parody by nacrowe
i was thinking the other day about how music serves as a soundtrack to your life and how certain artists literally follow you around.
for me that band is MASTODON.
LEVIATHAN (RELAPSE, 2004)
i was first became aware of MASTODON in college when they were out touring their album LEVIATHAN. the album was a loose reimagining of HERMAN MELVILLE's MOBY DICK along the lines of a touring band following their dream but wishing for the comforts of home. as an ENGLISH major, how could i not love a band interested in literature? i wrote term papers to that album.
CRACK THE SKYE (REPRISE/SIRE/RELAPSE, 2009)
i remember listening to CRACK THE SKYE while going through the months-long process of applying for PEACE CORPS when i was living and working as a long-term-substitute teacher at STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL in NYC. when i learned that i was accepted and i had a departure date (country to specified later), i immediately thought i may be going to the UKRAINE. so given this album's RUSSIAN monarchy theme, it was only too perfect as a soundtrack to my reading of ROBERT K. MASSIE's epic NICHOLAS AND ALAEXANDRIA book centered around the doomed TSAR NICHOLAS II and his family. the sound of it fit perfectly. plus i got to see them tour this album at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN on their tour with ALICE IN CHAINS and DEFTONES. i had floor tickets. beyond sweet.
THE HUNTER (REPRISE, 2011)
turns out i was assigned ALBANIA, not UKRAINE, and I was in the remote mountainous northern region of KUKES on the border with KOSOVO when THE HUNTER came out. for me this album recalls cold trips through serene mountain passages along dirt roads in the ALBANIAN ALPS where our ride would stop to allow wolf packs to cross the road. just epic. i hear it and i can still smell that mountain air.
ONCE MORE AROUND THE SUN (REPRISE, 2014)
somewhere between LAKE TITICACA and the AREQUIPA DESERT in PERU i was able to obtain this album by dubious methods when it released. before getting it i had just seen the SACRED VALLEY, MACHU PICCHU and COLCA CANYON with its centuries-old fields scalloped into the mountains with running streams below and hovering condors dotting the sky overhead. when i heard the album the first time i was going through the AREQUIPA DESERT (driest in the world) with severely chapped lips counting the vicunas wandering afoot untouched in the distance. the album fit the vibe of that country perfectly.
EMPEROR OF SAND (REPRISE, 2017)
i streamed this via youtube when it first released as i was en route to HA LONG BAY from HANOI during a trip through VIETNAM. when i hear it i think of ungodly traffic and dusty BUDDHIST temples carved into rock on elevated vistas. what a gorgeous country.
MASTODON is an epic group and i feel fortunate that I got to experience their past few albums while in some pretty incredible places that more than lived up to the scale and scope of their music. i am definitely looking forward to their new release (whenever that is) which will most likely take place from an equally compelling locale: my car while driving down the GARDEN STATE PARKWAY.
enjoy this DEER GOD RADIO episode on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC from a few months back pre-PANDEMIC dedicated to MASTODON.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
with our country again on the brink of another needless war brought on by hubris and greed, i went back and rewatched ERROL MORRIS' masterful documentary THE FOG OF WAR (SONY PICTURES CLASSICS, 2003) in which he interviewed former secretary of defense (under both JFK and LBJ) and effective VIETNAM WAR architect, ROBERT S. MCNAMARA. MORRIS employs his combative style whereby he forgoes KEN BURNS-style narration and just directly confronts his subject from an off-camera vantage point. in effect he acts has surrogate of the audience, which is an engaging tactic. in this film it functions as a way of controlling the narrative and challenges the opinions of MCNAMARA, who had his own agenda.
nearing the end of his life, MCNAMARA used this interview as vehicle to both reflect on his controversial career in government and impart hard-fought wisdom on future decision-makers in WASHINGTON, specifically those tasked with matters of war and peace. so in a sense this film is heavy.
he goes about drawing out 11 LESSONS from his participation in VIETNAM. they include:
that was a lot of material to just throw out there i am aware, but what interests me now about our current situation are the first two lessons, which basically can summarized as put yourself in the shoes of your enemy and attempt to understand the forces that drive their decisions, both geopolitically and domestically. this documentary came out in the aftermath of the disastrous 2003 decision to go to war with IRAQ, which itself was made without a clear understanding (and i would characterize it more directly as "blatant disregard") of the regional, cultural and historical context of which we were attempting to effect. funny enough, the SECRETARY OF DEFENCE involved with that decision, DONLAD RUMSFELD is the subject of another MORRIS documentary entitled THE KNOWN UNKNOWN (MOXIE FILMS, 2013). unlike MCNAMARA, RUMSFELD is the living embodiment of obfuscation and weaseling from responsibility. he is a lesser man.
what scares me now is that we have descended even further down the rabbit hole from RUMSFELD, who manipulated information but valued it. today we are entering a reality where the only reality that matters is that of DONALD TRUMP and his misguided sycophants and enablers. i am scared and for good reason. MCNAMARA encourages us to see past our confirmation biases and have as wide a net of perspectives involved when considering violent action on a state level. those perspectives include that of our enemy.
at this current juncture in history, the only line that demarcates enemy from ally is who coddles the delusions of our commander in chief. shame on MIKE PENCE, MIKE POMPEO, STEPHEN MILLER, JARED KUSHNER, STEPHEN BANNON, IVANKA TRUMP, RUPERT MURDOCH, RUSH LIMBAUGH, SEAN HANNITY, LAURA INGRAHAM, MARK LEVIN, TUCKER CARLSON, MITCH MCCONNELL, KEVIN MCCARTHY and the entire REPUBLICAN contingent in both houses of CONGRESS.
may history judge you harshly for enabling this clown to run roughshod over our constitution and sully our flag in the eyes of the world. shame on you.
photo by karl burhop
ok i admit that its more than a little strange to write a profile on yourself. but here i go.
as creative director of DEER GOD i basically have a hand in everything we do that is non-audio. that basically boils down controlling/editing all things visual and written. of course we work as a team and frequently collaborate and take cues from one another, but i more or less take these efforts and produce the final product.
out of the whole team i am probably the last to the party in that i was not involved with audio or video production until a few years ago when i returned from overseas. for the better part of the last decade i was involved with education having taught secondary english abroad at international schools in MYANMAR, JAPAN, VENEZUELA as well as a stint as a peace corps volunteer in ALBANIA. my start as an educator was in NYC where i got my masters at COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY and had brief stints teaching at both BROOKLYN TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL (student teacher) and STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL (long-term substitute). my bad timing entering the field in the wake of the great recession meant that no new positions were available as older teachers delayed retirement and an effective freeze was put on new hires. thus i had an IVY LEAGUE degree and recommendations from two of the top public high schools in the nation, but no prospects.
so i went and taught overseas.
due to my parents work i spent time overseas growing up in NIGERIA (middle school) and KUWAIT (junior year of high school) and attended high school in both MASSACHUSETTS (NORTHFIELD MOUNT HERMON) and CALIFORNIA (ROCKLIN HIGH SCHOOL). oh yeah, and i was born in SPAIN.
my passion as long as i can remember photography as i would take photos of my travels (somehere around 60+ countries). i think my passion for other cultures and worldviews informed my (brief) teaching career and most definitely is a part of what i bring to my current visual work here at DEER GOD. if interested, check out my photos above.
the rest are linked HERE.