i know a lot has been made in recent years about HOWARD STERN's skills with the long-form interview format, but no bullshit, this is the best interview i've ever seen with the famously guarded former secretary of state, first lady, senator and presidential candidate HILLARY CLINTON.
obviously this interview from last week has absolutely nothing to do with me or DEER GOD, but i wanted to spread the word on it with the vehicles i have at my disposal (website and social media) for the benefit of whomever reads this blog.
i should say that years ago when i was a PEACE CORPS volunteer in ALBANIA the then-secretary of state came for a visit. usually when a prominent official or celebrity visits various volunteers would be called upon to TIRANA (the capital) to showcase their projects. an example of such was when actress ELIZA DUSHKU came to promote literacy and volunteers from the southeast region (where her family is descended from) came to speak with her before returning to introduce her in-person to the community. very cool indeed. this did not happen with CLINTON. they literally invited all the minority volunteers to to the capital for a lame photo-op. all involved felt used. their local projects were not of concern in this situation. whether that was her doing or not i have no idea, but i should at least be clear that i was never a huge fan, although of course she was infinitely more qualified than TRUMP (obviously). sigh.
life's funny sometimes.
the summer before 6th grade i got in a BMX bicycle accident. a very serious one that landed me in the ICU for several days and came perilously close to paralyzing me or worse. i was very lucky. literally my head missed a curb by inches and no, i was not wearing a helmet.
that was back in '96 and since then i have had a fascination with bikes in general and i'm almost certain it comes from that experience. i've ridden BMX bikes since but for whatever reason i've never owned once since the accident.
this is not to say that i haven't conquered other fears. i've long hated/feared flying but have been in innumerable flights my entire life, including twice on a helicopter (BRAZIL and ZAMBIA). i've had a strong fear of being trapped since childhood, but have learned to really enjoy SCUBA DIVING (LOS ROQUES and ISLA MARGARITA in VENEZUELA).
but for me there is something about bicycles that equates to a sense of freedom. in JAPAN my exploration of my neighborhood only really got underway after getting a multi-speed cruiser that i rode to work in (sighhh, that thing was awesome) and later in MYANMAR where i was teaching the only real mode of transportation was via scooter (taxis were inefficient).
i ended up getting a HONDA CLICK which had a 125cc engine and really flew. for me it was almost too fast. driving in MANDALAY was insane because literally nobody followed any rules of the road out there. at any moment cars, trucks, scooters, street dogs, chickens, whatever might come at you or cross the road from either side. it was dangerous. but i have to say that the idea of getting out of work and driving through flooded rice fields with water buffalo gently lifting their heads out of the paddies while in distance you could see the golden spires of buddhist monasteries is something i will always take with me. i loved that scooter and how it gave me the ability to really explore northern MYANMAR.
i believe my fear of accidents died with that scooter since twice i had to jump off it to avoid other riders making careless decisions. both times i got scraped up but luckily broke nothing. driving a scooter in southeast ASIA can be pretty gnarly and i credit it with getting me over my slight phobia of BMX bikes.
gopro footage from my scooter in MYANMAR
so since coming back to the states almost two years ago i was long considering obtaining a BMX bike. what is funny is that i went to a bike shop in central NEW JERSEY multiple times, initially to educate myself from the staff and later to purchase something. i learned later after buying my bike that this shop is owned by SCOTTY CRANMER, a local NEW JERSEY BMX legend roughly my age who is tied with DAVE MIRRA with 11 X-GAMES PARK MEDALS. what is interesting about this is not his numerous medals, but his story of recovery.
in 2016 he got in a terrible bike accident that initially left him paralyzed with restricted motor skills. by sheer will the dude got himself to eventually be able to walk again and eventually maintain his balance well enough to stay on his bike for short periods.
the idea that i bought my bike from a store where there is a shared experience with the owner is not lost on me and it seems rather funny and poetic. only gives me further motivation to keep riding!
if you get a chance i recommend his YouTube channel as it is inspiring to see someone continue to support other riders in spite of his setbacks. it shows a true love of his sport and the community around it. dude is, no joke, an inspiration.
photo by nacrowe
every time i enter FRANKFURT AIRPORT, the main international transit hub of my youth, it is never lost on me that the place itself is more or less the same. only i have changed over the last 20+ years.
thats kind of the experience of seeing TOOL in concert over multiple tour cycles, since each one is 8-10 years apart. its an odd sense of deja-vu or a time warp or something. the last time i saw them was during the 10,000 Days cycle and the LATERALUS cycle before that. love the band but im not big on big corporate arena shows. you always feel screwed when you can't get better seats and you get the feeling those below you either paid royally in a secondary market or worse, got them as a corporate gift like box seats at a YANKEE game. i guess the demand is just so great after so much time that there is no easy answer to this conundrum in fairness to them.
but the actual show this past saturday (with KILLING JOKE opening!) was epic, TOOL are like the second coming of BLACK SABBATH meets LED ZEPPELIN meets RUSH meets CAPTAIN BEEFHEART. i wasn't super-enthused on the last album since it feels like everything post-LATERALUS is just a rehash of it, like they are using the same tricks (mind you, those tricks are beyond cool). i just wish they'd push the audience a bit more at this stage in their career since they have nothing left to prove.
unless filling arenas that screw over fans is a goal of theirs. if you catch them this go around, thats cool. if not they'll back around. in 10 years.
photos by nacrowe
i'm not gonna lie, SOUTH KOREA is a strange place.
and that is from the perspective of someone who practically seeks out unfamiliar cultures and actively attempts to understand them on their terms. for most visiting westerners, especially americans, it is easy to get caught up in the neon lights and dizzying hustle and bustle of SEOUL and its labyrinth of cavernous subways and seemingly infinite shopping destinations. the place basically has no central district with multiple competing neighborhoods basically competing for influence. at the time i was living in JAPAN outside YOKOHAMA and for me SEOUL seemed to me a more bloated version of TOKYO for reasons already described.
but what got me about this country wasn't its massive cities but the insular nature of its people. living in JAPAN i often felt quite isolated, which to me was funny because at that point i had lived for years in politically and economically depressed countries like ALBANIA and VENEZUELA that were a step removed from mainstream "world culture." yet i never felt alone there. i always felt welcome and not a curiosity. JAPAN was very much a situation where you never felt welcome. people were impeccably polite but it was a politeness that acted as a barrier. its hard to verbalize what i mean. there was a definite insularity and rigidity of thought, a lack of curiosity. i found JAPAN jarring but SOUTH KOREA was another level indeed.
i worked at an international school in JAPAN and there were several CANADIAN counterparts of mine that had JAPANESE spouses. i learned that in SOUTH KOREA dating was carried out with the forethought and determined specificity of two merging corporations as families would want to the income and occupation of not just you, but up to three generations before you. the two participants were just an afterthought in this intense negotiation that had as much to do with standing and honor as it did about commitment and love.
and i get why. the JAPANESE were absolutely brutal to the KOREANS during their occupation and post-KOREAN WAR this country had to basically pull itself up by its bootstraps and make something from basically nothing. literally nothing. most of their ancestral architecture was defiled and destroyed by the JAPANESE. most or all you see today of past royal palaces are works-in-progress recreations. its funny now because SOUTH KOREA has basically followed JAPAN into consumer electronics and beaten them at their own game. revenge indeed.
but much like JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA has a problem with teen suicide and depressions. families have few children and put a lot of resources into their education, putting excessive pressure on them to succeed and procure employment that pays off this investment. what results is that you have a country that sees value only in your ability to produce. i have teacher friends out there that i stayed with and it felt claustrophobic being around that educational culture. all students played violin or cello or piano not out of interest but out of needing something to fill out your college application out with. everything seemed backwards like the kids were supposed to fit into a pre-conceived mold. it was conformity of the most intense variety. even pop culture (K-POP specifically) was about meeting a predetermined standard of demeanor, purity and naïveté.
i found the place claustrophobic and is one of the few countries i've visited that i don't have any real urge to revisit. people there are treated as a commodity by their families and it makes perfect sense to me why so me seek a way out, suicide itself being a normative means of maintaining family honor in a warped moral landscape.
and i haven't even gotten to talking about NORTH KOREA yet. stay tuned.
when my friend and frequent collaborator MAGIE asked me back in august to dj at her TWIN PEAKS-themed party in october celebrating the opening of her new tattoo shop THE BLACK LODGE TATTOO, i was simultaneously honored and horrified effective immediately.
so of course i said yes.
its no secret that i prefer to be behind the scenes creating stuff. even this blog is an avenue for me to keep writing, as i was at one point writing all the time going back to my former film column for THE DAILY TARGUM during my undergrad years at RUTGERS. despite my time public speaking as a teacher both in NYC and abroad for almost a decade, i am pretty reticent to be out in public generally and have no desire to be the focus of attention. even the radio show i do is largely me curating and listening to music i love in a closed room.
so i just wish to thank MAGIE publicly for allowing me the opportunity to participate and be a part of welcoming her new business venture, as well as forcing me out of my comfort zone. the event also included two other sets by fellow MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC DJs RAY of CHANNELS & WINDS and CHRIS of COMPOSITE BEAST, both of which you should look into and i have gone ahead and linked to their respective show archives. i'd also like to thank RAY specifically for his support at the event and letting me rub off some of his fearlessness.
my spotify playlist from the is linked HERE if interested. it was a mix of film score, soundtrack picks that any self-described fan of DAVID LYNCH would recognize and appreciate. enjoy.
photo manipulations by nacrowe
photos by si advance
a little over a year ago in partnership with local concert promoter RICK RISPOLI, DEER GOD conceived of and created an interactive HALLOWEEN experience at the the KREISCHER MANSION called CANNIBAL HOUSE. looking back with some clarity on the situation, in many ways the whole thing was a labor of love and marks the first time we really had our extended core of friends (MAGIE of DOLLTITS, KRISTIN from MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC, local composer/musician SKYE DOMINO) involved in a single collaborative project. for me that was the value of the experience, not the bullshit that came with pulling of an event of that size which i have no interest in repeating.
the premise of CANNIBAL HOUSE was that participants would be given a tour of the mansion that has gone horribly wrong. a knowledgeable host meets you at the door and gives some background on the history of the mansion and original owner BALTHAZAR KREISCHER, when a fellow guest is snatched from the group and all hell breaks out. the house is actually a trap. throw in some torture, menstrual blood, chainsaws, a chicken coop with small children and you had the makings of an on-point, completely demented HALLOWEEN for the ages.
i played that host and i felt the irony of being the only non-performer having the most public role in an three day public event. i hated it. i am by no means someone who craves attention, much preferring being in the background, but necessity dictated i pull it off. so i did. what amazed me was just how obnoxious and demeaning many of the guests were. i'll spare details but STATEN ISLAND truly did live up to its reputation. this resulted in my "character" becoming more and more aggressive as the three days moved forward. due to unforeseen high demand we were at this for 5-6 hours nonstop. it became a grind, in many ways a fun grind when people got creeped-out with extreme frightened reactions, but a grind nonetheless. i doubt there will be a next time, but i'd definitely hire actors.
check out the promo and in-attraction "surveillance footage" below, the making-of which was my favorite part of the whole event and i still think holds up a year later.
i was watching a recent FRONTLINE documentary called about immigration policies under TRUMP called ZERO TOLERANCE the other day and was swept up with anger and frustration at how collectively diminished and lost we have become as a country in the past few years.
i am definitely not the most vocal rah-rah american ever, but i did spend nearly half my life abroad as well as spent time as a volunteer with the PEACE CORPS serving others in our name. so i feel like i have some skin in the game. i do care about our role in the bigger international community, probably because i grew up in it. i've seen firsthand how others once viewed our country with a sense of ambition and aspiration. that is gone now. what is continuing to go on in our collective name as americans makes me particularly ashamed of my gender and ethnicity. i hate that when TRUMP speaks he feels deeply that he is talking on my behalf as a white male. the fact that people feel are foolish enough to agree is depressing on a level i cannot even begin to effectively express.
i was trying to think of a bright spot since my return stateside over 2 years ago and i realized going to see a taping of the now defunct COMEDY CENTRAL satirical send-off THE PRESIDENT SHOW with my dad at STEPHEN COLBERT's old studio (where during college I similarly witnessed a taping of his similarly-themed COLBERT REPORT) really connected me back to humanity, being able to laugh at this current ass clown occupying the oval office with a diverse crowd of like-minded citizens. at the time i needed that.
this show is an artifact of the beginning of his term. my fear now 3 years in is that he is completely beyond parody as he has now become the modern personification of evil in a purely american capitalist-gone-wrong mold.
we are almost a year out, so please vote. if you aren't registered, here's a LINK to help get you started. i'll say it again, please vote.
just watching the news the past few weeks really got me in touch with just how many truly wretched human beings we have in government at the moment. the sheer scale of the hubris and self-dealing is really quite remarkable, and i say that having spent time abroad living under numerous military dictatorships and quasi-democracies. i dont say that lightly.
but rather then get down about it i remembered that i have already celebrated HORRIBLE PEOPLE in music, because why not? just because they are terrible human beings doesn't mean they can't writer a good song.
so here is a look back at the second ever DEER GOD RADIO episode dedicated to those talented humans that have made some remarkably poor decisions, proving to us all how frail our humanity truly is.