Kathie “Keona” Bayne [Showcase]

It was around the fall of last year when I learned that an old friend of mine was doing some amazing things with digital art, sculpting, and drawing.  Subsequently, I was in the beginning stages of putting together a compilation album for Children of Mercy.  As fate would have it, I was able to snag Kathie to create a piece for the cover of the album.  And what she created soon became known as The Face of the Children of Mercy.  Let’s just say that I was far beyond impressed with what she gave us.  And if all the stars align (in whatever astrological way they may do so these days), Kathie will be doing a new piece for a super secret (sort of) project in the works.  For now, I thought I would show off a few pieces from an artist I consider to be one of the finest artists in the pop and digital world working today.

You can view, and purchase, even more work from Kathie “Keona” Bayne from her deviantART site.

Children of Mercy Compilation album cover

“Adriana Lima”


“Love The Way You Lie Part II”

“Lost Eyes”



“Team Conan”


Oy Vey [Band]

Photo by Matt Eisman

Oh snap, it’s finally happened!  The dubious sounds of electronic combined with a hook heavy, singer/songwriting stamina that has gone unmatched since MGMT graced us with their electric feel.  Oy Vey have emerged, and the competition is sure to be thicker than Rosie O’ Donnell after a casino buffet.  Longtime friends Bryce Aubrey and Kevin Corcoran have created something that is so simply cool it’s almost indescribable.  But, I will give it a shot.

The most grandoise and spectacular aspect of Oy Vey’s debut album Botanical Curiosity is how each track is a singularly amazing experience.  The album’s first single, “White Lies” sends you back into a time warp to the days where a well constructed chorus was an absolute must.  When there was no need for an abundance of confusion and when lyrics where meant to be interpreted however you chose to hear them.  Jump back to the Ziggy Stardust-esque “Astronauta” and prepare to begin an out of this world experience on a planet filled with grit and hardcore guitar riffs.  Skip down to the ultra pop cut “Idiot” where you learn a little bit about love and the beauty of stupidity.

Oy Vey has only just begun making a name for themselves.  Hitting the airwaves last May, these little known geniuses in their own right have hit the airwaves hard across the U.S. and overseas eventually landing themselves a very respectable spot on the CMJ charts, without actually dropping an album yet!  These New Hampshire bred buddy rockers have since dropped the album digitally on CDBaby and other convenient outlets, but the official physical release will be hitting the shelves on August 30th.  And proving how dedicated these cats are to their craft, they have already began recording their sophomore release, Recession Girlswith the likes of talented musicians such as Johnny Rabb and Steven Stokes.

Photo by Matt Eisman

The story behind Oy Vey is one of constant friendship and consistent distances.  But thankfully for all of us, the boys have gotten their act together (all pun intended) and do not show any signs of losing the relentless spirit that makes them so damn brilliant.  Ladies and gentlemen, we might have found the obvious breakthrough group of 2011.

Oy Vey’s debut album, Botanical Curiosity is currently available on iTunes and CDBaby.  Physical copies are in the works, and will be available as a self released album on August 30th through CDBaby.  Find all the information you need from the band’s website, where you can also stream the entire album in all it’s glory!

Behind Children of Mercy: Part Two: Direction [Exclusive]

Original Twee design by Edward Bignar for Workerbee Buttons

I returned from the Qatar shortly after the Jenny Boyle interview and immediately went on a 6 week vacation across the beautiful Northwest.  Somewhere in between cities and sea towns I found myself meeting in person the man I consider to be my greatest boss to date.  I finally met face to face with Andy Fenstermaker, founder and editor of Fensepost.com.  Fensepost has been, and continues to be, my main base and terminal for most of the writing I have done since the winter of 2008 when I dropped this cat an e-mail with a couple of reviews for two of my favorite band’s releases (Westfold & No Go Know), and I began to feel the itch, and the rest is history.  Somewhere between crab quesadillas and local draft beers in Mt. VernonI presented the rough draft circling in my brain about this book that would soon be known as Children of Mercy.  His reactions were directly on par with what I was hoping for.  He seemed enthusiastic and supportive.  This was definitely a push in the right direction considering how much I looked up to this cat.  I decided somewhere around that moment that this might actually be plausible.  But still, being pessimistic by nature is a hard thing to avoid.  I still wasn’t entirely sure.

It wasn’t until I returned from said vacation that I finally got the spark I had been looking for.  It was a late August night, the kids were all in bed and the wife and I were rocking our respected laptops.  I had just received a massive bag of promo’s from Fense during our visit, and I was trying to wrap my mind around where to start.  And just like any true professional writer would do, I had Facebook up as well.  Little did I know that an instant message conversation with my good friend Chris Eaves would really kick things into gear.  He asked me if I had ever considered doing a collection of album reviews and features I had written over the last two years.  I said no…but….and the idea came again.  He was ecstatic and also extremely supportive.  I decided then and there that this was worth a shot.  This was also when I decided that this would be a charity based project for two main reasons: (1) I seriously enjoy doing things for others, as corny as it sounds, it’s true and (2) How in the hell else could I get a shit ton of starving artists, writers, dj’s, etc to contribute to a project in which they will not be getting paid?  It was settled, the beginnings were in motion.

I sat down that very night and dug through my digital Rolodex looking for interested souls.  A bit of nervousness started to develop when I realized that I might be in over my head considering I don’t exactly know as many folks as I thought I would need to make this thing work.  But, after a quart of whiskey, anything began to seem possible, and I jumped for it.  And let’s just say that several of the folks I wrote are either actually featured directly in the book, on the album, or in a roundabout way still directly related to this project.  Some expressed interest, but never showed up to the big show.  But, someone everyone managed to contribute in their own way.  A whole lot of love has to be given to Andy Fenstermaker once again.  I wouldn’t have even heard of several of these fine artists and writers had it not been for him hiring me on at Fensepost.  And in even greater retrospect, Christopher B of Series II Records seems to be one of the most influential figures in independent music!  Once Chris should interest in the project, and relayed the news on his Myspace page, shit hit the fan in an amazing way.  Offers for contributions where coming in all over the damn place from people I had never even heard of, or only heard their music indirectly.  And again, several of the folks he mentioned this project, are in there as well.  I could go on for an entire series of blogs thanking each and every individual involved and what they have done to make this project a success.  And I might just do that here at Trainwreck’d.  But, later.

When the e-mails sent, I shuffled off the bed with whiskey and dreams rattling through my head.  I still had no idea what I was really going to do.  I didn’t have any real direction.  All I had was a headful of scattered ideas and a very vague e-mail asking people to write some essays about something that could be anything, for a charitable cause that was still unknown.  Moments before passing out from the world, I realized that I might be in over my head, and these silly pipe dreams might have to be saved for another day.  But, then I woke up.  And I received some amazing news.  Nearly everyone I had written in the wee hours of the night was on board.  Of course, they had some serious questions and concerns about what exactly the hell I was REALLY looking to do with this.  Nonetheless, they were responsive, and that was all I really needed.

Banner for Children Of Mercy Blog designed by Melissa Trembath


Over the next couple of weeks, I began receiving e-mails from Denmark, Croatia, England, Missouri, Nebraska, California, Portland, Italy, England, and more.  People were digging it.  Soon enough, a real direction was developed, and the suggestion of doing a companion compilation album was introduced.  We were a go.  I really couldn’t believe it.  Some old friends like Robin Grey, Thom Carter, Elsa Faith, Michael Phillips, and more were on board as well!  It was going well.  I will admit here to you the fine reader(s) of Trainwreck’d Society.  I was indeed looking for a “name” to be included in this project.  And in a look for somebody who know’s somebody who know’s somebody who knows a guy that once knew…..kind of way, I was close to acquiring at least one member of a well-known Portland based band who may or may have not been featured in the film Dig!  Again, a pipe dream that I am actually glad didn’t happened.  I couldn’t imagine who would have been worthy of replacing in the end to include Mr. Two Last Names.  I can’t think of one who I would want to.

Obviously there were some issues that still needed to be ironed out.  Money being a big one.  We also needed a title, maybe?  And how about getting that damn charity picked?  All things that seemed entirely miniscule after I received our very first submission submitted by one of my favorite singer/songwriters and net label sensation Thom Carter.  For those of you who have already tuned into the book, you know his essay was terrific and very intelligent.  You may also know how crucial his songs would be to this project.  And just how all around awesome it has been to have him as a part of this team.  And yes, he was also the first feature on this lovely website.

And with offers still flooding in, and a real mailing list created that was loaded with so many great artists, things were looking up.  But, things wouldn’t truly kick into gear until mid September when I was whisked away for work down to Wichita Falls, Texas.  It was in a shabby motel room that Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From The World of Independent Music and the Children of Mercy Compilation would truly begin full-fledged production.

Two weeks in Texas would prove to provide some very nice updates.  Including a few more fine folks being included to the roster (two before I even got on the first plane ride out of Spokane!) including the lady we all know and love…Anna Lynne Williams.

More on this in Part Three: Production.  Coming Soon!

The Handcuffs [Band]

Photo by Sam Pillsbury

The Handcuffs, a.k.a. Chicago’s Chloe F. Orwell and Brad Elvis, have been called many things.  Sultry and irrepressible are two adjectives that stick out in my mind.  But, I would like to put a new touch on this strangely entertaining group – classy!  This is a stunning personality collective that combines the impeccable heavy riffs of 70’s legendary power rock, and the estranged songwriting stanzas of the 90’s all wrapped up in a glittery glam rock blanket.  The Handcuffs essentially combine the greatest aspects of the rock and pop in the last 50 years, and fine tune it into their own brand of delicious power pop.

And for their third release, Waiting for the Robot, Orwell and Elvis picked up some help making them a lovely five piece, upping their talent three fold.  The kick of single for Robots is, without a doubt, a direct representation of the magic these phenomenal artists are able to create.  The title alone, “Dirty Glitter” could very well be this glamtastic groups own name.  This hook heavy track is reminiscent to the outlandish underworld of the 90’s that burst out with zero explanation on MTV, back when they still played music.  Remember?  And the slowed down, yet entirely enticing, “Miss You On Tuesday” is even greater proof that The Handcuffs are a band that is finally finding their place in the world, and only beginning to receive the respect they have always deserved.

Waiting for the Robot is set to be released on September 6th.  A record release party would be make perfect sense, right?  But, how about a record release party at The House of Blues.  And better yet, how about being accompanied by Blondie?!  All in The Handcuff’s hometown of Chicago?  There really couldn’t be a more monumental way to kick things into gear.  Although a show with Blondie might just be another notch in their belts considering the immense touring they have involved themselves with including spots with Eleni Mandell, Joan Jett, Evan Dando, Glen Tilbrook, and more as well as having their songs featured on several television shows and leaving their mark on the Sundance featured documentary The Education of Shelby Knox.  The list of successes could go on and on.  It is suffice to say that The Handcuffs is a phenomenon in the making.  And Waiting for the Robot is destined to be one of the finest albums of 2011.

Check out “Dirty Glitter”, “Miss You On Tuesday”, and even more tracks, old and new, on the band’s official website.  And look watch for Waiting for the Robot to be released on September 6th.

And if you find yourself in the Chicago area on September 7th, make sure you get your glam ass down to The House of Blues to check out The Handcuffs and Blondie.  Tickets are $37.50 Advanced/$40 at the door (if they still exist by then!)  Pick them up HERE before it’s too late!

Arman Augusto [Artist]

In the music blogging business (if you could really call it that) some pretty sweet and amazing coincidences can occur. When you randomly come across an artist that becomes an instant favorite, you become instantly thankful for the random research you find yourself falling into.  Arman Augusto is most definitely the epitaph for my findings over the last few years.

A dear friend of mine living in Portland, OR slyly recommended the works of this San Diego based experimental folk artist back in 2008.  During the following year, Arman released his sophomore release under the moniker The Walking entitled Wanderings and Distractions on what would soon become one of my favorite record labels, Sergeant Sparrow Records.  It became one of my favorite albums of 2009, and continues to be an album that can be played at any given moment of any given day (check out my 2009 review at Fensepost).  His debut album (Manor/Model), and 2011 follow-up as The Walking (Sensory) would prove to be just as worthwhile.  And in 2011, Arman and Sergeant Sparrow Records would showcase his full-blown experimental styling with a side project entitled The Old Lace.  This is where we find Mr. Augusto experimenting in an entire electronic form, which is in turn, entirely wonderful.

And on August 16th, I found myself in awe of Arman once again.  Our man has developed yet ANOTHER side project.  But, this is unlike anything he has ever done before.  I truly didn’t know what I was going to be getting into, and was actually sort of spooked when I first pressed play on track one of the Curse of The Black Widow debut EP of the same title.  Here is Arman in a raw and somewhat malevolent form.  Over thrash heavy beats and rhythms that crush skulls and spirits in a single strum comes the sound of a demon sent directly to the heavens to entice the calm angels of earth.  This might seem like an extremely fucked up way to describe somebody’s artistic endeavors, but I will be damned if I couldn’t smell the blood of the non-believers flowing in a dark stream as I began hear what a folk artist is creating.

It’s actually pretty amazing to hear an artist who actually loves to experiment with new sounds, and not just saying they do.  All three projects of Arman Augusto are entirely different and unique in their own way.  Thinking of it now, Arman could very well be the American counterpart to fellow Trainwreck’d featured artist, Thom Carter of the UK.

All satanic symbolism aside, Augusto’s latest project Curse of The Black Widow is as compelling as his previous efforts.  It is yet another venture into the world of one of today’s finest independent acts creating masterpieces that develop from within their own inner psyche, and from little other inspiration than what they consider personal and exploitive to their inner thoughts.  Arman Augusto is an independent artist who stands really stands out among his thousands of peers creating today.  Whether it be on his latest effort, or as The Walking or The Old Lace, this is definitely an artist you will want to follow.

Check out Curse of The Black Widow on the Bandcamp site.  You can pick up this terrific 6 track digital EP for just $1.  A sweet deal!

And check out Arman’s work as The Walking and The Old Lace from the Sergeant Sparrow Records website.

Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits [Band]

Photo by Lia Walker

I have been a fan of Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits since high school.  Which, sadly for both me and them, is starting to become a VERY long time ago.  Nevertheless, BJE took a substantial break to make time for other endeavors.  But in 2010, the band made a triumphant return with the release of their first album in several years aptly titled, F.  I was fortunate enough to be the first person to do a full blown album review at Fensepost (right HERE) from them since, well, I was in high school (initiate sighs and grumbles).  And since then, I have become fortunate enough to consider Dan Abbott and Corbett Redford III good friends of mine.  My psychopathic fanboy status actually earned me a very generous donation of Dan’s writing in a little book you might know (for my 3-4 avid readers out there) as Children of Mercy.  Thus, it is only proper that I show my upmost support in everything they do!  Which is very easy because everything they do can be scientifically proven as nothing shy of awesome!

Since BJE returned to our lives with the release of F, these chaiotically charming masterminds have been relentless in their attempts to make you laugh, cry, or menstrate on command over the last year.  They went on a nationwide tour (including a stop in my hometown of Kelso, WA in which I was sadly NOT in attendance, sad faces), have been seen all over the blogosphere, and released an amazing video for the single “Poly” that was (un)fortunately to dirty for Youtube and were forced to remove it.  It is however, available on Vimeo, where you can also find a brilliant video for my personal favorite track, “Lake of Flies”.  And if you find yourself at all interested, the boys are looking to make a video for my other personal favorite cut “Life Is Excellent” and could use a bit of help.  So, needless to say really, our boys have been working very hard.  They have relentlessly pimped out their own brand of sophisticated and satirical brand of comedy through talented musicianship with a die hard attitude greater than Bruce Willis.

And this is where their latest installment comes in.  The video for “Time Is Crawling”.  This video is so amazing for two reasons:  (1) I can’t even show it to you here, because it is so damn gory that you must have entered a valid birthdate to watch it, and (2) It is actually a very genius short film that is more thought out than any music video you have seen since R. Kelly made 50 of them for one song!  This is some amazingly disgusting, blood squirting stuff.  Our boys teamed up with bloody-disgusting.com and and Shoot At Will Films to create an all out fascinating arrangement.  Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits are known for being all over the damn place.  Whether they rap along Hyphy style, exploit women for the greatest comedic results, or, now, creating horrific images of castration and sufficiation, all the while making you laugh your ass off….these guys never lose.  Their comedic presence is always accessible.  But, there is definitely an underlying tone to their music that can not be disregarded.  These cats have made a life work’s of beautifully crafted songs that torture reality with a comedic glance through the looking glass into it’s own raw emotions.  Basically:  it’s not always funny because it’s true.

Check out “Time Is Crawling” for yourself at bloody-disgusting.com.  For fans of horror and/or castration comedy, I guarantee you will love this one.

Find more great work from Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits on Facebook.  You can also support the making of “Life Is Excellent” by visiting their page on IndieGoGo.

Fake Centurions and other Bull.

Wow. Seriously? No comments at all? I write a very political blog, taking my own views to a fringe point of view (although one I was willing to defend for the moment to play devil’s advocate) that could easily be taken the wrong way, pointing my bony finger of blame in a vague direction that I figured someone would pounce on, all in an attempt to stimulate some conversation (if not debate) to liven up this place. I wrote in coarse language that I normally would never use in my blogs for shock value, perpetuating a “red neck”, “red state” stereotype, hoping it was like hanging “red” meat in front of hungry beasts. I used sarcasm when it was totally inappropriate, and only lightly touched on some real issues, telling only half the story, in the long shot belief that someone may just want to jump in, make Paul Harvey proud, and tell “the rest of the story”. But instead, I get more response from waving at strangers in traffic. Okay then. Either people around here are unusually tolerant of the political beliefs of others, no matter how half told, or this place is just not getting many readers. Maybe we should decorate it differently? I’ve tried writing nice, I’ve tried writing mean, so I guess the last thing to try is just to bring up a handful of topics and hope someone wants to talk about one of them. If you throw enough mud at the wall, eventually some of it will stick.

Before I start, I’ll clear up my personal political beliefs. I’m a Libertarian. Yes, just like everyone’s favorite Libertarian… Drew Carey. I don’t blame Obama for the downfalls of the current economy, although I am a bit miffed that we were promised real change in Washington politics, transparency, and honest reform, and we’ve seen none of that thus far. I do tire of his “blame game”, we all know Bush wasn’t what our country needed, but it’s been two and a half years and the people are tired of hearing about it. It’s beyond time to let go of the past. I place the blame of excessive spending on the various branches of government. I remember every year when I was enlisted, it was a chore to spend money. If we didn’t spend the entire budget, we didn’t get that much to work with the following year, thus rewarding excessive spending. Fraud, waste and abuse abounds, and it’s time to shine the light into that and scrape the sludge out of the sides of our economic hull. Downsize, and leave what’s left to work faster and more efficiently.

As far as the situation in London, there are racial undertones, however the larger story is that you can’t walk down the street in certain places in London without getting searched and hassled by the police. There have been over 300 deaths reported from persons in police custody with no real investigations or convictions as a result. The police in London have nearly been an opposition force against the people, and they have become untouchable and unaccountable through traditional means. That’s what filled the keg with powder, waiting for the right match to strike, and eventually it did. I would say that the “flash mobs” here in the states probably have a similar undertone to them.

Now with that cleared up, onto other news. A 12 year old boy scout has gone missing from a fishing trip in Utah. Being an Eagle Scout myself, I would like to believe that he has the skills to know what to do in that situation and will be found in short order. Although, he’s 12, the youngest age one can be in scouts, so he probably doesn’t have a lot of experience. If he was in the cub scouts, he’s undoubtably been taught what to do when you get lost and how to increase your chances of being found. Lost hikers are usually found very quickly, since once they’re lost they tend to travel in large circles and are normally found within a few miles of where they were last seen. In any case, I hope it works out quickly and the worst thing that comes from it is a future story he can tell around the camp fire of the time he conquered wilderness survival. Maybe he’ll grow up to be the next Bear Grylls.

In other news, an underwater volcano erupted off the coast of Oregon… Who knew there were volcanoes there? Nothing happened, just an underwater lava flow. I don’t know what it looked like, but I imagine the Oregon coast looking like a hot tub with freshly steamed delicious fish washing up on the shore. Sounds like it could have been a popular vacation spot had we known about it in advance.

In more dubious news, centurions crossed blades outside the Colosseum in Rome. Apparently, a popular occupation is to dress up like a centurion and get tourists to pay to have their picture taken with you. This has been a common thing in the area, although lately there have been complaints of “fake” centurions and gladiators charging excessive amounts of money for a picture, sometimes using the tourist’s own camera and then demanding more money before they give it back. They also charged visitors for tours that never panned out with no refund. Undercover police dressed as centurions formed a “sting operation” to catch the criminal frauds in the act, and apparently when the badges came out, a sword fight ensued… I’m not kidding. Seriously, I would gladly pay to see that. With the help of some more undercover cops posing as street cleaners, the spurious Roman soldiers were taken into custody. When in Rome, do as the Romans and only deal with licensed Colosseum guides. Supposedly, the real ones are required to speak fluent English and be friendly. If you ever feel like you’re being mugged (or crucified), report it to police immediately. Apparently, that won’t be very hard since it seems like there’s legions of undercover cops in the area. I wonder how that looked when they were booked at the jail? “What’s your name, son”? “I’m Spartacus”! Another one stands up, “I’m Spartacus”, and another “No, I’m Spartacus!”

And finally, a bull was loose in the streets of a Washington state town last night. Police chased it for hours with no result, apparently bulls are easily spooked by the slightest things, like flashing blue lights and sirens. Eventually a cowboy sitting on the hood of a patrol car (again, I’m not kidding) was able to lasso the bull and end the rampage. You have no idea how long I’ve waited to say those words. Way to take the bull by the horns! I’ll be here all week folks! Take it easy, we’re all in this together.

Poverty Polls and Issues Ignored.

This week Gallup posted a poll that said that Obama’s support is suffering among “the poorest Americans”. Poor, according to them was defined as anyone earning $2,000.00 or less per month. I suppose that means I’m poor. My first clue should have been that I met a “homeless” couple who made more than I did. Well, maybe not, it did say those who “earn” $2,000.00 or less and I “earn” $2,080.00 a month, but since my heath care costs doubled when Obama announced his “Obamacare” plan, and through taxing, my net pay is around $1,400.00 a month. Apparently, that’s pretty poor. I had no idea I was poor. I have a vehicle, make rent, buy food, and I obviously have internet access. I can’t afford all the food I want, I don’t have cable, or even a real bed or any real furniture that didn’t come with the trailer I rent, but I never thought of myself as poor. Sure, I just turned in my third request to my job to get a new pair of boots because my old ones are falling apart, and I can’t go to all the places I would like to go because I can only afford so much gas, but again, I’m not “poor”. When I want more money, I just work overtime.

I mentioned a “homeless” couple I met the other day. I put that in quotations because they aren’t homeless anymore since they just rented a trailer next to mine. Before this, they lived in a nearby tent city though. Their job is to stand on street corners and sell a locally published homeless newspaper. And like I said, they make more than I do. By Gallup’s definition, they aren’t “poor”.

So that brings me to a conclusion… I think this poll is skewed! A media poll that’s skewed? Say it ain’t so! I know, it’s crazy right? But I really don’t think that this poll says anything other than they expected low income Americans to fully support a Democratic party in office, and now even us “poor folk” are becoming disillusioned with Washington politics as usual.

Onto other news, London is burning! Riots are breaking out all over the place because someone was shot and killed by police officers. I haven’t seen the whole story reported here in the US. All they say is “young people” are rioting… No one here is reporting that the reason they are rioting is because they think the police shot this man because he was black. I think however, that police shot him for being a criminal illegally possessing a handgun and shooting at the police officer… I could be wrong though. I don’t know the officer, he might just be a racist prick. Other people are joining the riots because they say that the local government is ignoring predominately black neighborhoods in the city. According to the rioters, burning their own neighborhoods down is supposed to improve things though. Other people are joining the looting because they say they’re poor and can’t afford the things they want. Apparently, they make less than $2,000.00 a month. Well, according to Gallup I’m poor and I follow the law so there really is no excuse for this kind of burning and pillaging in my mind. I wonder if S&P will downgrade their credit rating now since it requires rioting in the streets to get their social-economic politics under control?

Dang, London, I thought you all prided yourselves as being all civilized and junk! When they do riot, they apparently go all out! You would have thought that someone made a bad call at a soccer game or something! I’m sorry, that really isn’t fair to say. They call it “football” over there don’t they?

Meanwhile here in the states, we have our own problems. So called “flash mobs” are springing up everywhere. The suspects are noted as “young people”… Didn’t I just hear that someplace else? Hey I did! But unlike Brittain’s news, there was one report of racial tensions at a flash mob at Wisconsin’s state fair when the attacks were targeted at white fair patrons. Even though people were injured at other mob attacks, no one reported any racial tension. Which leads me to a question;

If we’re supposed to be so evolved, why can’t anyone bring up race? Why can’t we call this what it is, social, economic, and cultural problems? It’s not limited to one race or culture either, look at the crazy white guy who shot up those people in Norway, or the white teenagers in Mississippi who killed a black man by driving over him in a truck. But everyone is skirting the issue, saying that it’s a poverty issue, or a gun control issue, or a political affiliation issue. If we can’t say what’s really happening, we’ll never be able to properly address and work through this problem in a peaceful, organized way. We’re all evolved and adult enough to tackle tough issues, so why the silence on the real problem? Ignoring social and cultural issues and hoping something fixes the problem makes about as much sense as ignoring your hair being on fire and hoping it’s just indigestion… No offense intended to anyone in London who may have lost their hair in fire riots…

Thank God for Guns

I work at a prison, in the city. It’s not the biggest city ever, and it isn’t the biggest prison ever. In fact, it’s one of the smallest ones in the state. The main point of this prison is to house the worst of the worst that the state has to offer. As you may suspect, this leads to some hair-raising situations, and I’ve seen many. However, last night was a new one on me, because the threat wasn’t from the inmates, we’re prepared for that, this threat was from an area where we have no jurisdiction or authority, the community.

Correctional Officers don’t tend to have many fans. Most citizens never think about us, and those who we come in contact with regularly tend to wish they were somewhere else. Yep, no one wants our job and even we would like to see the need for our job diminish. It’s one of those thankless endeavours that I have built my life around. I do patrol on the graveyard shift.

We had just settled in to work another night when the radio lit up. Talk of needing medical personnel, a stretcher, and an ambulance. Here we go again. After some doing, we eventually had the ambulance on the compound and a crew of people ready to take an inmate to the hospital. All that went fine, but when our officer was on his way back from the hospital is where things went wrong…

A voice came over the radio saying “central control, you’ll need to send someone out to get me, my vehicle broke down. I’m in a bad neighborhood”. I’ll have the change the names of the places and people here for privacy reasons. We’ll say this guy’s name is “Officer Black”.

Then a voice answered. We’ll call him “Sgt. Gray”, “Yeah, 10-4 Officer Black, we’ll send another vehicle out as soon as possible”. All seemed pretty normal, after all, state vehicles break down sometimes. Several minutes passed.

“Hey, I’m in a really bad neighborhood, you need to send someone quick, I’ve got a lot of eyes on me right now” Officer Black said, sounding a little more panicked than before. “Yeah 10-4. Officer White, are you on the way?” Sgt. Gray asked. “Yes, I’m on the way now, I should be there in about 15 mike” Officer White said as he drove off with a state issued van. “Hey you’ve got the shotgun with you right, Officer Black”? Sgt. Gray asked, “10-4 Sarge” was the answer. Several more minutes passed. Sgt. Gray told central control to try to get a wrecker from the Department of Transportation to go to “South Street” to pick up the vehicle.

By this time we were hanging on the radio to hear how things were developing. From the sound of it, it wasn’t going well. Every minute or so the calls from Officer Black became more frantic. “Hey Sarge, more people are showing up” followed by “These guys are armed, get here fast”. At this point, Sgt. Gray informed Officer Black that there was no wrecker to be found at this time of night and to stay calm, we’re calling the police. Meanwhile, a crowd of 10 to 15 people had formed around our officer and were closing in. Each minute seemed like an hour as we did all we could do, listen and wait.

Apparently, the crowd became violent. Officer Black was forced to take action. He evacuated the vehicle with the shotgun, and instructed the crowd to disperse. “Central control, tell metro that I’m armed, these people are armed and they’re not backing down”. Was the next nervous call we heard. The hoard refused to comply, they knew that this officer was alone, that he was from the prison and didn’t have the authority to arrest them. However, they didn’t know if he had the authority to use that shotgun to defend his own life… He did have that authority, and it looked like he might have to use it. Metro was called again, but there were no blue lights in sight.

Things were looking bad for Officer Black as the mob grew more brave, but at that moment, Officer White showed up. The people scattered. “Central, this is Officer White, I’m here and it looks like everyone is headed back inside”. We all cheered, thinking that things were finally safe. Officer White had brought a can of gas and a set of jumper cables to try to get the vehicle working again. Things were looking up… Until the crowd saw that Officer White was unarmed… Either way, the presence of Officer White had changed the dynamic of the situation. The mob saw things in a different light now, but they still weren’t happy at the appearance of prison officers in their neighborhood. Slowly, things started going south again as the crowd assembled once more.

After a few more moments, to our horror, there were now two panicked voices calling for assistance. “This is getting serious guys, get metro out here now, we’re like sitting ducks!” Officer White shouted on the radio. The only thing they could do was cling to that shotgun, and hope help arrived. Sgt. Gray instructed them to stay in their vehicles until the police arrived, then try to put gas in the vehicle or jump start it when the police have secured the area. Little did we know, it would be another half hour before the police would get there as they were held up on another crime on “North Street”.

Several more tense minutes passed, I was now wondering why they don’t have convoy training at the academy and debated trying to explain to them what a box formation was and how to do 360 degree security. It’s hard to do all that with only two vehicles and one gun though. Eventually, there was no getting around it. The armed members of the crowd were back and our officers had to take action since help was just too far away. It’s a good time to note that they weren’t out in some remote area, they were in the middle of a sub-industrial part of one of the largest cities in the state. Officer Black held the mob (About 20 people by now) at bay with the gun again while White tried to get the vehicle running. Unfortunately, it was broke hard and still wouldn’t start.

Luckily, as the crowd was about to try to take the two in a rush, blue lights flashed down the street. The police were here! Well, one was there anyway, but that was enough. In an instant, the crowd was gone, and order was restored. The police called their wrecker to tow the vehicle back to the prison and everyone got back safe.

Situations like this is the reason I choose to carry a gun when I’m off duty. You never know when you’ll be thrust into a bad situation, and in this case, if it wasn’t for that one shotgun, our man Officer Black would have been skinned alive long before help could get to him. No matter how safe your neighborhood may seem, you never know where chance will take you. In the end, criminals don’t care about who you are, they only care if you have the means to defend yourself or not. As I got home this morning, I watched the news only to find that a woman on the other side of town had to use her handgun to defend her life when two robbers broke into her house, The police can’t be everywhere at once. Keep your head on a swivel out there, we’re all in this together.