Friday, September 30, 2011

Still Bangin' Screw Videos

 "Thangs Done Changed and Still Standing"

If you've been sippin' sizzurp and you're feeling a bit woozy, just take it slo mo and laconic, strap on some headphones and bang screw all day. "trunk full of bang like chains that i swang... stay trill pimp." Eleven years have passed since DJ Screw passed away.  He's still the originator, his memory lives on and everytime you press play he comes back to life.   RIP DJ Screw




Dirt City Chronicles is not turning into Rap City Chronicles, I just go where it takes me. Please accept my apologies, I truly intended to profile Houston rapper Chingo Bling, but I ran long with the drank & DJ Screw. I'll save Chingo for another day.    Pop Trunk Culeros!

Up next for Dirt City Chronicles is another episode of "That Dirt City Sound" podcast. 

New Riders of The Purple Drank

"The barre baby, got the whole world sippin drank with me"

Folks in Houston say that the use of codeine cough syrup (promethazine-codeine, prescription strength) started in the late 1960's. The concoction is sometimes known as Texas Tea, Barre, Purple Drank (from the purplish hues used in manufacture) or most recently Sizzurp. Mixed with soft drinks such as Sprite or Mountain Dew and pieces of Jolly Roger candies it takes on rainbow colors and consumption is referred to as "sippin' syrup." 

Promethazine or Prometh is an antihistamine intended to deter abuse at high doses. Codeine is a narcotic that can lead to sedation, altered levels of consciousness and in high dosage can mimic opiates. High levels of Prometh, leads to heavy users experiencing extreme weakness, sleep disorders, respiratory depression and altered heart rates. The potential for danger rises with increased dosage and Prometh as a CNS depressant can be lethal when mixed with alcohol.

The barre sippers were a regional phenomena, although by the 1990's with the explosion of Houston based gangsta rap groups the drank started to spread beyond The Big Fun. Purple drank became the recreational drug of choice for the southern hip hop community. The narcotic effects of the drug affected the flow and pace of the music, resulting a heavy slowed down sound with slurred vocals.
Three 6 Mafia first brought the purple drank to national attention with their single "Sippin' on Some Syrup" released in 2000. However the shit was nothing new to H-Town,  "they were throwed in the game, draped up and drifted out"

"Ever sense '92 i've been screwed up.... syrup in my cup...and strawberry crush"

In the late 1970's, the idea of slowing music down, was catching on in Houston. DJ Darryl Scott, an early mix-tape artist credits his protegé DJ Michael Price with starting the craze. Price would use Scott's mix tapes in his act. At one particular show the batteries on Price's boombox ran down and the tape started dragging. The slowed down sound caught Price's ear. In order to replicate that sound, he inserted a screw into the spool of the tape player to make it play slower. Scott quickly picked up on the idea, and an early form of chop & screw music was born.

Robert Davis, otherwise known as DJ Screw was influenced by Scott, but he was self taught and developed his talents independent of Scott or Price. (Davis is said to have got his DJ moniker from his habit of defacing vinyl albums he didn't like with a screw.) In 1990, when DJ Screw  took some of his mix-tapes to Darryl Scott, the mix was so slow  that Scott thought there was something wrong with the tape player. Once Davis explained that it was supposed to sound that way, Scott knew DJ Screw was on to something totally different. 

"Still bangin screw. ridin candy blue... i don't gang bang so i ride red too"

Robert Davis Jr. was born in Smithfield, Tx. near Austin. The family moved to California for 2 years and upon their return settled in Houston. Davis started mixing music at the age of 12, when he discovered his mother's turntable. By holding his finger on the edge of the record, he could change speeds and pitch. It was a technique that DJ's were using all over the country. Robert Davis worked it until he had developed a style all his own. Robert became an obsessed record collector, a habit he kept up all his life. It was said that if he had $30 in his pocket, he would spend $25 on records and $5 on Church's chicken. 

His technique would come to be known as "Chopped & Screwed"  DJ Screw started by compiling mix tapes for his friends, charging an average of ten dollars per tape.. The tapes usually contained chopped & screwed versions of whatever hip-hop music was hot at the time. Word of DJ Screw and his mixtapes spread word of mouth, to get a hold of a tape was great, to have a tape made for you was even better. As the tapes circulated, DJ Screw's fame and legend started to grow, music fans starting making their way to his home, to place their request for personalized tapes. 

Those requesting tapes got to know the routine: playlists were placed in a box that DJ Screw kept, sometimes there were hundreds of  lists in the carton. As Screw worked each list into his rotation he would call that person to his house so they could rap over the music or add shout outs to the final mix.  From these humble beginnings a legend grew, demand was so high that police started to harass him about all the traffic. To solve this problem in 1996 DJ Screw opened up a record store "Screwed Up Records & Tapes" in Houston. 

"Its kinda hard to explain why i'm so off the chain"

In order to flesh out his compositions, DJ Screw started inviting local rappers to work with him on the compilations. Collectively they became known as the Screwed Up Click (Fat Pat, Big Pokey, Hawk, Keke, C-Note)  As they toured around the Gulf Coast they were amazed to discover just how popular the tapes had become. Everywhere S.U.C. went, club patrons would request tracks from the tapes. This led to incorporating music from the mix tapes into their stage act.

It wasn't long before DJ Screw was in high demand at recording sessions, rappers started including "screwed" versions on their albums.  On these re-mixed songs,  the voices were slowed downed to disembodied echoing growls, the music would swirl and double-back on itself. DJ Screw would weave layers of sound, while progressing ahead at a snail's pace. It was hypnotic, lulling the syrup cult into varying states of nodded out bliss. To DJ Screw it was "riding music" a soundtrack for cruising the urban landscape of Screwston.  

In essence "chopped & screwed" was the technique of slowing down (screwing) then repeatedly rewinding or back tracking the music (chopping) By generally changing the structure of the music, some songs would become almost unrecognizable. Smartly he would leave behind just enough traces of the original composition to remind us of the starting point. In this fashion DJ Screw gave us a peek into the mind of the sizzurp sippers. The lightshow artists of the mid-1960's, had tried to convey the LSD experience to straights in the same manner.

"Tha shit don't stop till my casket drop, i'm high till i die" 

DJ Screw recorded hundreds of mixtapes, the man had a tireless work ethic and he never stopped creating or recording. The bulk of his production was conventional hip hop with his trademark re-mixing flairs added. DJ Screw's other work was much more than that, at its nascent core it was avant garde.  His revolutionary technique was not an accidental bi-product of the creative process. It was the crowning achievement of a man who studied the possibilities of music his entire life.

DJ Screw died of a codeine- promethazine- alcohol overdose on Nov. 16th 2000. The cause of death has been disputed by those close to him. They argue that he died of a heart attack in his sleep and not from an overdose. Either way his death was the direct result of prolonged codeine-prometh use. The destructive effects of the narcotics on his body and his heavy work schedule played a part in his demise. Big Moe, a protegé of DJ Screw died of a heart attack in 2007, there's speculation that his use of codeine-prometh may have contributed to his death. Pimp C of the rap duo UGK also died in 2007 from the effects of codeine-prometh use.

The sizzurp has been in the news in recent years, most noticeably when former Oakland Raider, JaMarcus Russell (a #1 draft pick) was arrested for possession of codeine syrup without a prescription. Two other NFL players Terrence Kiel (Chargers) and Johnny Jolly (Packers) have also run afoul of the law for codeine-prometh possession. The most famous rock music death from cough syrup was music writer & critic Lester Bangs. He died on April 30th 1982 not from codeine-prometh, but from a lethal cocktail of Darvon, Valium & Nyquil.

It was music for daydreamers, and those dreams just like candles in a cobweb forest, were a fleeting trail out of the darkness.  All Robert Davis Jr. ever wanted to do was make a difference, as DJ Screw that's what he did.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Albucrazy Videos

Why? because this is also who we are. The part of town everyone avoids, the people we pretend not to see. Albuquerque is all of that, so give me some Albucrazy love.... come 'on bitches, where's my big 'Burque hug!

Here's a couple from Juan Gambino, New Mexico's homegrown rapper. He doesn't get much love in the Dirt City, although he shows nothing but love for 'Burque. 

The first video is in response to some "diss" videos put out by Hi Power Productions of Los Angeles. Gambino has been embroiled in a feud with that label and its roster of "street rappers" for a couple of years. Throw in a side feud with Big Lokote and it makes for high drama and some funny ass videos. 

On the second video, Juan Gambino shows the City of Albuquerque some love "Albucrazy Luv" Is it me or does he sound like Elmer Fudd on this one?

The third video is from The Blok Boys featuring Romero and Mateo celebrating all that's good about the Duke City and all that's badass!




Coming up next on Dirt City Chronicles:
The third installment in my Rap Music trilogy. "Down with the Clowns", a look at Insane Clown Posse and the Juggalos was the first. "America's Least Wanted", a rundown on Hi Power Entertainment, Capone-E and all the drama that surrounds them was the second. The final article will cover Chingo Bling and The Houston cult of the purple drank syrup, all chopped and skrewed just like they do it on the Buffalo Bayou.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

America's Least Wanted

Albucrazy hip hop has never risen to the same level of success as homegrown rock music. Yet, on the streets Hip hop is ubiquitous, it's everywhere, at stop lights, car washes, parking lots, parks etc. However, its mass popularity has never resulted in a cohesive local scene. Venues are hard to come by, even for established acts. The "Chitlin Circuit" for Hispanic rappers consists of car show appearances, private clubs and impromptu party gigs. No self respecting club or bar will book them, not to mention that most of their posse of fans are under 21. 

On the national scene, rap has evolved from underground street music into mainstream radio fodder. Today's rap stars have been scrubbed clean of street influences. Rap now seems far removed from it's big bang boogie genesis. For most rappers the street is a place to park your ride and not a place to find inspiration.  If rap's connection to the street is waning, you better not tell the Chicano rappers of Southern California. These homeboys are keeping it gang related. Everyday is 1989, bumpin' old school beats... gangsta rap never left, it just moved from Compton to the Varrio  * L.A. gangs pronounce it "varrio", everywhere else it's "barrio" I'll be damned if I know why they do that.

There's been little evolution, the attitude, the posture, the lyrics and to some degree the music remain unchanged.That's to be expected, this is a lifestyle that places high value on passing down traditions and customs. Which is why L.A. gang bangers take such pride in being third, fourth or fifth generation gangsters. Strength in numbers, everyone fits in and belongs, gangs don't want introspective moody loners.  It's a bizarro world full of unibrowed scowls, Zapata mustaches, mad dog sunglasses, bald heads, Raider gear, pitbulls and prison ink. There's little variation to the uniform, individuality is not encouraged. 

If I had to torture someone using loud music, Chicano/Latino Rap would be my weapon of choice. If they had blasted this at Noriega down in Panama, he would've ran out of the Vatican Mission begging for mercy.  The music is that bad... the lyrics, by design cover a narrow range of topics. It's semi-autobiographical boastful bullshit that rarely breaks from the script. The music itself is a soundtrack of old school beats lifted from 50's oldies, 60's soul music or early 90's gangsta rap. It's an indoctrination for the phony tough, a "Sesame Street" primer for pee wees wishing to become cogs in La Vida Loca.  

“If I didn’t have rap, I don’t know where I’d be. Maybe I’d be back in prison.”

Fahd Azam is better known by his stage name Mr. Capone-E, he’s an underground rapper, who made a name for himself with a rap style he calls "Sureño hip hop." Azam who is of Pakistani descent, grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, gang banging led to prison, from which he was released in 1998. Once out, he started performing as Mr. Capone-E (not to be confused with Capone, a rapper he feuded with when both recorded for the same label) Eventually he would start his own music production company, Hi-Power Entertainment and secured a distribution deal with Thump Records.

Mr. Capone-E claims that he no longer bangs, but he can't ignore where he's from. Most of his fans came from the same place, through the same circumstances.  “I thought that’s all the world had to offer,” he said. “When you were really into that lifestyle, that’s all you see, and that’s all you know.” His facial features are reptilian, he hides his eyes behind sunglasses and his bald head glistens like a fresh roll of salami.  His cultural heritage is fodder for his enemies, who constantly remind everyone that "He's not even Chicano."  A common theme for comments that accompany Capone-E's videos on YouTube, he doesn't dwell on this “It’s about growing up in an environment." he says, "We’re all under one umbrella, Sureño means we're all from Southern California.”

Azam has albums by the score, but his combined catalog is less than impressive. It's one track after another of the same old shit, although over the years he's backed off from the hardcore street themes. These days, he also raps about women or heinas (pronounced hi-naws) although his approach is more pimp than lover boy. He's proud of the song "Amir Kahn Knocking Them Out" which he wrote for the WBA junior welterweight champion. The pugilist uses it as his ring intro music. The two met in Las Vegas and hit it off, this resulted in Kahn flying Capone-E to England. Which in turn, led to an effort by Mr. Capone-E & Hi Power to expand their fan base into Europe.

"Ideally we don't want them... period"

The irony is that Mr. Capone-E and the Hi Power stable will find expansion easier outside the U.S. than they will at home. Here they are ostracized for their gang ties (real or imagined) A recent tour in Washington was cut short when police met them at the airport to inform them that they would not be allowed to perform. Pasco, Wa. police cited Hi Power's alleged affiliation with known street gangs (Sureños) as the reason for barring their performance. A smirking television news anchor reporting on the story then added,  "Police in Yakima have also been advised to cancel a show scheduled for that city." 

This menace to society then ran into the same situation in Greely, Co.  where the mayor and a district attorney put pressure on a local promoter to cancel an appearance by Hi Power. Greely government officials were concerned that Capone-E's music would glorify gangs. Is Racism alive and well in America?, of course it is. Mr. Capone-E and his entire entourage can travel overseas, (with Homeland Security restrictions in place) and perform in Europe, but not here at home? Mr. Capone-E and Hi Power have also journeyed to Japan for a series of concerts. Japan a nation with strict entry restrictions, had no problems with the artists. 

Like most indie hip hop labels, Hi-Power pools its roster of artists into an in-house collective. In this case they're The Hi-Power Torpedos (a name that led one YouTube commenter to suggest that it sounds like something you would buy at a sex shop) The Torpedos include: Mr. Capone-E & Mr. Criminal (who can only be described as the Chicano Snoop Dogg) Ms. Lady Pinks (a bleached blond who is often referred to as a tranny by her detractors) Triste Loko (a freaky guy with a small head and no neck) Menace (looks like he's never lifted a weight in his life, sports ink over his right eyebrow) they're supported by a sad array of rappers who call themselves "Hi-Power Soldiers."

"These vatos are really trying to clown on me" 

It wouldn't be fun if there wasn't drama and with street rappers there's always drama. Hi Power entertainment is engaged in an escalating war of words with former label mate Big Lokote and New Mexico's own Juan Gambino. Lokote the self styled "King of Murder Rap" broke away from Hi Power to start his own label. For that he drew the ire of the entire Hi Power clan, who now gleefully call him out in a series of YouTube videos. There's an element of kayfabe at work here. You get the feeling that all parties involved are working the same angle, " Pass if off as legitimate and we all get paid"  Still, it wouldn't surprise me if either  Capone-E, Big Lokote or Juan Gambino met with a Biggie Smalls ending. 

Both sides accuse one another of being internet bangers or studio gangsters, all claim to be real street soldiers.  Hi Power led by Ms. Lady Pinks (whom Big Lokote calls Mr. Pinks, Juan Gambino refers to her as Ms. Stinks) pounds on Big Mokote (Booger) who answers with a stream of response videos and songs, these include titles such as: Fuck Mr. Lady Pinks, Fuck Triste Joto, Hi Coward Killaz etc. He also gets in a few jabs at Juan Gambino (who hails from Roswell, N.M.) on "Tard Fuck Mr. Mona"  My favorite video has Ms. Lady Pinks, Menace & Triste Loko traveling to New Mexico in a van, searching for "Big Mokote." 

They pull into a Gallup convience store, camera in hand and start asking people if they've seen him around. The customers, most of whom are Navajo can barely hide their contempt as Pinks bellows out "Has anyone here seen Big Mokote?" Next they arrive in Albuquerque and cruise around town looking for Lokote (who lives in Los Angeles) While signing autographs for fans, Pinks asks what they think about Juan Gambino. One Duke City chola calls out "Fuck him! he's not even from here." They never do find Big Lokote, or as one commenter put it: "How the hell do these idiots think they can go to a big ass state and find one person?" Well said homie!

"Cheaper than a bowl of menudo for two"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dirt City Graphic

"Everyday, I wake up to sunshine"

My goal from the start has been to draw attention to the music and musicians of Albuquerque and The State of New Mexico.  I have no hidden agendas, but I do rage against misguided self promotion, rock star mentality and bad music. I posted that on April 18th of this year and it still holds true. Rock music is a primal and juvenile form of music, it's been that way from the start. In order to write about something so frivolous as "rock music" a writer often has to throw pretension out the window and play it for laughs. Humor is a tradition with rock music writers, this goes back to the early days of Rolling Stone, Creem, Crawdaddy and the thousands of fanzines that followed.

The first time two cavemen sat down and starting beating on a log in unison, you know that someone listening, turned to their neighbor and said "Those guys suck!" Thus, music critics were born. If a musician accepts payment for his performance, whether it's a chunk of raw meat or $20 earned at some podunk bar he becomes a public figure, exposed to the slings and arrows of those with discerning taste and ears. Rock musicians have been know to preen themselves like peacocks, local musicians are not any different. Some do get their feathers ruffled and in doing so they miss the point of this blog.

Dirt City Chronicles is a music blog with a humorous mean streak. My humor like all humor can be hit and miss, it's often subtle as a flying mallet. Most articles I post are very complimentary of the artists, a minority are not. I don't grind my axe (as Scott Kesson so smartly puts it) and go looking for heads to lop. It's all done tongue in cheek and if you can't tell the difference then don't read the blog.  I'm not a journalist nor do I profess to be, as such I don't follow the rules that apply to those scribes. This is not a forum, I don't want to trade quips and barbs with readers. If your feelings are hurt, lick your wounds, keep your mouth shut and move on.  

"The juvenile products of the working class"

Scott Kesson has a problem with something I wrote a year ago. Mr. Kesson played in a Taos band called Sticky Pistil (they played at Woodstock '99) He's a bland fellow with the personality of a prickly pear cactus (minus the pears) He took umbrage to something I wrote about his former bandmate Mike Caron. The best way to describe Sticky Pistil, for the multitude that have never heard of them: They were a pedestrian funk rock band that came up with the idea of injecting rap beats into their music. Which was cool, only they did it long after everyone else had beaten that horse to death. Scott Kesson informed me that Mike Caron is a fine and upstanding human being, who comes from a family of noted and respected luthiers.  

If you read that sentence carefully, you'll see that I quoted Mr. Kesson without jamming words into his pie hole. That was his other complaint, I won't quote him any further, because that would just invite another rambling Facebook message informing me that Dirt City Chronicles is nothing more than a collection of juvenilia and misinformation. While I admire Scott's need to stand up for his buddy, I'm sure Mike Caron could do that himself if he so desired. Then again, Mike has a life, he's a luthier, and God knows the worlds needs more of those. Although, if we had no luthiers we could probably get by on the stockpile of stringed instruments that we have now.

Don't mind me, I'm just funnin'... it's a humor blog, my advice to Cactus Scott Kesson is if you don't like it, don't read it. The quote that stuck in his craw, came from either the Taos newspaper or the  Santa Fe New Mexican's weekly entertainment tabloid. It's buried somewhere on the internet. Since, it bothered Scotty so much, I'll let him look it up.  Hey Scott!, just Google "Sticky Pistl" and browse through everything that comes up, you'll find it, I did. This brings me to another point Scott noted. He claims the album "Hi-Fi Superfly" was an attempt at irony (from the cover down to the grooves). He went on to say that if I couldn't see that, then I shouldn't have bothered with the review. These psuedohiphopfunkarelics weren't playing it for shits and giggles. This album was not meant to be the ironist masterpiece that Scott claims it was. Everything they did was orchestrated to help them become the next Red Hot Chili Peppers.

It seems that the clock is running down. Now, more than ever... we need a hero. Someone who will step up and put these goddamn mouthy bloggers with an axe to grind in their places.  A ramrod with a solid sense of irony and self righteous indignation. A man who can't stand it when some piss-ant comes along and pisses in the pond. Who's our man?... "Scott Kesson pulls down the rebound, he dribbles full court, he feints to his left, he feints to his right... he puts up a long jumper.. that hits the front of the rim.... ah! too bad, Rejected!!  Another miss from Scotty the Brick.. better luck next time."

"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to create bad music as it is to write a good review."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Juggalo Videos

Of course there's video and music, it's a tradition here at Dirt City Chronicles.

As my nephew once told me: "Some of my friends are Juggalos and they've tortured me for hours with that fucking music." Imagine that you work for an alternative newspaper and they assign you to review the latest album by ICP. So, you listen or at least you try to listen, but it makes no sense, it's mind numbing. The lyrics read like something a deranged sixth grader would keep in a journal hidden under his mattress. Finally you give up and the review consists entirely of a weak intro stating how you played the album non-stop for two weeks and it was funny as hell, followed by a random selection of song lyrics.  Can't say I blame you. Whoot~Whoot!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Down with the Clowns

"I'm that nerd in the back of the class That went psycho and killed your ass"

Let's go back.... let's go way back, to the days when Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope were still playing with Mr. Toyhead while watching rasslin' on tv. Yeah! jugheads, it's called The Beginning,  Joseph Bruce (VJ) and Joseph Utsler (Shaggy) were a couple of nerdy kids from some shithole suburb outside of Detroit. Don't believe the hype, while they represent themselves as some hard ghetto motherfuckers, they are not. Just like Eminem and his bullshit "I grew up in a trailer park repping 8 Mile Road." it's all bullshit. The worse day in the worse trailer park doesn't compare to living in the ghetto, and I should know, I lived in a trailer park and I saw every episode of The Wire.  

After bumping around pretending to be rappers in various groups with varying styles, they settled in as "The Inner City Posse" (sounds ghetto as fuck, don't it?) Once they found their respective personas: Violent J (Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (Utsler) they changed the name to Insane Clown Posse. Which kinda fit, seeing how they were now performing in clown make-up. They settled on Insane Clown Posse, because the initials ICP were the same as Inner City Posse and logos are not cheap. This brings up ICP's biggest weakness, nothing they've ever done is original, the make-up gimmick they copped from Alice Cooper, Kiss, and the original wicked clown: John Wayne Gacy. The music they jacked from every gansta rapper, horrorcore and metal core band that came before them.

"Went to Kentucky, I got lucky, met this hog calling bitch named Bucky"

Originality not being their strong point, they took their artistic cue from original shock rock artists like G.G. Allin, the sickest motherfucker to ever set foot on a stage. G.G. Allin was a socially transgressive, mentally damaged musician from New Hampshire. Allin resorted to the most vile and perverse antics in order to "entertain" his audience. Bleeding and defecation were a regular part of his act, followed by the smearing or throwing of feces. While Allin's act may have appealed to ICP, they realized that tossing excrement at your fans was counter productive.

So instead of poop, ICP settled on the next best thing: Faygo, Detroit's sticky sweet version of Shasta. After Violent J sprayed down a row of hecklers with the fizzy soda, it became part of their ritual. The band took to carting cases of the soft drink to their concerts, which they would use to  spray the crowd during climactic moments. I guess you could call it G.G. Allin Lite, but both knew what their fans were after: interactive entertainment.  Next they needed to create a mystique, something scary like Detroit horrorcore rapper, Esham, but without any mention of Satan or satanic worship. Enter, "The Dark Carnival" which is some thematic hoke'um about wicked clowns, joker cards, judgement and redemption. It's pseudo J. R. R. Tolkien  for those suffering from attention deficit syndrome. 

"The ghetto took my brain and motherfuck I want it back"

In order for this to play out onstage they appropriated parts of Gwar's act mixed with your average gangsta rapper schtick. It's nutsack grabbing, macho posturing of the worse kind. Misogynist fairy tales that are Utsler and Bruce's idea of what is bad ass and over the top. "The Carnival" theme had already been used by Gwar (Carnival of Chaos, We Kill Everything) and G.G. Allin (Carnival of Excess)  ICP merely toned it down enough to target a larger market than those cult acts ever dreamed of.  In order to maintain a thread of continuation, and demonstrate proof of concept, each album (Joker Cards) closely adheres to the Dark Carnival mythology.

All ICP song lyrics read like the work of a deranged Yahoo commenter high on meth and Faygo. They're long winded dissertations that all Juggalos have memorized and can recite off the top of their heads. They boast of sexual domination and conquest, in Violent J & Shaggy 2 Dope's world (and by proxy  juggalos) all women are subservient and dumb as a rock. On almost every song violent action is threatened, but they're empty threats. With the exception of the 1997 beating of a drunken fan by Violent J, onstage at The Launchpad in Albuquerque. They've behaved like what they are: businessmen. 

Utsler and Bruce have an acumen for business and make no mistake, they operate a business. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope have banked it (while their followers continue to live in poverty or with Mom)  To this end, ICP branched out with their own recording label, Psychopathic Records, there was also a couple of straight to VHS movies that they produced. They wrestled in their own pro-wrestling promotion: Juggalo Championship Wrestling.  Utsler and Bruce also worked with Vince McMahon's WWE. The partnership went well until they discovered that McMahon, also knows a thing or two about evil and operates a real life Dark Carnival.

                 "I always gotta check and ask, how many corndogs been to the cotton patch?"

The Gathering of the Juggalos grew from an informal fanfest into a national event (thanks to Tila Tequila getting bombarded with poop, rocks & bottles) Now it is nothing more than a harvesting of juggalo & juggalette cash reserves. These two entrepreneurial motherfuckers have reaped the whirlwind, while juggalos reap food stamps. Their greatest accomplishment has been convincing directionless young adults that it's good to be a stoner fuck up.  The juggalos are who they are, they greet each other with a Whoot! Whoot!, which is their way of saying hello, expressing joy or simply being in agreement. They flash gang-like signs and dress in black and red, they're mostly white, with a sprinkling of Hispanic & African Americans in the ranks. The juggalos favor old school rappers like Bones, Thugs & Harmony, Ice Cube, Snoop Dog or Coolio (who sports juggalo ink)  

Horrorcore rap music is part of a transgressive movement that started in the late 1980's. It is art, in this case music, considered offensive because of its shock value. The subject matters deal with psychological dislocation, mental illness and extreme anti-social behavior. Let's not put ICP at the forefront of this movement, they simply cashed in on it. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope set out to produce shocking, blatantly over-exaggerated fantasies that fed on the myth of the white ghetto gangster. Ultimately, their cartoon-like narratives are just silly and boring.  

Who ever the fuck that is! (I didn't know this, but Juggalos have beef with Lyle Lovett)

Whoot! Whoot! "It's the life of a juggalo for me, just gettin' high burnin' some tree.  We the wicked juggalos, Ya know what I'm saying? I could give a fuck less 'bout what you're sprayin'" "I got nothing but bitches all over my".... cut!...cut!... cut.. stop rolling tape.  Let's back it up home slice, the only bitches I see is your  momma and sister hollerin' at you to get the fuck out of the bathroom so they can ready for work. Juggalo island my ass, more like fantasy island. Wrap it up! we're done here.  

"Keep juggling, motherfuckers!"

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Venus Bogardus

Music and not religion is now opium for the masses. 

During today's dissertation we will cover the differing motivational factors between so called "punk rock music" in the United Kingdom and the United States. The political climate and the American state of mind is now closer to that of the U.K. in the mid- 1970's than ever before. That period of "England screaming" was the cultural fallout of a nation in a state of flux. And it most certainly left its mark on subsequent generations of American musicians. 

Punk rock in the U.K. was all piss and vinegar, the product of angry white youth who had no plans to accept the inevitable without kicking someone in the bullocks.  The Sex Pistols at first appearance were seemingly capable of unspeakable acts of depravity and violence. Johnny Rotten and company seemed willing to push the limits of propriety, even if they were destined (with the exception of Sid) for middle age conformity like the rest of us. At the other end of the spectrum, The Clash were a study in controlled anger, but unlike the Pistols, they directed their spite (and spit) into the music rather than onto the audience. 

Elvis Costello was and is a pissed off little prick, who got punched in the mouth by Bonnie Bramlett for calling Ray Charles a nigger. Thus learning the hard lesson of what most Americans view as socially unacceptable behavior. Eventually Costello and so many other musicians would use their anger like taunt barbed wire to maintain a buffer between themselves and music journalists.

This wasn't the case stateside, our punk rockers didn't seem to be mad at anyone. The Ramones were goofy, their songs were straight up looney tunes. The Heartbreakers were sloppy and if they were angry it was only because they had no more drugs. The other New York bands (Talking Heads, Blondie, Television) were so cool that they disdained anger or pretty much any kind of emotion. Intensity was not the American way, cool detachment was more our style. 

The second wave punk bands from SoCal (Black Flag, Bad Religion etc) tried so hard to capture that "I'm so fucking fed-up rage of British punk bands." They were reactionaries, their angry message was based on their belief that the status quo was eroding away. (which it was)  The hardcore Southland punks while preaching non-conformity wore their ideals & beliefs like a uniform. Southern California took up the banner of dissatisfaction and carried on with it long after it was no longer fashionable.

"Blueprint for an arthouse dance craze"

"But!... Professor... what the fuck does this have to do with Venus Bogardus?"  
"Put your hand down you inquisitive little bastard."... 
"The answer is simple... it has nothing and everything to do with them."...
"Venus Bogardus is the purgative impetus that will flush us free of complacency" 
"Now shut the fuck up! and let me continue." 

It's easy to get lazy without someone around to point out that we don't have much  going on here. Isn't that the driving force behind both marriage and music?, the need to get something going.  The music scenes in Albuquerque & Santa Fe (such as they are) have constantly renewed themselves through the influx of ideas and talent from outside the state. So, who better than a Brit and a Texan to set us straight when it comes to no wave, post punk music and literature. 

James Reich is a British ex-patriot..I apologize, he may well be a patriot, but for the moment he lives in Santa Fe. James along with Hannah Levbarg (who hails from Texas) have been together since 2002, they started up as Venus Bogardus ( 2005) in Bath, England. Beside being the name of a character in an Ann Bannon novel, Venus Bogardus is also an experimental collaboration between two acclaimed writers and musicians who are causing ripples of excitement across the small pond that is New Mexico.

"Minarets of the occupation - Lost journals of the destination"  

I could tell you that they sound like early Killing Joke or mid-period Killing Joke. I could even say that they remind me of The Velvet Undergroud, Wire, The Gang of Four or Sonic Youth. You, however won't really know until you listen for yourself.  Venus Bogardus revolves around James  (guitar & vocals) and Hannah (bass and vocals.) Luke Carr a native of Baltimore learned to play drums so he could join the band as did Annie Gardiner, their original drummer in the U.K. Drummer Obaro Evuarherhe came over with James & Hannah from England, but has since returned to continue his studies. David Wayne, a jazz drummer joined the band for a few shows this summer. For now, James & Hannah are planning to use a drum machine, which means, they'll never have to say goodbye to another drummer. 

The impending release of James's first novel "I, Judas" has drawn plenty of attention their way. We all have Judas in our genetic makeup, the betrayal, the remorse and the suicide. "I, Judas" seems to examine the thought process behind suicide, the final moments when a point is reached and there is no turning back. Having not yet read the book (I've ordered a copy from Amazon, you should do the same) I can't really say much more about it. 

Suicide is entrenched in our mindset, as James explained on Facebook: It's the American West ideology of  "saving the last bullet for yourself"  It's Ernest Hemingway having failed to drink himself to death, finally blowing his brains out. It's Hunter Thompson killing himself because all the drugs & debauchery in the world couldn't do it for him. It's Jim Jones blathering on with his sick twisted mumbo jumbo as the believers lined up to drink the potion. It's George Armstrong Custer standing atop a hill looking down on a swarm of men intent on putting his light out. It's the American way and it haunts us in every way possible. 

"Through the mist she gazed at the street, 86 floors below. Then she jumped." 

For "The End of Being" (a literary blog based in Albuquerque), James Reich recently wrote about the very public suicide of Evelyn McHale. A young New York woman, who dove off the Empire State building in 1947. Her fashionably attired body crushed a UN limo below, a scene that Robert Wiles photographed. The resulting photo was published in Life magazine, and Evelyn was forever immortalized in the throes of her final act of defiance.

As part of an ad campaign for Neiman Marcus, Giorgio Armani and Norma Jean Roy recreated the scene with Drew Barrymore mimicking the part of Evelyn McHale. It's a fine line to walk for all involved as James Reich explains "The allusion to Wiles' 1947 photograph intends something more and exploits something darker" to James  it's quite obvious "The image evokes the so-called jumpers from the towers of the World Trade Center." 

James goes on to say. "I believe that this is deliberate and perverse"  It's an attempt to make light or exploit a very dark moment in our history, one that ten years after, we're still in the process of grieving over. Reich describes Norma Jean Roy's visual details surrounding Ms. Barrymore as "an image from the lipstick index"  it's a smearing of lines, not for art's sake but simply for ad revenue "an image of luxury in the shade of annihilation." Both Giorgio and Norma Jean may well burn in hell for this, as for Drew Barrymore, I think the overall effect would've been better if they had actually dropped her off the Empire State Building.

James Reich is tuned in to the American thought process, his political writings show just how well he gets us. Yet at times you get the feeling that James and Hannah play along to get along, be nice, don't piss off the natives. James explains in the accompanying radio interview that Venus Bogardus, doesn't really belong to any one place, they are transient. Which means that they'll leave us someday and those of us who are anchored to this land of enchantment will miss them dearly. 

Venus Bogardus radio interview on KSFR  

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dirt City Graphic

What!.... you've never seen a unicorn before?

I lost my flash drive, or more likely it got tossed into the trash by my four year old niece. She has a habit of doing that, we've lost flash drives before along with cordless phones, countless spoons, forks, butter knives etc. I questioned her about it, but she just yelled "I didn't do it" and covered her face with her hands, just like her damned mother.

When I first started blogging, I would type out my articles directly onto the blog as new posts. It worked fine on Blogger, but when I switched over to Webs.Com I learned a hard lesson. I started working on a story for my now abandoned blog "Argonauts and 40 Niners" (which ironically was about abandoned places.) 

I hammered out hundreds of words, downloaded pictures, edited, rewrote and spell checked. Then to my horror,  when I went to publish, a message popped up telling me that I had timed out and all that hard work vanished into thin air. To this day I fucking hate Webs.Com. Lesson learned: type out articles on Word Pad first, store on desktop or in documents and then transfer copy to flash drive. 

Almost everything I had written for Dirt City Chronicles over the last six months was on that portable drive. Thankfully, I have copies stored in my documents file, albeit rough drafts that in some cases barely resemble the finished work. That drive was my buddy in fact, every morning upon leaving the house, I would pat my pocket to make sure it was there.

It was a 1 GB Geek Squad drive that I purchased at Best Buy as a two pack. It was beat to hell, the lettering had rubbed off, I had bent the USB input jack a few times and it was dirty. I probably have at least 50 flash drives at home, so it seems stupid to feel sentimental over this one, but I do.
I had one story saved that I was working on for Fear of Agraphia, my dagwood sandwich blog. It wasn't backed up, although I found a rough draft in the recycle bin of my work computer (don't tell my boss, but my job affords me time to write) I reconstructed the story, actually improving on the original final draft, so it worked out ok.

I have a brand new flash drive, it's a SanDisk 2 GB, I hated it at first but it's starting to grow on me.  It's the first thing that goes into my pockets in the morning, I never leave home without it.


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 I didn't talk much about music on this post, so here's some more tracks from Santa Fe bands.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

That Dirt City Sound Episode 18

An eclectic mix  of  music from the city that is different... Santa Fe!  I put together an episode just like this that featured the music of Las Cruces. I got one episode, there really wasn't enough quality music for two. The Santa Fe project could easily take four episodes, but I'll stop at two for now. The depth and quality of the Santa Fe music scene (past & present) is amazing. Keep in mind that I stayed clear of anything remotely Americana. I also avoided posting anything by Zach Condon & Beirut, Alaska in Winter or Felonious Groove Foundation (my bad)  Thus leaving the door open for another pair of episodes at a later date.