Random ramblings.


PTATBAT #1: Serena

I'm just gonna create some places to celebrate people that are the best at things. Gotta start with Serena, for so many reasons, all of which we'll explore as we go.

"Be from Compton? Check. Dominate a sport traditionally dominated by conventionally attractive and affluent White women? Check. Do this while being “so thick that everybody else in the room is so uncomfortable“? Check. Rock literally every hairstyle every Black American woman has ever rocked, and sometimes all at the exact same time? Check. Despite endless attacks on her looks and “masculinity”, continue to have some of the most eligible Black bachelors in the country (literally) fight over her? Check. Have an active dad who gives no fucks about what White people think? Check. Do absolutely nothing remotely criminal or even rude, making the tearjerkers scour the Earth for shit to criticize? Check."




Posted by Jarrod Shepler on Saturday, June 13, 2015


Moments Beyond Memory


This was so amazing @jonahmatranga x @waronwomen

A video posted by Zeena Koda (@zeenakoda) on Jun 4, 2015 at 6:06am PDT

This lil vid is extra-fun to see cos I was so hyped to be rocking with War On Women I hardly remember it. The security guard wouldn't let me through the regular door to get onstage, so I just went out front and climbed up just as the song was starting. #HappyLivinSmall #RockCanBeFun




I've never enjoyed the playful slang use of the term #ghetto, esp in #whiteworld, for lotsa reasons. Mostly, though, I just want to be real about the roots of the term in this context.

"Thanks to purposefully racist policies enacted by the Federal Housing Administration and the New Deal’s Public Works Administration, [ghettos] are now an unfortunate fixture in American culture and proof that the nation isn’t worthy of its self-assigned “post-racial” moniker."

It's Only Fair

Just following up on the U2 story briefly to say that, over the course of the two shows, there were deep valleys of disappointment that I may write further about, and there were a precious few moments of the really good stuff, and the time with Josh was perfect all around.

Here's the musical moment that will stay with me when the others have faded. I screamed so loud and shook it so hard, and it seems like it got to them as well. This song is maybe what caused me to fall in love with them more than any other, initially. The whole Live At Red Rocks record was my real introduction to them, in many ways.

Listen for the sneaky birthday shout-out to Pete Townsend.

I'm such a rock nerd and I love it.



30 Years Of Dawning

"Monday morning, 18 years of dawning, I say how long..." - U2, Out Of Control

Just over 30 years ago, a coupla friends wrote to U2 to say they shouldn't put their tickets onsale during school hours, cos anyone that really cared about getting good tix had to sleep on the sidewalk and/or skip school (as we did) to get em. U2 somehow got in touch with them (I think they literally called my buddy at home, his mom had no idea what was going on), said they wouldn't put tix onsale during school hours anymore, gave them tickets and backstage passes to all three nights of the sold-out shows, and when my buddy's mom couldn't take him on the last night, they picked him up and gave him a ride home in their limo on the last night of the tour. For several tours after that, the band would reach out and see if my friend wanted tickets.

I was at one of those shows, and there was an extra backstage pass, and I ended up with it. After the (ridiculously great) show, Bono walked up to me backstage and asked, 'are you Josh Nathan?'. I pointed to my friend, and Bono turned to him and said, 'so you're the one who's been beatin up on our manager'. He knew about the whole story, took the time to talk to us. The good ol' Edge indulged all my 15-year old questions about being in a rock band, equipment, who knows. It all changed me forever. Anyone who's ever wondered how I got so idealistic, why I say thank you as effusively and as often as I do, why I sell my own merch and talk to people forever and play on sidewalks and write back and just try so hard to show anyone that cares at all about me and the music how much that means to me... this experience has a lot to do with it.

There are so many more details to this story that illustrate further how unbelievably cool U2 was in that situation. They had just sold out 3 nights at a 15,000 seat arena, 'Pride' had just hit #1, they were blowing up so fast, they'd played 45-ish shows spanning several countries and it was only April, they'd been pretty much on tour for 5 years straight... and they still paid attention and took the time. Anyone that wants to give them shit for whatever (and of course they've done/said some stupid stuff in the last 30+ years of being superstars), at least know this story is real, and that I've never experienced/heard a story quite this cool since. It's also worth remembering that Bono has spoken up, raised more loot/awareness about inequity and illness, and generally shown up more consistently and consciously than any mainstream artist I've ever heard about.

Anyway, this is all to say that I'm going to see them tonight (and tomorrow night), with the same friend, 30 years later. He was the first person outside of my family to hold my daughter when she was born. I'm the godfather to one of his kids and a constant presence in his family's life (and at their dinner table haha). We're giddily texting about it (which is what got me to take a break from show-booking and such to write this down). We haven't taken a U2 album seriously for a long time now, we have very measured expectations. We will talk shit during the crappy new stuff and root for moments of transcendence. At this point, it's just family.

ps - With all this in mind, from 3:06 on in this clip from when U2 played in Ireland in September 2001 is particulary resonant. Some big ideas, indeed. It's also the song my friend wants to hear most tonight and/or tomorrow. Here's to rooting for moments of transcendence.


Who Knows Where Music Goes

My friend Marissa just told me that a tune of mine was mentioned on this great podcast Mortified. Turns out it's a great lil story, about a high school girl's first crush on a dude that turns out to be gay. The song is called Believer (listening link below). It's from this onelinedrawing record called The Volunteers. It's always been one of my favorite songs (of mine), though I rarely play it cos it just seems to only work in a certain context... and I used chords that are still kinda beyond my grasp.

Anyway, I'm really happy she mentioned it, and I'm even happier that I still get happy about hearing about my music showing up in people's lives in various ways, even/especially when it's something as simple and sweet as this. Lots more thoughts about that whole subject, maybe another time.

So thanks, Mortified folks! Speaking of which, I have some seriously mortifying stories (and songs) of my own, so maybe I'll be on the show sometime and bring this all full circle. Jenny (and yr ex-boyfriend), you'll definitely get a shout-out.

Yay music!



The Business Climate

Next time at the holiday meal when that one angry uncle is saying would-be-covertly racist shit about 'welfare' and/or the damn government and the 'business climate' (such a terrifying and telling term), this would be a good piece to direct him to, before proceeding to ignore him entirely.

"US taxpayers subsidising world's biggest fossil fuel companies... Shell’s proposed $4bn plant in Pennsylvania is set to benefit from tax credits of $66m a year for 25 years. Shell has bought the site and has 10 supply contracts in place lasting up to 20 years, including from fracking companies extracting shale gas in the Marcellus shale field. The deal was struck by the then Republican governor, Tom Corbett, who received over $1m in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry. According to Guardian analysis of data compiled by Common Cause Pennsylvania, Shell have spent $1.2m on lobbying in Pennsylvania since 2011.

A Shell spokesman said: “Shell supports and endorses incentive programmes provided by state and local authorities that improve the business climate for capital investment, economic expansion and job growth. Shell would not have access to these incentive programmes without the support and approval from the representative state and local jurisdictions.”


Perfect Pitch

Prince's seriously sweet song #Baltimore is perfect pitch, in every way. Thinkin of #London in this moment, too. 

"Does anybody hear us pray for Michael Brown and Freddie Gray / Peace is more than the absence of war... If there ain’t no justice, then there ain’t no peace..."

"Please know that all involved in this project never take for granted the privileges we have in this country. Let's all continue to fight the good fight and confront inhumanity on every level until the day it is no longer."

Speak, smile, sway, share.

#Baltimore #BlackLivesMatter #EndWhiteSilence