The Potential Motion of the Ocean (Get Sunburned and Get Funky).

November second looms in the distance. Like a nervous guy on Prom night about to meet his date's parents, it looms and you know it's coming.

What's important to you?

Seriously, what is important to you? Here in the United States, you see a thousand different issues, all biding for our attention. Gas prices, health care, gay marriage/rights, abortion, the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lets not forget good old immigration. Energy...so many things, and so little time.

So we place and hedge our bets in two combatants for the most glorified civil servant position in the United States: the President. Commander in chief.

For the past eight years, I can honestly say that this near-decade has been the most tumultuous time I've been through. I'm only twenty-two, but I know firmly the things happening now have repercussions on the future that have so much potential to harm our future generations.

Apathy has been the wind in the sails of the boat that is America, and I'm getting a little sea-sick. Within the past few days both "respective" nominees have announced whom they've chosen as their running mates. For Barrack Obama it's Joe Bidden. For John McCain it's Sarah Palin.

Nevermind the fact that John McCain has chosen, well...a naughty librarian and Obama has picked (most likely) the person John Cougar Mellancamp talked about in all those songs. Nevermind those facts, because the truth is..it's smoke in mirrors.

For four years, no one gives an absolute shit about politics. It's during these lapses that something to damning to the spirit of America, so defiant of the Constitution it's self; the "Patriot Act", becomes legislation.

Wire tapping, police state like activities, Guantanamo Bay and torture? Fucking torture, are you kidding me? This is America, for God's sake...we cannot allow, as citizens, for that to happen.

"But it's to stop the terrorists."

Well, maybe. Maybe it is, and lets play Devil's Advocate for a second and say intangibly, it is to stop those ragheads from destroying our freedoms. Okay.

So you torture three hundred Muslims under suspicion. Suspicion that one of them has nuke firmly implanted betwixt their colon and kidneys. And currently, they are planning to walk into New York City, and wipe the five Burroughs off the face off existence.

What about the other 299 people who weren't terrorists? You never hear them speak, you never see them again. Their stories are inconsequential because Jane and Dick Durante in Kansas City, Missouri get to sleep comfortably knowing the one person is brought to justice.

You know what? That shit might be okay for Cuba or North Korea, but this is America. Liberty is supposed to balanced and fair; JUSTICE for ALL.

It's like saying there might be a golden needle in a haystack. Only instead of searching through it all, you just say "fuck it" and burn the hay stack.

Sure, the needle might still be there.

But that hay was to feed your horses. Your horses count on you for that food, and you just burnt the entirety of what you had, only ashes remain. The irony is you burned the hay stack to prevent the needle from hurting one of the horses.

So the horses have to fend for themselves. But they've become domesticated...so they might starve. And even if you restock the hay, what if there is another needle? Burn that one too. Now, the horses don't trust you anymore.

That in a nutshell is National Security, and the governments practices. We're all the horses. We used to buck and kick when we were told what to do, but now our spirits broken.

And it cannot be like that. If you bother to speak against, your patriotism is called into question.

Except, in the word 'Patriot', 'Riot' rounds it out. You have to be willing to dissent when things aren't what they are supposed to be. At all costs, I truly believe, you must fight for your freedoms.

So what do you believe in?

The illusion of change is more romantic than the actual accomplishment of said change. Most people want to win the lottery and be rich, but most of those people never buy the ticket. Most people want big houses and nice cars, but never work for them. The illusion is much more important.

A few years ago people were buying hows that in all actuality they couldn't afford. They were offered a rate that could fluctuate, a sliding scale if you will, and they signed on. Many of those same people also leased cars. Leased, not bought. So when your driving down Evergreen Terrace, you saw all these nice houses and cars, and you thought "that persons doing alright."

Fast forward to now. In my neighborhood theres hundreds of homes that are practically brand new, but no one resides in them. It's the same all across America, too. Lexus, Chevrolet and Ford all 'phasing out' the ability to lease cars now. It's every man and woman for themselves. Fuck the children, they need to figure it out on their own.

Thats the romanticism of illusions.

So now we're facing a 'historic' election. Old white devil with hot VP, versus a black male and the 'salt of the Earth', a blue collar individual with 'family values'. Each are chosen to off-set the inadequacies of their nominee. Obama faced critique that he was elite. Bidden is the working class hero. McCain is viewed as old and set in his ways of business as usual. With Palin, well...she's a woman. A gun toting, soccer van driving, young and vibrant counterpart.

But before this election can rightfully be called historic, the electoral process it's self has to change. It simply has too. Lives are at stake, no matter which way you cut the cake, and politicians still treat it like a fucking game. Each state is worth collective points?

One state is worth more than the other. Texas is worth more than Rhode Island. Easily. So those citizens get over looked because they don't matter as much? How can my vote mean shit when theirs doesn't?

The illusion of change. Last election it was John Kerry and George Bush. The consensus is Americans felt they didn't have a choice. One was busy flip-flopping and the other was busy talking to "God". Not one of us had any clue what either were doing, and dejectedly we marched into those poll booths and cast our votes.

But now we have "choices". Whats McCain's policy on free speech? Whats Obama's stance on the drinking age? Better yet...who cares? These are decisions each individual State has the right to vote on. It's why the decriminalization of marijuana is enacted in California. The problem is the Government over steps it's Constitutional boundaries and applies Federal prohibitions on something thats SAFER than tobacco, a product this nation was founded upon.

How does America not have a Universal Health Care system in place? Besides the logical answer of lobbyists and money, how can they justify wire-tapping as a step in safety, yet not provide something as physicals pro-bono to it's same people they are trying to 'protect'? I don't understand that line of thinking.

"It has socialist tendencies."

So what about SOCIAL security? What about police, fireman, libraries and public schools?

But we allow this to happen to us. We allow it because we get scared. Of what are we fucking scared of? Planes, and bearded brown people with box cutters? Why?

During the Revolutionary War (sorry my British friends, you had to know it was coming.) farmers bore arms, pitch-forks, rocks and fists to fight. If they died, then so be it, they stood for what was true to them.

September 11th, 2001 planes fall from the sky, and thousands of people are killed and injured. Was I scared? Yeah, kinda. But for different reasons. I live in the desert, son. The desert. I'm not at the top of the list...well, except the nuclear plants near by. But I was scared that whats happened, would happen. That we'd forget we have the rights to bare arms. And thats how I feel about the situation.

We have the capabilities to protect ourselves by any means necessary, and thats where the hysteria should have stopped. But we were told about anthrax, and gas, and somehow duct tape fit into the equation. We allowed our President to go above Congress and the UN and OK a war. And I'm not going to get into the war because those men and women are there doing what they feel is right. We all got duties to fulfill, and they are there because they dropped everything at a moments notice just in case their families were in danger and their freedoms were being violated.

What repulsed me is we didn't have more faith in ourselves. Did these actions exploit weaknesses within our society that needed to be addressed: yes. But as with everything, hysteria mounted and robbed us of our sanity and dignity. The founding fathers, though slave-owning as they were, still would never have stood for what happened. The people who died on Iwo Jima and Germany, or during the Revolutionary War seem to've died in vein, because we do not remember whence we came.

Theres a line that needs to be defined. We need to come to terms that at some point, we have to accept responsibility for our own actions. We've allowed every transgression in our names.

We bitch and moan about energy and gas prices. We've drained the world of oil, because it was there. Oil is a non-renewable source, yet there are people have the gall to still drive SUV's and bitch that it costs them nearly 100 dollars to fill up. Well, I live in Arizona. I don't know what rain, snow or clouds look like. The sun shines almost every single day. Same with Florida, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona to name a few. Why can't we you know...harvest that some how? Like...with solar panels.

Chicago is the WINDY City. Lets get some turbines in that mother fucker then. We have two huge oceans that churn every single second. Um, so...lets do something with that. These are renewable resources. They don't do any damage whatsoever to nature...because THEY ARE NATURE.

But the only answers I'm hearing are John McCain's cute little play on the Beach Boys song, "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb Iran." That scares the SHIT out of me.

Obama is no better. Neither are. At all.

We have to take care of ourselves before we decide we need to go save the world. Simple. We can't stop horrific things from happening, we can only prepare for them. That in no way entitles anyone to take a preemptive strike. We don't have that responsibility, or right. It IS important how the rest of the world views us.

America is a great place. It is, and thank God for that. Just like every other country, we've done things that we had no business doing, but what I feel is over looked is how often we reach out to the world when tragedy such and Natural disasters happens. But now we're paying for the sins of our fathers, and we have to work hard to differentiate ourselves from them.

What I would love to see one day, instead of cardboard signs and catchy slogans in protests, I would love to see everyone walk into the White House and take a painting or carpet. It's ours, we paid for it.

I would love to see Americans not vote one election year. As a form of silent protest. If no one is elected, then who wins? We do. A blood-less coup. A silent pimp slap to our Government thats refused to listen to the people who sign their checks and pat their backs. Who smell their shit, and smile and say, "You're absolutely right Senator, your shit...it just doesn't stink. Might I even say it has a hint of rosemary and pine?"

Last year my father, a life-long Republican, a 72 year old man who worked every day of his life, who has given me so much was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

At the time I lived in Albany, New York. He was diagnosed on his birthday, just over a year ago this month (August 9th). He also went through a re-constructive knee-surgery on his left knee, and issues with his right knee as well.

After having his re-constructive knee surgery, he immediately began radiation for his cancer. And for those of you who've not had the pleasure of watching the person you love and respect most suffer like that, let me tell you...it's not all that fun. Root canals and full-cavity searches are presumably more enjoyable.

And there would be nights where I would sit here at my computer, and he would struggle out into the living room, during the winter with the AC and fans on, and be sweating buckets. And he would sit in his chair, and even though it was obvious through his body language that he was in complete agony, he'd never complain.

One night though, I was sitting here and he came out. His face was beat red from the radiation, sweating profusely and eyes screaming in pain. He sat down in his chair in the darkness, and began to weep.

"It wasn't supposed to be this way", he said "I never wanted it to be this way."

And I told him cancer can happen to anyone. Anyone meaning that he's never smoked a day in his life, and has always been active.

"No. I worked every day of my life to have what small amount of things I have. I gave my blood, sweat and tears for everything I have, and now I have nearly nothing."

He's not a materialistic man. A year before this happened, my mother got into some legal problems that caused him to put leans on his vehicles he'd owned for the better part of five decades. The bank owns them now.

"I wanted more for you, and your mother. Here I sit, and I can't do anything about it, and I've never felt more worthless in my life. You come into this world naked and screaming...thats how you go out."

His HMO's wouldn't cover certain basic medical procedures he needed at the time. His disability checks decreased because he aged, and he was beginning to become a drain. Instead of Uncle Sam helping at all, a man who'd trusted his government to do so in his later years, he was shunned. He was made to feel worthless, because our citizens now have to work two to three jobs just to stay afloat somewhat. People who should be retired, and the President lauds this as something commendable. If you feel thats commendable, that an 83 year old diabetic woman would have to stand and greet door at the same Wal Mart that put her grocery store out of business, at 2 in the morning, and shes doing it so she can afford insulin...if you feel thats commendable, kill yourself. This shouldn't even be an issue. She did her time, he did his time. They don't need to work until they die, they've earned a few fucking days off.

And I watch the spirit begin to weaken.

All the while the President stood in front of seniors, and pledged support to a bill that would help lighten the financial load on their medication. Ed never saw an amount of relief from that.

One day in the mail we received fifteen pamphlets on "what to do with your deceased". Where to bury, how to do all of this shit. And instead of that killing him, he made the subtle move of changing his political affiliation to independent.

I'm proud to say he's nearly cancer free. His knees are stronger than ever. He walks easier, and works just as hard as he did sixty years ago. He still loves his country, but now calls bullshit openly when it's present. And thats not to say he never did, but in terms of what we're told in 'patriotism', he held his tongue and worked harder within his community to make things better for his neighbors. He still does that, but now he's adamant in raising his voice as loud as he can when a spade isn't even a spade.

We aren't red or blue states anymore. Thats their term for us. We're mixed. When you mix those colors, we're all purple. We're all bruised, and it's time to fight back.

God won't talk to me, my congressman won't talk to me, my mayor won't talk to me. I'm guessing it might be the same for you. So maybe it's time we talked amongst ourselves. Find common ground, and not focus on push-button topics. We all love our families (for the most part). Thats something every citizen in the world can agree on, pretty much. We all want to strive to be better people, be healthy, take care of what needs to be taken care of and enjoy life to the fullest extent we can.

So change? Yes we can. And it starts with us saying, "Fuck you Barrack Obama. Fuck you, John McCain." First Amendment. Exercise it.


The Devil Owns a Flat in Leeds.

A little pre-face here: I'm drunk. So lets do this shit.

So, as some of you may or may not know, I also moonlight over at an online magazine called Racket Magazine. I don't get paid, because I barely do anything as it is. In fact, to be quite honest, theres about five to ten things I could be doing right now. But, instead of having any semblance of professionalism in my lazy body, I'd rather sit on the Punk News boards all night, while drinking piss-warm wine, and proclaiming: "I want to throw a wine bottle at Thom Yorke's fucking face. Radiohead sounds like a retarded wolf howling over the back drop of synthesizers and late 1980's Macintosh computer blips."

If someone reads this, and has connections to that smash-faced fuck, Thom Yorke, please inform him that Aaron Hale of Racket Magazine/Piss and Vinegar fame would like to challenge him to a knife fight.

Something about him just gets my blood a'boilin. Maybe it's the simple fact that they haven't ever made anything that didn't immediately make me search for something sharp to shove into my larynx. What gets me further is that people continuously claim to give a shit about them. Seriously, I think it's okay to stop pretending now. If you wanna latch onto the teats of something "cool", and "different, man" why not go scope out Broken Social Scene? Shit, maybe they'd come to Arizona for once.

But thats entirely whats wrong with the music industry as a whole today, anyways. It's the same reason why a band can't even afford gas while on tour.

Last year Radiohead made a big splash by announcing a "label-free, pay what you want album", titled "In Rainbows". However, a month later announced the project was a "success" and would be releasing the album on a major label.

They play both sides of the fence, and you can't do that with life. Try working your desk job, right? Say you work at a company that sells insurance. Say you have a falling out with your boss, and you decide to take on some people and "insure them" on your own.

All these major insurance companies catch wind, when people, customers, start signing up with Joe Schlomo's "Protectitall". His catch is, pay what you want.

It becomes a big success, Schlomo's venture. People sign up. Some pay a penny, because their wisenheimers, and some pay a legit amount of 20, or so a month.

But you begin to trust Schlomo. He's a good dude, and all. He used to work for the man, now he knows how it all works. In his commercials, he even talks about how he got tired of seeing people so easily denied. "We all need health care" says Schlomo, "after all, this is America."

After a year, Schlomo sells your deal to a bigger HMO.

So while the context and it's presentation to you may be the same, the principle of the whole matter is ruined.

See, this is whats wrong with music. While the labels themselves, the "Big Four" are the face of Evil, whats behind the mask is a little bit more disgusting. Because it's me. It's you. It's the consumer.

Let me back up. Let's break it down. "Consumer". The base word is "consume". We all know what that means (unless you somehow don't. Then I'd advise you to find a tree, some rope, and play reverse neck-tie.) But the Western Civilization, we're not creatures of necessity. Necessity meaning eat, drink, shit, sleep.

We need the big screens, fancy cars, nice houses. Thats what we think we need. We WANT those things, truth be told. I don't know anyone who needed a Mazarati, or their lungs would collapse.

So we throw so much money into the music business, the entertainment industry. Everything. And look, art IS important, but it shouldn't be on the level of being sold to you as a Pepsi product. It just shouldn't. It's about expression, passion, and everything else. I'm not against a person making money from their craft, not at all. I'm against someone making money off someone else's craft.

James Brown died while still being an active performer. "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business." Working, business...a singular individual, in essence.

The populous doesn't give three shits about the "industry". They buy what makes them dance, laugh, or get away from home. Thats about the extent that people really care. Theres money to be made, and somewhere along the lines, 20 dollars for CD seemed okay. Somewhere along the line, 50 dollars was alright for a concert ticket price. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that people would pay these prices if there was a nice sheen to everything.

People just don't look into the depth of structure. Why? Circular logic. The same reason you pay 20 for a CD, or 99 cents for a singular track on iTunes, or 50 dollars to see U2 at Madison Square Garden: Bills to pay, jobs to work, families to support. Who has time for something so petty.

But we no longer have time for anything that doesn't fit in those food groups. We're too involved with the gays getting hitched. Those goddamned illegals taking our jobs. Gas prices sky rocketing. Push-button issues that distract us from things that, you know, maybe we should pay attention too.

Then along comes Radiohead. The savvy band, the "intellectuals favorite." They do something, like, totally different, man. They drop their label. One of the biggest bands in the world is label-less, and decide, "You know what? Fuck the man!" and lo and behold, heres an album that you can pay whatever money for. We don't care. It's about the ART, not the imprint on the back.

A month later they turn around, and release it on a major because, "In Rainbows is a classic album, and deserves to be delivered to the masses."

Mass consumption.

So what happened? They pulled the biggest publicity stunt that went unrecognized, because they dared to fight the evils of corporate rock structure. They gained credibility, and they garnered a pretense of authenticity with the rock critics and music nerds. The thing is, the credibility they gained was from critics who write for Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Spin, etc. Each, and every one of those publications are sponsored by corporate funding. So who are they appealing too? A bunch of people that talk the talk, and cash the checks of those whom allow them to diverge from the beaten path long enough.

Rolling Stone gave "In Rainbows" four and half stars out of a possible five. But where I call bullshit shenanigans is that Radiohead got people talking again. They pulled a two part ploy, and made a bundle of money doing so.

By releasing an album "label-less", they made that money directly. In doing so, they got people talking about a band thats shelf life seems to never go away. 22 years they've been making shitty music, and people have been engrossed by it forever. Whatever, I might not be meant to get it. But getting people to talk again gets people interested in buying your product once again. That many people buying an album without this image of a label backing them, well that just means the attention is grabbed by a label again. Big sign on bonus.

For years, all I've ever known is that a band doesn't make money off an album. They make it off of touring. It's why some bands never come off the road. It's why the Rolling Stones have been on a farewell tour ever since Brian Jones croaked. The money is in the merch, and ticket prices. With a rejuvenated interest in your band again, you basically sell tickets to your show to people who might not know that much about your band outside of, well...your Radiohead.

So the consumers bought into it. Consume, consume, consume.

Consume: A verb used with object - 1. To destroy or expend by use; use up.

We're using up the music industry. With each torrent download, with each burned CD, with each ringtone and Mp3.

Radiohead's ploy was successful in pushing units. Selling tickets. There wasn't any art there to speak of. Avant-garde and abstract can only go so far before it becomes apparent that it's just covering up lack of tangible ideas.

It'd be like me using emoticons every other sentence to display my emotions properly. I'm angry now, grrr, >:|. Now, I'm like, happy, yay! :). Oh man, I'm so coy, like whoa, :P. Now I'm sad :'(. And now I'm on par with Radiohead's output.

Radiohead aren't alone in this, either. I mean, I wound up covering the Warped Tour in Carson, California. The final date of the 2008 tour, August 17th. Angels and Airwaves, fucking Katy Perry, Say Anything (and I wound up meeting Mr. Max Bemis. Read "What To Wear While Swimming With Sharks.") and all these other bands that just map out their "chaos" prior to them stepping on stage. Image is so fucking important to everybody, and it's fucking disgusting. It's fucking disgusting when a band tries to do it non-nonchalantly, and present this image of creativity and spontaneity.

How much longer do we have to re-live the fucking 80's? I was alive in the 80's. Guess what, it sucked then and it sure as fuck sucks now. We have bands wearing make up and, hair coiffed so perfectly askew. Girls jeans, white belts, sing/scream falsetto's. I can't fucking take that anymore. Aren't there just average fucking people anymore? At all? What happened to t-shirt, jeans, and just living in the moment. I know for a FACT most of these bands spend hours putting their faces on before they step out on stage.

And whats the difference? I know it's about what the music is, not what they wear. I know that, inherently, but the thing is...I know most of the youth today don't. And yeah, punks are just as guilty with their mohawks, and safety pins. Sid Vicious is dead, mother fuckers. Let it fucking go. For God's sake.

But it should be about what they play. The thing is, they all play the same fucking song. Whats the difference between Bullet For My Valentine, and As I Lay Dying? The only obvious answer is that one of the members from As I Lay Dying should be the drummer for Bullet For My Valentines actual Valentine, and bullet should have been delivered. And that person should be laying there, dying. How dare they disgrace William Faulkner's classic like that.

But what's the fucking difference? They all sound the fucking same. I cannot tell the difference between Panic! At The Disco's first album, and ANYTHING that Fall Out Boy have done. I can't. I only know the one defining thing is that Pete Wentz is tagging Ashley Simpson. Thats all. And I shouldn't even fucking know that.

But we buy into it, and instead of over-indulging, we gorge and gorge. We consume until there is nothing left. Against Me once said in their song, "Don't Lose Touch":

"Constant entertainment for our restless minds, constant stimulation for epic appetites. Is there something wrong with these songs? Maybe theres something wrong with the audience. Manipulation in rock music; fucking nausea."

With every wrong, there are some rights. Being on the big stage, a major label isn't a bad thing, necessarily. You have to have your integrity intact, and there are bands like that. Against Me! being one of them. Rise Against, etc. The Clash, Ramones...they were on major labels. They changed the landscape of music all together, and so will those former bands when it's all said and done. I have no doubt one day, if I'm lucky enough to find a girl thats willing to procreate with me, that when that kid is 20, he or she will reference those bands like my generation references the Clash, and the Ramones.

If the music industry, the "Big Four" collapsed tomorrow, I don't think many bands would exist. I doubt we'd see a Radiohead anymore, I doubt we'd see a Linkin Park or even 99.9999 percent of mainstream rap/hip-hop. But I do know that if it did, we'd still see Against Me, Rise Against, Alkaline Trio out on the road 280 days out of the year. They'd still make music, regardless of who puts it out. Because thats all a major label is: A company with distribution capabilities. It's own distribution capabilities. By that standard popular "indie" labels likes Epitaph, Vagrant and Saddle Creek (to name a select few) all qualify as major labels. Epitaph, especially. As much as it pains me to say this, Brett Gurewitz may in fact be the anti-Christ.

But if the industry collapsed, I think Radiohead would "gracefully bow out. Citing 22 years, countless platinum albums, world tours and throngs of fans as reason enough to say, "there isn't anything else left to accomplish". I.E = No one signing us royalty checks anymore, we don't care.

Maybe they did try to revolutionize things, though. Radiohead, I mean. After all, Nine Inch Nails set the gold standard for releasing albums on their own. Trent Reznor has made MILLIONS in doing so. But Trent is also disgruntled with the musical landscape as well, and actually has credibility. He's pretty much done what he's wanted too since day one.

But maybe Radiohead got scared, when people weren't paying for their product. Maybe Thom Yorke had to switch to wiping his ass with 50 dollar bills, instead of 100's. Maybe the money fights starting seeing casualties when quarters got thrown in the mix (I know they are British, and their money probably is too, but I don't know the money structure across the pond. I Americanized it. Suck it.) Maybe they looked at their bank statements, and saw that their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grand children may have to work at McDonald's while going to college. Who knows. But the tact isn't there with them. They crumbled in less than a month when the money was right.

We totally bought in, too.


Through the Trees (Rest in Peace).

Part of what influences me (almost as much as literature) is music. I'm pretty sure that isn't exactly a ground breaking revelation, but the crux of what I'm getting at is that throughout my life I've always had a problem finding my place. Where do I fit in? Did I ever fit in? Was it actually at all important that I fit in? Why did I ever actually feel that need to find social acceptance?

It's something we all go through, and it's kind of funny how we all find ourselves ten years down the line. For many of us, the problem somehow just seems to slip from mind. We find our core group of friends, or something just tickles our fancy in such a way that that in itself becomes our identity.

We might get lose touch though, with ourselves and whom we once were. When I was in Elementary School, I seem pre-destined for the society of the wallflowers. I got good grades, and I kept pretty much to myself. My friends were books, and I spent recess in one of two places: either in a quiet corner in the Library, or on the basketball courts playing ball.

I had a few friends, but the area that I grew up in, Eloy/Toltec, Arizona (we considered it Toltec, although technically it would be considered Eloy. The difference was in Toltec it was much quieter, and crime was much less of an issue.) But the school I went to, Toltec Elementary, consisted primarily of Eloy residents. Why is that an issue?

Well, I was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My mother is white, and my father was an illegal alien from Mexico. Flash forward to a time and place where we are living in Eloy.

In Eloy, the minority is Caucasian. And you know what, I just don't give a swirling shit about race. The whole god damned thing is so minute and fractured, it really has no place as a measuring stick. But the truth of the matter is, not many people share that view that I have. And back then, many people were explicit about their opinions of my mixed ethnicity's.

I would get beat up when I went to the bathroom by Hispanic kids because I wasn't Latino enough. At every turn of the corner, the white kids would mock me and my parents (I have a step father who is a tremendous and inspirational man.). Several times when I would have classes in that Library, I would go to the bathroom and come back to my seat and sit down, and some prank would be pulled.

One time this kid, Joey Wozney stuck a sewing needle in the cushion of my chair. The thing is the chairs were navy blue, and seeing the pin was just nearly impossible. When I sat down, the pin went so deep into my right ass cheek that it actually got embedded into the bone. I had to go to the hospital, and it took needle nosed pliers, and five stitches.

So why did I strive so hard to fit in with these kids? These same kids that pulled those humorous larfs I also bent over backwards to try and appease. I would try so hard to befriend them, and I still cannot understand why.

One day I, in 1994 I discovered this album, "Dookie" by this then up-and-coming Green Day. During the time, people were still staring at their shoes, revelling in their grunge-y haze, and hating lives.

Dookie went on to sell over 10 million copies. It brought punk rock to the mainstream attention once again, with such a bullet point that hadn't been seen since the heyday of the Clash. It was brash, snotty, it had an attitude, and some how it was just dug at the emotion that most people have buried deep within them: angst, nihilism. A "FUCK YOU" from deep down in them guts.

Revolutionary. It was a sonic invasion, and an aural salvation. It began my life long love. It was a gateway drug to something so pure, I could never top that with any substance or chemical (and I love substances and chemicals.) For once I was lost...and at the tender age of 9, I was found.

And these other amazing albums I discovered through Green Day's "Dookie", that were so very influential on who I've become: Green Day's "Insomniac", Smoking Popes, "Destination Failure", Rancid's "Life Won't Wait" and "...And Out Come the Wolves", and Jawbreakers, "Dear You".

And as I grew and progressed with punk rock music, and music as a whole, so many other albums stuck with me: AFI's "Sing the Sorrow", through "Alkaline Trio's "Good Mourning".

And of course, my favorite album of all time: Alkaline Trio's, "From Here to Infirmary". Not only did this album effect me in a way that no other album had since Dookie, but this album came at a time in my life when I was entering high school. When everything I had become accustomed to had begun to change. The lyrics dealt with feelings I was just discovering, and making sense of ones I'd given up on ever trying to decipher.

Punk rock has saved my life. It's given me a voice I never would have realized in a small town, in a community that has one of the Nations highest rates for teen pregnancy, and meth addiction. A small town that people never seem to leave, and everyone knows everyone. Where you will live, and where you will die.

So why are these albums important? Each one of those albums, while they were extremely pivotal to my cultural DNA, helping me forge forward and identifying a purpose in my life: to write.

But why are these albums important? Well, it's not much whats within those tracks, but what they all have in common.

On August 12th, 2008 Jerry Finn passed away after being taken off of life support. He suffered a massive brain hemorrhage in July 2008.

He showed little signs of improvement during the 31 days of being on life support. For the rest of his life, he would have lived as a vegetable.

What those albums shared in common is that, in some way, Jerry Finn had some hand in their conception and sound and how they eventually turned out. He had an ear for capturing a sound most big name producers and mixers couldn't even fathom.

I always felt he had so much of a heavy hand in how pop-punk/alternative rock garnered attention in the mainstream, and I feel he was somehow always over looked.

Make no mistake about it: in an age where fashion is everything in music, and substance is so hard to find, Finn's resume always reflected that of a man who RESPECTED an area of music that is always over looked and constantly forgotten, at least until it becomes viable for consumption once again.

For Jerry Finn's friends, and his family I express nothing but good thoughts and well wishes. The man had such a hand in how I have come to view life, and how I've grown to become comfortable and okay with life. From Here to Infirmary flat out saved my life.

Thank you, Jerry Finn. While it couldn't have happened without the talent of those artists, the outsider perspective you gave helped those idea's and ambitions reach a whole new level. Many of the records you touched turned into classics, and for a bigger name producer to consistently work with smaller independent artists, to notice their potential instead of just jumping on whatever fad was happening at the time: be it rap/nu-metal, pop music, eyeliner core...you stuck with what you so obviously respected. And for that, I respect you.

What makes this equally tragic is that in this day and age, not many share that vision and passion you had. More or less, it's JUST about the money, it's JUST about getting in and out before you fall-out.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. THANK YOU!

I hope you're at peace, Jerry. I hope you don't hurt, and I hope wherever you are, you can at least listen to the music you love.

Jerry Finn (1970-2008).


What To Wear When Swimming With Sharks.

The past week has been quite an interesting one. In the sea's and depths of the almighty interwebz, yet another feud was born, on (shockingly!) a message board.

The only difference this time is it was spurned on by a rock star who got his panties in a twist over a few people's popular opinion.

Max Bemis, lead singer/residentl crazy-man for pop-rock band, Say Anything
recently came up with an interesting concept to become a bit more interactive with their fans. The idea was too create custom songs for fans. To be quite honest, the idea is actually kind of cool in my opinion. But when reading further into the promotion, it kind of becomes apparent that this is a band that, to be honest, may just be out of ideas.

To give you the cliff notes of the custom song promotion, it's basically this: The band Say Anything will write a song about the purchaser, for the hefty sum of $150.00 (USD) The song is for personal enjoyment, which is understandable, except when reading further you discover that the band maintains the rights to the song allowing them to release the song for commercial use at a later date. Basically, the purchaser is doing the job of the band, while paying a nominal fee, with the band retaining the option to release the song to make money off of at a later date.

Imagine if you will, you're coming home from the Airport. You might be a little jet lagged, and maybe you got in on a red-eye flight. Instead of bothering one of your friends to pick you up at 2am, you decide to drop the money on a taxi cab home.

So the taxi is waiting for, and the guy, lets call him Little Jeffy. Little Jeffy (he might be short. Have you seen Taxi drivers at night? Not exactly Brad Pitts, or Yao Mings.) Little Jeffy helps you with your bags into the trunk, and begins the long trek home. About fifteen minutes later, Little Jeffy pulls into a gas station, and keeps the meter running.

He gets out, and goes to reach for his AmEx, but realizes he left his wallet in his locker at the station.

"Hey, buddy...bad news. I don't have enough gas to get you home" Little Jeffy informs you, "Would you happen to have some money I can use to fuel up?" Well, Hell, it's been a long trip. You just wanna get home. You get out of the car, swipe your Visa. After swiping the card, you realize Little Jeffy went inside to take a deuce, and get some twizzlers and a Rockstar.

"Fuck." you think, and just pump the gas yourself. Gas is $3.80 a gallon, and sixty dollars and 24 gallons later, the tank is filled. You get back in the car, and rest your eyes, until you notice that the meter is still running.

A few minutes later, Little Jeffy returns, and says "Hey bro, um, I wouldn't feel right about this if I get pulled over with you in the car. It might make this whole venture that much longer. Would you mind driving the rest of the way home? "Why not?" you say, and get in the drivers seat. The rest of the ride home, you and Little Jeffy talk about your families, and maybe even the Cubs. Maybe this year is their year, right? He shares some twizzlers, and you start to think Little Jeffy isn't so bad. Maybe even might want to invite him out for a beer sometime, you know?

Finally, after a forty minute drive your home. Little Jeffy helps you get your bags out of the trunk, and says it was nice to meet you. He deducts twenty bucks from the meter, and your total comes too (including the sixty dollars for gas) 150.00 dollars.

You get inside, and realize that you just paid Little Jeffy to do his job for him, and gave him the ability to use that gas you bought him to make more money that night.

It's understandable you might want to chase after Little Jeffy, but he's peeled off into the night, and all thats left are skid marks in the drive way, and the faint sound of him cackling into the distance.

Max Bemis is Little Jeffy.

So when PunkNews broke the story of Say Anythings' Custom Song Promotion, many of the users too um bridge with the 150.00 price tag, with many people feeling that the customers would be 'doing the bands job'.

Below are some particularly interesting (unedited) comments made:

capitalism at its finest. ugh." by user listofdemands.

"How about you just mail me the $150, I'll shit in a coffee-can and mail it back to you priority. You'll get as much joy out of it, I promise." by user baldsteve.

"Sell Anything." by user AndyP.

"Why should fans assume they'll get anything worth listening too for $150?
I'm sure their record advance was more than $150 a song and that just managed to create a double album of shit. For $150 I would imagine you'd get little more than Max banging on a table top and reading the description you wrote." by user Dante3000.

While opinions are as rampant as assholes on parade on the internet, what happened next was some what unbelievable in my opinion.

Max Bemis became enraged. Enough so to construct a poorly written 'fuck-off' message aimed solely at the PunkNews community, with "rival" site, AbsolutePunk.

"...another thing that actually OFFENDS me, which is hard to to these days, are the people who are pissed that musicians make money. the strange, slow, old people on punknews.org and the few annoying stragglers on this website. people who care about us understand this obvious fact: touring all year and being away from our loved ones, sweating our hearts out onstage and living a weird freaking life may not mean we all have to be millionaires, but it's a job that deserves SOME financial compensation, like any other..."

Throughout his tampon-tirade, he vehemently claims that he could be in a boy band, to take the easy way out and start a boy band. He even goes as far as to suggest the users of an INTERNET message board meet a horrid end.

If you're an artist, you cannot look at negative connotations made towards your output. There will always, always be someone there to take shots at you. At what point, Bemis, do you actually not only gain confidence with yourself, but actually grow the fuck up enough not to let a few words get you all pissy? You're a rock star, touring the world and making enough to survive on. Thats almost completely unheard of in a time when most independent bands can't even fucking afford to go out on tour, because the gas prices are so obscene. Do hear them bitching and moaning about, "oh so-and-so said we suck turds on the internet"? No, you see them doing as much as they can, giving as much as they can to people, in hopes of reaching a broader audience, and maybe even getting to the level that Say Anything has reached.

For God's sake, I'd love to one day get to the point where people are trashing me on the internet, because that at least means I'm doing something right along the way.

The thing is, while I might be a user of PunkNews, I also do realize at times a lot of the comments made are quite unnecessary, but thats just the nature of things. And don't get me wrong, I actually liked Say Anythings' previous effort, "...Is a Real Boy."

But when you can willingly justify charging your own fans, who've bought your records, merch, went to your shows and sang along to your lyrics, when you can justify in your own mind charging them 150.00 for a singular song thats about them, it reeks of several things. It reeks of desperation, it's reeks of pandering to the narcissistic side of young suburban kids who have maybe only a passing interest in music.

It feels completely disingenuous as well, when you can angle your "artistic vision" and force it to produce nothing short of a product. Music is completely different than other forms of art, in that it's supposed to come from the heart and soul. It's supposed to be fueled by passion, and desire. A esoteric induction of your inner-most feelings, laid bare in front of whomever may, or may not listen.

To put it in perspective, 150.00 can buy a 4gb iPod nano that can hold 1,000 songs.

The other problem I feel is evident with Bemis' complaint towards a message board, is that he comes off extremely pretentious, and arrogant. I do feel he has the right to defend his actions, but it's the way he went about the entire thing.

At what point do you grow a fucking pair, and take the high road? At what point do you just shrug it off, laugh about it, and keep doing what you feel is best for you?

"In Defense of the Genre" (Say Anythings' most recent effort) seemed lacking whole-heartedly. It felt plagued by a lack of ideas, and went on completely too long. While there were some decent efforts, the entire album seemed to reflect a drained mood from Bemis. After his recent controversial jabs, it only paints the picture with more texture that this is a man, and a band that have no idea what they are doing anymore.

Maybe they got too much too quickly. It's been heavily documented that Max has had his bouts with mental illness, and I think it's just taken an irreparable toll on his bands' future.

You can't force something that has to come naturally. You just fucking can't. When you attempt to do, you become the veritable whore and loose all credibility. And Bemix, to be perfectly fucking honest with you, the kids are always gonna be able to sniff of something phony and fake.

Maybe it's time to hit the showers, buddy.