Racism Exists. Gun Control Does Not. by Alexander Hallett [Guest Wreckers]

Alex HalletThere are no words that can adequately express how heartbreaking, devastating, and sad what happened in Charleston yesterday really is. Nine innocent people are dead. Nine innocent people who have moms and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. Nine innocent people who were murdered by a racist, grown-up, white male simply because of the color of their skin. Nine innocent people who were murdered because racism, and gun culture, are institutionally endemic in our society.

As much as Fox News would like you to believe that gun control wouldn’t have prevented this, or that racism doesn’t exist because we live in a “post-racial society because we have a black president”, they’re not true. (Hours after the shooting occurred, Fox was already live with coverage lambasting President Obama for understandably mentioning that the conversation about gun control needs to happen. They referred to the shooter as a “troubled boy” who was specifically targeting Christians, even though the shooter specifically said he was doing it because he wanted to murder black people.) And though it would be easy to write a tomb about Fox News being a cancer in our society and the public discourse, because they are, this isn’t about them. This is about us.

This is about how racism exists, and is allowed, in two ways: actively and passively.

Racism is active in the fact that the Confederate flag, a symbol of racism, slavery, hatred, and oppression, still flies high above the South Carolina Capitol.

It’s active when police officers pull someone over because they’re committing the crime of driving while black, or pull a gun on black teenagers for attending a pool party, or choke a black man to death for selling loosey cigarettes.

It’s active when Tamir Rice was shot to death, and not given CPR, for holding a toy gun.

It’s active in the fact that the Charleston shooter was taken into custody without a scratch on him, which is more than can be said if you’re a black teenage girl at a pool party in Texas.

It’s active in the fact that people of color make up 30% of the population in the US, but 60% of the prison population.

It’s active when Richard Sherman is called a “thug” for raising his voice in an interview with Erin Andrews.

It’s active in more ways than can be listed here, unless you want to be reading for the next 7 months.

Racism is passive when people say “I don’t see color.” Certainly, most mean well when they say that, but…really? To portend not to see color is to deny the differences in our cultures that make us unique, that make us diverse, that make us beautiful.

Racism is passive when news anchors use the phrase “the n word.”

Racism is passive when the shooting in Charleston is talked about as an “act of violence by a mentally ill boy” and not, simply “a murder and hate crime by a racist, white man.”

Racism is passive when we deny the fact that racism still exists.

Racism is passive when you and I choose to stay silent rather than speak up at injustices done to our friends, neighbors, or strangers of color (Black, Hispanic, Native, Asian, Middle Eastern), because there are a lot of egregious, hateful acts committed toward minorities every day. To pretend otherwise is to condone the actions.

This is about how the murder of innocent children, women, and men may not ever be fully stopped, but the prevalence can sure as hell be reduced.

How many Charlestons, Sandy Hooks, Columbines, or Auroras need to occur before we admit we have a gun culture epidemic in our society? How many black kids need to be killed in Chicago, in Baltimore, in Washington DC before we actually have a meaningful dialogue about gun control? How much money do we need to drain from the politicians who accept lobbying money from the NRA before we take concrete action to diminish tragic deaths from a weapon whose only purpose is violence?

Gun control opponents don’t want a drastic overreach by the government into their personal liberties. I get it. (Hopefully they can empathize with women who want the same consideration from the government when it comes to personal control of their body). But this isn’t about “taking away your guns.” It’s about minimizing the chances that hate-filled people with vendettas will get their hands on one and murder someone’s child.

It’s about common sense safety measures designed to prevent more unnecessary death in our country. Sort of like vehicle safety measures. Who would argue that speed limits, seat belts, air bags, traffic lights, and laws against drunk driving are bad things that infringe on our rights as a society? We still have thousands die on the road every month, but can you imagine how many more would if we didn’t have those safety measures in place?

If you’re opposed to gun control, I don’t think you’re a bad person. But I’d like you to take a little test to check on your level of compassion, empathy, and love. Here’s a picture of the 20 children and 6 teachers murdered at Sandy Hook, and the 9 men and women murdered in Charleston:



Look for a few minutes. If it brings tears to your eyes, you’re a caring human – just as I thought. Please understand that, if you don’t believe in regulations to prevent someone from getting a gun and committing another atrocity like Sandy Hook or Charleston, then these innocent souls died in vain and, ultimately, you’re OK with something like Sandy Hook or Charleston happening again.

We can’t do anything about what happened in Charleston. But we can prevent another act of terrorism, hatred, and racism from happening again. It starts with us. It ends with us. It starts with being honest about the fact that racism exists and gun control does not. It ends with more innocent people dead, or with a society that acknowledges and embraces diversity and decides gun violence is an intolerable evil that must be vanquished.


This article originally appeared as a blog post on the Alexander Hallet’s site for his photography company Sattva Photo. Please inform yourself of his work as a hip hop mastermind and photographer. You will be happy that you did. Alex has always been an integral force in the Trainwreck’d world, and always will be. If, for some strange reason, you are only now becoming aware of our little world here at TWS, go here to learn more.

How Much Should We Tax Wealth? by Mike Phillips [Guest Wreckers]

Mike PhillipsThis is my problem with wealth.

Essentially, it’s easier for people who already have money to make more money, because when you have a lot of money, it makes more money for you without you having to do much of anything.

Here is an example I DON’T necessarily have a problem with.

Someone with a modest $500,000 sitting aside could presumably make $35,000 in “capital gains” during a decent year of investing.  The $35,000 would be taxed at 15%, ensuring $29,750 in pure profit.  Enough for many people to live off of.  It’s also more than most people make in a year who are showing up to work every day, punching a time clock, working overtime and working their asses off to make ends meet.

Is that 15% tax rate fair?  Maybe?  It’s an honest question to ask, and I wish people would discuss this as opposed to taking sides and having uninformed or poorly thought out opinions.

Now, when you imagine someone like Mitt Romney (or picture George Soros if you’re a republican) having capital gains of $42,000,000 during the past two years and paying 15% on that $42,000,000 – all generated through capital gains, ie, wealth creating wealth – you really have to wonder if that is fair.

15% of $42,000,000 is $6.3 million dollars.

That means “Mitt Soros” still has $35.7 million of pure profit after taxes.  That pure profit will be added to whatever heaping amount he already has, and next year it will make even more wealth, and more wealth the following year, and more wealth the year after that …. on and on and on.  Does $6.3 million in taxes even show up as a blip on his radar screen?  Doubtful.  So why are we pretending like 15% is a lot of money to pay for someone of his caliber, and why are poor/middle class people, many of whom are the very same suckling off Uncle Sams tentacle-like teets via food stamps, reduced rent, medicare, medicaid or other government programs – rushing to the defense of these ultra rich???  Seriously, what is your answer?  I honestly don’t get it.  Do the Mitt Romney and George Soros types need you to rush to their defense?

The surprising reality is that 15% hasn’t always been the capital gains tax rate.  Towards the end of WWI, for example, capital gains for top earners were taxed at a 73%.  Presumably this incredibly high rate was due to the fact that our country was at war and needed to pay for it somehow.  Conversely, we’ve been in two wars for much of the past ten years and have receivedtax cuts as opposed to tax increases.

Maybe shipping a bunch of horses and bayonets to France was more expensive than operating apache helicopters, nuclear subs, predator drones, aircraft carriers, jets, etc etc etc

Interestingly, Ronald Reagan thought these capital gains should be taxed at 28% for the top earners of our society.  Before his reform act in 1986 it was 50%.  I agree with Reagan though, 28% is not a bad idea for the ultra wealthy during peacetime.  But it isn’t peacetime in our country and we forget that because we’re so far removed from reality.

For anyone not paying attention, the Bush tax cuts are the real reason our country is F’d right now.  It has nothing to do with Obama and his policies.  It’s simply because we didn’t pay for two wars by raising taxes like we should have.  We sacrificed by going shopping and driving Hummers instead of tightening our belts.  By blaming Obama for the so-called fiscal nightmare (which has led to hundreds of thousands of government job cuts, which has f’d our economy even further) is just ignorant.  I know republicans want to be on the other side and oppose everything Obama does.  Fair enough.  But at a certain point it is your responsibility as a citizen of this country to take a look at the facts, instead of grandstanding with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.

Wealthy people, led by Paul Ryan types (like Mitt, also born into wealth), continue to declare that they are overtaxed.  Are they?  Paul Ryan even goes so far to say that capital gains taxes should be eliminated altogether.  Under the Ryan plan “Mitt Soros” would pay $0 in taxes on the $42,000,000 he earned for DOING NOTHING.

Here is another question worth considering, and I don’t have the answer.  Does this minimal tax on the wealthy make it harder for the rest of us to accumulate wealth when the rich are essentially shuffling money between themselves?

In America, liberals and conservatives, progressives and tea partiers, Greens and libertarians can all appreciate and respect hard work.  I am as liberal and progressive as the sky is blue.  However, when I left my job at Watershed last year, I made the conscious decision not to go on food stamps or collect unemployment because I felt that if I worked hard enough, I could scrape enough dollars together to get by.  I didn’t want taxpayers to give me a break when I didn’t need one.  Weird, huh?  Most conservatives don’t think liberals are capable of thinking like that.  But, I don’t think everyone has to go the route I did and I think food stamps and unemployment benefits should be available for everyone.

But my point is, conservatives don’t own the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality.  With their support of this ridiculous tax rate for the wealthy, they are demonstrating they’ve completely abandoned anything resembling this notion.

Why do so many conservatives believe that rich people should get a pass on hard work, just because they are already rich?  It’s insanity, and make no mistake, a 15% tax rate on wealth, especially during a time of war, is a pass on hard work and a pass on the responsibility that comes with being wealthy.  It’s welfare for the rich.  It’s unnecessary.  During previous wars the wealthy have stepped up, and it sure as sh*t didn’t cripple them.  If you think 15% is fair for millionaires, then you’re a huge proponent for the most f***ed up welfare program that I have ever heard of, and I am going to fight this, figuratively speaking of course.

The story that inspired this diatribe:


“A major — although, perhaps not widely understood — result of the 2003 tax cuts was to lower the maximum tax rate on capital gains and qualified dividends to 15 percent. This category makes up the lion’s share of income for the richest Americans.”

Tax Reform Acts.





Mike Phillips is a mad genius and entrepeneur living in Portland, Oregon.  Once the bass player for the pop-punk phenomenon of a band known as The Young Immortals, he has evolved into the lead singer of the Portland Music Award nominated band The Fenbi International Superstars.  He is also the CEO of The Neo Com Group, a literary and performance arts marketing firm that represents the likes of Bill Carter, Todd Grimson, and more.  In 2011, Mike contributed an essay to the charity based book Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From The World of Independent Music.  You can enlist his services right here at The Neo Com Group.

I Was Jody by George Evanson [Guest Wreckers]

George EvansonI remember once being a very gentle and special little boy. That boy appeared long before my fifth birthday.  My family nickname was Jody. The story was that my brother could not say George and what he did say came out sounding like “Jody”.

The name Jody means more to me than just a nickname. Jody was a being distinct from George.  He was a light being who saw a good light shining out of everyone.  He loved and handed his heart to everyone fearlessly.

I had an aunt and uncle who took me for a ride one day and talked to me about the dangers of being “too nice”.  How really kindly, heart sharing souls often got tread on like that famous snake on the flag.  I can recall being confused as if I were being chastised for misbehavior.  I could not see what I had done wrong.

Jody had love for everyone. He had the “gift of cheerful heart”. I saw a good soul inside of everyone whatever their exterior.

I remember at about 8 or so reading a bunch about Hitler. My parents thought this weird but I wanted to find his light because at first glance it was quite dim.   In my reading I found out two things that gave a little glimmer.  He despised people who abused animals and he was vegetarian.  I felt a bit better. A totally dark soul was a challenge to Jody’s cellular belief system; no one was all dark or all evil. There was a good light shining out somewhere.

Jody had his own form of Namaste (The God/Goddess Spirit within me recognizes and honors the God/Goddess Spirit within you.) greeting. His less developed Namaste was “all our hearts are one”.

Fairly I can say that Jody was just born that way and that for years, life and my own doubts hacked at the Jody persona and told him to toughen up, get smart, let go of this naïve faith in the universal goodness and start being tough and cagy.

This set up an inner war that has played out over decades but I can truly say that living in my Jody self has brought me more satisfaction and more love connection than any other persona I’ve tried to manufacture.

When I did the second level attunement for Reiki some years ago I had a dream the same night that confirmed what Jody’s true gift was and is.

In a dream a rather ominous shrouded figure came to me and said he had a special Reiki symbol just for me.  He blew dark smoke in his hand and pressed it to my chest just to the left of my heart.  A deep orange circle appeared on my skin with a strange symbol inside.  It glowed and pulsed. I felt magic energy surge through me. It was terribly electrifying!

I was very excited. Perhaps I could cure cancer or heal the mentally ill? I asked this figure what the symbol was and he said, “It’s the gift of a cheerful heart”.  At that moment I was rather annoyed. I wanted a great power and I was getting “the gift of a cheerful heart”?

So little I know. This was the affirmation of my Jody nature and its true validity.  It was my great gift to my world for my whole life.

What are the components of transmitting a cheerful heart?  First your own heart has to be open and receptive without fear or concern. You need to believe in the essential heart oneness of everyone and fearlessly offer warmth and love to those you meet.

This requires understanding that heart energy/love is not a diminishing resource. The true essence of heart energy/love is that the more you offer the more you generate. So each time you give it out it comes back tenfold.  It’s a gift to others that become a gift to self.

It’s the plan that spirit programmed into our cells to bring us happiness and connection. When we cut ourselves off from this natural way of relating we feel lost and alone.

I have a reoccurring image of being in a very high tree house with the latter pulled up where no one can reach me and I can’t reach anyone.  Alone like that is unnatural and soul stifling.

It’s a reality for many souls and I have had a sad awareness of it since I was quite young. The old Brewer and Shipley tune that goes, “Your lost inside your houses, No time to find you now” really touched my heart place which seeks heart connection.

The second component that was given to me to transmit the gift of a cheerful heart is a quirky and irony-appreciative sense of humor. Virtually nothing happens to me or around me that does no evoke my humor maker.

When I had my left kidney removed because of cancer the nurse in the recovery room told me that in 25 years of this work  I was the first patient she’d had who woke up after five hours of  surgery and started make goofy jokes.  I explained it was my way of coping with life’s hard moments.

So here’s to all those hard situations and painful dramas that have haunted my life for you have been my humor teacher. The pain humor relationship is well known as is the tendency for fat people to have powerful humor skills usually of the self-deprecating variety.  So here’s to my big enamel buddy, the refrigerator which helped hone my comedic skills.

Spoke to a work friend of 30 years last night and she was telling me how many friends and coworkers I rescued from total despair with my ability to make the drama of day to day work insanity a funny parity that allowed us to laugh and take it a lot less seriously.

That is the primary mission of the humor gift God gave me; to take everything as it comes and see the ultimate unimportance of any of it when compared to our God given birthright of joy and loving connection.  It is a real blessing and a gift to see the funny in stupid and bureaucratic.

Struggling against stupidity is like a Chinese finger puzzle: the more you struggle the more you are stuck. But with ironic and sometimes black humor you can just laugh and laugh at the absurdity of it all and get over it without struggle.

In the Hindu tradition the middle point of life for most is the role of “householder”. This is the time where primary focus is home and family. After this period many Hindu’s leave the worldly life to seek a more spiritual path.

My spiritual path is back to an unencumbered Jody, without fear or cynicism. Just a loving heart greeting other hearts and inviting connection: this will be a good way to do my later years.



Who is George Evanson?

I was born in 1945 in Boston MA and grew up in Allentown PA. I moved to CT when I was 17 and lived their for 35 years. I have lived for the past 15 years in one of the most eccentric towns in America, Truth or Consequences NM. I made my living for many years working for the Labor Department in CT paying unemployment claims, finding people jobs and later teaching employees how to use computers. For the past 20 years I have had my own computer support business. I am married to Wendy Sager-Evanson who is an RN, LMT and a Certified Yoga Instructor. We are polar opposites. She is active and physical. I prefer smoke filled rooms. I am a avid music fan and love almost everything but opera. My dad sang opera and would throw out my Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis records. He called it “jungle music”….I dabble in Slam Poetry and am writing a meandering memoir of an ordinary life that shows we all have extraordinary moments….At Wendy’s Yoga studio I host a free form dance party every Monday night….I make a wildly different music mix each week and we dance until we drop. Dancing is probably an over statement but I like the Mohawk expression, “A bad dance cannot hurt the earth”….so we jump around, sweat and laugh our asses off…I have people in their 20’s and people in their 70’s….With music, laughter and dance their is no fucking generation gap….the older folks didn’t like my Maclkemore so much or Blue Scholars very much but they were game to move with it….The youngsters stayed right with me when I played Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles and Fats Domino. The “kids” didn’t know who Rickie Lee Jones is but seems to like the music o.k.

The “Them” Wall by John Whipple [Guest Wreckers]

John WhippleWe take those we have no use for… those we have no tolerance for… and toss them over the wall that separates them from our hearts and minds. We call this wall “Them”. Behind the wall we can no longer see who They are and that is just how we like it.

“Them” is the pronoun of tragedy. After all, it’s us versus them.

A soldier does not aim his rifle at a father, husband or son. He aims at one of them. The gay soldier that appeared at that Republican debate was booed for being one of them: gay. Forget that he is a soldier and a mother’s son and so much more. He is one of them. The undocumented worker is not a poor woman trying to feed her family. She is one of them.  The occupier is a leftist hippie: One of them. The Tea Partier is a bigot: One of them. The politician is corrupt: One of them. The rich man is greedy: One of them. The poor man is lazy: One of them. Obama is a Muslim Kenyan Socialist:

Them Them Them.

It is so much easier to toss our enemies over the Them Wall. Then, we don’t have to listen to their arguments. All they do is lie. He is just a “libtard”, “racist” or a “corporate shill”. This is how we talk to each other. Oh wait, I’m sorry. This is how we talk at each other. We don’t talk to each other.

Not anymore.

Try to engage people in a political dialogue online. Unless you are in their preferred bubble, you will be tossed over the Them Wall. Suddenly, they are no longer arguing with you. They are arguing with a person who embodies everything they hate and calling that person “you”. Arguing with you is way too difficult. To do that they would have to respond to what you actually said. It is so much easier to break out that well rehearsed rant against “one of them”. By the end of the rant you will find yourself certain not only that the target of their rage is not you but this person, consisting entirely of a litany of negative stereotypes, does not exist at all.

This lack of genuine engagement is based on fear: a fear to confront the weaknesses in one’s own viewpoint. No one wants to be wrong so opposing arguments are shut out. No amount of evidence can convince a Birther of Obama’s citizenship. Anyone opposed to hardcore Truthers is dismissed as a “brainwashed”. This goes beyond the radical camps though. You will find a large crowd of “against” people but, even if they actually know what they are against (what the current tax policy is or what socialism actually means…) you are hard pressed to find out what they are for. Similarly, you will find staunch defenders completely unwilling to acknowledge any weaknesses (I mean, come on Mitt, bringing up the egregious increases in income equality is “the politics of envy”? Please!).

I do not believe in Them. I have traveled through the country and overseas. I have met thousands of people but I have never met “one of them”. That is not to say I do not have antagonists. There are certainly people I despise. There are some real monsters out there. I just don’t see them as Them.

There is only Us.

Goethe once said “There is no crime of which I deem myself incapable”. In this confession, he admits to his connection with all of mankind… even the worst of us. There are no angels or demons. We are darkness. We are light. We are human and it is in this way we should see each other. To turn an adversary into a cartoon character whether it is the “lazy hippie” protestor on one side or the scheming Mister Burns on the other is to engage with a wall. A protestor is not taking to the street because he doesn’t want to get a job and is “envious”. Neither is a member of the “one percent” scheming in dark rooms to exploit the masses. There are real differences in viewpoints that should be discussed but to assume that a person is driven by the lowest possible motivations is just infantile projection. A protestor is “working” to make the world better. A staunch defender of capitalism likely sees it as the best system for everyone and probably doesn’t relish in its downside.

Engaging each other by hurling insults over the Them Wall only entrenches us further into our very separate camps each holding shallow and impractical positions and makes any real progress in our society impossible. This country is a complicated place and if we are going to move forward we are going to have to learn to benefit from other people’s insights rather than block them out. To do this we are going to have to tear down the Them Wall and treat each other not as one of them but as one of us with whom we just happen to have a disagreement.

Besides making several under the underground hit albums, J.P. Whipple is also a not-famouspainter. He has authored several “too good to be published” works including an epic poem calledThe Toilet about an afterlife where souls are judge by Mother Earth. He has also started his own religion based on a prophet named Joel who preaches to the masses under the I-80 overpass. John does not wear shoes. In these tough times, it is necessary to cut out what is not necessary to save money. Not only does he save hundreds of dollars by not buying shoes but he finds it more difficult to blow money in bars as they usually throw him out for being barefoot before he can get a drink.  Learn more about John Whipple and what he does at his website.

Guns Kill People, But the People Who Have the Guns Matter by Matt Beat [Guest Wreckers]

07 Matt BeatLet me begin by writing that killing is wrong. The ultimate goal, in case you didn’t already know, is to preserve life. Therefore, the only time to kill is to defend life. The goal is to maximize life, and minimize death.

As a normal human being, I was extremely disturbed when I heard about the Connecticut elementary school massacre last Friday. As a teacher, it’s hard for me to imagine something like that happening at my school. When I first heard the news, I didn’t know whether to cry or to be sick. It’s about as evil as evil can get.

That said, 26 people are killed at one time, in one place, by one apparent psychopath, in a gruesome way, and all of sudden we need to debate about gun control. It’s as if children weren’t murdered by guns and bombs everyday already. All of this reactionary and scripted rhetoric always predictably follows mass media tragedy. It’s like gun control proponents have a pile of talking points hidden and waiting to be unleashed the next time a mass shooting taps into the emotions of the masses. (side note: maybe if the mass media didn’t cover such shootings the shootings might happen less?)

It is disturbing to me that people take notice that people are murdered only now that it is mostly young children. This is morally hazardous. Innocent children being murdered is disturbing, of course, but anyone being murdered is disturbing, for goodness sake. Killing of any sort is the most evil action humans are capable of doing. I am equally disturbed that a baby is killed as I am a 110-year-old is killed. Maybe that’s me. I guess I am a weird, normal, human being.

Nearly everyday in this country people of all ages are murdered. Simultaneously our President is dropping bombs everyday on suspected terrorists, though nearly every time they are dropped they are not hitting suspected terrorists, but civilians. Where is the outcry for that?

But anyone, it seems, can get a gun in this country. Sure, there are background checks, but often guns get in the hands of people anyway who haven’t had background checks. In fact, our own government has (accidentally?) given guns to both Mexican drug cartels and Al Qaeda. If people want guns, in a country with 300 million of them, they are usually going to find a way to get them.

Very few in this country want to ban guns from all civilians, but should we increase regulation? Very few in this country also do not want any form of gun control. In fact, even the NRA is even for some gun control.

I would say that psychopaths and sociopaths should not have guns. Again, many of them would still find ways to get guns. People who want to become police officers have extensive background checks that can last over a year before they are trusted to own a semi-automatic gun. It’s reasonable that background checks at least are thorough enough to determine if someone is mentally ill. Psychological evaluations, though longer and more expensive to conduct, would be a great investment to our nation’s security. Many of our country’s mass shooters did not have any criminal record nor an apparent sign they had mental illness. Oftentimes it is after the fact when detectives discover what was inside the shooter’s home that would have been signals to a mass shooting.  So I will be the first to say that background checks must be more thorough.

However, people absolutely must have guns to defend themselves. Have you ever heard of any mass shootings where someone already had a gun at the scene? Of course you haven’t. Have you ever heard of a mass shooting at a gun show? What about a police station? I hope you get the point. If every school had a police office with a gun planted in the front office of the school, school shootings would drop dramatically. Some of the safest neighborhoods in the country are ones where everyone in the neighborhood owns a gun. According to this website, the average number of people killed in mass shootings when stopped by police is 14.29, and the average number of people killed in a mass shooting when stopped by a civilian is 2.33.

Let me conclude with the main message I want to get across in this blog: guns kill people, but the people who have the guns matter. The overwhelming majority of human beings are good people. They are not psychopaths or sociopaths, although some such psychopaths and sociopaths somehow wind up in our government. They generally may be selfish, but, when push comes to shove, the do the right thing, no matter what their religious upbringing. I know it is easy in times like these to forget this. But I believe in humanity. Violence worldwide is going down.  Violent crime in this country is even going down overall.  People tend to forget the big picture.

The bigger issue at hand is the fact that we need to find out a way to treat psychopaths and sociopaths. My wife works with people who have mental illness, and based on her anecdotes I can tell you that a lot of people are sick, and they certainly aren’t born that way. Something in their upbringing, or some kind of trauma they experienced, caused them to get sick. Mental health clinics do not get much government money, and are usually the first things to be cut. My solution to gun violence, or really all violence? Take some of the hundreds of billions spent on our military (whose main purpose is to kill) and allocate it to help more people with mental illness. Take some more of that money and pay it to foster parents willing to take care of kids from broken homes. Do not let a human being own a gun unless they have been undergone a thorough psychological evaluation. Take care of the psychopaths before they ruin life for the rest of us.

Matt Beat is many things.  He is a father.  A middle school history teacher in Overland Park, Kansas.  And indie rokker as one half of the power duo known as Electric Needle Room.  His writing has appeared in the likes of the Kansas City Underground Examiner, and the charity based book about independent music, Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From The World of Independent Music.  Recently Matt has combined his love for american politics and history with his love for music with a collection of songs about all of the Presidents of United States of America, released annually on, you got it, President’s Day.  Vol. 1, 2, and 3 (45 tracks in all, get it?) of said albums are available on Bandcamp.  Matt and Electric Needle Room have also released a great short mockumentary entitled, Electric Needle Room is the 1,536th Best Band in the World, which you can watch HERE.  You can read more insight from Matt at The Beat Matt Blog, where this blog originally appeared on December 18th, 2012.

Pornographic Action Figure Erotica with Vince Kramer [Guest Wreckers]

Vinc KramerThrough mutual parties, I recently became acquainted with a very talented cat named Vince Kramer.  We interact entirely in a digital fashion, but I have truly become a fan of his.  He is involved in a scene that I am only recently becoming familiar with.  A little something called Bizarro fiction.  If you haven’t heard of it, try to imagine the most fucked up, psychologically mind-bending science fiction and/or horror you could imagine, and put these ideas into the minds of some brilliant writers.  Vince Kramer is the author of in the series of New Bizarro Author’s series entitled Gigantic Death Worm.  And I have heard nothing but rave reviews for the book.  You can pick up a copy of the book HERE.  And please read the incredible review.  I have no idea who wrote it, but dammit does it make this book sound that much more intriguing!

And what exactly does this have to do with pornography or action figures?  Well, just about everything folks!  Our pal Vince Kramer has taken to playing with his toys in an extremely adult sort of way.  This isn’t some sort of kiddish bullshit where you make G.I. Joe and Barbie kiss by pressing their mouths together.  This is hardcore plastic on plastic adult oriented behavior.  You have been warned.  Mr. Kramer has been kind enough to remove his action figures out of their boxed fortresses (which I am told is a HUGE no no to many in the comic boo or scifi world), and released them out into the world…..to band.  So, enjoy!

For more information about Bizarro Press and Vince Kramer’s work, visit the Eraserhead Press website, and to pick up a copy of Vince’s 2013 Calendar featuring Pornographic Action Figure Erotica HERE.























X-Men fucking. Mostly men, but all X.


Randy Mazucca: The Facebook Guy [Guest Wreckers]

Randy Mazzuca3We all know The Facebook Guy.  No, not Zuckerberg, but one of minions.  Well, I guess we are all minions in his circus, but I am mean the guy who is, maybe unbeknownst to himself, the biggest supporter of social media.  The guy who makes you always catch yourself saying, “Wow, he is on Facebook ALOT” when his words consistently show up in your news feed at any given time of the day.  Yet, you never stop to question…. “How do I always see his rants and ramblings and comedic jests?”  Maybe it is because you yourself spend more time of Facebook than you care to admit.

That is why I am proud to support “The Facebook Guy”.  The guy that can admit to the world that he is on the social media scene, and he is definitely not ashamed to admit it.  This is a guy that has taken the reign as the court jester of the on line world.  And his posts are not simply an updated on what he was just eating, doing, or thinking about.  Oh no.  That would be far too simple and ridiculous!  This is a man who takes the time to make you laugh, even in the most shallow parts of your days.  And he loves what he does.  For there is no task greater than spreading the joy of laughter and his own expensive (or other’s) via the inter webs.  This is The Facebook Guy.

Luckily for me, I have the best Facebook Guy in the world.  Sure my “Friend’s List” actually includes each cast member of Whitest Kids U Know, a couple of raunchy female stand up comedians, and Patton Oswalt (for whatever that is worth)….but none of them hold a dimly lit light bulb to my dear friend Randy Mazucca.  Is it because quantity is always better than quality?  Some would disagree, but not me.  This is a man who nails it, almost every time.  And if he doesn’t, you can rest assure he will be back with a rebuttal in a very brief moment.  I have known Randy for many years, hailing from the same dirty mill town that is nothing more than a blip of time for most people as they shoot through I-5 from Seattle onto greater days to Portland, 40 miles away.  He is a the heir to the owners of the Grocery Outlet in Longview, an Active Duty Coast Guardsman stationed in the San Francisco area, an active volunteer at the San Francisco Zoo, and is currently engaged to a great girl (who you could imagine makes several cameos in his wall posts).  I am proud to call this guy a friend, and so happy that he invades my newsfeed without faulter every day as the jest of light between somebody’s sob story about how tired they are, inspirational quotes that have no meaning in the social media world, Farmville bullshit, and pictures of their food.  Facebook would be a truly drab places if it weren’t for this guy.

Randy and his fiancee Alicia

Randy and his fiancee Alicia

Randy and I had a small following (probably about 6 people) circa 2006 or so when Myspace ruled the world and we surrendered to their demands daily.  We were known to be completely harsh movie critics on our blogs.  These were the days when WordPress and Blogger were scary for the amateur, Tumblr didn’t make sense, and people didn’t limit their opinions to 130 characters or less.  I wrote a silly little feature aptly titled, “The Shit and Shit Movies of The Week”, in which I reviewed two of the incredibly to many movies I had watched that week, and picked one as good, and one as bad (get it?).  And Randy was always there to chime in on what he thought of my overtly pretentious picks (probably a Woody Allen film beating out a comic book movie) , and eventually he started doing his own rants and ramblings on films with his own blog.  Anyway, the entire thing eventually dissolved and we migrated west to the Facebook world, and here we are today.

So to honor Randy, I decided it would be nice to feature a few of his rants, ramblings, and baskets of hilarity with you the fine folks at Trainwreck’d Society.  I have selected a batch of about 30 of my favorite posts by Randy, mostly taken in the last month or so, primarily during this year’s Superbowl (you remember, the one with the black out and alien Beyonce?).  So ye fine gentlemen (do women even read this crap?), feast your eyes on the words of what I consider to be one of the finest everyman comedian today!  Enjoy!


“I wonder if they’re going to use the Denzel Washington movie ‘Flight’ as an in-flight movie on airplanes.”

“What made people in the 1930s talk the way they did? Was it the Gin Rickeys that flowed freely out of the drinking fountains?”

“American Movie Classics has a reality series coming out about people in a freak show.  No further joke necessary.”

“The only reason I need cutlery (I prefer the Urban Kitchen one) is to transport everything I eat into to my tortillas and into my mouth.

“Has anyone made a slow accoustic version of “I Wanna Bang On the Drum All Day” yet?”

“I want Robert Palmer to play our wedding. Havent seen him do much in awhile, someone needs to go dig him up for me. Lol, I am kidding. He’s dead now. So I guess you could say he’s my favorite underground artist right now. Lol, jokez”

“Puppy Bowl but for hockey.”

“I am the first send out a venomous e-mail to someone for the terrible customer service for our wedding.
Who’s the Bridezilla now?!”

“Watching a documentary on Instant Netflix about a young lady who died but wasn’t found in her apartment for three years.  This is why I post constantly people! If you dont hear from me for more than an hour, CALL FOR HELP!!! Knock down my door!!!! I am not okay!!!”

There’s this big bag of garbage that I seen rotting away by the Bay Bridge toll plaza every single day that I go to work and now I’m never going to be able to stop thinking about that lady’s corpse locked in her apartment for three years.

“For my next Andy Rooney-esque gripe I’m going to complain about people posting that Sean Bean pic from LOTR and people telling me what one does not simply do.”

(during Superbowl) “Maybe that’s why the zoo wasn’t showing Basil and Merlin’s choices for the Super Bowl on their Facebook feed. They kept choosing the Ravens. Those two are so smart.”


(during Superbowl) “Rob Thomas is playing during the pregame. I look for ANY moment to bring up the time that I literally bumped into him at a crosswalk in Las Vegas. Weirdest moment of my whole life.”

(Randy doesn’t really like Football that much) “ROLL TIDE, ROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! RISE UP!!!!!!!!!!!! TEBOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“I’ll bet all my bird-loving friends will be excited about the Superb Owl today.”

“Dang! Today it’s Nathan Lane’s birthday AND the SuperBowl. I’d like to get an invite to that party!!!!”

“If I tell my dad I’m excited for the big game today, maybe he’ll love me even though I mean Puppy Bowl.”

“I cant stand listening to parents have conversations with their little kids like they’re adults.  I should probably never ever be a dad.”

“Remember when everyone thought Green Day were had-beens but then they released Time of Your Life and they came back and became the biggest band around?  That’s what Im going to build my time machine to stop.”

“Nuh uh, Mr James Hetfield. I dont need your hand. I can get to Never Never Land with pixie dust and some happy thoughts, then straight on til morning!”

“Is that irritation I get from people who use hashtags on Facebook the same thing that ham radio operators get when someone on the street says “Roger!”

“The menu said Country Style Potatoes so I made them in the style of another shitty song about what it’s like growing up in a small town in Idaho.”

“Some of the people at work are complaining because the butter is too hard to spread on their pancakes so they want us to offer them melted butter and I totally understand their frustration because my great grandparents swept the flour off of railroad cars to make their bread during the Great Depression.”

“At first I was super annoyed to see that one of the guys has nautical sparrow tattoos but then I decided to give him a pass from sailors everywhere for giving the world that awesome Taylor Swift break up picture on a boat.”

“Tangled>Wreck It Ralph > Brave.”

“For someone that’s in the Coast Guard, I sure dont care that much about border security on the news.”

Randy Mazucca2

Randy and his nemesis, Captain Sparkles

“They are all out of orange essence infused prunes. I am going to tear this place apart. — at Target.”

“I am very honored to be getting a Coast Guard Community Volunteer medal for picking up poop at the zoo.”

“I’m reading the biography of Loretta Lynn and she talked about how her dad had to work long hours all the time, deep in a dark coal mine where he couldnt even stand up. He’d come home and his whole body would be bleeding from crawling through jagged crevices and he’d be hacking up thick black slime. It made me think about all the complaining that I do about my own job at the galley and what sort of things make me mad there so now I’ve decided to be a coal miner.”

To Free or Not To Free: I Am Begging You To Listen To My Music, But Only Because You Want To…? by Michael J. Epstein [Guest Wreckers]

To free or not to free?
I’ve been having a series of conversations on Facebook (1 – 2) about various components of the value of music and, much like other aspects of life (stupid Hollywoodized rules for dating for example), we’re caught between…
1) a stereotypical “please please” listen to my music form of begging… 
…juxtaposed with…
2) “I’m being cool about it and I’ll let you buy my music and check it out because it’s what you want to do” aloofness designed to maintain value and mystique.
Truth: I want to just give away my music.*
I really do. It’s nice to make back some money selling it as it costs a lot to keep a band going, but the most important thing to me is that the most people hear it and enjoy it. So, I should just give my music away to everyone who will take it? I say, at least mostly, no. (Lots of others do too or maybe they don’t.) The reasons are complex and I am still trying to navigate them and come to a conclusive decision. I’d really love to figure out how. This post is my initial thought-dump on free distribution of music. I hope it opens up more conversations and more avenues of thought, and that it helps me find an optimal working method for my own work.
*That said, if you want any of it, just ask me and I’ll gladly send you download links…but you have to ask. I won’t offer it to you. Huh?

The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library (photo by Kelly Davidson)

There are numerous articles about the difference between price and value. There is a famous (and probably ongoing) debate about whether people in high-risk areas for malaria are more likely to use mosquito nets that they are given for free or that they paid a small amount for (1 2 3). The situation for musicians is, however, is not much like mosquito nets. There are huge numbers of people creating music. If we look at one arbitrary metric, iTunes has more than 20 million songs available! When I write a song, I am pretty sure the world doesn’t really need it. There isn’t a supply shortage. I write my music for myself, but then at least some part of me yearns for justification by having it reach others.

I’m begging you to listen…

While I don’t know the answer for everyone, I can speak about my experience for context. I can only assume an average person operates similarly, but I have no idea. I don’t think people value music they are handed, and, even worse, they start with a baseline “this music is bad” mentality when they begin listening. Most music is bad. Tons of musicians are vying for my attention, begging for me to listen to their music, handing me CDs, e-mailing me tracks, spamming me on Facebook…and I don’t even have any real power or clout to offer them. Even if I love their music, I can’t really do much of anything to help them succeed.

When people ask me to listen to their music, I almost never do. I don’t have time and I don’t have interest. If you hand me a CD, it will take me some 15 minutes to open it, put it into my computer, rip it (and probably type the stupid track names in because most people handing me a CD haven’t bothered to put their disc into freed), and then open the files. Chances are, it’s just not going to happen. I don’t mean that as a personal slight to anyone, I just won’t do it. If you send me a download link to your music (on bandcamp or something similar) after I’ve had a conversation with you, the chances are greater. If you are on Spotify, the chances are actually very high. I’ve been storing a “music to listen to” playlist and the time/risk/cost of adding your music to that is extremely low and I won’t forget about it. Sure, that playlist contains thousands of songs at the moment, but I do seem to be making pretty regular digs into it. I listen to tons of new music, particularly local music – almost 100% because I regularly hear about or read about bands. I trust when someone tells me they like a band that they have no stake in. I check it out. Still, I have far less time to do this than I have music I’d like to check out.

Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling (photo by Kelly Davidson)

If you send me an unsolicited link via e-mail and we haven’t met or talked and I have no context for you, there is less than zero chance that I will listen. In fact, I will probably actively avoid listening to your music forevermore. Why? I don’t know. It sounds mean and awful, but there is some kind of social wall that I feel is being eroded when I get these messages. Unless I know you pretty well, I will probably unfriend you or block you on Facebook if you post a link on my wall to your music or event. Again, I hold some value in my private (public) space. I also cannot keep you as a friend on Facebook, but block you from posting on my wall. I don’t care if you invite me to a million events because I can block you from inviting me to events (and I just pretty much block everyone from inviting me to events as matter of making the site usable – this way, I can use the events system to actually track events). I never look at messages on Facebook, so I also don’t care if you spam me there. I will never see it.
When you do all these things (or when I do all these things), the message is: this music has no value…so much so that I not only offer it for free, but essentially put time, money, and resources into begging you to listen to it.

Does that mean you should never “beg” people to listen to your music? Well, the line blurs between begging and promoting…

Possible successful “begging” techniques for giving away music for free: 


1. Get someone with a reputable name to give away your music for free

People perceive someone else talking about your music very differently than when you talk about it. The divide widens when it’s someone with a reputation. Recently, we gave away a new The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library track on MAGNET. When I post that you can download our song on MAGNET (vs. our site), everyone is far more likely to perceive the song as being good (just by virtue of someone else offering it) and everyone is far more likely to share in the vicarious excitement of the song (by someone they know or follow) being touted by someone else that they’ve heard of. I am not sure that a ton of people who follow MAGNET will download the file, but I am sure that way more of my friends and followers will download it than if I just sent them to my website. Sadly, “reputable” endorsement seems to be the most powerful of movers. I’d love to say quality is the prime mover, but I don’t think it is.


Tangent: when The Motion Sick appeared in SPIN prior to ever playing a single show, we were immediately taken seriously and it became easy to book shows at venues that would never be attainable to a new band with no connections. As it turns out, being in SPIN sold fewer CDs (and downloads) than we sold on numerous good show nights throughout the years, BUT it made everyone we personally know take our band a lot more seriously. Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling‘s recent appearance over at TIME had a similar effect in justifying our existence to friends and family. The music doesn’t change just because SPIN or TIME writes about it, but the way people perceive it absolutely does. Most of these things won’t break you with huge new audiences, but they will strengthen your ties to your existing audience.


2. Offer it for a limited time

This week only, download our song. No one wants to miss out on a limited-time offer.
Caveat: The problem is, our music is always available on Bandcamp in streaming form (we don’t get paid for that) and Spotify (we do get paid for that). So, I am not sure I can ever offer a limited-time offer unless we remove that, which brings forth other problems and concerns.

Neutral Uke Hotel

3. Offer it to a select group of people who are engaged in a special way

Believe it or not, people are EXTREMELY reluctant to be on an e-mail mailing list. They are far more likely to“like” a page on Facebook or follow someone on Twitter than to sign up for their e-mail list. From my perspective, my e-mail list is the only way to reach people that is in my control and has at least moderate reliability. So, I’ve been rewarding my list subscribers by providing a free sampler of my music every month that usually includes unreleased tracks or other special items that ONLY people on the list receive. The key here is that most e-mail list subscribers view being on the list as a deeper connection than say, following a band on Facebook.
Downloading a track for free in exchange for an e-mail address also works, but is a little bit tricky. Bandcamp presently offers this option (and I use it regularly), but I am afraid that the users feel kind of like they’ve been duped when they see “free” and then ultimately have to enter their e-mail address and get added to your list!

4. Pay-what-you-want?

This is the one I’ve been struggling with the most. It actually makes the most sense logically from my perspective, but I think it acts as a pretty serious deterrent when it’s happening under scrutiny, which it is when we are collecting e-mails and other data. People don’t want to feel cheap. They don’t want the onus of deciding the value of the music placed on them.In one case that I am aware of, The Lights Out, used an unobserved merch case (with cash box lockdown) allowing people to drop money into the box and collect merch at any price they felt fair. My understanding is that this has been a very successful approach and doesn’t not make the buyer feel that they are under surveillance or being judged.UPDATE: Here’s a video tour of The Lights Out‘s merch case:

So where does that leave us?

Should we forget free?!?!?!?

I think we can’t ignore free. That is, a consumer probably should not be expected to directly pay money in exchange for your music at the instance of consumption any longer (or much longer) – see rant below. Does that mean artists make no money? Not necessarily. We need to shift paradigms. More importantly, we need to present value to consumers without cost. Of course, we’re all still trying to figure out how! We’re in an in-between space at the moment and it’s a very difficult one to crawl through…My rant on the future of consumption below, but first…
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check out my music! I am begging! 

Darling Pet Munkee (photo by Michael Basu)

My rant from Facebook: I think musicians have to stop pretending that music has much consumer value and stop expecting that people are going to pay historical prices for it. The giant corporate conglomerate market control and price fixing has ended. Now, music is so overwhelmingly available and has become virtually worthless as a commodity. We need to accept it. Does that suck for musicians? Yes, it does. Is it the reality? Yes, it is.

I view music purchasers as “supporters of the arts,” if you will. They are not doing it to get the commodity; they are doing it to encourage the artist to keep doing what they are doing. It’s turning more toward patronage, it’s not consumerism anymore (or it won’t be for very much longer I believe). We have a culture that does not value art very much financially. Thus, art has little monetary value. You can throw a tantrum about that, but it’s not going to change the facts. While I don’t support piracy in a general sense, I think we need to acknowledge that the value of music was faked for so long and that the modern consumers demand music for free (or pennies). Again, sucks for musicians, but it’s how it goes. No one has a right to make a living being an artist. Artists need to stop demanding that right if the market doesn’t support it. We can come up with a million reasons why our music should sell for as much (or more) than it does now, but those reasons are simply not relevant to market value. I realized that the fastest and best way I could lose less money making music was not to sell more or sell it at a higher price, but rather to stop spending money. Do my recordings sound as good as they would if I spent a lot of money on them? No. Would I sell more if I had spent more? Also no.

I think artists will ultimately benefit the most from subscription model payouts once statutory rates for streaming are set (and hopefully are somewhat reasonable). It also rewards people that make good music that gets listened to a lot and removes rewards for overmarketing terrible music. I think that the end of music selling in favor of paying per stream will ultimately save the art. Write bad songs, get no plays. Write great songs, get plays. First thing we need to do is abandon the idea that people are going to be willing to pay $10 for an album. That concept doesn’t have much life left in it. I say kill the pirates by meeting consumer demands, not passing imbecile laws. Spotify is a piracy killer. Sure, the payouts need to be worked out still, but that is where the focus of legislation should be – how can we shift to a streaming, on-demand model that can work for everyone? Artists are, of course, going to lose out in this shift, but it’s inevitable.

Space Balloons

A lot of this applies to movies, television, and other media as well. We need to figure out how to shift models instead of just trying to stop a cultural tidal wave with useless laws. These models will require a rethink of how content is produced and how much money is put into it. I think this is ultimately a winning proposition. It’s actually the real stage at which there is market equality.

Michael J. Epstein is a maniacal madman in the independent music world.  He is arguably one of the hardest working players in the indie rock world.  He is involved in several groups including his own fronted group The Michael J. Epstein Library, the ukulele based tribute group fronted by Shawn Fogel known as Neutral Uke Hotel, his duo with Sophia Cacciola Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, the conversion of DNFMOMD and instrumental masterminds Axemunkee known as Darling Pet Munkee, and a trio also with Sophia Cacciola known as Space Balloons.  The list actually goes on and on as Michael is always creating and reinventing himself through so many different projects it is almost entirely impossible to keep track.  Learn more about all the eccentric and amazing things Mr. Epstein has been doing at his website where this article was taken from.

Hipster Ass Bike For Hipsters (a.ka. The Greatest Craigslist Ad Ever Made) [Guest Wreckers]

I am selling my Vista Carrera 7 road bike. Perfect for the aspiring culture creator. I have recently become a Successful Entrepreneur and I no longer have the need for such trifling possessions. I drive a gigantic cargo van that literally pisses gas onto the road to mark its territory.

Do you want to be noticed? Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Sleeve tattoo didn’t do the trick? Dubstep bounce remix didn’t go viral? Look no further than this bike. Don’t even look past it in the pictures posted below. Import it into Photoshop and delete the background. I know you know how to do it, because you’re a graphic designer.

Orange body. Green accents. Pink handlebar wrap. Some silver. Black. Dirt. Are there even any more colors? There are awesome reflective stickers on the bike, too, which makes darting out in front of automobiles on dark evenings and asserting one’s absolute and total right of way even more self-righteously awesome. Dear motorist: Did you not see the stickers. Do you think I have time to just put stickers on things. I’m trying to save the world from people like you.

Just think of all the great places you could see and be seen on this bike:

1. An Obama rally
2. A Ron Paul rally
3. Rally’s
4. Miscellaneous

The possibilities are endless.

This bike will get you laid. If you ride this bike around Audobon Park at 1 in the morning without pants on, dudes will literally knock you off of your bike to try to blow you.

This bike is a freewheel fixed gear, because you’re a fucking monster and you have one speed, and that speed is +/- 15mph.

A seat comes with the bike, but is not pictured. If you want, you can ride the bike without the seat to simulate the stick you have up your ass about which Pavement album is best, which political cause that matters to you most intermittently, or about whatever it is that you “do.”


This bike is Japanese and comes with four distinct safety features:

Safety Feature #1: front brakes only. Because you’re not about to conform to anyone’s preconceived notions of how a bike should stop.

Safety Feature #2: Quick release back wheel. I took this bike to Mike the Bike Guy on Magazine to get a tune up once, and he refused to work on it because of this Safety Feature. He said it was a “Frankenstein bike.” I asked him if he didn’t agree that Frankenstein was a literary masterpiece. I thought that after losing that argument he might be a gentleman and agree to tune up the bike for free, but he remained all pissy and still refused to work on it, even for money.

The next time I went in to Mike the Bike Guy on Magazine was to get air. I was all, hey MTBG, can I get some air? He was all yes. It was clear that we both believed that air is a free resource that should not be commodified. Common ground. He pointed me toward his air machine. Everything seemed cool. When I realized that the nozzle didn’t fit my bike’s tires, I was all, hey MTBG, how does this nozzle go on? He looked at me, turned around, took two steps toward the back of the room, and let out a loud SIGH. I couldn’t blame him. I work with people too, and sometimes they ask me questions because they don’t know things and I am the paid expert on the exact things they don’t know and I am standing right next to them, and I have to humiliate them in front of others before I answer them, too. It’s all just part of the job.

Safety Feature #3: Helmet. That’s my helmet. You can ride in a painter’s cap and pretend to be smart at the same time, but you’re not fooling anyone.

Safety Feature #4: Welding fix at seat joint. When this joint came loose, the bike was deemed horribly unsafe. When I welded it back together, it became safe again, therefore: safety feature. It’s supersturdy now; I welded it to fuck and back. I painted the welding joint green because I was feeling creative and I don’t have to explain my art to anyone.

Safety Feature #5: Apparently this bike has really nice rims. I am listing this under Safety Features because I feel that less-nice rims would probably make the bike marginally less safe.

Safety Feature $6: Earthquake proof.

$180 or best offer. Cash is fine. Your parents can PayPal me directly. Or see below:

I’m totally into creative trades (this part is actually serious). Musical instruments (serious – esp synths and pedals); original art (serious); US Currency (for srsly); leisure suits (I’m 6’1”, 180, with long arms and broad shoulders. Let’s stick with dark colors – I’m kind of pale and I don’t like to look washed out); real estate/underwater mortgages (4realz dogg); antique firearms (I promise I won’t trade you the bike and then shoot you with what was previously your firearm in order to steal my bike back and sell it again, although wouldn’t that be ironic, or would it, I don’t know, we use the word incorrectly so often that I’m not sure it matters); casual sex. Show me what you got.

*[EDIT: dig on this? The author has a rap band called Sex Party: facebook.com/sexpartymusic, @FFFFFF_SexParty]*

A Cultural Analysis: Inspiration to Independent Music Culture by Melissa Trembath [Guest Wreckers]

Note from the editor:  Indeed, many of you will recognize the name Trembath as it is the same as my own.  Melissa is indeed my wife, and thus was automatically included as a guest for our second run of Guest Wreckers.  Biased much?  Of course.  But, when Melissa said she had chosen to write about Independent Music for an assigned paper on culture analysis in her English class at SFCC, and furthermore that she would be using the book I founded/edited Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From The World of Independent Music as an artifact to represent said culture, I was seriously in awe and extremely flattered.  It is also a very well structured and informative paper, and deserving of a spot on Trainwreck’d Society.  And she promised me a back rub and several other favors.  So sue me if I did so oblige.  If you have an issue with this, start your own blog, and complain about these matters elsewhere.  Other than that….Enjoy!

Melissa Trembath

Liz Rognes

English 101


Inspiration to Independent Music Culture

How does one explain the independent music culture? It means so many different things to different people. Tim Chaplin from the experimental rock band Factory Kids defined it as  “Doing things for yourself-in some cases, often by yourself, out of sheer necessity-or just because you want to”(Chaplin, 44). For Cyndi Kimmel, a former DJ for KZUU at Washington State University, independent music “is an intended focus on the independence of music from major commercial record labels and boundaries” (Kimmel, 109). The term independent means: free from authority, control, or domination, operate alone, non dependant, and capable of thinking or acting without consultation or guidance from others. With that definition I think independent music is freedom to do what an artist wants, make the music they want, without having to answer to anyone.

In the independent music culture, one artifact that represents an inspiring aspect of independent music is a book entitled Children of Mercy. It is a collection of stories and essays from people within the culture. The contributors to the book write about many different topics including the struggles of being an independent artist, what independent music means to them, independent music history, and several other topics that hold a significant meaning in the independent world. In this book the reader gets forty different perspectives that are all centered on independent music and its culture. In this paper there will be perspectives from contributors in the book, as they wrote them in Children of Mercy. They will help to explain the independent music culture and the significance of this book.

One reason Children of Mercy is a unique book is because of how it was produced. If we were to apply the standards of independent music to this book it would definitely qualify as an independent project.  It has so many aspects of the independent culture in its creation.  It was produced by a publisher working out of his garage, created and edited by a music blogger, and distributed by the founder who would drop off copies to local bookstores. Another interesting part of this book is it had a compilation album that went along with the book. In addition to submitting an essay to the book some artist donated music or created original songs for the album.

Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From The World of Independent Music

An additional unique quality to this book was that it was made with little money out of pocket from the creator. There was a fundraising event where people donated money to help get the project started and completed. The album was handmade and the artwork for the album as well as the book was freely created by friends of the founder. It was literally a group effort to bring this book to life. Also another unique quality to this book is that all profits are donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The charity was chosen because a contributor to the book has a son who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. This book has many unique qualities to it, even though it is just an ordinary object.

Children of Mercy is after all just a book, which is simply an ordinary object. It is also not the first of its kind. There have been other books like this one. An example is Peter Terzian’s Heavy Rotations which actually influenced the editor to create Children of Mercy. Terzian’s book has similar qualities to Children of Mercy but it is also very different. In Heavy Rotations music journalists write about different albums individually. This is a contrast to Children of Mercy where members of the independent music world are writing about all different aspects of life within music.

Children of Mercy stands for everything Independent. It stands for independence from the mainstream media as an important way of having art uncorrupted and free from influence. It reinforces the belief that music creation can be done easily as long as the artist has the drive and spirit to create art for and by themselves. As Matt Montgomery, a music journalist and founder of MusicGeek.org, said about an indie band winning a Grammy: “It’s yet another road sign on the long trek toward a culture of independence in music, culture, and society”(Montgomery, 79).  I believe Children of Mercy is also a road sign toward getting recognition for independent music into the world.

People outside of this culture might not understand the significance of independent music. They could see Children of Mercy as just another book about music. Some people could look at independent culture as amateurish. They might think that anyone could be an independent artist even if they do not actually have any talent. In the words of Matt Montgomery on the significance of independent music “when information, media, culture is not spoon-fed, people think. And they don’t just think a little – they think a lot, and they think constantly. If not because they have to, then because they can”(Montgomery, 80). The beauty of this culture is that there is so much available. If people do not like one artist or group that does not mean they will not like any others. There are so many different sounds, emotions, and thoughts thrust out into this culture. In Children of Mercy the contributors highlight these aspects throughout their tales and teachings from the independent world. While some people may say that it is just another book, it is actually a meaningful book full of hopes, dreams, thoughts, ideas, emotional struggles, and inspiration.

Children of Mercy Compilation Album (The Beechfields Record Label, 2011)

Children of Mercy can enlighten people about real life accounts in the independent culture, by actual people in the independent world. It offers a perspective into this culture that may have never been put out there before. This book speaks to the independent at heart. Not just people who play music or write novels but, whatever it is they want to accomplish they can. They do not need a publishing agency to accept them, or a major music label to put out their music. Do it yourself. Jess Gulbranson put it best when he wrote “No matter how bad you are at what you love to do, or how untrained, or unmotivated, YOU CAN DO IT. Just start”(Gulbranson, 71).

After exploring Children of Mercy my thoughts on independent music and the culture surrounding it has been enhanced. This book has helped me realize how much passion is put into independent music. The main reason independent music is important to me is because of the torrent of emotion that the music exudes. I love the feelings I get when I listen to independent music whether happy, sad or angry. I connect to it and that is what music is about to me: the connection. Cyndi Kimmel stated it best when she said “we comprehend music as a universal language used to express everything seen, thought, felt, and done reminding us of our shared commonalities”(Kimmel, 109). I feel as though I understand just a bit more about the independent culture after reading all the stories and teachings within Children of Mercy. When looked at a little closer people can find added meaning, more inspiration, and a different perspective then they may have had before reading Children of Mercy.

Melissa Trembath is a student with dual studentizionship at Spokane Falls Community College and Spokane Community College with studies in Diagnostic Medical Sonography.  She is also the mother of three daughters and the wife of Trainwreck’d Society’s founder/editor/head wino Ron Trembath.  She currently resides in Spokane, Washington and has been deemed to be the greatest woman on earth.