promo courtesy of MAKE HER SPACE
make sure to tune in to MAKE HER SPACE RADIO HOUR on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC this morning at 10AM EST to hear JEN and MAGIE interview SARAH VALENTINE, baton twirler and organizer of the HUNGRY MARCHING BAND and PUSSY GRABS BACK BRASS BAND as well as grassroots organization HONK NYC.
all photos by nacrowe
in december of 2015 i took a trip by myself to CAMBODIA while on winter break from my teaching gig in JAPAN. i was there for over a week and split my time between SIEM REAP and PHNOM PENH. if you are interested in seeing my selected photos from that trip click HERE.
i was very excited to visit the region as i had been interested in the history and culture surrounding BUDDHISM and HINDUISM going back to my high school years when i first took a comparative religions class freshman year.
ANGKOR WAT was an obvious highlight that i'd put on par with visiting THE PYRAMIDS, MACHU PICCU, THE COLISSEUM, GREAT WALL OF CHINA, CHRIST THE REDEEMER STATUE, THE TAJ MAHAL or even SUN STUDIO in MEMPHIS. it is often regarded as the most refined architectural expression of the HINDU concept of MOUNT MERU in the world and seeing it in person met and exceeded the hype surrounding it.
but what made the 12th century expanded structure compelling to me as an english teacher were its endless depictions of deities that seemed perfect for understanding the concept of POST-STRUCTURALISM, something i was teaching at the time due to the IB CURRICULUM my school employed. case in point is BAYON temple, which is at the center of the ANGKOR WAT complex and intriguingly showcases 216 depictions of the boddhisatva AVALOKITESHVARA, meant to depict his infinite compassion in almost kaleidoscopic fashion. it really is something to behold. but knowing the backstory of the structure also clues you in to the fact that the depiction of this boddhisatva was very similar to the MAYAHANA BUDDHIST king that had it built, JAYAVARMAN VII, so its very much understood that people also understood it as a depiction of his omnipresent power. when you are at the upper levels of this temple, it is possible to be surrounded on all sides by these lumbering heads peering outwards from several massive towers. later on when hindus took over the complex they chose instead of scratching out the face (as they had done with smaller depictions throughout the complex), instead choosing to add dots on the foreheads. thus transforming them into SHIVA. when later THERAVADA BUDDHISTS (a more strict sect with no belief in boddhisatvas) took over control they reinterpreted the site as the traditional GAUTAMA BUDDHA.
so summing all that history up into post-structuralism. one signifier: the statue. four concepts signified: AVALOKITESHVARA, JAYAVARMAN VII, SHIVA and GAUTAMA BUDDHA. pretty incredible.
TUOL SLENG GENOCIDE MUSEUM
whereas ANGKOR WAT was a mind-blowing, reassuring experience for what the heights of human creativity and collective cooperation are capable of, sites surrounding PHNOM PENH associate with the brutality of the KHMER ROUGE during the CAMBODIAN GENOCIDE of the late 1970s showcased the opposite, what humankind is capable at its most base and deplorable. it is estimated that 1/4 of the population perished during that campaign of terror. an estimated 1.5-2 million people. teachers, workers, professors and their families. basically anyone that was perceived as a threat to the regime.
now i know some people may find offense to my visiting sites that are associated with war crimes. i get it. my response is that it is our responsibility to understand the past and be a witness to history. too many times in western media atrocities are gleaned over and DISNEY-fied as to not disturb viewers or children. this leads to a distortion viewpoint and ultimately a confirmation bias that inaccurately depicts the reality of world events. i have seen this time and time again and i really feel that it leads to a lack of curiosity and compassion on our part.
so go ahead and think what you will, but visiting the TUOL SLENG GENOCIDE MUSEUM was a visceral experience for me. as a teacher it was astonishing to walk through a former school that was turned into a unnamed torture center, as they had in various other anonymous similar sites throughout the country. POL POT was a teacher by the way. i won't even get into the ways that people were tortured, mostly because it may be misconstrued as celebrating extreme sadism (which i understand) but also i don't think its that interesting a detail. what i did find interesting was the spirit of reconciliation that took place after the war and to this day, my tour guide having lost an uncle to the regime. everywhere you went you met people with relatives, parents, sisters, brothers, friends, etc. that were maimed or killed. much like visiting BOSNIA or speaking with people in KOSOVO during my time as a PEACE CORPS volunteer in ALBANIA, there is something about these experiences were people choose to pull together as a community. they choose to seek common humanity. for me that was the power of visiting CAMBODIA, a beautiful country with a complicated history. one of my top trips ever.
whenever i feel down about the cultural and political tribalism going down right now in the UNITED STATES, i wince at the idea of what is to come but also hopeful that we can muster a collective effort towards reconciliation post-TRUMP regime. if CAMBODIA could heal than so can we.
but man, shit is seriously fucked right now. kids in cages.
art by nacrowe
for those about to rock, you can watch HERE our most recent episode of DEER GOD RADIO dedicated to australian legends AC/DC.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, and THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW are available here at the DEER GOD website.
photo by nacrowe
fans often have a misconception that bands are democracies.
perhaps this has to do with the very nature of being a fan, which entails the capacity to project yourself and your feelings, fears and aspirations onto an external entity like an artist, band, politician or even a sports team. the payoff for this projection is the reciprocal confirmation of whatever narrative we like to tell and delude ourselves with. in this manner being a fan is very much about you the audience and not the artist.
so when you learnt that bands have less than savory internal dynamics where power, creative control and finances are not co-equal, for some this is a hurdle. an autocracy like SMASHING PUMPKINS with the pumpkin king BILLY CORGAN is hard to stomach given the open ethos and message of exclusivity of his music. its easier to come to terms with the fact that NINE INCH NAILS is the front group of auteur TRENT REZNOR in my mind because of the singular misanthropic nature of his lyrics and sonic palette.
enter DEATH METAL and the legendary namesake band for the genre DEATH. a recent documentary DEATH BY METAL (MENTAL PICTURES, 2016) delves into the life and legacy of frontman/songwriter/guitar virtuoso CHUCK SCHULDINER and his pioneering sound which further refined THRASH METAL into a whole world of technicality and brutality.
through 7 albums over an 11 year span he did not repeat the same recording lineup twice. keep in mind that all these albums absolutely slayed which is testament to his vision, passion and technical abilities. it also gets into the nature of megalomania and the challenges of maintaining a singular focus. there are lots of bands that function on a high level with a seemingly regular interchanging of musicians around one visionary artist, namely QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, BLACK SABBATH, MEGADETH, KING CRIMSON, THE MISFITS, ANTHRAX, and GUNS N' ROSES to name a few. with the exception of QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, most of these groups have one lineup from which they derived their cult status and later permutations were meant to maintain some semblance of legacy stature on subsequent tour packages.
not the case with DEATH. if anything their music became more progressive and technically demanding as the "band" continued onward. people have several arguments for which lineup was the definitive "classic" permutation of the band, which to me is amazing. this documentary really gets into gritty details of how SCHULDINER pulled off this streak and how his singular focus was both an inspiration to his former band-mates and the bane of their existence while in the eye of the storm.
highly recommended this documentary and for the record, personally i'd put SCHULDINER on the REZNOR end of the cultural spectrum as CORGAN has been exposed as a joke and a fraud in recent years. definitely dont want to confuse that issue.
photo by nacrowe
JOHNNY MARR is a singular talent whose legendary partnership with MORRISSEY in THE SMITHS puts him, in my mind, in the highest echelon of songwriting talents that rock music has ever produced. his story could've ended there but he went on to expand his musical vocabulary by pursuing an expansive carrer that includes collaborative efforts with the likes of TALKING HEADS, PET SHOP BOYS, BRIAN FERRY, THE PRETENDERS, THE THE, ELECTRONIC (with BERNARD SUMNER of NEW ORDER), BILLY BRAGG, KIRSTY MACCOLL, OASIS, BLACK GRAPE, MODEST MOUSE, THE CRIBS as well as a stellar string of successful of recent solo releases.
all that being said, what struck me most from reading his autobiography SET THE BOY FREE (DEY STREET BOOKS, 2016), which deals with him recounting his extraordinary career was his ability to be in the moment. this moment. i cant imagine what it must be like being defined work (however transcendentally awesome) you did as a teenager. for him it was a determined focus and drive, perhaps rooted in his struggling irish-immigrant MANCUNIAN working-class upbringing, that allowed him to not get caught up in the hype and hysteria of riding such a phenomenal critical and artistic wave so early.
as a fan, i'm always struck by his career choices which always appeared to be labours of love and over time he cultivated a following that came with him, which is incredible given that most successful artists are mindful of no alienating their audience. if anything MARR is taking them on the journey with him.
i want to add that MARR's voice as a writer is very direct and deliberate and this has to be one of the better written autobiographies i have read in recent years. perhaps this shouldn't come as a surprise given the literary aspirations of his work over the years and the quality of project collaborators he has sought out. i wouldn't expect anything else but quality in his writing.
as NOEL GALLAGHER is apt to saying with regards to MARR, "dude is a fucking wizard." by all means, check out his work if you haven't and down the road after a lifetime of enjoying his music, consider reading his excellent autobiography.
THE COATHANGERS are a fiercely political garage/punk trio out of ATLANTA that have released a prolific six albums since 2007, all on SEATTLE-based indie label SUICIDE SQUEEZE. like many other metal knuckleheads, my introduction to them was their inventive video for "Follow Me" which had members of MASTODON (and fellow atlanta-ites) performing their song in drag.
what sets this band apart for me is their stellar songwriting and dual vocalists. both guitarist julia (a.k.a. CROOK KID COATHANGER) and drummer stephanie (a.k.a. RUSTY COATHANGER) have very distinct vocals that ultimately change the feel and aggression in their music, CROOK KID having a very pitchy, almost child-like voice that denotes innocence while RUSTY has a gnarly voice that sounds like she gargled razor-blades pre-performance. it really makes for a viscerally jarring listen, which coupled with their strident politics and fun sing-song melodies equates to a very unique sound.
whats also cool about them is that they often switch instruments mid-set, which just further illustrates their range and dexterity as musicians. could not recommend this band any more strongly. definitely check them out.
check in and listen to TOM's latest installment HERE of the NOWHERE FAST show on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC with a vinyl selection straight from the shelves of his personal collection.
past episodes of NOWHERE FAST as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like DEER GOD RADIO, MAKE HER SPACE, and THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW are available here at the DEER GOD website.
full disclosure: i'm a diehard LOS ANGELES LAKERS fan.
my youth in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA was spent in the strange im-between doldrum years that marked the post-MAGIC JOHNSON era and the pre-KOBE BRYANT era. i grew up idolizing players like NICK VAN EXEL and TERRY TEAGLE, although i always disliked ELDEN CAMPBELL. that last bit is probably due to the fact that as a 3rd grader at a charity auction i asked him for an autograph and he asked me for $50. wasn't worth it then and its still not worth it. BYRON SCOTT, CHICK HEARN (R.I.P.) and all the previously mentioned players were cool and signed willingly which totally made my year.
so that's just some context. back in the mid 90s i played in a league called NJB that was geographically covered (i believe) HAWAI'I, CALIFORNIA (southern and the central valley), NORTHERN ARIZONA and parts of NEVADA. needless to say i was pretty good and was an all-star center and prospect going into middle school. now spoiler alert: i ended up moving to NIGERIA for middle school and never returned, basically abandoning any chance of playing southern california basketball, a decision i am still very comfortable with.
i was at an NJB conference with my dad when i ran into KURT RAMBIS and spoke with him for a few minutes. first off, totally nice guy and i knew who he was immediately by his thick horned-rim glasses, plus he played with my man MAGIC a few years earlier. basically i talked to him about the fact that i loved basketball but that i wasn't digging all the parents living through their kids, that basically that outside pressure (not from my family) was making it not fun anymore. essentially i was describing LAVAR BALL before he was a thing. for me i had a hard time with the idea that my identity was wrapped around my being an athlete and that teammates had parents that would make them cry after games we lost. the whole thing had an air of desperation and was pathetic looking back on it.
RAMBIS said he totally understood. funny thing was that he was there to address a roomful of THOSE PARENTS shortly thereafter. being a former teacher i still cringe at the way parents take over their kid's games. this AAU circuit that has taken over competitive youth sports is next-level exploitation and make me depressed to consider how much they are crushing kids love of the game. it all just strikes me of ego, hubris and misplaced love of self. coaches and parents need to get over themselves.
then again i don't have kids so what do i know.