Deftones: Scorched Earth and Soundscapes

Throughout their discography, Deftones have never failed to impress me.  Even on the weaker, uneven albums Deftones and Saturday Night Wrist, they still have at least a handful of songs that captivate me.  I finally got around to listening to Koi No Yokan and it dazzles just as much as their previous effort Diamond Eyes.  “Entombed” has become a new favorite.

Their new album Gore comes out on the 8th and I can’t wait.  These men have worked hard at shedding the “nu-metal” tag by deeply embracing non-metal influences like the shoegaze bands of the 80’s and 90’s.  Front man Chino Moreno prefers lyrics that focus more on mood and imagery rather than narrative.  Guitarist Stephen Carpenter can pummel with bottom heavy riffs or caress with feather light delicacy.  DJ/keyboardist Frank Delgado tends to keep to the background, but his presence can still be felt.  Abe Cunningham is as sharp as ever on the drums and the band couldn’t ask for a better replacement for the late Chi Cheng than Sergio Vega on bass.

When I was in my 20s, I made a Deftones mix CD for a friend who was still in her teens.  She liked the music, but had difficulty relating to the lyrics, saying the topics sounded less like teen angst and more like adult problems.  This fascinated me because as a teenager I had no problem relating Moreno’s abstract lyrics to my own problems.  “Lotion” from Around The Fur in particular provided a soundtrack to some high school drama involving an image obsessed circle of friends I had to part ways with, especially after an ugly swarm of misogynistic rumors were started about an innocent girl out of sheer malice.

I was doing work around the house with headphones on and Deftones on shuffle, and  marveled at how I barely felt the need to skip a song.  Keep up the good work guys! Looking forward to the seventh album!

Brave Danny Flint

TRIGGER WARNING: Abuse and sexual assault.

I’ve been reading the A Song of Ice and Fire novels upon which Game of Thrones is based.  I’m up to volume two, A Clash of Kings.  A fan-run Facebook group posted about a character named Danny Flint who is mentioned in the books.  Danny was a very young orphan girl who fled an abusive uncle.  She disguised herself as a boy and joined the Night’s Watch, a men-only military order guarding The Wall, a 700 ft wall of ice stretching to both ends of the continent.  The original purpose of the Night’s Watch was to guard the realm against ice creatures called The Others in the books and called White Walkers on the show.  As time wore on and less people believed in the existence of such creatures, the Watch devolved into a border patrol, keeping out the Wildlings. Their diminished reputation and dwindling numbers forced them to primarily recruit new members from prisons.

Danny passed as a boy long enough to officially join their ranks, however one night her true identity was discovered.  She was raped and murdered by the other members of the Night’s Watch.  Some say her ghost still haunts the Nightfort.  A mournful ballad was written in her memory called “Brave Danny Flint”.

Now, both the novels and the show are not without their issues when it comes to female characters, but I do give author George R.R. Martin some credit for making readers think about the lives of women in a medieval culture; be they peasants or princesses.  The fantasy genre is often synonymous with allowing the reader to escape, but Martin prefers confrontation.  Arya Stark disguises herself as a boy to escape being held hostage by Baratheons of King’s Landing.  Brienne of Tarth has all the makings of a knight but will never be named as such regardless of her bravery and martial prowess.  The only places in Westeros with any semblance of gender equality are Bear Island and Dorne.

If you are reading or watching these stories and you don’t come away from them thinking about gender roles and equality, you haven’t been paying attention.

Hear you now the sad lament
Of Brave Young Danny Flint
Whose parents died of sickness
When she was not but ten.

So off Young Danny went to live
With her wicked uncle
Who one night stole her maidenhead
So into the North she fled.

Oh Danny Flint you’ll never escape
The Fate the Gods have written
And life must seem the cruelest jape
Oh Brave Young Danny Flint.

North she fled to take the Black
And leave her troubles past
She cut her hair and changed her name
To Danny Flint the Brave.

At the Nightfort Danny took the oath
Thought a boy by all
And she hoped to live forever
As a Brother upon the Wall.

Oh Danny Flint you’ll never escape
The Fate the Gods have written
And life must seem the cruelest jape
Oh Brave Young Danny Flint.

Now Danny was so diligent
To keep from watchful stares
But one night as she bathed
Her Brothers saw her body bare.

These men were quick to break their vows
As they threw her to the ground
They took her honor then her life
While Danny made not a sound.

Oh Danny Flint there’s no escape
The Fate the Gods have written
And life does seem the cruelest jape
Oh Brave Young Danny Flint.

It is said Young Danny still yet walks
The Nightfort’s shadowy halls
A pale form singing sorrowfully
The loneliest, saddest song.

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes the pipes are calling…

Boycotting the Bullshit: from Oasis to Kanye

So, this happened.

Remember the band Oasis?  Remember how, for a lot of people, the quality of their work was overshadowed by their attitudes and antics?  Single after single would hit the airwaves, but I couldn’t bring myself to send a single dime to their wallets.  I’m sure a number of bands/artists I listened to back then are assholes in real life, but Oasis seemed committed to bring home medals in every category of the Asshole Olympics.

Flash forward to now and I still haven’t bought any of their music.  However, I did buy Ryan Adams’ achingly beautiful cover of “Wonderwall” some years ago.  Adams’ vocals alone are enough to eclipse the original.  The royalties from that purchase are still the sole scrap of my money that has come their way.

Enter Kanye West.

This is Oasis all over again, but now with Prescription Strength Douchebaggery.  It didn’t take long for West to breach my you-ain’t-getting-a-dime-from-me threshold.  That man didn’t just breach it, he went interstellar. You could fly the Millennium Falcon at lightspeed  for a decade and you still couldn’t reach the zone of “Oh Hell No I Am Not Spending My Money On That Shit” where I have filed Kanye West.

None of this is to say that I have not been occasionally moved by his music.  The song he wrote for his mother with Paul McCartney brought tears to my eyes and made me think of my own mother.  Yet, his arrogance and narcissism rendered me incapable of buying a single damn song from his discography.

Today he tweeted his support for Bill Cosby.

I didn’t think it was possible, but now a Millennium Falcon going full tilt wouldn’t be enough to reach my new “Oh Hell No” zone for West.  You would need a Tardis.  We aren’t just talking space and distance, now we are talking time and dimensions.

So, gentle reader, my question for you:

Is their an artist/band whom you regard as talented, but have chosen to boycott?

Gallery 33 presents: The Jacmel Project – Reflection & Celebration


Gallery 33 presents: “The Jacmel Project – Reflection and Celebration”

Brockton Arts is proud to present our first show at Gallery 33 is “The Jacmel Project – Reflection and Celebration” in partnership with longtime collaborators the Haitian Artists Assembly of Massachusetts (HAAM). The Jacmel Project is a series of ongoing art installations showcasing work by artists from Haiti as well as the local Haitian diaspora, which relate to the earthquake and its effects. Brockton Arts and HAAM united to get the artists painting again, have their stories heard, and to have a marketing initiative to benefit the artistic community.

This installation features artwork by masters, teachers, and their students. All the works on display are for sale, with proceeds going to the artists, an arts academy in Jacmel, Haiti, Brockton Arts and our friends at HAAM. Our previous showcases of the Jacmel Project have sent upwards of $22,000 to Haiti. Our opening reception will be held on Saturday evening November 21st from 6pm to 11pm. Please come out to support the artists and support a good cause!

Advice: Don’t hold back. Just write the poem.

“The long neon nights and the ache of the ocean

and the fire that has started to spark.

I miss it all, from the love to the lightning,

and the lack of it snaps me in two.”

After my last relationship ended, I shied away from writing poetry about it.  A few lines came out here and there, but nothing solidified into a full fledged poem.  Part of it was because I was afraid of falling into cycles of post-break-up obsessive behavior.  She and I live in the same town, so a simple drive to run errands would take me very close, if not right past her home, as well as many places where had we walked, talked, and dined. Main Street was also Memory Lane and there was nothing I could do about it.  I was terrified that the lines between getting groceries and repetitious mourning of what once was would begin to blur.  Yet at the same time I didn’t want to go out of my way to avoid these places, because that in of itself, would be obsessive behavior.

Thankfully, there was no anger or bitterness between us, which I think made moving on easier for both of us.  More than enough time has passed that I can now drive through the center of town without feeling like I am being barraged by memories.  Yet now I feel like I have a loose end begging to be tied off.  I don’t have any full fledged poems to mark what was one of the happiest times of my life.

One of my poetry professors in college, Peter Shippy, shared with me a quote from Nick Cave.  He was being interviewed about his album The Boatman’s Call, heavily influenced by his break up with PJ Harvey.  Cave commented on the album “making grand theater out of an ordinary rejection scenario.”  While he has a point, it is also true, that all art does exactly that.

So fuck it, go ahead and make grand theater.  If the thing you lost meant a great deal to you, then you owe it a certain tribute.  Break out the best costumes, props, and sets.  Don’t worry if the lighting is off or the lines are weak.  You can fix that later when revising or in a workshop.

Open the curtains.  The show must go on.