Hello, dear reader! You, who have picked up this magazine, are a crusader. No, not the weird, religious- fanatical kind of crusader. Why is that? Because by buying a copy of The Radvocate, you are a crusader for Arts and Literature. You are supporting writers and artists who need exposure, who want work, and most of all, want to share what they create with the world. Whether gifting large projects with monetary funds or simply spreading the word about an underrated writer or artist, The Radvocate works tirelessly to promote these underappreciated people in what is, perhaps, the most underrated form of media. So congratulations, crusader! With your help, we are chipping away at the walls of conformity in print media. Because of you, we are starting dialogues that don’t have to do with the latest happenings of a cable TV show. Your support for this zine helps us disprove the statistic that the average attention span has shrunk to less than two seconds! (Note: not a real statistic – probably) Look around you and know that what you hold has a purpose. You are not reading this to simply be entertained; you are reading this to be educated, to contemplate and be challenged. What you find in here won’t simply make you react, it will make you act. How do we know this? Well, you’ve already picked up this zine, so you’re on the right track! Even though you bought this the same way you buy everything else, it will (hopefully) change the way you look at things. Maybe you’ll be inspired to pick up that paintbrush, or dust off an old novel, or dance in a grassy field. Go with it! Don’t consume your culture; create your culture. Get rad. -Ed.
Thank God I didn’t wear a t-shirt under this. It’s a muggy Saturday night and The Casbah is a surprisingly warm place to be. It isn’t ‘hot’ out, necessarily - it’s more like being in one of those jungle exhibits at the zoo, where you walk into an unnaturally moist environment. If I wore a t shirt under my button up shirt, I would be sweating up a storm, like Pit Stains over there. Even though Pit Stains was wearing a black shirt and had hair almost long enough to hide them, his namesake was apparent to anyone with more than one glass eyeball or less. It was the Earthless show, and unlike the first one I had been to here, it was a collection of unfamiliar characters emphasis on characters. The people around me didn’t seem like friends getting together to watch a show, but a who’s who of the ‘types’ of people that are all too often characterized into our worldviews. These weren’t caricatures walking around, they were caricatures of caricatures. The ‘Skateboard Metal long-hair’ guy. The ‘metal girl in a sun dress with tattoos’. The ‘too old to be at a show like this because your wearing sandals, Lucky jeans and glasses’ guy. Old Shaved Head, Mildew Basement Ponytail man, overdressed girlfriend looking nervous. Every cliché and anti-cliché you could think of was represented. And me? ‘Looks young but acts older quiet guy’. Together we formed a weird Voltron of adolescent and post-adolescent humanity, with only the small thread of this stoner metal band needled between us. My friend had left, and now I was alone in this giant mass of people. I held up a column with my back at a strategic place in the venue; it was halfway between the bar and the stage, so I was essentially neither here-nor-there. It left me at a perfect vantage point for the rest of the place. I could observe - but would not be observed in the tangle of humanity, I could belong to any number of the groups around me to the outside eye. Of course, I wasn’t doing the weird hang-outside-the-group-lookingin thing, God no. Rather, I was against the column with the people around me, so to a casual glance it just seemed that I was the lazy member of a group. Maybe he’s the DD for those co-ed girls? Maybe the goody-goody friend of those Thrasher-clad metalheads? Who knew? Either way, I didn’t really care about what people were
thinking. They have better things to do than sit on the other side of the room and judge me. This wasn’t U-31, after all. I didn’t want to say anything out loud, but JESUS there’s a lot of hot girls here! Everywhere you looked their was the badass girl with the leg tattoos, the no-nonsense diamond-in-the-rough chick, the sun dress girls gingerly sipping their PBRs. Granted, most of them had a tall intimidating boyfriend in tow, but it was still the only metal show I had been to that was so easy on the eyes. I was appreciating this fact while Earthless began setting up their set. Hearing the first twangs and thumps of the sound check, I made my way toward the middle of the floor, behind the gathering crowd. I didn’t notice it then, but the crowd had swelled considerably since I had arrived earlier. Soon the lights dimmed, the color-filled liquid bubble effect people began working their magic, and Earthless introduced themselves in a casual way. “Hey, we’re Earthless, guys. Thanks a lot for coming” The crescendo of guitar, bass and drums began to build, and then exploded into their trademark Hendrix-esque grooves. At this point, a long haired bearded guy turned around, saw me and mouthed something. I couldn’t hear (because of earplugs), but in the same moment he grabbed my arm and pushed me in front of him towards the front of the stage. I looked back at him over my shoulder and gave him a nod of thanks. First time anyone’s ever given a shit about me not being able to see, I thought, slightly confused.
The jam was in full swing, with most people swaying and nodding to the music, and some head banging. So far, it had a similar mood to the other Earthless shows I had been to. But as I said when I started, the crowd was different. Something was off. I was right behind a fat guy with no neck, with slicked back greaser hair. He didn’t seem to be into the music at all. At least, not the way everyone else was. Suddenly a skateboard guy with long curly hair shoved him, and he immediately spun around and shoved him back. So now these two guys were starting their own pit. Okay, fine. I stayed to the side as much as I could and shoved back with my shoulder when appropriate. Now I was up against the stage and there were two girls to my right, an underage looking blonde and her Asian friend. The Asian friend turned to me and waved to me with recognition, and out of instinct I smiled and waved back. Do I know this girl? From where? My mind seemed to be drawing a blank. Even weirder, she had an old Asian dude standing behind her. Is that her Dad? Is she really underage? Hmm.
I soon became aware of a guy behind me, who we’ll call man tits for the sake of this story. He fit into the type of too-old-weekend-warrior metalhead people that were there, who were more likely to show up to the show in Ralph Lauren shorts than in a faded Slayer shirt. This seemed false to me, and in my mind I had already judged him. But, I was here for the music, so I ignored him. He was a fat and sweaty fuck, with a doughy face and watery, bulging eyes like a carp. He wore the aforementioned polo shirt and shorts combo, already stained with spilled beer. His hair, usually set in an average white guy comb over, was tousled. I couldn’t tell what he was doing, but he kept trying to push me and the girls into the stage, on the pretense of reaching up to ‘toast’ the band. I felt his man tits shove into my back every time he did this and resisted the urge to slam an elbow into his gut. Okay man, I get it. You’re excited. Really the only reason I felt so hostile was because this yuppie larvae was spilling his Jack and coke all over my back. First only a little spill, then a big one, all over my shirt. Come on now. A full glass? With an open top? In a crowd with this many people? You know better. Drink your shit or get out of here, asshole.
At this point I have to interrupt the story to put the rest of the events into context. I know mosh pits. I know I’m not a mosh pit person. I respect the pit and stay away when I don’t feel like getting shoved around like a rag doll. But this wasn’t supposed to be a pit show. At least, not in my mind. But what I didn’t know was that Earthless was moving away from stoner-psych style and was starting to do more traditional metal. In particular, a cover of Cherry Red by The Groundhogs (that my friend Minerva diligently pointed out in the new Sioux Magazine) that they played at the end of the show, and the only time I’ve heard the lead guitarist sing. But the Earthless shows I had been to before didn’t have pits. I had been at the front for a lot of them, and barely a shove was given half the time. So I was not expecting a pit. This is why I reacted so negatively to this situation. The situation, to be specific, was being shoved against the amps onstage by man tits, grease hair and everyone else. This was a totally different audience then I had seen before, I understood that now. But I would not be responsible for breaking somebody’s amps with my body weight just because I didn’t see some assholes elbow coming. Or God forbid, yanking out a cord and interrupting the show. I saw that the girls to the right of me were in the same boat; they looked confused and nervous. Maybe they had also been to other Earthless shows and thought the same thing I did. Was that where she recognized me from? I knew this wasn’t the place for me. I can’t hang, I admit that. But the only way out was the swarming nest of heshers and beardos behind me. Alright then. Go time, motherfuckers. I put my elbows up and began to spin into the swirling tornado of clichés. I got bounced, shoved, and kicked around considerably in the din. I know, though, that nothing that happens in a pit (barring a personal vendetta or man tits’ drink thing) should be taken personally. I went with it. Soon, I was able to direct the shoves towards the back of the crowd, and I was spit out of the whirlpool towards sanity. Now I stood cross-armed in the back of the room staring out with the rest of the nonpit people at the spectacle. While the band provided the soundtrack, the pit swirled and crashed around like a feeding frenzy. They had tasted blood, and their adrenaline was in overdrive. I was happy to be on the outside looking in. It was like being rescued from a house fire and looking back at it, watching your former location collapse into a destroyed heap. I watched the anything-goes free-for-all with some interest, along with the rest of the patrons along the wall. Most were the couples and random background-blenders like myself.
The pit was made up of the young skater kids trying to justify their tattoos, angry mosh pit veterans, and the weekend warriors trying to reclaim their youth. That, and, probably taking out some of the repressed anger from dealing with their boss and/or wife all week. This pit paradise did not last long. A bouncer finally arrived to regulate, a tall shaved head guy with a faded black Casbah ‘staff’ shirt. In my mind I tagged him as the ‘Neutralizer’ because wherever he went, the frenzy seemed to dissipate. He would stand there, arms crossed and stony like a golem, giving the stink eye to whoever bumped into him. With a swift, singular motion, he shoved his earplugs in and lumbered into the pit. But even he was taken aback when he worked his way in towards the center. The most energetic of the crowd took him for one of their own, and began to shove and push him around. In an instant, a guy as tall as him launched towards him and both tumbled to the sticky surface of the floor. Bad move. The Neutralizer got up and began taking single offenders in headlocks, dragging them to the side and screaming menacing warnings into their ears. There was a malevolent happiness in his eyes, like he was about to cut off your ear and mail it to your parents house. In other words, he did his job and he did it well. While much of the pit was now neutralized, there was still a guy who had only slightly slowed down before going off again. Driven by whatever chemicals he had ingested, he charged his peers, fists and head swinging like a wildebeest.
This threw the Neutralizer into a rage, and he head locked him and walked fast towards the door, screaming in his face the whole way. The grabbed guy’s sneakers dragged quickly through the exit and he was gone. A tall guy with dreads, maybe a friend of his, looked back and gave a thumbs-down sign. Not cool, man. Now you would think the pit would explode with wild energy, but instead stayed muted and lucid. Though the Neutralizer was gone, his presence had left a mark of fear in the metalhead’s psyches.
Earthless finished their set (with Cherry Red, as I said) and I was quite ready for it. Don’t get me wrong, the music was amazing. And even the whole bar-turning-into-apit thing wasn’t that bad. But I was tired. I tried to walk through the crowd of sweating, smoking twenty-something’s and towards the exit as casually as I could. Now in the cool open air of the night, I felt peace. I walked to the side of the road and flagged down an Orange cab. “Where you going, buddy? Alright, let’s go buddy” the cab driver said enthusiastically. I leaned back in my seat with the window open, feeling like I just emerged from a transcontinental flight. I’m going to sleep well tonight. When I got out of the cab I noticed the neighborhood was eerily quiet. I looked down at my phone and thought Jesus, it’s almost 3:30am. I hopped up the steps to see the door to the apartment was open and the lights were on. I walked into the scene of Pete smoking on the patio, and Geoff and his lady friend trading bites of a Mexican feast. After the chaos of the show, it seemed too quiet and too still now. “So how was the rest of the show, man?” “Well” I said, carefully choosing my words, “it was…interesting”
Self-Portrait â€“ Manhattan, NY
My name is Ryan Loewy and I am from Sea Cliff, NY, currently residing in Astoria, NY. I got into photography through a variety of things: typical B&W courses in high school, my older sister and a few friends, and, ultimately, the pictures that graced the pages of Daily Bread. All of these had a role in igniting my interest in photography. I think Wes Driver wrote an article in an issue of Rejects and that is something I always remember, for some reason or another. Ryan Schude and Dan Bustaâ€™s protrait
work was also really inspiring, as well as Brian Konoske's advertising work with Mindgame. I had originally planned on going to RISD for fashion design but didn't get in, so I took up shop at a local school. I decided to pursue photography because I had just bought a DSLR, and figured it'd be easy to work on my portfolio and eventually transfer. The first few years I didn't really do much or make anything that was tangible, but once I left for school in Manhattan, my work really blossomed and became something that I am glad to call my own. For me, photography is more of a creative endeavor than a process of documentation. I go to school for photography, so there are a ton of people applying all sorts of ideas to the images that they make in order to represent something, some that make sense, some that really don't. I think what separates one photographer from another is not the type of camera that they own, but rather the point of view that they have.
Miguel Pizzaro and Jesus Rodriguez â€“ 1 year â€“ Harlem, NY
We all see the world differently, or so I'd like to think; photography gives us all the opportunity to show what we truly see as reality, some are more literal than others. But I absolutely believe photography is an artistic way to represent reality. In terms of my future with photography, I'd love to work editorially and travel. I thoroughly enjoy portraiture and I see that becoming the main subject matter that I focus on, however I do still enjoy and plan on working still with various rollerblading media outlets. I'd like to thank Matt Lewis for giving me this opportunity to showcase my work, my mother and my family for the continued support, Craig Benabu for me giving my start at IROLLNY, and everyone I have met along the way. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for rollerblading.
John Estrella – 3 years – Lower East Side, NY
Sam Williams – 16 years – Manhattan, NY
Brian Rivera – 2 years – Bronx, NY
Dear Rollerblading, FUCK YOU! I’m sure that I’m not the first or only to feel this way about you. Each person that hates you has their reasons. Whether it be prejudice, jealousy, ignorance, disappointment etc. My reason is what you’ve molded me to be and most of all the way you make me feel! You make me feel like a fat dude dating a supermodel; soaking up all the skills I can offer, just until I am replaced by the next with more skills. You’re like a shitty girlfriend who takes and takes, and gives the bare minimum in return, just enough to keep me interested and willing to give more. You’ve taken my money, my time, and my interest from almost everything (including a successful normal life). You know what else does that to a man? DRUGS! You are my drug of choice and have pushed me to become a “Drug Dealer.” The Drug Called Rollerblading I have traveled around the world; designated travels to places in the Middle East like Bahrain to organize a Red Bull competition, and Abu Dhabi to do skate demos and build skateparks. To South American countries such as Ecuador to also perform demos and do sport program interviews; Bogotá, Columbia to judge a contest accompanied by a demo presented to an audience of a couple thousand. I’ve traveled to do photo-shoots in Amsterdam, then engaged in the infamous scene where I did drugs legally. Each new place of travel I’d meet people from different cultural backgrounds whom enjoy skating just as much as I. These encounters created new friendships that I will remember for a lifetime, and the places I’d be so lucky to revisit...I would reconnect with buddies I haven’t seen in years! At some destinations I’d have a two bedroom condo all to myself. In others a room to myself, but most of the time I find myself having to share a bed or sleep on the floor in the home of someone I just met. In those rare and lucky instances, I’d end up having to crash in someone’s garage with my clothes as a blanket, in a car sitting up, on a stretcher, or outside; because it’s nicer than inside. All in all I wouldn’t take any of it back! I am a “Professional” Rollerblader, and I have two signature shoes; each in two different colors (something I would have never imagined as kid just skating to skate). I’ve also had two signature skates, four signature wheels, two signature shirts, a signature bearing, even a signature “signature”.
A bone to pick with bladingâ€Ś Photo: M.Lewis
I’ve been on four skate magazines covers, three main feature interviews in skate magazines, and over fifty appearances within eight different magazines in my career. I have ten profiles that have been featured in skate DVD’s, and ten or more edits for my Sponsors on the World Wide Web. I have over an hour and a half of edited skate footage out there! Enough to make a documentary with no words, just skating. Not bad for nineteen years of work! I’ve made companies successful with my ideas, marketing and skating. I’ve also rode for companies that couldn’t be helped and it financially strained them more than they could afford. Overtime, I grew tired of others using my hard work to make money and not even listen to my ideas. So, I started something of my own! With the unfortunate help of a relative passing away, I made use of monies received as a beneficiary and gave life to Fester Wheels. Through the dedicated help from two of my favorite skaters and great friends, Joey Chase and Mathieu Ledoux, we made Fester a reality, and a company that we controlled as Skaters! I can say I’ve achieved a lot within the sport I love and still continue to strive for more and push my own limits, but I never achieved the one goal that may have had a huge impact in career. To get paid enough to just skate for two years. That’s right, I’ve achieved everything listed above while working a full time job, (with the exceptions of layoffs due to traveling excessively, injuries, or construction work being inconsistent) all pushing to that one final goal, to make a living from skating. I am a twenty-seven year old world traveling “Professional” Rollerblader. I’m known by thousands for my skills, met hundreds of genuine people throughout the world. Made friends with most and partied with all of them! I lived a life most millionaires couldn’t pay to have! My name is Damien Wilson. I live in my Mother’s garage, and run a rollerblade business out of her backyard! All things stated above are 100% true. For those of you that skate, I am going to give you a little insight in regards to my relationship with The Conference and Xsjado. Most of all, let you know how I fell about and deal with this “Drug” called “Rollerblading”! Want to hear the rest of Damien’s story? Check it out in an upcoming post on www.skatelife.tv! Also look for an interview in the upcoming print edition of The Far East Project (see last page)!
The man responsible for my father’s death orders our special: gazpacho. It’s fitting. Something about serving it cold. He doesn’t even recognize me, doesn’t even look at me when he hands the menu back. Probably just an ass in black pants when I walk away. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Mr. Golding. The gazpacho cools in the large walk-in freezer. I close the door behind me and watch my breath dissipate. * It’s eight years earlier and I’m a teenager living in Brooklyn. My dad owns a house in Bed-Stuy, a neighborhood that can be nice or dangerous to a girl like me. The house is cheap and also dangerous, but it’s ours. His, really. Dad reminds me of this regularly. At night, I lay awake and listen to the rats scurry in the walls. In the day, my dad tells me that one day, this will all be mine. He says, “One day this will all be yours.” Then he pops some painkillers and becomes useless for the rest of the day.
The other girls at school don’t get along with me. I think it’s because of my boyfriend, Ty. Everyone likes Ty, but he likes white girls. For this, the other girls aren’t nice to me. Just flash their thongs and cleavage when we’re both looking and call me bitch when he’s not. White bitch. I don’t go to school very much. I hang out in Sunset Park in the day and watch the Manhattan skyline and wish for destruction because I missed it the first time. It seems like that would make my life insignificant. Sometimes Ty comes with. Sometimes we make out when the sun goes down. Mostly, I go there alone. * My dad comments on our neighbor who needs to ride the bus since his car broke down. “Lazy, lazy, lazy,” he says. He’s not talking only about that neighbor—all of our neighbors, the whole neighborhood of Bed-Stuy. I remind that he doesn’t have a job and he says it’s different for him. He gets workman’s comp from being injured on the job. A settlement for his hard labor bought our house. The house that will be mine one day. He always reminds me and I always look at the peeling paint and the buckets that catch the leaking water when it rains.
On the weekends, Ty takes me into Manhattan to see movies. Afterwards, we hang in Union Square to watch the skaters. The kids pass around brown-bag whiskey and a few gulps make us feel hilarious. We stay out late and watch people stumble out of bars: young professionals puking on the sidewalk, women crying into cell phones, and first dates that have passed the initial awkwardness into drunken groping. We go to sleep on the train going home and end up in Far Rockaway and think let’s watch the sun rise over the ocean. Why not. * Sometimes my dad asks me where I’ve been all night. Most often, though, he doesn’t. * Ty walks me home at night after hanging out at his mom’s house. His mom makes dinner and I watch him study for the class I probably won’t go to the next day. We walk in silence, listening to the music that floats out of people’s homes. We get to my house and a bleeding junkie sits on my lawn. I tell him that he has to fuck off and he asks if I have a bandage. The wound is somewhere on his head and the blood glistens in his hair. Again, I tell him to get the hell out before I call the police.
The junkie stands up and asks if I got a fix and Ty makes like he’s going to punch him. Before running off, the junkie tells me that my home is a shithole. The fucking, bleeding junkie. * My lucid dad tells me to come meet Mr. Golding, his “financial associate.” Mr. Golding frowns at this title and looks uncomfortable when I stick around. The room is thick with tension so I say nice to meet you and leave. I hear a muffled argument through our dilapidated walls and then Mr. Golding leaves. My dad slams the door behind him. “Fucking cocksucker!” he yells. Asshole. Shithead. Fucking Jew. These are the things dad yells. I tell him to calm down and he says shut up. Says I wouldn’t understand. Fifteen minutes later, he’s useless again. Tears linger on his cheeks in the splintering TV light. * Ty comes over when my dad passes out and we tip toe. We go into my room and put the radio on. Some metal station. “Shhh” he says. “Shhh” I say back. Shhh.
Shhh until our lips meet. A blistering guitar solo—it’s such a nice soundtrack to our passion. He takes off my clothes and I do the same to him. We make out and rub against each other to metal. When we finish, his skin is cool with sweat. I ask him if he wants to see something. Of course he does. I bounce across the room in my bra and panties. The devil’s music still plays quietly on the radio. I find the orange bottle in my desk and he takes his focus off my body when I hand it to him. It’s my dad’s, I tell him. He won’t notice. He has so many. We each swallow the pills and let the world swim around. The bed is nice, his skin is nice and even the house is too. We just lie there, listening to the cars, radio and sometimes gunshots. Ty leaves in the morning before me or my dad wake up. * The next time Mr. Golding comes around, my dad makes me cover for him. I tell Mr. Golding that my dad’s running errands. It feels awful to say: dad’s words coming out of my mouth. I feel the hate and anger and sadness in them. They’re not my words. I’m possessed; someone’s spinning my record backwards. That fucking cocksucker. That asshole, shithead, fucking Jew sees my dad’s car parked in front of our house, nods and leaves without saying a word. Just gives a look of unmistakable pity.
* Ty comes over and we make dinner. Our cupboards are empty except for preserves and imperishable staples. You’d think a cripple lives here. We find the most gorgeous box of macaroni—it’s gorgeous because it’s ours. Dad wakes up and decides that he wants to help, but mostly stands around. He forces an awkward fist bump on Ty. “Sup brotha.” Muted from painkillers, he eats most of the food and goes on about the rats behind the walls. He tells Ty to treat me right. He knows how Ty’s kind is. After a long pause, he clarifies: “I mean kids, teenage boys.” It’s not what he means. When the food is gone, Ty leaves without kissing or hugging me. My dad remarks how well-behaved he is. I’ve never wanted to burn this shithole down more in my life. * There’s an eviction notice on our front door. I show my dad and yell at him. Again, his words are anger and fear. I tell him that he’s nothing to look up to. That he’s a crippled junkie. That his house is fucked up and I don’t want any part of it. He looks at me with cloudy eyes and calls me a spoiled bitch.
* Ty doesn’t return my phone calls after that dinner at my house. The next time I see him, it’s in Union Square. He’s with a new girl. A black girl. He pretends to not see me. I convince myself that I was never into metal. The fucking devil’s music anyway. * My dad kills himself with his pills. He dies on the chair in front of the TV. The mailbox is full of overdue mortgage bills and the cupboards are stocked with macaroni. His suicide-note says that the house isn't really mine. Underneath there is a phone number for Mr. Golding, but I don't take it down. I pack my clothes, everything I need and leave forever. I find a pay phone and make an anonymous call to 911. It’s the last time I sit in Sunset Park. I pray that it rains airplanes. * It’s eight years later and Mr. Golding sits at one of my tables, slurping his gazpacho. There’s no poison in it, no hidden shards to cut up his throat and heart. It’s just a little old. When I ask how everything was, he says okay and looks up at me. His tense face softens up and that look returns. Pity.
He murmurs something, his death rattle before I jam this knife into his eye, but not really. He murmurs: â€œNo, it was really good.â€? And the fucker leaves a 30% tip.
(of The Little Monsters) Interview by Matt Lewis for The Far East Project*
Q: Who are you and what do you do? A: My name is John January, Iâ€™m a musician, songwriter, and guitar teacher. Q: Can you tell us about the Blues in the Schools program that you are a part of?
A: Blues in the Schools is a program funded by the members, so we can have a real live blues band go out to area schools. We put on a show for the kids, but the show is also very interactive, so we have them play small instruments we’ve made along with us while we tell them the story of the blues. Q: What are the schools in East County that BITS has performed for? A: We’ve played for the Promise Charter School in Logan Heights, and today we’re playing for Freese Elementary in Lemon Grove. We’re not focusing on any particular demographic or area, just whatever school is interested in having us. I hooked into BITS through Michelle Lundeen, I play guitar in her band. Q: Tell us about your musical history in San Diego. A: Once upon a time, 25 years ago, I played in a band called the Men of Clay, and my very first gig with them was opening for the Dead Kennedys. I believe the place we played at is now demolished, called Fairmount Hall. The week after we played there The Cramps headlined that place, as well. We used to play with and open for bands like Middle Class, The Minutemen, Christian Death, Hüsker Dü…basically I used to be very heavily involved with the punk rock scene. I think that’s what drew me to this (blues) scene as well, in that there is also a lot of self-efficiency and DIY feelings in the blues scene. Some of the people I played with are gone, some stayed behind, others went on to different genres like Funk. In the late Eighties, I moved to the Northwest and played with my own band, called The John January Band, for about 14 years. Q: Are there any unique music scenes that you have seen come out of East San Diego in your time spent in music? A: Well, I don’t want to brag and I don’t want to diss the people up north, but John Fraiser, Bob Pruitt, Chuckie Arscilla, Big Slim and myself, as well as a few others in the San Diego. We all went up to Yorba Linda a while ago for the Jam Convention they have there, and what we found out was that (if we could consider ourselves representitive of the local blues scene) that we were more organized and had a lot more going for us. I think the LA guys were really surprised that San Diego guys could come to their town and bring down the house. We were surprised too, because their jam was pretty monochromatic and didn’t have the variety
and when we got there they were all there, the original quartet. They had a string of shows going at The Stratus for a while that were very surprising, like Big Audio Dynamite and Mick Jones and The Clash. It was a pretty cool venue because it reminded me of the Adams Avenue Theatre because there was a balcony. I remember the girl I was dating at the time was shorter and couldnâ€™t see the show, so we would go up to the balcony and watch these awesome bands from up there. Q: What do you think the future holds for the BITS program? A: I think today is a great indication that the interest (in the blues) is present here. It depends on the funding and that, like last spring we did four programs and Michelle told me that the year before we did ten.
So it’s really dictated by how much money we can raise with events like this (the Spring Harp Fest). We have to have the money to pay the musicians. We don’t have a very big purse for the band, but the main drive behind it is getting kids excited about real music, having them get involved, playing guitars….Michelle and Walter Gentry provide homemade things for the kids to play while we’re playing (drums and that sort of thing) and we teach them about fundamentals, like call and response. And I think they really come away with a sense of our own unique heritage, and theirs, which is a great idea. Every country in the world has their unique culture, which I embrace, but we have our own. This music is American music, and it’s our birthright. So we’ll keep pushing for BITS as long as we can. I teach also, and I find it’s really easy to get kids into the blues. It’s the best way for them to learn how to play rock n’ roll and the other music they like. I mean, I’m 48, so it’s great to see guys like Pete Fazzini who’s in his 20’s not just playing well, but understanding the history of it as well. For me, that gives hope for the future of the blues scene in San Diego. * This interview was an excerpt from The Far East Project. As a media project run by the San Diego non-profit organization So Say We All, The Far East Project was created to document the creative voice of the people of San Diego’s East County, which encompasses the cities or La Mesa, Santee, Lemon Grove, El Cajon, Lakeside, Spring Valley, Jamul, and Alpine. You can look for print releases, podcasts, art show dates, and other information relating to this project at http://far-east.tumblr.com and www.sosayweallonline.com.
Prior to receiving this album, I was anxious as to see what record I would be commissioned to write on. I thought as though it might be a reflection on either side of the pendulum. But it was something right in the middle. The Flower Travellin’ Band of the late sixties and early seventies is a love child of three different musical genres; each one jonesin’ to get off before and after the next. This record employs the strongest technological and theatrical elements of Sludge, Doom, Industrial, Rock n’Roll, and Psychedelic music, while always paying homage to their Eastern culture or beliefs. The use of the sitar seems to reaffirm this homage, and their take on Rock. The slow tempo, feed back, and King Diamond vocals, make me feel like I’m fifteen, sitting in my girlfriend’s house, doing nothing but smoking marijuana and listening to Electric Wizard. Not much has changed, I must confess, except now I’m listening to this record and I don’t have my girlfriend around anymore. Which is an awesome thing in and of itself. This record warps your perceptions, position, and landmarks in your head, shreds them to bits, and then lays it all out again. The recordings on this record, though I’m sure they’ve been re-mastered, (why can’t things just be/stay mastered?), are still indicative of the period. The recordings are warm, but are mixed fairly minimally in order to produce a more whole and ‘classic sounding’ record. The way this record was mixed also helps to establish and recognize time in parts of record when it’s hard do so. It seems to be a humble record in that sense and also a precursor and influence on later, darker, rock and roll and first wave punk. It’s like trying to run faster than your shadow, and this record tricks you into thinking it’s possible. There are also elements which are unnerving, like having a panic attack. This record keeps one waiting in hopes of regaining a sense of consciousness and denouncing your negative automatic distortions. I sound like a hippie, but damn dude just listen to this shit and try not to have a psychedelic climax, or small internal victories. This record ain’t easy listenin’ but it makes for a pretty damn good metaphor. The eastern components to this record I’m sure resonates with a crazy demographic too. This band was all about morphing western philosophy with eastern values. The structure of each song incorporates insane never-ending breakdowns and unorthodox percussion techniques to help establish this daunting time pattern that always feels one step ahead of everything else. It’s like you’re entering a world only to bid your neighbor farewell. It definitely gives off a heavy overtone and that’s what I believe makes this band inventive and avant garde. Unlike all those other pop groups at the time. Flower Travellin’ Band was lurking into an eerie demented corner of the rock n’ roll fun house. But it’s always reassuring its fellow comrades with jazzy baselines and funk inspired fills. This record seems to come full circle and sends you on a sick one. A remarkably full record that leaves every bridge burnt and the rest up to you. It’s a refreshing bit. If you need some cleansing, or want to feel like you’re a fifteen year old from Mars, give it a try. C’mon man…