Since August, I have been playing bass in the band Bloody Death Skull. At first, I just volunteered to play a single show for Echo Park Rising. It was a such a pleasure, though, and now I’ve played more shows with the band because the songs are catchy and the other musicians are very talented and I have permission to play lots of really wanky stuff on bass which is a true joy (I make a funny face when I do it too).
The most important thing Democrats must do in 2020 is nominate someone who will defeat Donald Trump, whose administration represents a grave, existential threat to our republic itself.
He’s a uniquely hated person with especially bad approval ratings, and his last opponent – a historically disliked nominee who had been vilified by a literal Vast Right Wing Conspiracy for more than two decades – beat him by three million popular votes. He squeaked by in the Electoral College thanks to a combination of a juiced base and a group of center-right Republicans and Independents who hated Hillary Clinton specifically, or the status quo generally, and were willing to take a gamble on an unknown entity who would “mix things up.” Since then, he’s committed vulgar criminal acts in plain view of the American people – on a daily basis – and has even been impeached for a couple of them. Sure, his base is inflamed and perhaps even more excited than it was in 2016, but I’ve seen no indication that it has grown.
Based on polling and general energy, it seems to me that there are five people currently vying for the Democratic nomination who could beat Donald Trump in November: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bloomberg, and Amy Klobuchar. They aren’t all equally likely to win, but none deserves to be discounted if we’re just thinking in terms of electability (we shouldn’t be, though. Mike Bloomberg should leave the race now).
One candidate, however, stands above everyone else in her capacity to unite the party and trounce Donald Trump in November. She’s also the candidate whose record suggests she’ll do the best job for progressive causes once in the Oval Office. That candidate is Elizabeth Warren.
“Mao ZeBron” is a takedown of Lebron James’ recent comments about the ongoing Hong Kong Protests. Over an electro track I made, Triz claps back at James’ comments from last fall that the protestors don’t deserve our support by illustrating governmental atrocities, reminding listeners of James’ supposedly-progressive ideals, and ultimately comparing his “profits over people” stance on China to that of Donald Trump.
I produced the track, and Scott Barber mixed it (to tape!) at The Barber Shop Recording Studio in Echo Park. It was a lot of fun to make and I hope you enjoy listening!
I recently found this interview with Howard Finster on Youtube, which reminded me of the time I talked to Howard Finster.
When I was a kid I bought the No Alternative AIDS benefit album because it had an unlisted Nirvana song on it. I didn’t listen to much of the rest of the album, but I liked this song by Pavement called “The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence” because it was about my favorite band: R.E.M.
A good chunk of that Pavement song is just Stephen Malkmus listing the titles of songs from Reckoning, R.E.M.’s second album. The cover of that album was painted by The Reverend Howard Finster, who also did the cover of Talking Heads’ Little Creatures.
Howard Finster lived on a plot of Georgian land he’d dubbed “Paradise Gardens” and turned into a wonderland of religious art made of broken glass, concrete, bicycle wheels, and more. Years before, Reverend Finster had a vision from God, and after that he started junked materials for building a chapel. Over the decades, he constructed a masterpiece.
The members of R.E.M., being drawn as they were to Southern eccentricities, went to Paradise Gardens a lot in their early years and filmed the video for “Radio Free Europe” there.
I, of course, was drawn to anything and everything that was related to R.E.M. So, when my church’s youth group had a field trip to Paradise Gardens, I went. It was the first church field trip I ever went on, and in order to go I had to promise I’d become active in the youth group.
We got to tour the garden and meet Rev. Finster, who was sitting on the porch with his banjo looking exactly like he does in the above video. He talked to me about R.E.M. and about Elvis, and he gave me a quaint and totally ineffective 2-minute banjo lesson. It was an enriching afternoon with an ancient man who was simply effervescent, and I still have a picture of the two of us together. I found it recently, but I didn’t scan it for some reason and now it’s in a box somewhere.
I did not live up to my promise to become active in the church youth group.
Thanks so much to LA Record for premiering the newest single from Soft Sailors, “What We Live.” According to LA Record, “It’s a song that wrestles with the power and weight we give the past” and it “touches on Sparks, Geza X and maybe a little of Peter Ivers’ manic midnight energy.”
Juiceboxxx is one of my favorite rappers and showmen. His performances are awesome, and he’s just as insane as his persona. Well, it’s not a persona actually. He lived with me for a few months, so I can tell you it’s no act. The characters in his songs aren’t characters, and he doesn’t turn it down when he’s not onstage. He’s truly an American treasure.
Anyway, my boy had a bit of a viral moment a couple years ago after this performance on a local TV show in Milwaukee:
There are a lot of haters in the comments for that video, but they’re all complete idiots. This article gives you an objective explanation of why, but I think it has more to do with those haters’ joylessness and severe lack of imagination when it comes to what they think music ought to be. Perhaps, instead of commenting on Youtube videos, they should occupy themselves with something constructive.
Sure, it wasn’t his finest moment. In case you’re wondering, that moment was this:
Anyway, during my brief time living with the guy under my roof, we created a couple of collaborations. One of them was this clipping remix, on which he laid a verse:
The other track was “The Saga Never Ends,” a JB Mixtape jam that includes some really messy guitar work by me. The video stars Valerie, a very nice dog I also once lived with. But not at the same time that I lived with Juiceboxxx.
Thanks to Pauline Lay for inviting me to take over a month of Pehrspace programming. The Vanity Projects Residency opens March 28 and runs to April 25.
Events include a one-night only revival of the long-standing Sean Carnage Mondays series that ended last year, a Craft Night with the people behind the LA Zine Fest, a new installment of the absurdist variety show Charm School, an Easter Karaoke and potluck, and musical performances by acts including So Many Wizards, Emily Lacy, Signor Benedick the Moor, Spooks, Ghost Noise, Sweet Bump it, a reunited Big Whup, and more. Large, colorful, and abstract works by artists Anne-Louise Ewen, Ghost Ghost Teeth, and Nora Quinn will adorn the walls for the entirety of the residency. Get the full press release at Reverberations Media.
One of those friends, Alan Benard, liked what I did but thought it sounded a little Chipmunky and altogether too scratchy. So, he recreated the effect digitally and then pitched it down (using math, I presume) to, in his words, “squeeze all the marijuana out of it.”
I’m not sure why he’d want to squeeze the marijuana out of the record, and anyway that’s impossible because marijuana’s fat soluble. Everybody knows that. But while his motive may have been dubious, he did succeed in making something thoroughly enjoyable.
This song is actually a left-over from the Pizza! era. There were several song ideas that we had floating around before we broke up, but most of them were just instrumental jams. This song, however, was the result of a recording back-n-forth between Duncan and me. He created the backing track – as a sketch for something more complicated later, I guess – then I wrote the vocals, then I went to his house where I recorded my vocals and he sang the background parts.
I guess we would’ve put it through the full band process after that, but we never got there.
It’s fine like it is though, right? It’s more simple than a typical Pizza! song. That’s not a slight on Pizza!, because complexity is both awesome and worthwhile. But simplicity has its own charm. Anyway, I released it last year on the Vanity Projects compilation. You can download that here, by the way. It’s got some good music on it.
I don’t have any idea what this song is about. If you think of something, please let me know.