So I just got done watching the Sarah Conner Chronicles and I wanted to see how much my 1st Edition Enemy Within Terminator series was worth AND I wanted to see if there was a precedent set for the story line currently being used on the show. You know, smoking hot Terminator female, touching a young John Conner to gauge his blood rate, sweat analysis etc. I mean, super nerd boner time right? But seriously! I’m looking for answers and I turned to the Dark Horse site and, granted I’ve seen their efforts on myspace and assuming the company is run by a bunch of tech savvy nerds as it is I was expecting some semblance of a reasonable search function and some coolness but lo and behold their site completely left me slack jawed, like a T800 with a grenade in the mouth. Darkhorse you guys are on notice. You’ve got an amazing franchise in some of the best Sci-fi and underground stories and your website sucks. Alas, I can’t stay that mad, after all, Bisley did do the some the most amazing covers for Enemy Within.
Thirty years ago today I came tumbling out of my Mother screaming and covered in goop, the doctor spanked air into my lungs, a nurse snipped off a piece of my foreskin, my father handed out cigars in the waiting room and my mom smiled in exhaustion. It was done. It was the same year and the same month Elvis Presley died, Jaws and Star Wars were released and Sam the dog told David Berkowitz to go on a shooting spree with a Dirty Harry-style revolver in a sweltering New York City.
I was born during the Dog Days of summer.
The hottest point in the season.
Every year during this time something truly remarkable and vile happens in various parts of the world. Hurricane Katrina. Wild Fires in Greece. Cholera outbreak in India. Hundreds of miners drown in China flood. Massive roadside explosion in Northern Iraq kills hundreds.
That’s just a smattering of headlines over the past few weeks. The ones that leak in through the television snow. The little pieces of information that make August an auspicious month during the year. If I was a betting man I’d say that I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to survive the apocalypse, which was supposed to happen 10 years ago, according to Sarah Connor. There is the thought of predestination paradox where had Skynet not sent a terminator back to kill Sarah, John would not have sent Reese back to protect her and of course conceive John. Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” had that initial idea that a super computer becomes self-aware and triggers the end of humanity or at least 98% it. The Wachowski brothers tried the same thing with the Matrix and of course there is always Our Trusty Asimov and his I, Robot stories. None can forget the implications of Phillip K Dicks dreaming androids drawing comparisons to our homogenized brave new world where more money is spent on physical augmentation such as breast implants than is spent on Alzheimers research.
Do the years get better?
Or do my tits get better?
I reference these things because there are a million scenarios that play themselves out in my head every minute of the day. Choices that I made that directly affected my future. Now with thirty years under my belt I’m looking forward to making more choices. What will I have for lunch today? Maybe some Quik powdered chocolate in a glass of milk with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich and some Oreos to finish it off. Those little creature comforts cut through the noise. They can stop the outrage fatigue I’ve had since Sept. 11th and quell the squall of rage I’ve held in my ever blackening liver since Nov. 3rd 2000 when I wished a category 5 hurricane swept across Florida and silenced all those fucking voting machines. I reference these things because I’m hardwired to question everything. I’m hardwired to expect more from people than they may be willing to admit they have in them. It is a philosophy of expectation I learned from my father.
So do all these seemingly random pop culture references and political musings have a point in this piece?
You who read this want your information in bite sized morsels. You are most likely reading this because you want to see what I have to say. The same could be said for the reason I’m writing. I want to see what I’m going to say too! I’m surprised what comes out. It’s a form of therapy. It’s the equilibrium I need.
There are lines that you can draw from disparate sources such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and society’s current obsession with celebrity and appearance – there is no amount of shaming our society can do to make someone like P Hilton drift off into obscurity. We’ve moved from adoration of success to the obsession of failure. We want to wallow in squalor and bathe in the idea that some starlet who had everything laid out for her; money, success and fame, is dumping it all down the drain while staring at a palm mirror through reddened and glassy eyes with a rolled up twenty in her hand. Is it the ultimate form of rebellion to just give up to vices and pour yourself out of your celebrity skin in front of a million flashing bulbs and video cameras? No. Methinks it is just slow suicide.
I want to feel validated. I want to feel like that vote I handed to Nader in 2000 wasn’t about winning the election or giving it to Bush or taking another informed voter from Gore but that it was about doing what I felt was right at the time and wishing that everyone could make their own educated and informed decision as to who to vote for. Alas, most people are robots, self-aware enough to eat, sleep, shit and fuck occasionally without ever asking why, who or what as long as it feels good then it must be good.
We’re animals. Robot animals. And we’re living in the nightmare that writers like Aldous Huxley, Ellison, Dick and Stephenson have been imagining. The violence that we live with daily is magnified during the dog days. It’s the heat of the Northern Hemisphere working on our subconscious where eons ago our ancestors rode across vast landscapes with truncheon and spear and sword to conquer and bleed into submission those that would alter or change the status quo.
Do not fear. Fear. Do not fear. Fear.
We are at war because war is profit. It is an industry that can be perpetually fed. Trillions of dollars into the effort and there will always be someone with a job and a big white house to eat Kobe steaks and caviar in.
We’ve had hope shoved up our ass. Just words of hope. No real sign of it. No large group or government making an effort. No miracles. No second coming. This is the realization age. We will realize that in our species infancy we are destined to rot in quotidian suburban malaise, buying groceries, driving cars, going to church, making lists and standing in line.
There is a silver lining and each of us has to look just hard enough to see it.
This is my beautiful wife.
This is my beautiful rented duplex.
This is my family.
These are my amazing friends.
This is the hyperlocal network of hope.
These are the inspirations for a million more songs and stories.
This is something I wrote when I turned 30.
There is no band. It’s just hair and attitude. There is no band, just a pending record deal with a major label and a video budget of 50K. It’s true what Hunter S Thompson says (though he is referring to the television business): “The [business] is a shallow money trench. A long plastic hallway where pimps and thieves run free and men die like dogs. There is also a negative side.” And there is no scene. Just being Seen. Along with “Seen” politics. Aesthetic that dictates a degree of coolness. It’s like LA but without the diamond in the rough and all the free uncut coke one could consume, which to say is probably similar to every other locale with the exception of small town scenes, where the only escape from the monotony is music.
Whats up in your local scene?
Here’s what a typical bar band with delusions of grandeur go through in a typical 12 month or more cycle.
You have spent the last 12 months rehearsing a handful of songs that are super fun to play in the practice space. You have played a few really fun shows with bands in your scene, who through sheer goodwill gave you an opening slot on a few occasions. The kicker is tenacity…And that insatiable lust to perform loud music for little or no pay. “Living the Dream” as they say. Your ‘friends’ only show up after you send an email notice 12 hours before while IM’ing with one of your ex-girlfriends about the new Joy Division movie that’s coming out. (cause no one fliers anymore, laziness and the ubiquitous myspace generation engender apathy in the most ambitious of bands)
Load in sucks. The promoter isn’t there and you are informed that the promoter doesn’t usually show up until sometime after ten. Course all the work friends that won’t show up anyway would have been bummed as they could’ve spent their time and money at a bar closer to more white people.
You’ve got that one sound guy from that one club who used to do doors at that dive. You know he will undoubtedly fuck up your mix and then give you attitude when you ask him how the balance is. No one is coming to the show. There is no band. No one cares if your mix is bad cause they’re too busy blubbering drunken nonsense at the bar, drinking over over-priced beam and cokes, bleary eyed and 5 bucks short of another drink cause of the cover charge for a band(s) they have no desire to watch.
Reminds me of that one guy who wanted to save the entire scene single-handedly. The hope of stupidity wielded like a light saber against a much younger and more agile sith lord. I think it all came to light watching Patrick Stumpf from venerable shit rock act, Fall Out Boy, sweat his way through a set at Live Earth NYC. Aside from looking like a mutton chopped Chris Farley sans mustache in ‘Da Bears’ SNL skit, his voice sounded like total shit for a song he’s probably sung a billion times. People don’t make any assumptions as to the value they can get because music, as a product has succumbed to being a commodity, as all products do.
They (read: Al Gore) used music to sell the ‘moral’ pledge of us humans need to save the world from global warming. It’s great! I can get behind the cause, ride my street bike everywhere I go, use canvas bags when I shop at trader joes so I can be entered to ‘Win Money to Shop’ at Trader Joes. I’ll turn off the lights of a room when I’m not in it, unplug the fans and iPod charger when they’re not in use so as not to draw power from the grid. I’ll watch all these fucking assholes on Sundance channel, Robert Redford included, when they talk about On The Green and how great it is to be part of the ‘green’ movement. Like some wine stained turd down the toilet of a failed generation of people who turned in their ire for 401k plans and mini-vans.
Its good that conservation is tres chic now. It’s good that people can make money from it and its good that bands, those soapbox standing carnival barkers, can affect some modicum of change in their mindless audience.
There is no band. And the scene is just a diluted body of stagnant piss water, pop shit bubbles to the surface and the pure, raw, charcoal rock of creativity from folks like Planes Mistaken For Stars, sink to the bottom, to soak in obscurity, watching ten years of ‘trying’ puff out like a match in a head wind.
There is an upside to all of it though. Some folks are lucky enough to make it to that great gig in the sky and will find themselves underwhelmed by the vacuity of sharing a stage with a half dozen other contenders of the dwindling attention span.
ah. punk rock. in all its facile glory. waiting and watching the dials turn. too much listening, not enough feeling or maybe too much feeling. whats the diff? and who fucking cares anyway. studio is so antiseptic. too clean. too nothing. not like the hot sweaty practice room, where your balls stick to your thighs and your face gets wet and smells like breath, cigarettes and beer. do that part again! oi! do that part again cabron! make that shit pop. this is all that matters in the time we take to eat sleep shit and fuck. just thirty minutes to feel like something is actually taking place instead of that endless wait. man that distortion is warm, feedback is so underrated i don’t know how U2 lives without it.
i don’t ever want to grow up.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Worked on Mongos drums for about 2.5 hours, since he is the primadonna of the band (not really). Dan Maier, engineer extradordinaire, got some great tones but Marks new yamaha kick sounded a little flubby so we switched it out for the studio (Audio Design) DW kick. Sounded way better and more punchy. Then we traded out his snare cause it was a little reverby, even though it’s a killer live snare it wasn’t attacking as well on tape. Oh yeah, Dan had a reel of 2 inch he graciously donated to the Cabrones for our 7 song EP. Man, I forgot how amazing tape sounds from studio monitor speakers, like a wool blanket in a Denver blizzard with a raging fire and a cup of Irish Cocoa. Running through the Otari MTR 90 Tape Machine and a API 2488 Board. Fast forward a few hours and we set up the vintage Ampeg V4B (1973), pushing through a 68-69′ 8×10 cab, with a Fulltone Bass Drive for extra grit, I used my slightly moded Fender Jazz Bass. It was super gritty at first but I scaled back the drive cause we didn’t want it to sound like another guitar, which was a good thing. Bob ran through his classic set-up; a musicman 2×12, a 100 watt 80’s Marshall JMP and a Morely signal splitter, using a Gibson Faded SG for rhythm and a G&L ASAT Classic for lead(s). We started with “Learn” and ended with “Silencio” and in between we ran about 3 takes per song, with the exception of “Silencio,” yeah we nailed that in one. I punched in twice and so did Bob. Late in the night after a few beers and winding down we decided to dump the tape to digital so we could do more in post. Today it seems to be working a lot better but with all that room for mistakes we’re taking too much time redoing vocals. Leo sounds rad though. Nailed all the songs so far. We’ll have to come up with a different title for the current song. Its kind of obnoxious and doesn’t really work with the actual lyrics of the song. Hope Leandros voice holds out. more later…
So Leo was fucking blasted while trying to lay down vox for “The Searchers,” and his chorus sounded like Kurt Cobain on the nod. A Mexican Kurt Cobain on the nod. He’s got a good style though, sort of sloppy and pissed but good tone. I dig it at least. I did my vox for “The Letdown” and pulled the cajones out and blew out my chords pretty quick. I drank a lot of honey though and it seemed to get me through the rough spots. I tried to channel my inner rage and push it into the song as much as possible. We did the triple threat, “The Searchers,” “The Letdown” and “My Dear Colleagues.” Here are the lyrics I wrote in full, as Leo changed some of them to fit the songs and I’ll have to repost my revision to “The Letdown” but is on my new home computer since The Man is taking his computer back once I leave this cold cube on Friday;
We are the searchers.
Architects of semantic infrastructure
Coded in concrete
Not paper that’ll tear easy.
Men of our word
We commit to the betterment
Of society as a whole
Our subordinates write copy
Boilerplate mission statements
Distributed to all the right folks
And conflict resolution
Is our diplomatic mantra
Memorizing tag lines stepping deftly over razor wire
We communicate, oh we communicate
a message of fire
Shaking hands and kissing babies
My Dear Colleagues
Have you ever worked
a 60-hour week,
At a job you despise,
with every fiber of your being?
Do you ever stop to think
that you’re not alone?
Yeah, you’re not alone
We’re all crumbling
toward the same ending,
Thankless and dying
But you’re not alone man
Sister we’re with you
In the factories and fields,
Just to get a sense
of something real
Carve out an existence
To stand tall amidst the giants
One voice to rattle the tyrants
You’re not alone
We’ll be waiting at the end
When the credits role and curtain closes
And the last whistle blows
We’ll be there
You’re not alone.