promises are kept

thoughts from the mind of Mitch Brown

THE DEATH OF TOMMY AND LINEAR EXISTENCE

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It’s been a little over three weeks since the passing of Tommy Ramone. Profile pictures in tribute have been replaced, and the eulogizing has ceased. Thankfully, the online eulogizing for the man who played drums on the first three Ramones albums was kept to a minimum. It’s not like he was Maya Angelou, even though the Ramones were about as ugly as Maya Angelou.

It’s more than a little comical when people who did not personally know a particular famous musician, actor, writer, artist, or whatever, get misty eyed and put up shit online that amounts to a eulogy for a dead stranger.

It’s not as if death erases their works. That’s the thing about the arts—They are immortalized. You can still go back and listen to that album or read that book. So what’s the problem? Another example of group thought and follow the leader I suppose.

I put up a little R.I.P. for Tommy Ramone on my Facebook and left it at that. I have to admit when he died I felt something. It wasn’t sadness or loss, but it was something. Initially, I wasn’t quite sure what it was.

I’m not a huge Ramones fan. Out of their entire, massive discography, I’ve owned only four albums: the obligatory Ramones Mania collection, the first self titled one, the lackluster Subterranean Jungle, and the much overlooked Road to Ruin.

To be honest ,I think the Ramones are overrated, as overrated as Nirvana and the Beatles.IMG_178759688323366

Joey’s vocals often sounded like mumbling, and the bulk of the lyrics were dumb and disposable. The saving grace of the Ramones, for me, was always Johnny’s guitar; that high-voltage buzzsaw attack that was all down-strokes is the definitive punk guitar sound, yet I can think of at least fifty other punk bands I would rather listen to instead of the Ramones.

My favorite segment and era of the punk rock was always the Southern California bands of the early ’80s, T.S.O.L., the Adolescents, Circle One, Youth Brigade, Bad Religion, and of course Black Flag.

Yes, I recognize that the aforementioned bands probably wouldn’t have came to be without the foundation the Ramones built,, but I still would rather listen to the old school L.A. bands. The argument that the Ramones should occupy some elevated pantheon because they were the founding fathers of a genre is similar to the argument that blues trumps rock because the foundations of rock’n roll are found in the blues. Yeah, I get that, but preferences are preferences.                                                                                                            IMG_76212258929168

So, what was it that I felt when Tommy Ramone died? It wasn’t surprise. He was proceeded in death by three other band members: Joey in 2001, Dee Dee in 2002, and Johnny in 2004. Linear existence is no surprise. We are all going to die. And that was it! The death of Tommy Ramone reinforced the harsh reality of linear existence.

I mean for fuck’s sake, it’s 2014, and all the original members of the Ramones are dead, so is Michael Jackson, and R.E.M. broke up a few years ago.

And that is a trip for me to think about, a reminder that today is today and yesterday was yesterday.

Of course I realize time can only move forward, and we all have a future date with a pinebox and a headstone. To acknowledge this fact is one thing, easy to do. Actually dealing with it and, fully, accepting is not so easy.

When growing up, we have living, breathing icons and long-standing institutions we live in the shadow of or even admire. They were always there, so when they are gone, the absence can feel surreal and unreal. If it happens over and over again, the world can start to look and feel less and less familiar. ( but keeping up is essential)

Linear existence is a motherfucker, and it took the death of a drummer from a band I’ve always been luke warm on to hammer home that point. Thanks, asshole.

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Klosterman Is Still Analyzing (YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK)

 

 

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An aspiring author should have a list of favorite writers, those whose works can inspire a young scribe. Chuck Klosterman is one name that ranks high on my list.

I remember when I stumbled upon a curiously titled book of his called “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.” The book is not as scandalous as the title might suggest—it’s a book about pop-culture, a semi-academic, non-stuffy critical analysis of pop-culture.

Klosterman goes deep on subjects that many academics regard as superficial. If someone lives in Las Vegas, he or she doesn’t analyze the meaning of neon lights. They are just sort of there. That’s what modern pop-culture is the equivalent of. It’s become so deeply embedded in our society; it’s now an omnipresent backdrop. It’s always there.
With his magnifying glass like analysis, Klosterman discovered significance in the insignificant.

His books are chalked full of oh wow moments.

Klosterman gets at ideas that are under our noses but often go unnoticed. He went through those ideas at a rapid pace in “Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. Klosterman wrote about how MTV’s “the Real World was not a reflection of youth culture, but a pseudo–mirror that changed it, and he also declared “Saved By the Bell” to be the ultimate example of suspension of disbelief on a TV show.

Ten years after “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs,” Klosterman is still at it—with his most recent book, “I Wear the

Black Hat,” Klosterman dissects villainy. What is a villain? Why does someone get labeled as a villain?

In “I Wear the Black Hat,” Klosterman presents a formula for determining a villain, someone who knows the most but cares the least. He states that a combination of those traits does not automatically make someone nefarious, but if someone exhibits them, he or she will be thought of as a “villain.” Klosterman’s first example of this misjudgment is applied to Machiavelli, and I thought “wow.”

Each chapter is an essay about a public figure’s perceived villainy, and a wide array of names slither their way into the book– Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, Aleister Crowley,  Ice Cube, Joe Paterno and, of course, Adolf Hitler.

The diversity of names in the book is due to Klosterman’s compare and contrast method of examination. One of the most striking examples of such is the chapter “Easier Than Typing.” It’s about Bernhard Goetz, a now seemingly forgotten name from New York City’s past.

Klosterman opens the chapter by asking readers what if Batman was real, yet they knew nothing of his motivations, and with only surface knowledge of his actions would they think of him as a hero? Klostermen then elegantly transitions into the story of Bernhard Goetz.

While riding the subway in December of 1984, Goetz was approached by four young men—They asked for money. Goetz shot them, all lived, and one was left paralyzed.

The young men were carrying sharpened screwdrivers and had criminal records. Goetz had been assaulted and robbed two years earlier. Goetz was white, and the young men were black.

Klosterman writes that shortly after the shooting, Goetz was cheered and championed by many New Yorkers, at a time in which the city’s crime rate was 70 percent higher than the national average.

But public opinion began to shift as Goetz granted media interviews. He displayed no remorse over the shooting and called it “easier than typing.” Goetz became a villain not because of what he did, but because of what he said about the incident after the fact.

Klosterman sums it up by saying “Vigilantism’s profound contradiction is that every socially aware person agrees that it cannot be allowed to exist, even though huge swaths of society would approve if it sometimes did. As long as Goetz remained a nameless, faceless concept, those incongruous realities were in equilibrium. As soon as Goetz became real. He was not merely a problem of democracy; he was a thin man in a leather jacket without remorse.” Upon reading that, I thought “oh wow.”

Therein lays the brilliance of Chuck Klosterman and “I Wear the Black Hat.”

 

NOBODY IS TRYING TO TAKE YOUR XMAS AWAY

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Sure as shit as TNT will show the Christmas Story, and your local supermarket will stock tasty egg nog, a new holiday tradition has arrived, one in which Fox News pundits will complain about the (false) notion of a “war on Xmas.”

I really didn’t think it could get any better than last year when David Silverman made an appearance on the “O’Reily Factor,” and Bill O’Reily said Christianity is a “philosophy” not a religion. (Wouldn’t that contradict the Christian right’s narrative about the “war on Xmas” being an attack on religion?)

But this year, at least on an entertainment level, it has gotten better. As you might know, Silverman’s American Atheists organization put up an electronic billboard in Times Square with the message Who needs Christ during Christmas?… NOBODY. Of course with the whole free-speech and free-market economy thing, they paid for it and have a right to put it up. Other more traditional holiday tidings also flash on  the electronic billboard, but the Who Needs Christ one is causing all the controversy.

New York State Senator Andrew Lanza compared the billboard to the Third Reich’s Holocaust. If that’s not slippery slope fallacious reasoning, I don’t know what is. Let’s see, putting an electronic billboard in Times Square with an Atheist/secular holiday greeting is somehow a precursor to a reenactment of the Final Solution and the ovens of Auschwitz being fired up again!? Yeah right!  Lanza

In the face of perceived attacks, the brave Xian soldiers mount a resistance—the resistance is to tell people “Merry Christmas” and give the old heave–ho to “Happy Holidays.” I’m not offended by either greeting, nor do I even care which one is said.

So who is the type to make an issue over “Happy Holidays” becoming a new norm? It’s someone who desires cultural hegemony, which is the idea that one voice, one ideology, one people should dominate over a society, and all other voices are to be marginalized and relegated to a lesser status. The opposite of cultural hegemony is pluralism.

“Happy Holidays” is a pluralistic umbrella term, and Xmas is included under that heading, not excluded. So where is the problem? How is Xmas being attacked when it is a factor in the “Happy Holidays” equation?

The myth of the war on Xmas is part of a larger narrative, the myth of the modern persecuted Xian, which I find to be VERY bizarre. It doesn’t add up. Christians make up around 78% of the U.S. population, and Atheists make up around 6-7% of the U.S. population.

Which group has a greater probability of being ridiculed, ostracized, or discriminated against? Do the math and calculate the results.

Another resistance call you are likely to hear around this time of year is the call to “keep the Christ in Christmas.”

But, doesn’t Xmas have its origins in European polytheistic Paganism? Xmas is essentially a synthesis of Roman, Celtic, and Germanic Pagan traditions ( see Sol Invictus, Saturnalia, Yule, the Cult of Mithras, etc.) with the Christ narrative sprinkled on top.

After the Edict of Milan, as Christianity began to spread through Europe, the dates and customs of the old winter-time Pagan holidays were kept, and the Christ narrative was injected into the mix.                                            Thor in Thursday

Such historical knowledge deflates the whole “Christ is the reason for the season” narrative. The origins of Xmas pre-date Christianity.

What is the reaction from less-educated evangelicals when you bring this information to their attention?—I’ve found they usually ignore it or dismiss it and continue to cling on to the Christ birth narrative.

Telling Christians that their most holy of holidays has its roots in Paganism is going to create cognitive dissonance, and when cognitive dissonance gets too heavy, a stay on or jump off moment occurs.

I’ve seen how some Christians will disregard the origins of Xmas because it doesn’t sync up with their narrative. The former managing editor of the campus paper I write for in December of 2012 wrote an idiotic column entitled “The Corporate controversy of Christmas” that is an illustration of what I’m talking about.

http://muleskinner.net/the-corporate-controversy-of-christmas/

The denial in the face of cognitive dissonance was present: “Apparently, Christmas trees, mistletoe, holly wreaths and yule logs have pre- Christian origins. But none of this changes the fact that I, as a Christian, believe that the origin of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible.”

Just by believing something doesn’t make it true. You can believe the origins of Xmas are the birth of Christ, but the origins are found somewhere else, and that actually has been documented.

An understanding of history as a linear timeline is a basic, rudimentary intellectual skill, an understanding of cause and effect and how preceding events effect that which follows. And with what she wrote, dumb ass Ellen Becker displayed she has trouble grasping such a concept.

The delusions of persecution were on display too–”I don’t discriminate against those who celebrate other holidays, yet I have been discriminated against for celebrating Christmas as a Biblical holiday.”

I saw that and thought yeah fucking right!

The kicker was the closer–”In a time when all things religious are being discouraged and swept away, I still hold strong to my convictions, and will forever keep Christ in Christmas.”

What in the fuck was that shit? It was a declaration of personal resistance in the face of imagined persecution.

It’s not that we are witnessing a concerted effort to “sweep away” or ban religion, like in Communist countries, but rather a social shift in which religiosity is declining in some segments of American society, particularly among educated Millennials.

A similar social shift happened in Western and Northern Europe after World War 2. Countries like France, Norway, and Sweden have high numbers of non-religious citizens, and that shift did not bring about the downfall of these nations. As a population becomes better educated and more stable, their level of religiosity tends to decrease. The social shift of this sort makes the evangelical who wants to maintain a cultural equilibrium feel uncomfortable.

So with all of that said, I will not tell anyone to keep the Christ in Christmas or to take it out. I don’t care how you celebrate Xmas. For me, it’s the time for egg nog and Kahlua and to watch that movie about Ralphie and his Red-Ryder B.B. Gun. Merry XXX-Mas, MOTHER COCKSUCKER!!

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Lords Of Salem SUCKED!!

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What can be said about Rob Zombie’s Lords Of Salem? I finally got around to watching it, and my reply can be summed up in two words—IT SUCKS!!!

Never before had I been so psyched up about a movie only to be so let down. Give credit where all credit is due– Rob Zombie was a revolutionary force in the world of horror throughout the oughts.

The late ’90s into the early 2000s was a dark time for the horror movie genre, and I don’t mean dark as in evil. I mean dark as in desolate, devoid of a vitality that once was. Think about it—That was the era in which Wes Craven served up the triple decker shit sandwich known as the Scream movies. Horror itself became like a dirty word, as sanitized PG-13 crap was being released under such euphemistic labels as “supernatural suspense.”

Then along came Rob Zombie, and the creature was alive once again. When I heard Rob Zombie was going to do a horror movie, I just sort of shrugged and thought that I might check it out. I was never a big fan of his music, but I became a huge fan of his movies:House of 1000 Corpses had just the right blend of camp and menace, I was blown away by the Devil’s Rejects, his Halloween movies brought a greater psychological depth over the originals. I even enjoyed the Haunted World of El Superbeasto, Rob Zombie’s Fritz The Cat/Ren&Stimpy style animated feature.

When I heard about Lords Of Salem, I waited with baited breath. Zombie was being super hush-hush about plot details, which added to the suspense. When I heard him say in an interview that Lords Of Salem was going to be the “darkest” movie he had yet to do, I anticipated something better than the Devil’s Rejects, but what I got was a hard- u-turn into suckville.

Lords of Salem is Rob Zombie’s attempt at psychological horror, and it falls flat on its face. I do not have a problem with a director changing his style. That’s what made the Devil’s Rejects so great. Rob Zombie established these characters in one context and then shifts them into another, which varied from the vibe of the first. The Devil’s Rejects was not simply a continuation of the House Of 1000 Corpses.

This movie is a fail: Because for psychological horror to work well, a strong emotional depth needs to be present with the characters, and Sherri Moon Zombie, as the main character Heidi, just doesn’t have the acting chops to pull it off.

Let’s see if I can explain–  Good Psychological horror relies heavily on the use of cinematic tension, those moments in which the build-up before the blood splattering can be more unsettling than the actual act, the calm before for the storm. But so much of this movie is like the calm before a light drizzle, which doesn’t create the nerve–racking tension needed for effective psychological horror. The whole movie felt like it was dragging on and going nowhere.

The best horror movies transfer the feeling of terror by proxy from the characters to the viewer—The first Nightmare on Elm Street movie is a prime example. You feel the danger Nancy is in, so much so it’s unnerving. With Lords of Salem, you know Heidi is in danger, but you don’t feel it.

Throughout much of the movie I was left thinking WHAT!? or “so what.” For example, the older women, aka the modern witches downstairs from Heidi. Why are they taking an interest in her? I assumed she was to become a sacrifice, not a proxy for some satanic hellspawn that looks like a cross between a lobster and a wacky wall walker on steroids to be birthed, allowing the witches of Salem from 1696 to be transported back into the present, leaving the decedents of the original witch–hunters dead in a huge pile. And roll credits?!….

So much was wrong with this movie…

A lot of the trippy surreal scenes that were supposed to be sinister and foreboding came off like disjointed stock footage. Dialogue and chants that were supposed to be blasphemous and shocking sounded cornball and unintentionally funny.

The setting of the movie really fucked with the space time continuum, not like how old man Biff gave young Biff of the ’50s the Gray’s Sports Almanac, allowing him to become rich and powerful and completely fuck up Hill Valley.

No! Upon first watching Lords Of Salem, you would think the movie might be taking place in the 1970s, the fashion, a reference to Issac Hayes, the radio station receptionist has an Afro. But…towards the beginning of the movie Heidi and the radio crew are interviewing a walking parody of a Norwegian Black Metal singer. ( named Count Gorgann) The characters use contemporary slang.( “don’t be jelly.” “whateve”) It’s like the movie was taking place in some type of alternate universe that was a hybrid of contemporary and retro, and that was a little distracting.

Even Rob Zombie’s use of music, which is usually superb, was off. There is something to be said when the right track is matched to the right scene at the right time– The music then sort of takes on a life of its own. Zombie has proven to be a master at this, from Foghat, to the Moody Blues, to the Bad Brains, to the Allman Brothers. He’s displayed an astute ear for sonic synergy with his movies. But with this movie, it’s like the tunes he chose are just background sound, as opposed to being an integral part of the scene.

And speaking of music, one thing I noticed—Even though Rob Zombie is a hard-rock/metal musician, many nods to old school punk and hardcore are sprinkled throughout Lords of Salem: A Slapshot poster is on display at the radio station Heidi works at, two Black Flag stickers are on the refrigerator in her apartment, and Brandon Cruz, lead singer of Dr. Know, has a brief cameo in what appeared to be an NA(Narcotics Anonymous) meeting. That’s all well and cool, but it’s not cool enough to save this movie from being shit.

I heard somewhere that Lords of Salem is to be Rob Zombie’s last horror movie. If that’s the case, it’s a damn shame he went out with a whimper and not a bang.

Somebody should have told Mr. Zombie that endless still-frame shots of a hallway does not a horror movie make. Let me reiterate– This movie SUCKED!

Reel Wolf Presents “the Underworld” (THIS IS NUCLEAR HOT FIRE!!!!)

Hip-hop/ rap is not dead–it just resides in the underground, independently.

I’m repelled by the mainstream, swag-fag, autotune, pop-shit like Dracula to garlic or a crucifix.

Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, and Drake are garbage to me. You couldn’t pay me to download that bullshit.

But this, this video/song is an example of what I like to hear in hip-hop. It’s one of the sickest posse cuts I have ever heard, a platoon of underground heavy-hitters going in bar after bar and verse after verse.

A common conversation among hip-hip heads is who should collaborate with who, who would you like to hear together on a track, and when two, or more, MCs are on a song together and their flows create some type of synergy, see Ill Bill and Vinnie Paz, (Heavy Metal Kings) it often sounds like some type of magic. And the type of vibe on this track is magic of the darkest variety possible.

The imagery and lyrics would make many mainstream fans recoil, suicide by drinking every day cleaning chemicals, smoking a joint with pages from the Bible, Vinnie Paz playing Russian roulette, and Ill Bill even works an Aleister Crowley quote into his verse! I eat this stuff up like candy. Not everyday can be a sunny day, and I think music, art, literature, and movies can and should reflect a spectrum of emotions.

So many styles, cliques, labels, and groups are represented in this one song, La Coaka Nostra, D-12, Strange Music , Army of the Pharaohs, and so and so forth, and all of it meshes together perfectly, from Vinnie Paz’s gruff bulldozer-like flow to Tech N9ne’s verbal gymnastics.

Documentary on Boyd Rice (THIS IS A MUST WATCH)

The words repugnant, misogynistic , and iconoclastic have all be used to describe artist/musician/writer/photographer Boyd Rice, but I think one word is a far better description-genius.

The Iconoclast documentary is the most in-depth exploration of his views, life, and music I have ever seen.  His connection with Anton LaVey, along with Boyd’s ties with Charles Manson are also spoken about at length. Most stones are flipped over and examined . It’s rather lengthy, but it’s worth the watch.  (last time this was on You Tube, it was taken down in a matter of days)

I can remember the first time I came across the name  Boyd Rice: I was up late one night at a friend’s house thumbing through a bound collection of issues of Answer Me! ,a fanzine that only ran for 4 issues, and its publishers Jim and Debbie Goad were eventually taken to court on obscenity charges or something like that.

Years later I started investigating Boyd Rice’s music, which led me to a favorite album–Music, Martinis, and Misanthropy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music,_Martinis_and_Misanthropy       

A friend says he doesn’t consider the album to contain “songs.” The same friend said it was just spoken word with instrumentation. The album defies clear classification, which is brilliant and a rarity.  The things Boyd says on the album, the way he says them, combined with the instrumentation is like noting I had ever heard. The juxtaposition of having this soothing calm voice combined with mostly folk tunes and statements of pure misanthropy was so striking Of course, I would like something like that.

“As For The Fools” is the most striking commentary I’ve ever heard on societal decay and human devolution. In the song, Boyd reminds me of Dr. Manhattan from the Watchmen, totally emotionally detached from the issue he is discussing, and in doing so, it’s as if he has a clearer, more honest vision, admitting what others can not bear to face.

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Boyd Rice and Anton LaVey

Boyd Rice and Johnny Cash

Boyd Rice and Johnny Cash

Boyd Rice and Bob Heick

Boyd Rice and Bob Heick

One aspect of Boyd’s life that I thought might have been explored or explained was his friendship with Bob Heick, founder of the American Front, but it’s not even mentioned. The picture above is part of Boyd’s claim to infamy. It was published in Sassy and Rolling Stone in the late ’80s.   To this very day,  some people still call Boyd Rice a “Nazi.” In numerous interviews Rice has explained the photo was a prank on his part, pulling an Andy Kaufman.

Rice was never a member of the American Front, but he was friends with Bob Heick. But Boyd was also friends with Jello Biafra, lead singer of the Dead Kennedys, who is about as left-wing as you can get. (this side of Noam Chomksy and Karl Marx) He was also friends with Adam Parfery, who is Jewish and Douglas Pearce, of Death In June, who is gay. Portions of Music, Martinis, and Misanthropy were recorded in Tokyo. What self-respecting  “White supremacist” would record an album in a non-White country like Japan?

Either you get Boyd Rice’s material or you don’t. I think a lot of people couldn’t, so when exposed to it, they resort to knee-jerk, Pavlovian reactions.

Boyd Rice and his book "NO" This guy is cooler than you will ever be.

Boyd Rice and his book “NO” This guy is cooler than you will ever be.

A 20 DOLLAR TATTOO??!!

Midnight was fast approaching, and the line wrapped around the building. I had never seen a line like this in Warrensburg: I saw Whites, I saw Blacks, I saw college kids, I saw rednecks—I even noticed an NRA hat and a throwback high–top fade haircut. I spotted a few familiar faces from on campus, but most of the people in line were strangers to me.

I arrived early and snagged a spot up front. The clock struck midnight, September 20th became September 21st, and patrons were let in. No, this wasn’t a premiere of some stupid, bullshit Harry Potter or Twilight movie. It was the kick off of a 24 hour tattoo marathon at the Dublin Social Club tattoo shop, which opened last December and is owned and operated by award winning tattooist Tony Madrid.

The inside of the Dublin Social Club at the start of the 24 hour tattoo marathon.

The inside of the Dublin Social Club at the start of the 24 hour tattoo marathon.

I found out about the event a month beforehand, and waiting for it felt like a kid waiting for X-Mas Eve , probably because of the 20 dollar tattoos available that night.

Normally, if someone offered me a 20 dollar tattoo, I would have to decline. I was once told not to budget shop for tattoos. But this time would be an exception. Madrid and his staff are known for quality and professionalism, so I knew I would be getting top-notch ink at a discount price. One stipulation added to the excitement of the event—The 20 dollar tattoos wouldn’t be unveiled until the night of the marathon.

My plan was to scope out what was available and find something that would complement the ink I already have.

The first wave of people in front of me herded into the shop, and as I passed through the doorway, I got a glimpse of the flash sheet on a countertop. From a distance, I saw a brass knuckles design, but I was too far away to make out anything else. I made my way to the counter to get a better view of the flash sheet, and the words “Fighting Irish” were inscribed around the knuckles.

That’s a no go. … I’ve downed my fair share of Guinness, but you’ll find no red hair or freckles on this guy, and I haven’t thrown hands with anybody in about 10 years.

Another design stood out:“Dirty Burg” with cross-out lines through the words accompanied by bugs around it. I have nothing but contempt for this town, and I do plan on one day graduating, but I wouldn’t want to take symbols of this wretched hell–hole with me.

Then, one design jumped out at me, a skull and cross bones topped off with a green bowler hat with a small shamrock in the brim. BINGO! That would fit perfectly with the good luck/bad luck/duality theme on my left arm.

I signed the consent form, flashed my i.d, grabbed a sandwich, (the event was catered) and took a seat. My wait was less than 10 minutes, and I heard my name called. I hopped into the booth of tattooist Kody Miller, and we were off. Before starting, I requested that he make the color of the hat black instead of green. ( more A Clockwork Orange, and a little less leprechaun)

20_Dollar_Tattoo

As I laid back and felt the needle enter my outer bicep, I heard the familiar ZZZZT, ZZZZT sound, which I hadn’t heard up close in years, and a needle going into your skin feels just like what you would expect, but after awhile, the pain becomes dulled and replaced by a sense of euphoria, which is probably the result of the release of endorphins.

Anyone who has gotten tattooed is familiar with the after-tattoo high, a feeling that is comparable to a combination of X-Mas morning and the time when I was 15 and took an entire bottle of NoDoz in one night. I’m usually up until the wee hours of the morning after a tattoo session.

I looked around the room while getting tattooed and realized the magnitude and impact of the D.S.C. marathon. Every booth had a tattooist working in it, the walls in front of the booths were lined with people waiting and watching, and customers were still packing into the entranceway.

The sight was surreal– I had never seen a tattoo shop swamped like that. I was one of the first customers being tattooed that night/early morning, so I had an audience of curious onlookers waiting for their turn. One patron said the skull looked good with the rest of my tattoos. After what seemed like 30 minutes, I had a new tattoo, and I made my way out the door a little bit past one a.m. I had to get some rest—because I would be back later on in the day.

The plan was to get together with another student to record footage for a show I’m trying to develop for the UCM Media Network.( I’ve since submitted a proposal that was rejected , but for me, that just means back to the drawing board and submit another)

I met up with Dion, my cameraman for the day, at 10:00 a.m. We gathered the equipment and made our way to the Dublin Social Club.

The place wasn’t packed, but a steady stream of customers still flowed in. Walking in, I was greeted by the familiar ZZZZT, ZZZZT sound. The buzzing of the tattoo gun mixed with an eclectic blend of sounds coming from the shop’s sound system.

I can’t recall the last time I was in a tattoo shop, or anywhere else, and heard songs by Suicidal Tendencies, the Smiths, Dropkick Murphy’s, Bad Religion, Agnostic Front, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Ice Cube floating through the air, one after another. It sounded as if someone with a wicked diverse musical taste put an iPod on shuffle.

Dion and I filmed for about two hours, and then we were out of there. Initially, I wanted to film the start, mid-way point, and close of the marathon, but you can’t win ’em all. (Even though, I was happy with the footage we did get)

I think you could call this one a win for the Dublin Social Club. As the marathon, reached its end, Madrid put up a status on Facebook announcing that the estimated total of tattoos done in the 24 hours was around 200.

When I interviewed Madrid last December, for a Digital Burg article http://digitalburg.com/?p=4273 (later printed in the Muleskinner, UCM’s campus newspaper) about the opening of the D.S.C., he told me he has gained a solid clientele in the area despite a lack of tattoo culture in Warrensburg ( tattoo culture meaning those who revere tattooing as an actual art form) With the big turnout for the marathon, I had to wonder if the event signifies the forging of a stronger tattoo culture in the area. It sure looked that way.

Hard-working tattooists of the Dublin Social Club at the end of the marathon. L to R: Damon Dixson, Kody Miller, Adam Warner, Tony Madrid, and Seth Andrews

Hard-working tattooists of the Dublin Social Club at the end of the marathon. L to R: Damin Dixson, Kody Miller, Adam Warner, Tony Madrid, and Seth Owens

Dublin Social Club Tattoo Marathon Coming Soon

Something big is getting ready to happen in Warrensburg. A 24 hour tattoo marathon will go down at the Dublin Social Club on September 20. It starts when the clock strikes midnight. The Dublin Social Club has been open for less than a year, though some tattooists from the shop worked at the now defunct Living Art tattoo studio, hence the 6 year anniversary. I’m not quite sure what to expect with the event, but I have a hunch it will be something special.

The following is an interview I did with Tony Madrid, tattoo artist and owner of the Dublin Social Club.   DSC_Flier

Promises:How did you come up with the idea to do a 24 hour tattoo marathon? What is the inspiration behind it? I have never heard of such a thing being done in this area or anywhere else.

Tony: To be honest the idea was hatched by Kody and Damin, and I’m not 100% sure that I won’t kill them before the 24 hour marathon is over. Basically the gauntlet has been thrown, so now it’s a challenge to make it through with a smile for the entire 24.

Promises: How exactly will such a grand undertaking be possible, lots of coffee or cans of Monster? Will you personally be working for 24 hours straight? Or will a rotating lineup of tattooists be working on September 20th?

Tony: We are thinking about rotating. I don’t ever get to sleep til about 4 or 5 in the morning anyways. The fact that we have a small apartment in the back of the shop will let a tired artist go catch a nap if needed. Tara will be out on maternity leave, so there will be 4 of us manning the show. I’m sure there will be lots of caffeine involved.

Promises:  One of the most eye-catching things about the flier that is decorating Facebook walls was the mention of 20 dollar tattoos.

Normally, if someone offered me a 20 dollar tattoo, I would have to say no. I was once told that regarding ink you get what you pay for, and a lower price equals lower quality, but being familiar with the caliber of your work and the work of your staff, I know that won’t be the case.

My guess is the 20 dollar tattoos will be quality artwork at a bargain price. What are the stipulations for these ? Can the customers get anything? Or do they have to pick from a specific set of designs/flash?

What can customers look forward to other than 20 dollar tattoos? I noticed there will also be a zombie grab bag, door prizes, and a raffle drawing for a free tattoo. How will all of this go down?

Also,will the 24 tattoo marathon have some type of horror theme? (I couldn’t help but notice the EC Comics/Tales From The Crypt/Haunt Of Fear styled flier and the mention of a “zombie grab bag.”)

Tony: The “Horror” theme is just me in general. To me, nothing beats a good B movie and a great beer. We will be doing regular tattooing as well as the $20 designs for the 24 hours.

The $20 tattoo will be from a page of designs we are all working on. We did it a few years back on Halloween with $31 tattoos. It is basically just a way of saying thank you to all our customers. Rather it’s $20 or $2000 tattoo, the artist’s name is still behind that tattoo, so it’s always quality first.

There will be food and drinks right at the start until it’s gone. We will be giving away a door prize every hour on the hour, and we are still adding to the event as we come up with it.

A pajama contest is already in the works ;that might be a horror show in itself, and we are thinking about a scavenger hunt as well. This thing will probably just keep growing until the day of the event. None of this would be possible without the staff we currently have. All of the guys and gals are excited about this, and we are looking forward to making it memorable. The zombie grab bag will be awesome because even if you don’t win one of the great prizes associated with it you will still get your very own tiny zombie for free!!!

Promises:  On the flier, the event is marked as a 6 year anniversary, but the Dublin Social Club opened its doors in December of 2012. I know that prior to owning and running your current shop, you had another tattoo shop called Living Art. Could you explain about the shutting down of Living Art and the opening of the Dublin Social Club? , and how have things changed since you’ve closed Living Art and opened the Dublin Social Club. Have you seen an increase in business?

Tony: The changes are endless really when comparing the two shops. Living Art was opened with more than one person involved, and it never really lived up to its full potential.

The Dublin Social Club is mine alone and has all the touches that make it uniquely mine. The Dublin Social Club would not even exist if not for the encouragement and tremendous help from my best friend Alan Joyner, who always pushes me to strive for more in many ways.

We got rid of all the “flash” and only do custom work now ,as well as providing a much more comfortable environment at the new shop. I think the reception of the new place has been good from all of our customers that remember the old Living Art days. We have added new features, like complimentary beverages while you’re getting tattooed as well as an art gallery to enjoy while you wait.

The new location has been phenomenal. The extra visibility has been great, and being able to participate in the downtown events, such as the First Friday art walks have been fun. Not only have we seen an increase in business but a whole new clientele as well.

Promises: What type of responses do you expect from the public about this event? And what can they expect?

Tony:  You never can really tell. We have had small events before that bring a lot of people, and we have had huge events that didn’t have enough people. We hope that we will have a good showing, and the only thing you can really expect is the unexpected. It will be one crazy night for sure. We will be broadcasting random events throughout the night via Facebook at facebook.com/centraltattoo as well, so there will definitely be some surprises.

Promises: What are the chances of the 24 hour tattoo marathon becoming an annual event?

Tony: We always have an event for our anniversary, but depending on how smooth this 24 hour thing goes, and how everybody holds up, I wouldn’t mind doing it again. For us, it’s all about having fun and giving back to the community that has kept us in business for 6 years now. We truly appreciate them, so anytime we can all have a little fun together it’s even better.

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  Remember, 24 hour tattoo marathon happens at The Dublin Social Club,located on 126 North Holden Street in Warrensburg, MO, on Sep.20,

Black Flag vs. FLAG (A Punk Rock Lawsuit)

BlackFlag_VS_FLAG

Last week I was made privy to some strange news, not shocking, not disheartening, but simply strange. Did you hear that Greg Ginn has filed a lawsuit against some of the ex-members of Black Flag?

If you move in punk/hardcore circles, you are probably aware of the two Black Flag reunions.

One outfit goes by the name of FLAG, consisting of Black Flag alumni, Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson, and Chuck Dukowski, along with Descendents guitarist Stephen Egerton, and in the other corner is the Black Flag reunion that retained the name—the Greg Ginn and Ron Reyes reunion, along with some guy from Gone on drums and some dude from Screeching Weasel on bass.

I had the opportunity to see the Reyes/Ginn reunion in Lawrence earlier this summer, and it kicked ass. I was blown away, but a juxtaposed opinion of the reunion is prevalent online. Looking online, I see more punk fans proclaiming that FLAG is the real deal, and the Ron Reyes/Greg Ginn reunion is weak, and the band is just phoning it in. That’s not what I walked away thinking when I saw them in June, but I haven’t seen FLAG in order to do a compare and contrast.

Keith&Henry

(left) Keith Morris, (right) Henry Rollins.
Oh yeah, Rollins is also implicated in Ginn’s lawsuit.

The language of the lawsuit is a deceleration that the use of the name FLAG and their logo, which actually differs from the original arrangement of the four bars, is a “colorable imitation” that is likely to cause “confusion, mistake or deception among consumers.” Such a statement might not stand up in court.

The argument becomes questionable when considering the speed at which info moves on the World Wide Web, which is the primary source where punk rock fans, and music fans in general, would get information on bands.

Months before both bands hit the road, I recall reading news blurbs and interviews on websites like Vice and Pitchfork. http://www.vice.com/read/the-long-vice-interview-with-flag-dukowski

I knew two different incarnations of  Black Flag members, from different eras of the band, were jamming it out reunion style, and I could tell you which members were in which camp. I think it’s fair to assume that the majority of the target “consumers” would probably also know that.

But this will not be the first time ex-members of Black Flag have faced off in court: In 2007, Chuck Dukowski filed suit against Greg Ginn for unpaid royalties. A result of the trial was that Dukowski was forbidden to use the infamous four bars logo, not from playing Black Flag’s music live, but the FLAG logo is not the the same as Raymond Pettibon’s logo that decorated much of the original flier and album art of Black Flag. FLAG’s version is in a different alignment, and diehard fans or “consumers” are going to be able to spot that. Fuck, I did.

I’m not surprised by the lawsuit, but I think I sighed when I found out about it, a punk rock litigation. How did we come to this point?

Hell, it’s happened before: Former members of the Dead Kennedys took Jello Biafra to court under charges of failure to promote the Dead Kennedys’ back catalog. In his spoken word, Jello said the motive behind the lawsuit was his refusal to allow “Holiday In Cambodia” to be used in a jeans commercial. They won,  Jello lost, and soon after, an imitation DKs reunion happened with Brandon Cruz, of Dr. Know, on vocals.

About the Dead Kennedys lawsuit ,V. Vale of RE:Search publications wrote “It’s a bizarre notion in fact, the whole idea of punk rockers suing each other over copyrights and financial contract details seems antithetical to the spirit of the original movement.” I concur.

Gerg_Ginn

A punk rock lawsuit!? Greg, say it isn’t so.

What was the original spirit of that movement? In the American Hardcore documentary Ian MacKaye called it the “ultimate manifestation of youth.” Is such a feeling consistent with guys in their 50s playing songs from 30 years ago? Does that turn the old school into a mockery of its former self?

Can a genre  that was drenched in the fountain of youth and teenage frustration survive into middle age? Many of the brightest leading-lights of the ’80s refused to limit themselves to a one-dimensional hardcore blueprint as they aged. A number of the old schoolers evolved musically, instead of making the same record from 1982 over and over again.

Jello Biafra is a prime example, moving beyond the confines of the music he made infamous with the Dead Kennedys. In the ’90s he did a country/rockabilly type record with Mojo Nixon.

Yes, we are long, long way from the 1980s or even the ’90s. The punk rock lawsuits are an example of how things have changed. To think that the four bars, a symbol that was once a representation of unrest ,spray painted all over Southern California and flaunted in the face of the LAPD, has been reduced to the status of another corporate logo to be placed alongside the Nike swoosh.

A link to the actual lawsuit below…

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com//sites/default/files/custom/Documents/ESQ/SSTRecordsvRollins.pdf

black-flag-logo1

This is the original four bars design.

flag-banner

This is the design used by FLAG. Do you notice the difference? I do.

A quick scan of Google images reveals a plethora of different take offs and inversions of the four bars. The logo, although powerful and striking, is simply four rectangle shapes in in an alternating pattern. I don’t think Greg Ginn owns the rights to the use of rectangles.

Elvis-Presley-Black-Flag-Sytle-Bars-white-fz

See what I mean?

Could both the estate of Elvis or Greg Ginn and SST Records go after the maker of this shirt?

pg_irish_flag_shirt

This brilliant, cool as fuck, mash up of a t-shirt was designed by Danny Boy O’ Connor ( of House of Pain and La Coka Nostra) for his Pain Gang clothing line.

Kristen Stewart In A Black Flag Shirt: What’s The Big Deal??

Kristen_Stewart

For some reason, the picture above has caused a little bit of controversy.

You might ask what’s the deal? I did too. It’s a picture of Kristen Stewart( star of those Twilight movies) wearing a Black Flag shirt. Upon first glance, I didn’t even know her by name, and I’ve never seen any of those Twilight movies, and I don’t plan on watching them. But Black Flag is my favorite band and the greatest American punk band of all time.

Many fans of the band had a problem with this picture. I noticed the picture on Facebook last week, and underneath it was a barrage of vitriolic remarks, comments like “That bitch has never listened to Black Flag a day in her life, “poser,” “I’m going to burn all of  my Black Flag shirts now.” For those befuddled by such comments, I can explain in two words—punk dogmatism, so–called non conformists creating a set of rules to impose upon others.

I can understand. Because that was once me, but I grew up and acquired a more panoramic worldview.

For many within the punk scene, and other subculture scenes, the music and so many of the trappings associated with it becomes a refuge from all things mainstream and conventions I, and others, did not fit into, and in the mind of a punk-rock dogmatist, Stewart wearing that shirt is an encroachment upon on that refuge.

I understand. The four bars can take on an almost sacred quality, but to say someone shouldn’t be listening to a band or jumping to the conclusion that this person doesn’t listen to said band, which the person is wearing a shirt of, just because she is in a higher income bracket is prejudicial and bigoted. That’s a mentality that is antithetical to what Black Flag was about.

The band shattered schemas and destroyed dogmas.

During their early days, Black Flag would not attempt to break-up fights at their shows. The philosophy behind such a laissez faire approach was that to intervene would be acting as an authority, and Black Flag was a band that railed against authority.

Many punk rock dogmatists would turn on Black Flag when the band released My War, an album that saw Greg Ginn and company moving away from the three chord blitzkrieg approach and contained songs with a slower, dirge-like, tempo.

As far as to whether Kristen Stewart listens to Black Flag or not, I don’t know her, so I can’t provide a definitive answer, but she has been photographed before in shirts of other punk bands—Minor Threat and the Clash. One can connect the dots and see a pattern pointing to that she probably is a fan of the genre.

For what reason do punk rock dogmatists attempt to rationalize a hatred of Kristen Stewart? Because she’s a movie star?  Other “movie stars” who listen to one variation of punk or another do exist.

Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) listens to the Sex Pistols. I read an issue of Blender in which Steve Buscemi was quoted as saying that one of his favorite albums was the Dead Kennedys’ Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Sasha Grey is a fan of Black Flag, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, and the Stooges.

I’ve seen pictures of her in a Misfits shirt and a Slayer shirt. Why did those photos not receive the same reactions as Kristen Stewart rocking the four bars? Nowhere did I see any “that bitch doesn’t fucking listen to the Misfits; she’s a poser.” Is there really that much difference between the social or economic status of the two.

Sasha_Grey_Misfits_Shirt

They are both attractive female faces of young Hollywood, though Stewart never took  massive loads to the face in a fifteen man blow-bang or something like that. Is that why Sasha Grey gets a pass on liking punk, metal, and experimental ? Is it because she’s been photographed by Richard Kern? And Kern had previously worked with Sonic Youth, Lydia Lunch, and Henry Rollins?

Both Sasha Grey and Kristen Stewart are successful actresses. They undoubtedly have an income and net worth that is drastically greater than myself and most of the people reading this. The notion that how much money someone makes should serve as a barometer of whether they can listen to punk or not was espoused. Some Facebook class warrior proclaimed that punk is only for those without means.

I read that and thought what a bunch of trite, cliché Exploited inspired babel. Most people in poverty do not want to stay there. The drive towards upward socio-economic mobility is a human drive that goes on, and should go on, regardless of what music someone listens to or subculture one is a part of.

But the icing on the cake was a middle-aged (looking ) man saying that back in the day girls like that wouldn’t have given us a chance.( or something like that) What does he mean by “girls like that?” attractive women?, actresses?, etc. etc.

I hate to be the one to burst this guy’s bubble, but time doesn’t stay frozen in some type of equilibrium; time moves forward in a linear fashion, a fact that even extends to subculture scenes. Things change. It’s not back in the day, it’s today.

Punk and hardcore were essentially revolutionary forces for change, screaming for change as Uniform Choice put it, and at least on a number of social levels, the revolution was successful. A greater acceptance of tattoos is a testament to the success of that revolution, so is the growth of skate culture and the popularization of shoe brands like Vans.

When a mainstream Hollywood actress wears a band shirt in 2013 that might have gotten you beaten up in 1983, such a fashion statement can be chalked up as a success of the punk rock revolution of yore, and I don’t object to her wearing it. I think it’s pretty cool.

Does Sasha Grey have more indie-credibility than Kristen Stewart?

Does Sasha Grey have more indie-credibility than Kristen Stewart?

comic_strip

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