This is a Cosmic Joke

I had all the right beginnings of an enlightened secular human; I was never baptized, or ever sent to church, I thought bible stories were absurd fairytales, I believed firmly in the general truth of scientific fact... but sadly, I've come to realize that I'm not an Atheist.

Now, don't get me wrong-- I'm not religious. I don't believe in any written GOD, yet I find myself praying very colloquially to some fuzzy, omniscient entity when faced with the next dire situation. But this isn't much different than your average inner dialog. It's only an attempt to relinquish control, in that way, place responsibility on this imaginary being. (I learned this from AA and it can work on anything stressful. Admit you're powerless over ______ and the higher power can deal with the bullshit for you.) It frees me up psychologically. But this entry is not about praying to Imaginary Cosmic Beings.

Somewhere, about six years ago, I ended up crazy and set on devouring this new age bullshit. 99 percent of it is just that; entertaining bullshit. But I found truth somewhere in the mess of wishful fantasy. It finally made sense to believe that nothing is completely coincidental. I believe that people appear in your life to teach you a lesson, whether you learn it or not, whether they know they're teaching it or not. How you physically, socially and psychologically exist attracts those of certain substance to you, and then often the same chemistry repels them, also aided by circumstance.. Now this is commonly thought of to be a sad event, but I see it as natural. We are all in transition, forever. Clinging to the past only stunts your growth.

Some people or situations are purely symbolic and meant to bring a detail of yourself into light. You find yourself encountering them again and again, wherever you go, and you don't realize why-- but it becomes pretty apparent after a while.

Sometime along this downward spiral into mysticism I learned how to read Tarot Cards. In 78 cards they detail every aspect of human existence. Studying these symbols further, they place an emphasis on every cross section of our experience being part of a larger, renewing cycle. It got me to think about numerology across civilizations and the universal agreement on what each number (1-9, 0, etc.) mean, how advanced mathematics describe systems and most natural systems operate on cycles and... well, everything is interconnected in this way.

So I don't find it too much of a stretch to believe that there is a systematic method to our existence. Apparently the hindus and buddhists and other religions all believe this too and can explain their theories much better than I can. But I'll just end by quoting Miller in Repo Man,

"A lot o' people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents 'n things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice o' coincidence that lays on top o' everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness."


What would Meatloaf do for love?

(Anything, but not that.)

I thought about it for a while one night. Laying there, staring at the ceiling, with a fever and a raw throat. (Love, I mean- not Meatloaf.) I wondered why every time we begin to fall in love, it feels new. "Never felt this way about anyone before." "This is different." And what eventually happens? Heartbreak. Revenge. Recovery. Rinse. Repeat.

I had a revelation, so I wrote it all down (in complete darkness) in the notebook by my bed. Here it is in it's unpolished entirety, translated from illegible chicken-scratch.

I'm beginning to realize a few fundamental truths about love. It's not a catch all. Everyone has a their own definition for every different type of love. It's endless and eternal in it's variations. Sometimes people get hurt because the one they love CAN'T, I mean, literally CANNOT love them back in the same way. Because it's not in their nature, it's not how they perceive it. Love is a snowflake, it's beautiful and no two are the same and it's rare to stay the same forever. It always changes; it melts, it freezes, it steams, it rains, and pours. Makes a lot more sense to me now that the suit of cups in the tarot symbolizes emotions/wishes/dreams. What was I saying?

The awesome thing about BPD is that you get to experience fucked up mood swings that piss off and alienate your partner! I'll save that type of blog entry for livejournal.

How is this relevant to music and art? Obviously, love is the number one subject ever sung about. And I believe that love is the secret to art. Some call it passion. That's what separates the real from the fake. And also, I'm watching Meatloaf videos this week.



I've returned with another update, and a new format for this blog. And this time I'll stick with my original subtitle "Art. Music. Life." No constraints. I never liked rules anyway.

I'm drawing up storyboards for a short animation I want to produce. The working title of it is 'There is a Sky." At first I wanted to do a very visual story about some little creature escaping from a large prison. As I did some research, I found this article from last year about a guy that escaped a North Korean prison camp. He was born and raised in the camp, and never knew there was a world outside of it. I started getting more ideas for the main character, a bird-like creature that doesn't know there is a sky and that he has wings. Anyway, it should snowball from there.

I rented the Orange Box after being very behind on new-gen games, since I just bought a 360 a few months ago. Portal is the stand out here, and now I understand why it received so much attention. You wake up in a lab, with no explanation. A creepy AI named GlaDOS directs you through a series of tests in which you use a gun that makes portals, and you navigate through deadly obstacles by entering and exiting through these wormholes, or manipulate your surroundings to advance past pits of acid, turret guns, etc. People complained that the game was too short, but I thought it was perfect.

And I found out about the nerd/folk musician Jonathan Coulton. He writes these hilarious songs about, well, nerd/geek culture related things like zombies, transformers, and so on. In other words, no I haven't mail-ordered any new records lately.


Friday... BLOWN.

I've scored a bunch of records in the last few days. I've also scored a bunch and gotten busy at "work."

RTFO Bandwagon- New Jack Army EP (Dull Knife Records)
I like the boy-girl vocals, and the sleeve is cool. Jangly guitars, with a crap production sound that's not vicious or anything, laid back. The music kinda bores me, especially the B-Side, but I can listen to it more than twice. Not really sure what all the hype is about. It's a must buy if you're into that clowning on bitches clique.

Creteens - K Way Bleu EP (Boomchick Records)
Fuzzed out, dirty, this pretty much rips. Usually reverbed-to-death vocals bug the shit out of me, but they pull it off. Songs are catchy, sounds like they're worth seeing. B-Side is killer.

The World's Lousy with Ideas #4 (Almost Ready Records)
Pretty into this-- Dude puts out 7" Compilations every few months with a bunch of different covers, and an interesting mix of bands.. This one starts off with a creepy song by Touched, ("I want her more and more, the little girl in the candy store") but jams, clean guitars, snotty vocals. Coconut Coolouts finish it off with a one-riff wonder... it's alright. First song on the B-Side by El Vicio is loud, rough... I'm running out of adjectives for garage punk shit-fi, man. Fag Cop's got a dude screaming, a bouncy drum beat, walking blues riff, drunken guitar solo, and just a wicked sloppy track that really grew on me. I'm into it.


Shotgun Heard Around the World...!!!

On May 24th, at 11 p.m EST, drop whatever you're doing, grab a beer, and be a part of punk rock history.

"It's going to be a bunch of house/ warehouse parties going on all over the U.S. where everyone shotguns a beer in all the different cities at the same time," says Rich, CEO of Florida's Dying Records in Orlando, "This will be completely stupid."

So far there are participants in Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Seattle, Orlando, Virginia, Oakland, Milwaukee, and possibly more. There is a planned conference call (which may or may not work) to have a NYE-style countdown, and pictures should be taken at each location.

Instructional Video on How To Shotgun a Beer


It's all Rock and Roll

Since the Age of No Wait Online Communications, Instant Messaging while Driving and the Idolization of iTunes, what the hell is the mailbox good for? Bills you should pay... more bills you won't... pre-approved credit card offers for the low rate of 29.99%, junk, junk, crap, the occasional magazine you don't remember subscribing to, crap, junk, an unmarked porno, oh shit, a letter from the DMV, more shit... Doesn't this seem like an incredible waste of paper? Why even sort through the shit... You should cut out the middleman and attach a garbage bag to the back of your mailbox.

But then the sight of a 12" package, sitting uncertainly on your doorstep, or a 7" mailer jammed into a pile of trash makes it all better. The only reason I check the mail is for this. And the porno.

Some notes about my notes:
1. It's all rock and roll.
2. Sub-genres annoy me too, because I hate to pigeon-hole a band, but at least it helps describe something you should hear, not just read about.
3. I pretty much always say a band is better live. Maybe I should use an acronym for it, but it probably would make me sound like more of an asshole. So I'm gonna do it.*
4. If you have something to say, please comment! I want to hear back from people.

Golden Boys / Limes Split 7" (Boomchick Records)
The Golden Boys put down a pretty straight forward track on this split. I'd call it R&B influenced rock and roll. It's catchy, the vocals almost have a little soul at times, the organ makes the song (and the band) slightly more interesting. I like that the guitar leads aren't too obnoxious, and I love the restrained decomposition at the end. (Yeah TWBL*.) The Limes side spins slower, the vocals drone, and there's a psychedelic beat behind the eerie guitar hook that repeats through the song. I think I hear an organ, but, eh, it's too low in the mix to really make an impact. I dig this record enough to not regret buying it. It definitely stays true to what I'd expect from Boomchick.

The Carbonas "Euro Tour EP" (Self-Released, order from Douchemaster Records)
I love this band, so I had to pick up one of the records they brought from their European tour last month. The A-Side has two new songs, and it drags a little. It's the buried vocals, too much reverb or something and the guitar riffs are too boring to hold my attention. The second song is better though. On the B-Side they cover Love and Kisses by the Nihilistics, Move by Plugz, and Iron Dream by Kaos, all of which should be awesome... My favorite is the Kaos cover. I'm still complaining about the lack of bite on the whole record. Clean guitars? Cool, I guess, it's a change of pace... I shouldn't even have to tell you TBIBL*.

Hollywood "Hits! An Alltime Low" LP )Big Neck Records)
First, you should know that the production on this record is brilliant. I'm convinced that Kevin at Catastrophic Sound is one of the best studio engineers in Baltimore. Of course, this record is dirty as fuck and balls-to-the-bathroom-wall-glory-hole sludge, but the guitars don't get lost, the vocals sit just right, and you don't really miss the bass. Some of the songs are catchier, (Ione Sky, Girl? and Cause I'm a Man) some go super lo-fi (Big Mouth, B&W.) Best Big Neck release I own (okay, so I don't have alot) and yes, TBIBL*, but the artwork alone is reason enough to pick this one up. You will LOLZ. They only pressed 500, so who knows how many are left.


A Midnight Chat with the Mysterious Entity Known As The Dong

Here's an idea for a new feature, an interview series on local artists and musicians. There are so many talented people around that there's really no need to look elsewhere. I corner the target via email or myspace, conduct a five minute phone interview, (although this one went on for 15) post a few pictures, and they get a healthy amount of hype for upcoming or ongoing projects.

Just the thought of conducting phone interviews with strangers causes me anxiety. Actually, I have a bit of phone anxiety in general. But for now, all of the people I interrogate will be friends of mine, so I definitely will not have to drink as much. I have no experience doing these, so it should be interesting, or at least fun.

My first interview is with a man I've known for about year or so, hung out with, been on tour with twice. Matthew Pie, also known as The Dong, is Baltimore City born and raised, a drummer in several bands, and an avid watcher of horror movies. His hearty laugh is like the color of a thousand rainbows sprinkled over a crippled leprechaun. He rules!!

7DW: Can you explain the origins of your nickname?
The Dong: That will ruin the whole mythology.

7DW: Can you give me a hint?
The Dong: Uhh.. (laff) well, A hint? I can't really give a hint without explaining it completely.
7DW: So what bands are you in and what kind of music are they?
The Dong: Thee Lexington Arrows is garage. The Mandroids is punk. And The Survivors of Camp Crystal Lake is metal.
7DW: Alright, and you play drums in all of them.
The Dong: ...Yes.
7DW: Which band do you enjoy playing in the most in, and why?
The Dong: I guess I'd have to say Survivors, because all the stupid shit we do. Its the first kinda like, concept band we've talked about, then actually did. It's pretty fun. Set stuff on fire, throw blood everywhere, good times.
7DW: How did the idea for The Survivors come about?:
The Dong: Came about from me and JD hanging out all the time, watching horror movies constantly. Then we started writing songs for the movies we were watching. And then decided if we were gonna do it as a band it would have to be like, crazy, GWAR-style kind of a thing... Just to show our true love for the horror movies.
7DW: True... can you give me some names of the songs, and maybe the movies they go with?
The Dong: "What is Your Pleasure" is a song about the Hellraiser movies. Some of them are about movies, but not like directly about the movie, more about the concept. LIke, the Hellraiser one is more about the mythology of the box rather than mention any of the things that actually happened in the movies.
7DW: Do you write them together?
The Dong: Usually just JD writes the riff, then we jam on it, come up with all the parts. The lyrics are a collaborative effort between JD and Mark.
7DW: What else do you do on your spare time?
The Dong: Well with three bands there's not much spare time. I guess my point is all my spare time goes to playing music.
7DW: Yeah I feel that. So what is your favorite thing about playing music?
The Dong: i dunno, i like the, as lame as it sounds to say, the live feel of it, feeling other people's energy while you're doing it. You know what I mean?
7DW: Yeah, like the energy of a live show, that kinda shit?
The Dong: Yeah.
7DW: Aaaand... let's see. I went through all my questions already... Is there any thing you plan to do in the future?
The Dong: I dont really make plans, the future is not my forte.
7DW: Uhh... If you could be a tree what kind of tree would you be?
The Dong: (laffs) Oh man. Uh. Botany... uh, knowledge is very limited.
7DW: How much did you have to drink tonight? You don't have to answer that.
The Dong: Haha, Not much. I guess.... trees.... Now I have to go to a botanical garden and look at trees for a while.
7DW: .......okay. Cool.
The Dong: I like how your typing everything I'm saying. It's awesome.
7WD: I am. Some of it's abbreviated. But I'm also recording it. But when I listened to it earlier, it makes this weird noise, sounds like (makes robot noises)... so I dunno if it's gonna work.
The Dong: Oh. I used to do that all the time. I useds my computer to record phone conversations all the time in case I wanted to use a sound sample, but then people started getting pissed off that I was recording all the conversations.
7DW: It is kinda creepy, I mean, a little bit, just a little.
The Dong: Yeah it is. They'd be like, "Am I on speaker phone?!" And I'd be like.. "Mmmmm... No?" "Yes. I am."
7DW: What's coming up for your bands?
The Dong: Well the Arrows and Survivors are recording right now. The Mandroids recorded stuff ourselves, and we sent it to get mastered. We'll see how that turns out. (police sirens blare)
7DW: Someone die?
The Dong: Probably.. I can only hope.
7DW: What do you like the most and what do you hate the most about the Baltimore music scene?
The Dong: Uh, the overwhleming level of apathy in audiences. Pretty hard to get people actually moving around.
7DW: Yeah, sometimes it's all like, they just wanna be seen..
The Dong: Yeah its a lot of that, people just coming there to be at the show rather than to come see the show.
7DW: Ok. That's a good hate. That's healthy.
The Dong: I guess my favorite thing is that the Sidebar, lets us play whatever the hell we want, whenever.... Throw blood everywhere, they don't worry about that. I guess the raw-- (someone yells) Uh, you can climb that... dude just asked if he can get.. there's not even anybody at the Talking Head, why do you wanna go over there for?
7DW: What, on the other side of Sidebar, it's closed, dude, they're all at Sonar..
The Dong: Yeah, I know, I'm standing in the parking lot, this guy just asked if he can climb over the fence here, and I'm like... "You can."
7DW: Ha. That's cool. I think that about wraps it up. Any parting words, words of wisdom for uh, young kids, or adults, or old women looking at porn?
The Dong: Parting words... Young children are stupid, so stay in school. Older people..... stop pretending you're not older. And old ladies, in particular, should hit me up.
7DW: Okay Matt, thanks for your revealing interview.
The Dong: Haha, no problem.

I thought of so many smarter questions after I was done!! But I guess that's how it goes.

The Dong's bands...
Survivors of Camp Crystal Lake
The Mandroids
Thee Lexington Arrows
See all of The Dong's bands (and my band Blondsai's last show) in one night on May 31


Get Some Head in the Back of Sonar

The Talking Head on Davis St, (a.k.a The Old Ottobar) has moved down the street and around the corner, into the back room of Sonar. All shows have been moved to the new showspace, and some have been rationed off to other venues. The club was one of the best punk dives in Baltimore to play or see a show. There is something definitely lost with the building, something irreplaceable. But rather than whine and wax sentiments it's better to accept change and adapt.

So the entire staff, headed by Mr. Adam Savage, has moved and settled into their new home. This may generate better turn outs for shows at the Head. Sonar gets packed on DJ nights, and books national acts too popular to play small dives but not big enough to play shitty arena shows. There should be a good amount of people wandering in out of curiosity from the other parts of Sonar. Whether the Talking Head loses it's vibe and gets sucked into the techno-indie-dance blanket remains to be seen.

The awesome lineup would be the perfect chance to check it out. Montreal's CPC Gangbangs play an eclectic style of rock and roll, and apparently they destroy shit live. Hollywood literally destroys shit live, usually Jake's drumkit gets annihilated.
These boys are one of my favorite Baltimore punk bands-- they play dirty ass sludge rock, they're too loud, they're obnoxious, and I love them. (New LP review next Monday.) Vincent Black Shadow, Adam Savage's band, is another awesome Baltimore local. And they absolutely kill it live. In other words, all these bands are ones you definitely have to see in person, listening to the record or watching youtube videos doesn't cut it. I'm dippin out of work early for this one.

Oh yeah, and if that didn't convince you, Deep Sleep is playing instead of the Golden Boys. Another one of the best Baltimore punk bands around right now. Game over, good night!


Limited Edition, only 50 pressed on black and white cumstained vinyl! PRE-ORDER NOW!

I have a dilemma. Should I really review records on this blog? Does anyone really care what I think about music? Here's why you shouldn't: I go through music phases faster than haircuts, I'm am not a record collector nerd sweating that my copy isn't first press, I'm not blowing my load on obscure ebay.uk bidding wars, I'm not a walking encyclopedia of who did what when where and what instrument they played, and most importantly, I don't care about any of that shit. I don't give a fuck even enough to Google it.

I buy new records because I like listening to bands that I can actually go see. Sometimes I buy records because the cover art is epic. I buy new records because I want my friend's band or label to keep making them. I buy new records all the time because I quit smoking and have an extra twenty dollars a week of expendable income. I'm not a seasoned reviewer, I just love music and I find myself talking about it all the time. I might as well take a shot at hyping some shit I think is worthy to check out.

So for my first required Monday post, I'll start a theme of reviewing what I picked up the week before.

Cheap Time - "S/T" LP (In The Red Records)
I loved their Handyman EP, so I was totally stoked when this got here. Most of the songs are fun and poppy. Others take on a slightly moodier tone, and I dig those ones more. It's got a retro production, and the mix is rough in contrast to the cutesy vocals and goofy guitar riffs. You hear and see the Hubble Bubble influence, although those dudes sounded much tougher than these guys. I hear Jeff Novak's vocals and imagine this bright yellow cartoon lemon singing. I may need to be stoned. Some people live and breathe this shit, but I have to be in the mood. When I am, it's a great album to listen to.

The Ladies - "Ugly's Good Enough Tonight" EP (Riff Raff Records)
This short 7" may be their entire set list. Remember when the Dwarves were awesome? Blood Guts and Pussy Awesome? It's like that but instead of popping speed these girls are speed balling. More trash in the guitars and sleazy lyrics, enough for the "garage punk" tag to be thrown at them.... do it live and Tony Bitch will throw it back in your face, spit beer on you and possibly piss on your little sister. A-side has 3 songs listed but they're all similar, the best one comes last... "You ain't good looking but you'll do alright, yeah, ugly's good enough tonight." B-Side is like the A-side except even shorter. I know I talked just shit about record collector nerds, but white vinyl is pretty sexy. Good record, get it, and go see them because they are better live.

Golden Error - 12" EP (Shandi Records)
No idea of what to expect.. pleasantly surprised. This band's sound reminds me of a video game when your health gets low. Guitar sounds very electro. Let's dance, bitch. I envision sweaty basements full of grown up punks and hipsters sipping caped cods, rhythmic head nodding, foot tapping. Or maybe it's absolute mayhem, I dunno, I haven't seen them live yet, could go either way. I thought there was a keyboard until I checked the credits. Things get a little dissonant at times. The lyrics are nerdy as fuck and must be pretty personal, or acid influenced cause I don't get it. Vocal delivery is urgent and believable. I can put this on and zone out. Into it.

The Darvocets - "Are New Wave" LP (Fashionable Idiots Records)
Now this is getting interesting. Eccentric wacked out punk rock coming out of Cleveland. Paranoid vocals rambling in a mess of warm machine gun riffs, slower drugged out progressions, and to kick off the B-Side, an A Cappella rant called Anti-Gravity Craft. It never fails to crack me up. I wish I could have seen them record this. Very happy they put in a lyric sheet since every song is sci-fi ingenuity. They've been a band for many years but no one cared until now; I was told the first press of 1000 copies sold out in 24 hours. They may be playing Baltimore this year, cross your fingers. Some people won't be able to get into this.


May Showers Bring Smashed Flowers

Here we go. I made a new resolution: Post a new entry every Friday, Wednesday and sometimes Monday. After completely fudging my major story deadline in Journalism 302, I feel that I need some brushing up on this necessary evil before I can be a competent writer. More on that later. For now, here's what's going on this weekend.

Tonight at the Velvet Lounge is D.C's mostest raddest electro-stoner-rock and roll trio, the Points. I've seen these boys (and girl) many times and they never fail to bring it. Bobby and the Soft Spots from Richmond are supporting, as well as Mas Y Mas from VA Beach. All I remember about Mas Y Mas is Mike Habit, Gio, Travis and me dancing drunk as shit in a Harrisburg basement, that I was impressed by the sound... And well, the bottle of whisky was empty.

That's where you should be tonight... That's where I would be if I didn't have to slung cocktails to yuppies out in Bumfuck, VA.

Saturday at The Bobby Fischer Memorial Building, my boys The Ladies from Richmond, VA play with a bunch of punk and hardcore bands from DC and Maryland-- Time To Escape, Coke Bust, Warpriest, Brain Damaged and.... So Damn Thirsty. The Ladies have a new 7" out on Tony Bitch's Riff Raff Records... I heard the inside sleeve photo is epic, bro, epic...

If you haven't been to this all-ages spot yet, here's a good show to pop your cherry. It's right off the Galledet stop on the Red Line, so even a directionally-challenged retard like me could find it. (I just followed the trail of wandering punks.) No drinking, fighting, smoking or peeing at the venue. Cops on segways roll by every hour or so to make sure the kids don't ruin the pretty street florals. The showspace itself is a claustrophobic fire-hazard, with surprisingly decent acoustics. The walls are narrow and made of bricks so when you get slammed, you feel it. What I'm trying to say is, places like these are beautiful and often not around long enough.