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Sexuality and politics signaled through ‘coded clothing’


BDSM emblem dress shirt from ThirdHex Coded Clothing.
 
ThirdHex Coded Clothing, a small fashion startup selling through Etsy, produces snazzy black dress shirts with small embroidered logos, not of its own brand, but of icons representing concepts such as anti-fascism, polyamory, BDSM, and vegetarianism.

Currently, the shop offers only eight designs, which are mostly geared toward the fetish community, left-wing politicos, and gamers. What originally fascinated me about the shop was the concept of “coding” through clothing. American consumers are used to seeing brand logos stitched onto dress shirts, but logos for concepts and fandoms communicate so much more than “I can afford a Chemise Lacoste.”

As a teenager when I was dressing in the absolute punkest way possible, I don’t know if it ever occurred to me that one of the reasons was to signal to other “punks” that I was one of them. It’s remarkable to think back about how I could go to a new town and instantly figure out who was “cool” (or “not cool”) just based on what kinds of t-shirts or shoes they wore. For better or for worse, the t-shirt has become the most common identifier people use to signal “where their heads are at.”

ThirdHex Coded Clothing owner, Christopher Kaminski’s seller-statement on his Etsy page resonated with me as an adult who doesn’t find band t-shirts appropriate wear for every occasion:

At the age of 18, I joined the Air Force and found myself without friends that shared interests. I quickly realized the value of having t-shirts that expressed my interests in topics like 80s goth bands to find like minded friends. Since then I’ve strongly used t-shirts to socially code through every major move but as I entered my 30’s I found my style to be incompatible with t-shirts.

When I moved again in my mid 40’s I found myself completely uninterested in t-shirts but wanted some way to still socially code. ThirdHex Coded Clothing was born out of that need.

I ordered a ThirdHex shirt with the “Antifascist Circle,” based on the symbol of the Iron Front, a few weeks ago. I found the product to be high quality and spiffy-looking when worn.

I talked briefly to ThirdHex owner, Christopher Kaminski about the concept of coded clothing.

Aside from appreciating the crisp aesthetic simplicity of the shirts and logos, what really struck me about your shop was your mission statement, in particular, the use of the word “coding” which really breaks down the intent behind a lot of folks’ fashion choices.

ThirdHex: Look at the people around you, really look. They’re all using accessories, grooming styles, colors, body language and more to passively communicate with you, some do it with more intent than others. This is social coding.  Ever drive behind a car with cool bumper stickers and think that they would be cool people to know? I know I have.

How did you first hatch the concept for the store?

TH: The concept didn’t hatch as a store, it started with personal use. I have a closet of t-shirts that I think I look sloppy in. I wanted to communicate with others in a more fashionable way. After I modified a couple of pieces for myself, I realized I was not the only one that would want this.

My favorites of your designs are the ones related to sexuality and politics, but my guess would be that the “nerdier” gamer designs are a hit. There’s something appealing about being an adult and dressing like an adult but still being able to signal in that way. I like the idea of a 40-year-old wearing a dress shirt with a D20 on it over a tacky XXXL all-over-print t-shirt made for teenagers. 

TH: The wives and partners of men that wear t-shirts all the time seem to agree with your statement. My customers aren’t always the end users of the shirts! More nerdy designs are on their way!

When you came up with this concept, did you envision these shirts being “daily wear” or more for conventions, events, and rallies?

TH: Daily wear, but both of course. It’s easy to find people with similar tastes or ideas at conventions. My designs are intended to help you find your community of people outside of those spaces.

Have you taken any inspiration from “hanky codes”?

TH: Not really, although the ideas are similar. I mostly took inspiration from brand advertising. Brands themselves are coded through advertisements. Advertisements sell an experience and attach a brand to it. Wearing that brand tells other people you like that advertised experience. I am simplifying the communication process and targeting peoples passions.

Finally, are there any plans to add women’s styles or (though I personally have no problem with all black everything) alternate shirt colors? Also, any thoughts on future designs?

TH: I do have a business plan that includes both eventually but add sizes to that mix and you end up with a crazy amount of inventory. It’s going to take some time and a big investment to get there. However, new stitch designs will roll out every month. 

ThirdHex Coded Clothing’s website is at Thirdhex.com.


Anti-fascist circle emblem
 

D20 gamer shirt
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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07.28.2017
09:54 am
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How Trump is using LGBTQ people as pawns in a numbers game to consolidate power
07.27.2017
12:44 pm
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So this week, the Trump administration, already in the midst of an ongoing assault on the horrific-to-Republicans spectre of normal people getting to go to see doctors AND an effort to turn the Boy Scouts into the Trumpenjugend, staged a two-pronged official offensive against sexual and gender minorities.

Our tweet-happy president, all by himself, without alerting the Pentagon to the policy change or offering the Department of Defense anything resembling an implementation plan, informed the world that transgender soldiers would no longer be permitted to serve in the US armed forces. Then, hours later, the Department of Justice, directed by the increasingly beleaguered Attorney General/fucking evil elf Jeff Sessions, submitted a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit stating that the Civil Rights Act did not apply to LGBTQ Americans.

That’s right—at a time when we’re supposedly locked into an epochal clash of civilizations against brown foreigners, people SO INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS that society must protect itself at all costs from letting them take a shit at the department store evidently aren’t fit to be trained to kill brown foreigners.

You KNOW what they’re doing, right? I mean aside from being toxic, spiteful, nasty, bigoted, chauvinistic pigfuckers who wield social privilege as a weapon; we’re used to them doing all that. This is different. This isn’t just hateful, this is tactical. They’re prepping to turn the midterms into an equality showdown so it won’t be a referendum on Trump. GOP mouthbreathers will be out in force telling voters “Look, those out-of-touch elitist Democrats are letting our fine fighting forces be overrun by trannies! They care more about protecting fags’ jobs than they care about protecting YOUR jobs!”

This is almost certain to work. It already happened in recent memory, when they used a handful of statewide marriage equality initiatives to mobilize a national troglodyte voter base against John Kerry. Just wait and see if I’m wrong. Hell, someone in the know already admitted it. Click for a more readable enlargement:
 

 
These scumbags are 100% on-script right now, and the Dems are fucked: if they do the right thing and stand for equality, they’re taking the bait. If they recognize this as bait and join the GOP in throwing sexual and gender minorities under the bus to keep the focus on Trump’s unyielding streak of outrages, then they will have not just thrown vulnerable sexual and gender minorities under the bus, but done so for electoral reasons, which DUH is fucking double-evil, AND they will have depressed their own voter turnout due to being no different than the Republicans on an issue as existentially significant as human rights.

Gerrymandering and racist voter ID laws that are definitely going to go national ASAFuckingP (the architect of Kansas’ SAFE Act has been appointed to Mike Pence’s farcical Commission on Election Integrity) will take care of the rest, and boom, midterm sweep, the Republicans retain or increase their majority in both houses, and the fascist takeover of the USA has an electoral “mandate.”

THIS is why they have governed and will continue to govern from a national electoral minority for decades to come: they know how to play these numbers games and they’re Machiavellian enough to handwave any pearl-clutching about “democracy” or “norms.” And the milquetoast DNC centrists who inexplicably STILL run the show in that utterly debased excuse for a national political party still think there’s intrinsic value in “taking the high road” and in playing the legislative chambers’ ineffectual rules-of-order parlor games. There is not. The vaunted “high road” has all too often been their road to defeat. The intrinsic value in being in government is in being the people who actually get to make the laws. The DNC’s failure to see the reality that’s repeatedly smacked them in the face has ceded those privileges to authoritarian monsters for the foreseeable future, while the people they’ve failed are left to gaze upon Trump’s works and despair.

I don’t pretend to know what needs to be done, but doing what we’re used to doing won’t accomplish shit while the corridors of power are overrun, and I sure don’t expect institutions to help. The idea that Speaker of the House/other evil elf Paul Ryan will move to impeach before mid-terms (if at all, ever) is laughable, and forget about treason charges. Horseshoe theory-poisoned major media have already been dutifully demonizing Antifa—what do you expect happens when the people who put their personal safety on the line to oppose fascism are summarily demonized while actual genocide fanboys are greeted with “let’s hear what they have to say before we go condemning them?” What gets normalized, then?

At anti-Trump demonstrations, police conspicuously opt to protect racists and fascists over the assembled masses of protesters who’re demonstrating precisely because they’re terrified of racist and fascist encroachment. The barbarians are at the gates not because they’re preparing to crash them but because they’re the gatekeepers. Something to think about while you’re making your 10,000th phone call to a disinterested Republican Senator to express your strongly-worded displeasure into the voicemail s/he doesn’t listen to. Vive la resistance.
 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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07.27.2017
12:44 pm
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She f*cking deserved this! Onion devastatingly calls out Senator on healthcare vote AND SAYS IT ALL


 
Like many of you reading this sentence, I have spent nearly 100% of my waking hours so far this year feeling like I wanted to run out into the middle of a cornfield and scream my fucking head off as loudly as possible until I passed out from exhaustion or simply got bored of this activity and decided to stop. (Never underestimate the cathartic value of DIY primal scream therapy in Donald Trump’s America. If it worked for John and Yoko and it can work for you, too.)

But yesterday and today, the Senate votes on repealing the ACA has left me feeling especially sickened, angry and utterly drained. My hatred for “them” has grown by leaps and bounds. From Donald Shit’s remarkably idiotic “Obamacare is death” rant to watching John McCain vote, not once but twice, to revoke poor people’s ability to fight back against cancer, it’s all just gotten so goddamned nauseating. So grotesque. A brain-addled billionaire bully who doesn’t even know the difference between health insurance and life insurance who wants to upend 20% of the American economy and mess with people’s lives because he hates the superior black man who preceded him in office. Trump doesn’t even know what health insurance IS. Not even in the most general sense. But it’s named after the black guy, so… Sorry sick people!
 

#donaldshit

I mean my Twitter feed zaps me of much of my will to carry on. I’m glad I don’t bother much with Facebook, I’d have given up a long time ago.

But having said all that, I read something on The Onion just now that made me LOL and smile again in my heart. I didn’t think that was possible anymore.

An item, appearing sans the byline of the satirical genius who wrote it, takes aim at West Virginia’s GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito who only a week ago forcefully rebuked her party’s plans to repeal the ACA without a backup plan:

“As I have said before, I did not come to Washington to hurt people. For months, I have expressed reservations about the direction of the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. My position on this issue is driven by its impact on West Virginians. With that in mind, I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.”

Despite this “brave” statement—some Republicans just LOVE to get brave before they cave—we all know how she actually voted. Which is why this Onion item is such a perfectly cut diamond of truly incendiary political satire served with such a heaping helping of “fuck you, lady”:

WASHINGTON—As legislators gathered Tuesday for a critical vote that would go a long way toward finally repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) was reportedly struggling to weigh the interests of her entire constituency against absolutely nothing. “Honestly, it’s a tough call—on one hand, you have opposition to the repeal from a majority of Republicans, virtually all Democrats, and the entire healthcare industry, while on the other, you have not one sound argument or credible opinion,” said Capito, admitting she was, even now, having difficulty balancing her desire to keep as many West Virginians insured as possible with there being no reason whatsoever to do otherwise. “This is an agonizing decision. Sure, there are sound justifications for voting no on ‘repeal and replace,’ but then there’s emptiness, literal emptiness, when you look for reasons to vote yes. All I know is, I have to get this right somehow.” At press time, Senator Capito had resigned herself to the fact that both sides had valid points and she would just have to go with her gut when the time came.

Standing ovation to the uncredited author of this, one of the single most impressive paragraphs ever composed in the English language, I reckon.

If you know someone from West Virginia, be sure to send this to them or post it on their Facebook wall (especially the Republicans, it will go right over their pointed lil’ heads). And if you feel like tweeting it at Shelley Moore Capito just to make triple sure that she’s seen it, have at it, her Twitter handle is @SenCapito

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.26.2017
02:18 pm
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There are Donald Trump condoms… for when you’re getting screwed
07.24.2017
10:18 am
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Buy a pack of three for $13.75 here.
 
I don’t know why there are Donald Trump novelty condoms, but there are, and here I am blogging about them. They exist and that’s just #sad, in my opinion. I don’t know how trustworthy these condoms are. Trump condoms? Nacho’s face hardly inspires confidence in such a crucially important product. I’d use them with extreme caution. I certainly doubt that they’re made in the U.S.A. if they’ve got his ugly mug on the packaging.

If you were about to fuck someone and he pulled out his Donald Trump novelty condoms, ask yourself seriously if you really want to go through with this? How important is your dignity to you, anyway?

Believe or not, there are several manufacturers of Trump jimmy hats. I’ve posted where to buy them underneath the images.


Get it here for $5.95.
 

Get it here for $5.95.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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07.24.2017
10:18 am
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Former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain’s strange obsession with ‘Twin Peaks’


A tweet from former presidential candidate Herman Cain’s official Twitter page from Monday, July 17th, 2017.
 
A friend of mine hipped me to the weird tweets coming from idiotic 2012 presidential candidate and Fox News “personality” Herman Cain. It appears that over the last five or so days Cain has been tweeting images from David Lynch’s television series Twin Peaks along with short rants.

If you’ve successfully blocked memories of Mr. Cain out of your mind, let me help you with that. This is the same guy that once referred to strategic U.S. ally Uzbekistan as “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” so it’s probably not all that surprising that his Twitter account would be a bit unhinged. However, this new stuff seems a bit nutty even for Cain. I mean, he even went so far as to post a photo of Morning Joe‘s Joe Scarborough next to a picture of John Nance in character from Eraserhead. What are you doing Herman Cain? I don’t know if I should get behind this or get to the bottom of it. Perhaps some of our more investigative-minded DM readers will be able to figure out the meaning of these strange dispatches. For now, I’ll leave you to check out screenshots of Cain’s Twin Peaks related tweets below and after the jump…
 

July 18th, 2017.
 

July 17th, 2017.
 

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.18.2017
07:03 pm
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Bad Bunny: True children’s stories of violent, drug-fueled family life presented as a kids’ book
07.07.2017
10:48 am
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Childhood is sometimes described by those privileged enough to know as the best years of our lives. This may be the case for the few but not always so for the many.

An American educational charity called Youth Ambassadors, which helps underprivileged kids reach their full potential, has come up with a rather simple idea to highlight the often grim reality of how some young people spend their childhoods. It’s a fake children’s book called Welcome to My Neighborhood.

It’s presented just like any other kids picture book with friendly, cuddly bunnies, cats, and mice telling the story of their lives. The big difference is this ain’t no Beatrix Potter or Wind in the Willows. This is a collection of disturbing true stories of domestic violence, drugs, crime, murder, and prison as recounted by disadvantaged children from some of America’s most deprived places. Not even the seemingly family-friendly illustrations can disguise the brutality of the children’s lives as drug-addict Daddy Rat beats his kids, the Bunny Brothers whack people, and Mister Fox is a gung-ho, trigger-happy cop.

Whether Welcome to My Neighborhood will actually make any real difference to the plight of these youngsters other than being something the chattering class will smile knowledgeably about over their quinoa salads and tofu chai latte, I ain’t so sure. But it’s certainly 10/10 for originality and effort. Download a PDF of this book here or, if you’re interested in doing some good, find out how to help Youth Ambassadors here.
 
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More sad tales, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.07.2017
10:48 am
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That time Mary Hartman and Patti Smith unwittingly formed a fantasy presidential ticket, 1976


 
Any discussion about the presidency in 2017 has to start with the notion that about 90% of Americans living or dead would be an improvement over the current occupant of the Oval Office. Having said that, it’s much more fun to contemplate an actual presidential hopeful of several decades ago that really might have been waaaaaaay better in many respects than ANY of the 45 men we’ve had as president so far (okay, actually 44).

I refer to Mary Hartman, the doubly eponymous main character from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Norman Lear’s groundbreaking and addictive soap parody from the mid-1970s that starred Louise Lasser and also did so much to introduce the country to the prodigious talents of Mary Kay Place, Martin Mull, Dabney Coleman, and Doris Roberts. (One of the most astonishing aspects of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was that it was produced five days a week for more than a year, meaning that it left behind a remarkable 325 episodes in its 2 seasons. Today you can buy the entire series on DVD of course.)

You probably didn’t know that Mary Hartman was a presidential candidate in 1976, the year that Democrat Jimmy Carter narrowly bested the Republican incumbent Gerald Ford. And if you didn’t know that, then it’s extremely unlikely you knew that Patti Smith was her running mate. I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I will assert with a high degree of confidence that the Constitution does not bar fictional characters from the presidency. As for Patti Smith, who is definitely not fictional, she became the ticket’s VP pick without any consent or even knowledge that it was happening, but she graciously accepted the bid after the fact.

The whole thing was a kind of prank or stunt by the Fluxus practitioner and “mail art” pioneer Jerry Dreva, a native of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the early 1970s, Dreva and some of his fellow Wisconsinites, finding themselves in Southern California, founded a collective known as Les Petites Bonbons that specialized in mail art pranks.
 

 
One thing about mail art is that it tends to announce the location of its projects. The Hartman/Smith ticket mailing, which appears to have numbered about 1,500, actually has a return address on it, 629 Madison Ave., in South Milwaukee, so it might be the case that Dreva had returned to his home state by that time. It’s not clear. Dreva passed away in 1997.

There is incredibly little information about the Hartman/Smith project. In a 1984 issue of High Performance, Suzan Carson wrote that “Dreva livens up the most boring presidential election in memory with two flyers promoting the candidacy of Mary Hartman for president and Patti Smith for vice-president of the United States.” She also added that Smith accepted the nomination as “president of vice” (har har) at a Milwaukee concert. That concert was probably held at Milwaukee’s Oriental Theatre in March 1976—anybody reading this remember that show?

Earlier this year, there was an auction on Canadian eBay for a “small collection of late-1970s works by mail-art pioneer Jerry Dreva, including glossy prints for the Mary Hartman / Patti Smith campaign in 1976,” which also included several other amusing mailings by Dreva from 1976 and a little bit later, and I’ve reproduced some of those here for the fun of it.

It’s a shame Mary Hartman didn’t get elected president—it would have been fun to watch the Supreme Court tussle with that legal conundrum. Of course I suppose it’s likely that Smith would have become president instead. Or maybe Hartman would have stayed president—and done more good for the country than Donald Trump will ever do.
 

 

 
More of Jerry Dreva’s postal tomfoolery after the jump…..

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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07.05.2017
04:06 pm
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Ralph Steadman’s grotesquely brilliant illustrations for Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’
06.19.2017
12:04 pm
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George Orwell had difficulty in getting Animal Farm published in the 1940s. His satirical fable about a farm being taken over by a cowardly, power-mad pig was seen as an undisguised and rather offensive attack on Soviet Russia and its leader Joseph Stalin. As Orwell later explained in his introduction to the book, it was not considered the done thing in 1940s Britain to criticize their war ally Russia and especially its leader Stalin in any way. (Sidebar: Orwell’s introduction was not included in the book on its first publication and is still missing from most editions today.)

Due to the war, any criticism of Uncle Joe was not tolerated—even if there was ample evidence that things might not be as jolly as the Russians liked to pretend. The media (including the BBC) and its allies in left-wing intelligentsia swallowed wholeheartedly every piece of propaganda issued by the U.S.S.R. which was then spewed out as fact.  But Orwell was never one to be swayed by the heady eau de cologne of fashionable politics. Orwell actually believed in a practical socialism—not one that resulted in the oppression of the majority by a tiny minority as was the case with Stalin, whose dictatorship had murdered up to 60 million.

Eventually, after a series of surprising knockbacks from British and American publishers (including one from T. S. Eliot at Faber & Faber), Orwell’s tale was successfully published by Secker & Warburg in August 1945 and has never been out of print since. However, its release was not well received. Certain critics tried to damn the book with faint praise or dismiss it as “clumsy” and “dull.” Now, clumsy and dull are not the kind of words I would ever associate with Orwell’s fastidious writing or with this allegorical masterpiece.

Orwell first had the idea for Animal Farm after seeing a small boy whipping a horse:

“...I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge carthorse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.”

Orwell wrote Animal Farm between 1943 and 1944, during the height of the Second World War. He also added in some of his own personal experience of having witnessed firsthand the Communist purges during the Spanish Civil War which revealed to him “how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries.” Orwell intended his novella as a warning and a condemnation of Stalin’s vicious dictatorship and his corruption of socialist ideals.

Political cartoonist David Low was the man who first illustrated Orwell’s political parable. While Low’s work was satirical and well-matched to Orwell’s prose, his illustrations pale when compared to the scabrous beauty of Ralph Steadman’s grotesque scratchings. Steadman provided illustrations for the 50th anniversary edition of Animal Farm in 1995.

I’d be hard put to think of any other artist who so effectively depicts the grim satire at the heart of Orwell’s tale. Steadman’s drawings seem to be on the verge of exploding with fury at the raw injustice of life or, in this case, the political allegory of the endless brutal horror of Animal Farm.
 
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See more of Ralph Steadman’s gonzo illustrations, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.19.2017
12:04 pm
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What would Hitler Do?: Notorious ‘80s agit-punks The Feederz return to fuck shit up in the Trump era
06.16.2017
09:22 am
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In the disorienting immediate aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election, a notion I saw expressed so often that it almost felt virally memetic was the idea that “At least with Trump as president, there’ll be great political punk rock again.”

I found this puzzling.

Of course it’s absolutely true that the Reagan era was a musical goldmine for politically-engaged punks, but the arguably worse George W Bush era was notably fallow in that regard—if American Idiot counts as “greatness,” then I guess I don’t need any greatness in my life—and with the debatable exception of the 2004 Punk Voter Rock Against Bush tour, a wishfully grandiose attempt by the pop-punks at Fat Wreck Chords to create a latter-day Rock Against Reagan type of event, no other punk-influenced protest music made all that much of an impression. Going back a minute or two further, not even the stunning and inspiring social movement that emerged from seemingly out of the blue in defiance of the World Trade Organization around the turn of the century seemed to inspire any rebel rock worth discussing—Punk Planet even did a contemporary feature on that notable lack, pity there’s no online archive of that publication.

But though I still expect that the hoped-for renaissance of Reagan-era style protest punk is unlikely to happen, one actual radical band from the Reagan era has reactivated in response to the Trump threat. And it’s one of the MOST radical—Situationist-inspired provocateur Frank Discussion has resurrected his notorious band The Feederz. An unabashed outrage artist, Discussion made his band infamous with confrontational live performances in which he far surpassed even Frank Tovey’s ability to turn himself into an attention-commanding art object, and with stunts like making a sandpaper record cover for their debut album Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss? to ruin other records on one’s shelves, and emblazoning a record called Teachers in Space with a photo of the Challenger disaster.

But after more than 35 years, The Feederz remain best known for the scandalous song with which their existence was announced to the world. “Jesus,” sometimes known as “Jesus Entering from the Rear,” got a widespread hearing when it was featured on the epochally crucial hardcore compilation Let Them Eat Jellybeans. That song sought to tweak right wing Evangelical Christians with lyrics describing The Savior™—or his corpse—engaged in rough gay sex, going way over the top by calling him “Another stupid martyr with another rectal rash” and “Just another faggot in just another mask.” Though it’s indisputably a classic, due to major values dissonance the song hasn’t aged so gracefully, and there is zero doubt that if it were written today it would be excoriated for implicit homophobia, though that was the opposite of its intent—even for the sake of outrage, Discussion isn’t one to punch down.
 

 

 

 
After a long absence from punk rock, the Trump disaster prodded Discussion to begin writing new songs again, and he assembled a band to record two of them in January, with Meat Puppets bassist Cris Kirkwood producing. The Feederz as currently constituted are a trio of Discussion, founding member Clear Bob, and drummer D.H. Peligro, a onetime Feederz member who’s much better known for his tenure in Dead Kennedys. That single was released on April 15 by the Phoenix, AZ label Slope Records (though The Feederz made their mark as a San Francisco band, Discussion is a native of Phoenix and was a presence in the infancy of its punk scene). The single, WWHD: What Would Hitler Do?, sports an unsurprisingly unsubtle cover illustration of Donald Trump affecting a Hitlerian pose and wearing a swastika armband, and it’s fucking good—it’s the most hi-fidelity recording to which the band has ever been treated, and the songs, while they’re thematically of a piece with Discussion’s Reagan-era work, sound like the work of a contemporary band. The A side, “Stealing,” bears an ominous riff and lyrics that champion looting and assaulting police. The flip, “Sabotage,” opens with a chant of “TIME TO PUT THIS COUNTRY OUT OF OUR MISERY,” and includes call-to-arms written in Spanish. Here’s the translation:

What you see with your eyes, destroy with your hands
To be as combustible as a cop car
We don’t need leaders
I love you! Say it with a brick!

 

 
After the jump, the always outspoken Mr. Discussion treated Dangerous Minds to an audacious and lively interview…

READ ON
Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.16.2017
09:22 am
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Every review you’ve read of the new Roger Waters album is wrong (except for this one)
06.06.2017
06:53 pm
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Last Friday, June 2, I spent the entire day checking the mail. I’d preordered the new Roger Waters album—his first album of original rock material in nearly a quarter century—and was eagerly awaiting its arrival when I got notice from Amazon at about 7pm that evening that the delivery would be delayed, possibly until the following Tuesday. Being as I am, a married middle-aged man, this was going to be the highlight of my fucking week and listening to it on headphones, stoned to the gills, constituted most, if not the entirety of my weekend plans. Drats! Foiled again! My disappointment was palpable, but I googled the reviews to sate my curiosity only to read one critical appraisal after another of the most vaguely worded, tepidly positive sentiments. I’d seen the second (not including the dress rehearsal in NJ) show of Waters new Us + Them tour in Louisville, KY (more on this below) over the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend and the reviews I was reading didn’t really jibe with my expectations for the new album, having already heard a handful of the songs from the upcoming album played live and being blown away by how great the set’s new material was. It was difficult to tell what anyone really thought of it from the early reviews.

Rolling Stone’s reviewer was one of the worst offenders. The nearly pointless review of Is This the Life We Really Want? read as if he’d played the album once and dashed it off in about 15 minutes to collect a couple hundred bucks. (One commenter sighed “This review has zero substance. ‘It’s just Roger being Roger.’ Way to phone it in.”) One after another of these empty calorie reviews used the same words—“bitter,” “bleak” and “dystopian” prominently among them (and all referenced President You-Know-Who)—and indicated that good ol’ Rog was still up to his same old bag of tricks, etc, etc, etc. As the editor of a website like this one, I’m well aware of what lazy writing looks like and frankly nearly all of last Friday’s release date reviews of Is This the Life We Really Want?—at least the ones I read—smacked of it to my trained eye. In aggregate they equaled almost nothing useful. I wondered how it was possible not to have a strong opinion about a new Roger Waters album after so many years. Many of them, I imagine were written by underpaid millennials with only the dimmest idea who Roger Waters is, who were just cribbing from the press release.

The next morning the album was delivered before 10am and my weekend plans were back on.

Now don’t get me wrong, while anyone could be forgiven for assuming a priori that the first new release in decades from a 73-year-old multi-millionaire rock star would not necessarily be something to jump up and down about, by the time the first side was over I was completely gobsmacked, stunned at the darkly gorgeous poetry and sonic brilliance of the musical gold that had just been poured into my ears. I flipped it over for two even better, even more emotionally powerful songs. Riveting stuff. Oh sure, it’s true that not every new album by a septuagenarian rock superstar is going to be an instant classic, standing alongside their best work, but Waters’ astonishing and deeply profound Is This the Life We Really Want? is one, and does. I think it’s the best thing he’s done since Animals and I feel like that is saying quite a lot. This is a major event in pop culture. A big fucking deal with sirens blaring.

Now obviously, if you’re Roger Waters and you’ve got something (anything) to say, you (he) can say whatever you want, whenever you want and however you want to say it and a major media conglomerate will rush to exploit this to the hilt and squeeze every last bit of money they can out of your every utterance. Roger Waters and “the music of Pink Floyd” (as the current tour is billed) is a very big business—his multi-year worldwide The Wall Live trek is the highest grossing solo rock tour in history—but admirably, rather than put out one uninspired going-through-the-motions album after another like so many classic rockers of his vintage, Waters waits—25 years if he has to—to make sure that he’s got something important to say before going into the recording studio. No Sinatra covers for him. No Christmas albums. He’ll never record one of those awful “Great American Songbook” things. It’s just not going to happen. There is no squandered goodwill in that way between Waters and his fans. Since 1999 Waters has toured extensively, but without releasing any new material since 1992’s Amused to Death save for the recording of his French Revolution opera Ça Ira. After decades of playing the hits (and amassing a ridiculous fortune that’s managed to survive four divorces) the material on Is This the Life We Really Want? is just about the most potent musical statement imaginable for the Trump era, even if many of the songs were probably written and recorded before his surprise election. Perhaps the ferocious “Picture This” doesn’t refer directly to Trump, although it certainly seems like it does.

Picture a courthouse with no fucking laws
Picture a cathouse with no fucking whores
Picture a shithouse with no fucking drains
Picture a leader with no fucking brains

Top that! The song pulses and throbs like the best mid-70s Floyd barnburner, obviously quite purposefully and by deliberate design. Producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck) has surrounded Waters with a crack band of some of the finest musicians in America—among them Jonathan Wilson on guitar; vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig from Lucius; REM/Beck drummer Joey Waronker, a Mason-esque octopus-armed pounder to be sure; and Roger Manning Jr. of Jellyfish on keyboards—with what seems to be the canny dual intention of simultaneously providing Waters with some inspired and well-chosen collaborators who bring their own magic to the table, and using this A-list crew to record what is probably the closest thing to a full-on Pink Floyd 70s headphones album experience as could possibly be hoped for (minus the obviously missing participants). The gorgeous string arrangements were done by David Campbell (Beck’s father, who Wikipedia tells me made his recording debut playing cello on Carole King’s Tapestry) and… wow… just wow. This album is just crazy fucking good on every level.

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.06.2017
06:53 pm
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