Anxiously Awaiting D-Day

Friday, January 20th, 2017.

Here we are in Washington D.C. A vast swamp, figuratively and in reality, resting along the side of the mighty Potomac River, the East Coast’s fourth largest river. The site was chosen to be the final resting spot for the United States of America’s capitol by the prestigious General and then-first President of the fledgling nation, George Washington. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Alongside his fellow Masonic Temple brothers, Thomas Jefferson and French General Pierre Charles L’Enfant–who was a key player in the American Revolution–the three would have a major role in how D.C. was designed and the aesthetics of the new government’s buildings. With its curiously straight and diagonal streets that aligned many of the main areas and soon-to-be-built-monuments, many claim symbols hidden in plain sight can be seen in the city’s layout. But while Masons and the upper class may have designed the city, it was built on the backs of the poor, commoners and, of course–the blight on America’s face since it’s birth–slavery.

For such a youthful country it is an older city, with ghosts haunting every corner and alleyway. It’s the city of Abraham Lincoln during his tumultuous four years and would end up killing him. It’s where Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his “Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself” speech that ignited a generation and has been carved into the pillars of history. Where–in 1812–it was pillaged and burned by the British and the Constitution and Declaration of Independence had to be briefly moved to Leesburg, Virgina, which became the temporary capitol. It’s the home to the world’s largest museum–the Smithsonian, founded in 1846. And it’s the yearly destination for roughly 17 million Americans to connect with our country’s past. To reflect on it’s monumental achievements, many faults and to rekindle the uniquely individual flame that burns inside every one us.

It is also the city where in less than 24 hours an unscrupulous con man–who could’ve been a used cars salesman if he had been born to a less wealthy family–will be inaugurated as the 45th President and leader of the Free World.

As I type this in my hotel room, my three comrades are catching what little sleep they can. Our alarms are set for 5:45am but it’s already 5:30 and I’m still going off roughly 6 hours of sleep in the past 48. I’m too charged on coffee, cigarettes and the pure adrenaline running through my veins, triggered by the electricity in the air.

My close friend and photographer for this trip, Michael Rork, and I meant to arrive in the afternoon on Thursday, but our first delay was sleeping through our alarms (only 4 hours for me due to work, packing and traveling the day before). Then we hit traffic and had to make the usual stops for food, gas and the occasional bathroom break as we traveled the 512 miles from Burlington, Vermont.

For those who didn’t pay attention in the last year, the quaint, New England city is the home of the man who could’ve become our 45th Commander-in-Chief (if it had not been for collusion and conspiracy within the Democratic Party), Bernie Sanders. As the snowy hills slowly changed into industrial cities, I couldn’t help but think what a different world we would be living–and the opposite, celebratory context our drive would take–had he won the nomination.

By the time we reached Baltimore we realized our friends from our teenage years–Marc and Eric who decided to fly to the East Coast on a whim the night before–would be arriving at the city’s airport within the hour. We decided to stay and wait for their flight, smoking a joint in the airport parking garage as we watched the police below us. I quickly scoured the news and discovered police had already begun deploying tear gas at protesters gathered at the anti-Trump “DeploraBall” event. Mike and I glanced at one another, with a concerned look not even the THC could cover-up.

After gathering Eric and Marc we made it to our hotel in Lanham, a suburb of the Capitol, stopping at a nearby IHOP for some much needed coffee, food and catching-up.

This is going to be a savage and brutal trip into the depths of the American soul. Appropriate for a candidate who regularly incited bigotry, hate and violence on the campaign trail. Who continues to divide citizens, journalists, politicians and the country every step of the way. The level of pre-inauguration scandal he has wrought is ludicrously unheard of in generations and hardly matched in our country’s history.

Today we face a brave, new world with quickly diminishing boundaries for the rich and powerful. A new America, where science and the truth are ignored and corporations will laughingly be carried to new heights of wealth on the broken backs of the poor and the Presidential Cabinet will quickly disembowel the very federal agencies they are supposed to captain.

Yes, Trump will make America great again for the real Americans by showing the majority of us that we are not them.

This weekend will be powerful. This weekend will be inspiring. And this weekend will be as goddamned frightening as staring into the mouth of Hell and seeing an orange-faced, self-righteous bigot staring back.

Fuck you, Cheeto Voldemort.

 

 

 

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FORM ASCROSANTI FESTIVAL–DAY 2 BY JORDAN FICKEL

This is a continuation from PART ONE: https://weirdjournalism.com/2015/05/28/form-ascrosanti-festival-day-1/

 photo P1000385_zps4mrzlyf0.jpgPortrait of the author as a young artist. 

The big question on day 1 was about the “Very Special Guest” headlining the first night, with a longer set time than anyone else for the entire weekend. The festival t-shirt I got 30 minutes after entering said “Skrillex”on it. Oh boy.

Seriously? Skrillex? At least it was a good conversation starter. Most everyone I spoke to was initially turned off by seeing one of the highest paid DJs in the country for free. I was too. What the hell was the prince of brostep doing at our weird magical desert music festival? I guess that’s what people at Burning Man were asking last year too, when he was allegedly boo’d off the stage for playing “Turn Down For What”.

I came to the festival with what I thought was an open mind, ready to appreciate the experience for what it was, but this was a greater test than I was expecting.

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Spazzkid started the day off with a vaporwave set (maybe? I’m still figuring out that genre); banging away on his ableton controller and singing into a microphone on occasion. His style sort of a funky, hous3y, 80s pop thing, with a shout out to Saint Pepsi halfway through his set. He was actually my favorite performance of the day.

Spazzkid
Spazzkid

The next DJ was just running iTunes, no crowd. I found out later that The Range couldn’t make it for whatever reason.

I wandered the grounds most of the day, the stark beauty of the Arizona desert surrounding the experience. Paolo Soleri, the architect behind Arcosanti, had incredible vision, but as my boyfriend who works in construction pointed out, not as much of an engineer. The place was weathered and sturdy.

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I missed most of the Kodak to Graph set, the first set in the ampitheater and not the vaults. A resident of Arcosanti told me how happy they were to host such a wonderful event. I thought the vibe might be of resentment for interrupting their peaceful desert town.
Jacques Greene played after that, a dj whose work I’m actually a really big fan of. It’s like glitchy brainy house music, so I  was surprised that I didn’t enjoy it that much. Music always sounds different at home in your headphones than it does in a ‘live’ context.

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Tokimonsta played in the ampitheater as the sun set, her smile and head nodding seemingly plastered on but genuine at the same time. My second favorite set of the night. Machinedrum right afterwards, playing in the dark with little illumination, just a projector running abstract computerized human shapes. The two most talented musicians of the night. Those glitchy drum n bass drumbeats were performed by a live drummer. The name suddenly made sense. One guy on the machine, a small synth and what looked like an MPC or something, and a drummer with a full kit and a drum pad triggering abstract noises.

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The next act spent most of his time bobbing along to a mostly disinterested crowd waiting for the main event. I went to the merch booth and asked who it was, because no one really knew. The guy told me that Skrillex was late but The Range had finally shown up, so he was taking over for now. We went back and found a place to sit.

It was loud, it was stupid, it was intense and immediately accessible. I managed to enjoy it. He played a lot of songs I didn’t like, but he mixed out of songs usually in less than a minute, sometimes in less than 15 seconds. Huge build-up, then drop, creative transition to the next track, repeat. He had command of his mixer, was really creative and talented. Most of the crowd filtered out during his set, leaving a dedicated 50-100 people in the auditorium. Security was so lax that the stage ended up full of his fans, crowding around him and his mixer as he tried his best to hype an experimental ambient festival in the middle of the desert, stuff like “what’s up arcosanti let’s scream to the stars yeeeeaahhh”

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FORM ASCROSANTI FESTIVAL DAY 1 BY JORDAN FICKEL

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! 

Well, kind of. 

After a long delay, Weird Journalism is back and the blogging will commence so bend over and read!!!! 

Kicking off our return is a very EXCLUSIVE piece on last weekend’s rare and elusive, FORM ASCROSANTI festival in Arizona. With an application process for tickets and only a few hundred given away, guest writer Jordan Fickel (DJ Bear Hugs) wasn’t sure what to expect. Here is part one from his strange time in the desert…

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“Remember?  That exclusive music festival in Arizona I applied for?”

“Oh, you mean Hipster Summer Camp.  You have to call it that. That’s what it is now,” my usually stoic roommate said, a glint of amusement in his eyes.

It’s true.  I had been calling it Hipster Summer Camp.  That was before I was accepted, anyway. However, now that FORM Arcosanti gave me the golden ticket, my sour grapes attitude had dissipated and I honestly felt kind of bad for calling it that for so long.

FORM is an invite only music festival in a strange small town in the middle of the Arizona desert. The town is so small that it can only host a few hundred people at a time. So,  the festival curators have an application process that asks vague, artsy questions like “What inspires you?” and “What will you bring to FORM if accepted?” and bizarrely “Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?” The answers deemed creative enough get an invite to this exclusive festival. Seems pretty pretentious and inclusive, right? Those were my thoughts, initially. But imagine this: a music festival with no screaming woo girls in culturally appropriated fashion, no blackout bros trying molly for the first time, no one vomiting on your shoes… just a small number of laid back, creative adults trying to appreciate the experience.  That’s what was so appealing to me. I only recognized two of the bands, and there was only one that really excited me, but the experience seemed so unusual and magical… I had to at least apply. I filled out the application honestly, which is a little unusual for me. Normally, I try to game the system.

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Chris and the author en route and looking good.

I told my friends and my boyfriend all about it and was shocked at the lack of interest. I truly believed this is going to be a once in a lifetime type event, but I was unable to convince anyone else of it. I told my boyfriend Chris that if I got an invite I was going, but it probably wasn’t going to happen. Not only is this a bizarre magical event in a strange town in the desert, it is also completely free to get in if they pick you.

“Making it expensive would mean only wealthy people can come. not down” festival curators Hundred Waters said in a facebook post regarding FORM.  I was the only one who wanted to go to Hipster Summer Camp.  That is, until I got an email saying I could go.

Chris was miserable and kind of angry. We had been to a bunch of weird, magical shows since we’ve been dating, and he was pissed I got to go to this one without him. I told him I’d see what I could do.  I got in from work at 3 am, Chris already passed out.  I sent an email to the info email on the FORM webpage, outlining our situation.  Again, I didn’t embellish anything. I truly believed Chris deserved to go.  I asked in the email if they would consider a late application if any slots opened, and I went to sleep.  When I woke up they had sent a response.

“Jordan, Send us your partner’s full name and email and we’ll send him an invite. :)”

I was thrilled, but surprised too.  This was bizarrely personal for a music festival, which is a trend I hope continues over the course of this weekend.

And then I was a convert. I stopped calling it Hipster Summer Camp, though the name still stuck.  I had preacehd it to the world and it no longer belonged to me.

There are two types of tickets, people who camp on site and day passes.  Chris and I got day passes.  We’re in a hotel in Prescott, Arizona (pronounced “press-cut”, I found out last night) 30 miles north of Arcosanti.  It’s pretty much the closest hotel; Arcosanti really is out in the middle of nowhere.  There are bell-castings, there’s a pool, and there’s a Moog synthesizer lab, in addition to the music.  Holy shit I haven’t mentioned anything about the music yet.

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Chris in AZ. kicking ass and taking names

One reason the name Hipster Summer Camp is appropriate is most of the bands have albums that reviewed well on Pitchfork.  If you need some genres here are some appropriate ones: ambient, drone, house, indie, experimental, noise, downtempo.  Here are some band names: Hundred Waters, How To Dress Well, Pharmakon, The Antlers, Moses Sumney.

The big question is who is headlining tonight.  The lineup just says “very special guest”, and this guest gets the longest set out of anyone for the entire weekend.

I’m obviously not worried too much about the music, which I guess is odd for a music festival. My opinion is that music festivals are one of the worse ways to see a band live, to be honest. It’s like going to a bar to find a date. I’m going to have an amazing bizarre experience. I hope the bands are good! I’ll have fun either way.

In the Spotlight: Exhumed/Iron Reagan Split

Exhumed & Iron Reagan released a whirlwind of a split on Tankcrimes Records. Read this then buy it. Trust me on this.

Streetlight Records Blog

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by Mat Weir

If you’re a metal head, then forgive the obviousness of the next sentence. Tank Crimes is KILLING IT in 2014! Between the brutal album releases and this year’s Brain Squeeze (seriously considered quitting my job to see it, then I remembered I like to drink), this year is a promising one for the Oakland-based label.

They kicked it off with a brutal split EP by two of 2014’s heaviest; San Jose’s death metal legends, Exhumed, and Richmond, Virginia’s sensual thrash band & this year’s Brain Squeeze veterans, Iron Reagan. Each band has four songs to destroy your skull with and they don’t waste a moment when it comes to bashing your sanity with metal.

Exhumed’s new tracks are dripping with shredding guitar solos and they joyfully slaughter a 52 second cover of Minor Threat’s “Seeing Red.” On the other side, Iron Reagan rips up their version of…

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In the Spotlight: The Black Angels – Clear Lake Forest

My latest review on the new, RSD Black Angels release, “Clear Lake Forest”

Streetlight Records Blog

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by Mat Weir

Goddamn, it’s been a busy year for The Black Angels. Last year they released their fourth full-length, departed on two (or was it three?) tours, made their usual appearance at the Austin Psyche Fest & South by Southwest. If they didn’t have enough to deal with, this last Saturday they opened their own record store in Austin AND released their fourth EP, Clear Lake Forest.

Whenever the Angels release something on Record Store Day, I always buy it just on principle. But I have to admit, I wasn’t too excited for this year’s release. In my review of Indigo Meadow, I explained that even though I enjoyed the album, it wasn’t my favorite as it seemingly abandoned their fuzzier, psych roots for a more poppy, psych-lite sound. Even after seeing the Forest cover–which sees a return to the pattern designs that grace all their albums…

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Sleep, Dopesmoker and the Cocoanut Grove

Sometimes I see legendary bands while tripping on LSD and write about it. . .

Streetlight Records Blog

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by Mat Weir

If there is one band who has influenced Doom Metal the most in the 21st century, it would be Sleep. Birthed from the ashes of the San Jose sludge band, Asbestos Death, Sleep began as a four-piece, quickly moving to a power trio of Matt Pike on guitar, Al Cisneros on bass/vocals & Chris Hakius on drums. By building upon & dragging out early stoner rock riffs–ala Black Sabbath, Pentagram, the Melvins and more–Sleep revolutionized the doom metal scene in the Bay and beyond, spawning a huge cult following. Their mission was to turn metal into art and they succeeded with four, must-have records (three full-lengths & one EP) before disbanding in 1998 after only eight years together. Of their three releases the final, Dopesmoker, is THE unquestionably quintessential album for metal heads, music lovers & stoners alike. It was also the album that destroyed the…

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Tales of the Weird’s Offical RSD 2014 LP Picks

My official RECORD STORE DAY 2014 LP picks.

Streetlight Records Blog

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Record Store Day is Saturday, April 19. Here are a few choice LP picks from one of our own.

by Mat Weir

Gil Scott-Heron – “Nothing New” 12-inch LP: Gil is one of my favorite artists and this RSD release comes with a screen-printed cover. Even if all of his albums aren’t great, Scott-Heron is a poet, soulman, godfather of hip hop and too influential not to have in your collection. Plus this album has his iconic “Pieces of a Man” track for the gold.

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – “Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth” 12-inch LP: Jett’s fourth album and the Blackhearts’ third, this is the first time the album has been on vinyl since it’s release in 1984. This comes on PINK vinyl, hand numbered, and contains the Runaways classic track, “Cherry Bomb.” Be still my nerdy heart.

Joy Division – “An Ideal For Living”…

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Tales of the Weird’s Offical RSD 2014 7″ Picks

One of these days I’ll link everything. For now, reblogging.

Streetlight Records Blog

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Record Store Day is Saturday, April 19. Here are a few choice 7″ picks from one of our own.

by Mat Weir

The Cure/Dinosaur Jr. – “Just Like Heaven” 7-inch: It’s catchy and oozing with sap, “Just Like Heaven” is one of those songs you can’t help but love. Plus it’s the Cure and Dinosaur Jr. on one record, sounds like an RSD win to me.

Nirvana – “Penny Royal Tea/I Hate Myself And Want to Die” 7-inch: Set to be released as the third single & B-side from In Utero, the plans were quickly scratched with Cobain’s suicide the same month. Twenty years later, Cobain and crew are inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame only to have the lost single released a week later. Eerily coincidental or perfectly planned marketing? Either way, both of these are monster tracks from the band and going home with…

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