in to the room. It was fucking SICK.
The whole time, I could only wonder what the staff of the venue must have thought of all of this. Walking in on it unprepared, one could easily assume that the dark lord himself had finally appeared to reign Hell on the earth, and this was a black mass of his minions awaiting instructions.
The satanic figure on stage was one Atila Csihar, singer for the legendary Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. Mayhem is one of the foundation bands of the Norwegian black metal scene. Sadly, they are most famous for having their first singer commit suicide and their guitarist stab their drummer 23 times or some shit. The band made necklaces from the skull fragments of their first singer. His vocals with Sun O)))) were an impressive array of evil black metal chanting and satanic incantations mixed with guttural droning noises that sounded an evil version of tibetan throat singing. And, of course, it was all amplified to a terrifying decibel level, where one word from him would rattle your ribcage for days. All while the other two wizards continued these loooooong slooooooow roaring chords. Occasionally the first poet wizard would play a long note on the trombone. It was bananas. It was awesome.
Later on Atila disappeared in to the fog and soon returned wearing a soiled burlap sack, with only his head one one arm visible. His right arm was made out of what looked liked twisted twigs and rotting apples. His face looked like a mask of dripping wax. He wore a crown of more twisted twigs. It was both terrifying and hilarious.
All in all, this Sun O)))) show was fucking bad-ass. An endurance test to be sure, but well worth it if you can appreciate satanic theater of the absurd (and you own a set of earplugs).
-     MY TOP 20 RESTAURANTS FROM THE SIMPSONS
Up up and Buffet
Gulp n' Blow
Kentucky Fried Panda
Griddler on the Roof
The Hungry Nun
Bob's Big Poi
The Zesty Fork
General Chang's Taco Italiano
P. Piggly Hogswine's Super Smorg
Texas Cheesecake Depository
Much Ado About Muffins
Captain Corndog Shnitzle Palace
-     A KICK-OFF LETTER TO MY BEACH HOUSE MATES
Throughout recent history, there have been some summers that simply rolled into the next without much notice or fanfare. Then there are the summers that come along once in a lifetime the kind that mark a clean break from a boring, beach-free past, and set a new course for a totally awesome beach-filled future.
This, my friends, is one of those years.
We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime a crisis that has only deepened over the last few days. Nearly 6 inches of snow has fallen this morning and we are likely to learn more is on the way. And March has just begun. I mean, WTF? How many more blizzards has that cursed, foamy-mouthed, rabid, little, buck-toothed, furry, feral groundhog cursed us with this season? You do know he BIT Bloomberg on the hand on Groundhog Day, right? (google it) That can't be a good sign. So many, many of us are both anxious and uncertain of how many more snow-filled days the near future will hold.
I dont believe its too late to change course, but it will be if we dont take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this winter could linger on for months if not years. Our red wine intake could reach single digits. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more barely-employed beachbums are forced to forgo dreams of sun and sand. And our trusty tribe could lose the competitive edge in grilling exceptional meat and making world class margaritas that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the entire Davis Park/Ocean Ridge community.
Now, despite the fact that this chilling winter crisis is God's fault (stupid God and his stupid four seasons), it is not beyond our ability to solve it. We can restore sun, sand, and good times. We should never forget that our beach house crew is, pound for pound, still way cooler than any of those other lame-ass Fire Island beach house crews. Our deck dance-offs are still the envy of the entire eastern seaboard. We are still host to the most brilliant readers of trash magazines, the most creatively stoned cooks, and the most dislocated right arms Davis Park has ever known.
That is why I have moved quickly to create a beach house Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will immediately jumpstart outdoor grilling and create long-term kale salad solutions for tomorrow and beyond.
Its a plan that represents not just new policy, but a whole new approach to meeting our most urgent challenges. Actually, that last part is a lie. its the exact same approach as last year and the year before that. You give me your money, I give it to a weird old lady in a giant sun hat riding one of those 4-wheeled scooters, then we all have a great summer.
Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: given today's uncertain economic climate, is investing in your summer really a wise thing to do at this juncture? Your saying "But Julian, will I even have a job in May? I'm on ichat 24/7 and I phone in about two hours of real work per day as it is". To that I say "WHO THE FUCK KNOWS? and, more importantly, WHO THE FUCK CARES?". Would you rather be bummed out, unemployed, and stewing in your crappy apartment for the entire summer with an extra two thousand dollars in your pocket that you piss away overnight on 2-for-1 happy hour lap dances at Cityscape on Queens Boulevard and 3 bags of shitty coke that some girl you just met at one of those old-timey drink spots managed to share with all of her friends in the bathroom while your were buying a round of $16 sazeracs and sidecars for those ungrateful bitches? Or would you rather take that measly two thousand bucks and invest it in your summer, where, worst case scenario, you lounge on your beach house deck for four months straight, perfecting your savage tan, mastering the Patchogue patois, getting a very clear sense of who wore it best, and picking up yoga tips from Melinda, cooking tips from Kenny, and endless ear hygiene tips from Randi. I mean, seriously. You do the math.
That is why the time has come to build a new beach house - one in which hard work and responsibility are once again shunned in favor of afternoon cocktails and tasty cheese assortments. Thats why Im asking you to work with me to get the beach house crew assembled in the next few weeks. Thats why Im calling on all of you Brooklyn Ballers and Queens castaways Americans and Venezuelans Austrians and half-assed Australians to put this wicked winter behind you and forge a bold new future of casual drug use and surprisingly tasty salads.
More than any program or policy, it is this spirit that will enable us to confront this challenge with the same spirit that has led previous beach house incarnations to face down the Y2K bug, the TV writers strike, and K-Fed. And if we do if we are able to summon that Sybaritic spirit again; if we are able to cook out for one another, and pass a joint to one another, and do our part for the weekly Saturday evening feast, then I have no doubt that years from now, we will look back on 2009 as one of those years that marked another new and hopeful beginning for the crusty inhabitants of 16 Donella Walk. Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless Davis Park.
-     YES, THEY HAVE DRUGS IN HEAVEN
I can't remember where I came across this online, probably 4chan or something, but I think it's hilarious. Again, I DID NOT WRITE IT (though I kinda wish I did)
GOOD NEWS FROM A CRAZY GUY
I made an amazing discovery when he was talked to by an angel, he wanted me to post this here to let some people know that the afterlife is very real. He says that he sensed something bad was going to be happening in the world soon. They have things for you to do that will keep you busy for thousands of years.
-Small people (dwarves) are made a normal persons height, people who are blind are made able to see again, and people who are paralyzed will be able to walk/be active again.
-You can look how you want physically and every month they give you a pill that will rid you of any bad materials in your body (such as fats, and anything else thats bad for your health)so you feel like your in the best shape of your life.
-You can eat/drink your favorite foods and drinks with no side effects.
-You have your own mansion, and can live a life of a king/athlete/musician, you can have a steakhouse/restaurant built into your house as well, and drink your favorite beer as much as you want.
-You can live out male or female fantasies, such as war or being a model.
-If you die before your loved ones do, you can be put into a sleep/meditation state until they get there to see you again.
-You can be given magical powers and sent to planets to fight off evil armies, and instead of feeling horrible amounts of pain when you are hurt, you instead feel a stinging sensation wherever you were hit, and when you are hit you lose energy in your body till you lose consciousness and die/lose.
-They have euphorias that will make you laugh out loud at how good you feel.
-You can do drugs there with no consequence to taking them, or if you like some of the consequences you can still feel them.
-They can give you 10 very attractive girlfriends or boyfriends.
-You can have parties that are even better then any party you'll have here.
-You can learn to fly(they add another piece of brain to your current brain that will allow you to fly yourself through the air).
-If you like games, they can create some of the best games you could ever imagine, that will keep you busy for decades, and can create another world which you live in with people who have lived an entire lifetime who will play the games you play, and people who are just living a normal life around you so its very realistic.
-They can create movies for you to watch, you can go to a world that has people that have lived a life for how ever man years old they are, and read about the film actors to further the bond and love for the movie you watched, and have your own movie theater and invite all your friends to watch with you. They can even insert yourself into the movie and you will be the lead role, for a good laugh or for seriousness.
-If you like music you can have music made for you instantly.
-You can live a new life.
-This is just some of the things that you can do there, from what I was told is that its even better then I could ever describe.
There are some amazing things that are about to happen in this world within the next few months, and not good things either. Please pray, I wish you all good luck.
*MORE BLOG ENTIRES IN THE ARCHIVE SECTION*