Between Racism and Ignorance

This evening, I came across this post from Humans of New York where a Muslim woman named Zahra recounted her experiences covering the 2016 election (bold emphasis mine)

I covered a lot of Trump rallies as a journalist. I didn’t feel any hatred. People were more curious than anything. I was never assaulted. I felt like most people were just supporting him because he wasn’t part of the establishment. Or because they were tired of politics. But it was confusing. Because even though I didn’t feel like they hated me, these people were supporting someone who said I should be banned from the country.

I’m not sure which scares me more.  The fact that so many White Supremacists have come out in support of Trump or the fact that voters cast their lot with him for the sheer sake of going someone “different”.  They willfully ignore his bigotry, sexism, and petulance, and they outright embrace his unhinged ranting and raving as some kind of down-to-earth honesty.  This shortsightedness, this delusion, this cognitive dissonance is another facet of the ever rising Idiocracy in America.  Trump is the walking price tag of American anti-intellectualism and so many innocent people may end up paying dearly.

Whenever a politician would get caught in a scandal, my Mom often wanted to ask said politician “You’re either corrupt, incompetent, or both.  So which is it?”

To the people who voted for Trump, even after a deluge of thoroughly unpresidential antics, I say….you’re either racist, ignorant, or both.  So which is it?

 

 

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!

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?

Poetry: Awesome! Donald Sterling: Racist Idiot

Night Slam will be taking place at the Big Theater in the Fine Arts Building at Massasoit Community College on May 8th.  They are currently working on Wizard of Oz.  I have a feeling we are going to have the full set behind us and everything.  The last time this happened it was back in the Little Theater and we had the set from A Streetcar Named Desire as our backdrop and it was awesome!  Yes, I fell to my knees and yelled “HEY STELLAAAAAAAAAA!”

The only time you will see me blog about sports related news will be when something as awesome as this happens:

I laughed so damn hard I choked.

Kid Cudi: Hip Hop Is ‘Holding Us Back As A culture’

I am not a fan of Cudi, but it is always refreshing to hear someone be brutally honest about the current state of hip-hop music.

Hat tip to Mad S of Dark Matter for posting this video.

The Story Behind The Cover Art of “Between Streetlights and Stars”

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To celebrate the fact that my chapbook has almost completely sold out and I need another batch printed for my next poetry feature, I decided to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the artwork for Between Streetlights and Stars.

Putting together a chapbook requires two long and arduous tasks: 1) Writing and editing a strong collection of poems and 2) Figuring out what you want for the cover art.  When I look at a lot of poetry chapbooks, the artwork tends feature simple drawings or generic images of the countryside or a tree.  I’m not saying that to put anyone down: if you don’t have a publisher who can hire a team of graphic designers, all the decision making rests on your shoulders.  After so much writing and editing, the weight of that is more than what most writers can bear.  The poets who care very little for the cover art are the lucky ones.  The rest of us who want something striking or interesting that ties in with the themes of the book?  We’ve got an uphill battle.

For Between Streetlights And Stars, I wanted something more colorful and romantic. I started with the idea of using a silhouette of a woman’s profile, like the front cover of The Reminder by Feist.  From there I thought it would be cool to have a collage be photoshopped inside of the silhouette only to later realize the creating/finding of a collage would be a process itself.  One day while listening to one of my Pandora stations, a song by Doves came on from their album Lost Sides.

The blurry city lights inside the face was compelling and I wanted to do something like that but with a lot more color.  I searched through royalty free photo sites trying but most of what they had to offer was far too polished and commercial looking.  I wanted a photo that looked like a friend of mine had taken it, not like something out of a corporate brochure.  After a few more searches I found this wonderful photo by Ng Ian T’ang I found on Deviant Art.  Ian was kind enough to grant me his permission to use it as part of my artwork.  I changed my mind about using a silhouette and opted for a woman’s profile instead.  After a few minutes of photoshop work with a friend of mine, I had my front cover all ready to go.

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Despite my limited resources, I think it came out pretty good.  To this day, I am proud of both the poems in the book and its packaging.  Many thanks to Ian for granting me permission to use his photo.  Please visit his Deviant Art profile and check out his photography.  Also thanks to Will Cote for his photoshop skills.

I’m looking forward to my first feature in Cambridge at Stone Soup on November 4th.  I hope to see you there.