Monday, November 9, 2009

Smashing the state in my car

So I was in my car today on the way home from work, when something came up on my ipod's shuffle setting. It was fast, heavy, pissed off and exactly what I needed to hear today. The song was called "Poison Corporations". The band, Aus-Rotten. I am going to tell you all a little story. I was in high school, some snot nosed little kid who thought he knew some shit about punk rock. I had been listening to punk rock for a few years by this time, especially the old stuff like Black Flag and Dead Kennedys. I thought I knew what a pissed off band was supposed to sound like. One day, I see a friend of mine in Hell's cafeteria (Carmel High School lunchroom). He's got his disc man (that was that thing we used to use to put those disc thingys in and it played music somehow), and he's rocking out. I ask the obvious question. He says "Aus-Rotten". I then ask the next obvious question, "who?". He then tells me about the band, where they're from, how he heard about them, how he got the cd, what they're about, etc. He then lets me borrow the cd. By that time he had already lost the cover, so he handed me a jewel case that just had the back sleeve and the cd in it. I look immediately at the cd itself. The print on the disc had this odd logo on it, some really serious looking letter "A" shape inside a circle. The back sleeve was black and white with some pictures and song titles like "poison corporations" and "The Flag Will Cover Coffins". Wow. Serious shit. The cd was called "Not One Single Fucking Hit Discography". I took it home, and it blew my fucking mind. The songs on this thing were the darkest and angriest songs I had heard at the time. The lyrics were screamed but you could understand what they were saying. I knew what they were talking about, and there was not one single bit of irony or hilarity about it. It wasn't like listening to a Dead Kennedys record, where the politics were there but it was done sarcastically. No no. This was straight to the point. This was not a band that would ever play Warped Tour. This was not a band that sung about girls or their high school traumas. This was a band with something real to say.

I had to have played this cd a billion times. I made myself a tape and begrudgingly gave it back to my friend. He then had a tape of their current album at the time, "...And Now Back to Our Programming". This was even better than the discography. To this day when I hear the song "Xenophobia Kills" I go apeshit. I did it in the car today. This opened up a whole new world in punk rock for me. I would never have heard of Tragedy, His Hero is Gone, or anything crusty without this band. I still love the songs, and the politics, and everything that made this band cool. I sometimes still try to draw the logo to varying degrees of success. A lot of bands play in this style, but none in my mind are as good as Aus-Rotten.

Po-Political Post: I am fucking pissed

I'm gonna veer away from punk rock stuff for just a minute if I could. So Saturday night the House passed a health care bill. I use "a" instead of "the" health care bill because to me it's not at all what I wanted and once it hits the Senate, it will be a shell of what I thought I was going to get when I went to the polls last November. Now here's the part where everyone is going to hate me. Health care should be free. To all citizens and people. In every country. Period. I see a lot of stuff on facebook about how people hate this idea and that "a public option" is socialism and a lot of other nonsense. Facebook to my mind is not the place for political bullshit. That's why I have this blog. I will now address this issue one bullshit notion at a time. Let me start by saying I am in no way a drinker of the Obama kool-aid. I believe that he has not nearly done enough on this issue or the economy. Not to mention there are still two wars being financed by American tax dollars, and people still dying or being horribly mutilated as a result. So basically as a proud lefty, the guy hasn't gone far enough. Never mind the apologists who will say "change takes time" or "we still have a lot of work to do". "Change" does not mean giving the corporate slime that ran this country into the ground since 1930 more money when New Orleans is still in shambles. I could keep going, but I got other things to yell about. I knew the hope and change rhetoric was bullshit, but I voted for free health care and an end to two wars, one of which completely unjustified. SO therefore, I am not happy.

Now to address the issue at hand in more detail. Health care is a right. It may not be covered under our constitution, but I believe strongly that if we are going to keep living under the creed, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness" then a healthy American people should be priority one. Now I see and have read about many critics on the right who say that it's unconstitutional, that congress has no authority to regulate the health care industry, blah blah blah. Well, congress also then has no right to allow Verizon and AT&T to listen in on your phone calls, or monitor your library card a la the Patriot Act now do they? Yet, these same people were practically slobbering over the idea that you can lock someone up for what they read. As long as were safe right? These same people probably still wish women couldn't vote, or that the civil rights movement never happened. I also hear (and this is my favorite) a lot about how this is socialism and Obama is a socialist. This is not the 1950's. Using old Commie bating fear tactics is not only outdated but it was never right to begin with. I hate to break this to everyone (especially you free market types, god bless you) but this country is run under a mixed economy. What that means is that we purposely set up our system to have elements of the free market and government regulation, which people like Glenn Beck love to call socialism. Glenn Beck can't fucking spell socialism. We are the only nation in the industrialized world that does not have universal health care for its people. This is unacceptable and to me that is the very definition of tyranny. Being controlled by any private corporate interest is. Just ask anyone who has been denied coverage because of a "pre-existing" condition. Is that not tyranny? Denying someone basic medical care because they have a chronic illness?
Another argument against the public option is the cost. Well that is all fine and good, no one wants to pay more money to the government. The argument is we have no way to pay for it, the deficit will skyrocket, the world will end before Jesus has time to come back and save us all, yeah yeah I get it. Wanna know a really easy way we could pay for universal coverage? It's not that hard really. End our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both wars have cost in 9 years way more than universal coverage ever would. And I'm not even gonna touch the human cost. But wait, I must be crazy. This is American foreign policy. We would much rather sacrifice human life than to save it. Especially if we can open up a few more markets in the third world. Every street corner in Baghdad just needs a Starbucks otherwise the whole thing will just collapse.

Now to address those that want universal health care to die (it already has good job). First, the Libertarians. I understand the want for less government involvement and the want for more freedoms. I also rather enjoy your belief that you live under tyranny. You do, you are absolutely right. However, your definition of how you live in tyranny is a bit different than mine. You think capitalism is the greatest thing on Earth. I think it's one of the worst, next to Taco Bell. Disagree? Take a look at what free trade and unregulated capitalism has done to the third world. Or fuck that, take a look at what it did to our country just a year ago. Also, when you quote Thomas Jefferson on freedom, I can't take you seriously. Like at all. Thomas Jefferson was a founding father, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and a slave owner. The hypocrisy is almost laughable. Next up we have the Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Fox News etc. I shouldn't even dignify these people by mocking them, but I will because it's fun. The last book Glenn Beck read was probably See Spot Run, and Rush Limbaugh is a fat fuck who should take the hot dog out of his mouth before he chokes on that and his own bullshit. Oh, and let us not forget the Tea Party people. I guess racism is still a profitable business to you fine patriots. Let's face it, that is really why these people are out there. It isn't like they're trying to even hide it. Just read some of their poorly written slogans on their signs, or the lovely depictions of Obama's likeness they like to create. Their racism is absolutely charming.
Lastly, we have the one politician I can honestly say I hate. Joe Lieberman. He has been quoted as saying, (I'm paraphrasing, sorry) that he will make sure the health bill will not make it to a vote. Which means he wants to filibuster. A filibuster in layman's terms is when a congressman(woman) stands up and talks until they effectively "time-out" the bill, forcing congress to move on to other business. Try it asshole. You aren't Jimmy Stewart (ask me about the reference). It is not even a secret that Lieberman's wife works as an insurance company exec. Nor is it a secret that the health care industry has Lieberman in their pockets collectively. Guaranteed when he loses his Senate seat he will work for one of them as a lobbyist. You want corruption? Here it is in all it's disgusting glory. Lieberman should be ashamed of himself, but he isn't.

So before I go let me say this. The House Democrats are all patting themselves on the back for passing a watered down health bill. I never actually thought it would pass but somehow it did. The Senate will murder it and nothing will actually change. People still won't be insured, we will still pay for these same people when they go to the hospital, and the corporate American way prevails again. Maybe next time we should actually research the people we vote for before blindly going to the polls. Maybe those of us on the leftward side of things should speak up and say something to those we elected. But this is my opinion. You don't have to agree and most likely, you don't. That's OK because this is my blog. Go write your own fucking blog if you don't like it.

Listening to: Aus-Rotten, Antiproduct, Los Crudos

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm telling Tim...

So I was in the bookstore again (my posts are gonna start like this a lot, sorry) and I did something I haven't done in years. I walk around the store, cropdusting as usual (the old ladies love that), when I mosey on over to the magazine rack. I look at it for a second and pick up this month's issue of Maximum RocknRoll. I am not sure what compelled me to do this. I once swore I would never pick one of these up again. I remember being very upset with what I read in the magazine last time. For those of you who are not aware, Maximum... used to be one of the most important taste-makers in the punk rock scene. They single-handedly were able to expose a lot of kids to some really important music over the years. They also took it upon themselves to decide for everyone in punk rock what was cool, what political affiliation they were allowed to have, and which bands to label as sellouts for any variety of reasons. So it has always been a love/hate relationship with me and the magazine. However, since the dawn of the internet age and the rise of message boards, punknews, and other resources, MRR has lost a lot of the influence it used to have. I for one see this as kind of a good thing. I have always said that punk rock is whatever you want it to be. I do not like being told what I am allowed to like. They are still an important source for what goes on in the greater world of punk rock, but they aren't the only source.

So what's MRR about these days? Well I can honestly say I was not disgusted with the issue I picked up like I have been in the past. I am a leftwing kinda guy, so the politics were never the problem with me. My problem was always the magazine's dogmatic approach to punk rock. If they don't think the band under scrutiny falls into their definition of the genre, they blast the band to hell. As a result they largely missed the boat on the innovations to the genre in the past 10-15 years. There wasn't a whole lot of that in this issue. In fact, there wasn't much of that at all. What I read was a kinder, gentler MRR. The interviews were interesting, they covered obscure scenes and bands, and god dammit George Tabb is still funny. Maybe the internet age has tempered the good people at MRR a bit? I somehow doubt it, but I think it's safe to say that things have changed just enough that I won't mind shelling out the $4.

Current listening: Los Crudos, Dead Kennedys, MDC, Operation Ivy

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Courtesy: Punknews and Lambgoat

"Hardcore act Burning Empires (first announced in September) which features Stuart Ross, Kyle Johnson and Ryan Morgan of Misery Signals, Andy Hurley from Fall Out Boy and vocalist Matt Mixon, have announced their debut 7-inch.

The band describes the sound:

BE is a crusty hard-charging hardcore punk with nary a melodic or metal shred in site. The bulk of the songwriting is done by Ross and lyrics are by Morgan who handles vocals (unlike his guitar position in Misery Signals). Ross says of the band "musically I wanted to do a band in relation to Misery Signals, a more punky hardcore version of what we were doing influenced by bands like Propaghandi, Comeback Kid and Cursed.
The band has a MySpace page and will be releasing their debut 7-inch November 10th via their own FC Records."

I am not impressed. People in Fall Out Boy should stop trying to pretend they have credibility.

On literature and the current state of things

So I went to the bookstore today because I had off from work and I wanted to see what was new. I go immediately to the music books section and I see a book about San Francisco punk rock. I found it ironic how expensive it was given the subject but I won't comment on that here. Instead, I think it's very important for these books to be published. Ever since American Hardcore and Please Kill Me, there seems to be a lot of books being published about important past regional scenes in music. This is especially important for punk rock for a plethora of reasons. The most important being the need to document these scenes and the bands that made them. Ask anyone who has gone to a show in the last five years and they will tell you, shit just is not the same. The bands that influenced everything we see now are getting lost in the shuffle and the kids coming up just have no idea. That's not to say that there aren't important bands out there making music and trucking along, but they couldn't do it without those who came before. In the documentary for American Hardcore, someone (I forget who I think it was the guy from Gang Green) said, "They're driving on the road we paved". I think that is a somewhat profound statement. These books that document the older bands therefore are extremely important. I still think people should actually hear the bands before reading about them, but if these books find themselves in the hands of some high school kid who in turn decides to check out Black Flag as a result, I can't complain.

That being said, I think what I see in the current punk rock world as a whole is pretty sad. It seems like the whole scene is in revival mode, and while that's not a terrible thing as a whole, there isn't a ton of innovation going on. Not to mention the fact that reviving scenes and movements that aren't even ten years old seems a bit ridiculous to me. For example, the pop punk revival. Set Your Goals, Four Year Strong, etc. are riding this wave that does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. None of these new pop punk bands seem to bring anything to the table. I am not going to sit here and say that the sound they are going for wasn't important in its time. Descendents, The Movielife, Lifetime, early Saves the Day, and Jawbreaker were all very important and vital when they were around and continue to be important today. Punk rock is whatever you want it to be, and these bands flew in the face of scene politics and the tough guy trend. However, those bands may have invented pop sensibility in punk rock, but they (for the most part) stayed independent and promoted their music the right way. The new bands are actively trying to be huge and sign to a major. Don't believe me? Watch what happens when suddenly you hear Set Your Goals on the radio. They will tell all the magazines that they have to do it and justify it with whatever bullshit statement their management can think of. However, trying to be Green Day and Blink 182 is NOT a good thing. More on this in future posts.

Not all revivals are a bad thing. Just that one. For example, I think Bridge Nine records deserves a lot of credit for what they as a company have done in the last ten years. They brought back an era of hardcore that valued message over guitar leads and they continue to do so. Just watching video clips of the Gorilla Biscuits reunion shows is all the proof anyone needs to back this up. Seeing kids singing along to songs they were way too young to even know about just shows the impact Bridge Nine has had these last few years. For every band that leaves the label, there seems to be new a new band ready to take up the slack. As long as this continues, old farts (figuratively speaking) like me have nothing to worry about.

Important listening: Integrity, Disembodied, 108

I hate your favorite band

So Rag Rants publications proudly brings you Everything Else Fit to Print. This will be mainly a music blog but I will most likely throw down anything else that I feel would be a welcome addition here. No horror here, if you want that go to my other blog. This is NOT a download/upload blog, so take your pirate ass somewhere else. I will piss you off with this blog. That is pretty much guaranteed. I will destroy your favorite bands, you will disagree with everything I say. Do comment and tell me how much of an asshole I am.