What better way to start off the new year than with an award:
The wonderful people over at Amped Sounds have voted White Lights 2009’s Group of the Year! We’re honored and grateful to all our fans for voting. Thanks for making last year such a success, here’s to the new decade!
Thanks to everyone who came out to see us Friday night at the Joint! We’ll be scattering for the holidays but we’ll be back in full effect next year with a big show at Molly Malone’s on January 26th opening for Magnolia Memoir. Have a happy winter solstice and new year! See you all in 2010. Until then…
Well its 9th and Hennepin
All the donuts have names that sound like prostitutes
And the moon’s teeth marks are on the sky
like a tarp thrown all over this
and the broken umbrellas are like dead birds
and the steam comes out of the grill like the whole god damn town’s ready to blow
And the bricks are all scarred with jail-house tattoos
and everyone is behaving like dogs
and horses are coming down violin road
and ol’ Detch is dead on his feet
And all the rooms, they smell like diesel
and you take on the dreams of the ones who’ve slept there
And I’m lost in the window
And I hang in the stairway and I sleep in your hat
And no one brings anything small into a bar around here
They all start out with bad directions
And the girl behind the counter has a tattoo tear:
“One for every year he’s away”, she said…
Such a crumbling beauty
Ahh, there’s nothing wrong with her a hundred dollars won’t fix
She has that razor sadness that only gets worse with the clang and the thunder of
the Southern Pacific going by
And the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet
till you’re full of Ragwater, bitters, and Blue Ruin
and you spill out over the side to anyone who’ll listen
I’ve seen it all
I’ve seen it all through the yellow windows of the evening train
1. The ice melts beneath each step. The further she goes, the deeper the puddle at her boots. Her surroundings veiled in white, she circles blind, the snowfall in bed with gray sky. She is caught in a void, too far out to see the shoreline. She is alone, the blizzard having swallowed up her friends & lovers. The glass floor reflects the vague blank sky, the two conspiring against her.
2. Meditation is self-medication.
3. Deep breaths stave off panic, but the soft clouds of her exhalation only add to the blanket of nothing around her. When she reaches shallow ice, the heart-stopping cracks boom loud as earthquakes. Ground beneath her shifting, she stops in place trying to compose herself. The cold, the freezing water below, the bitter wind; they have not taken her yet. Until they do, her judgment blurred by terror is the darkest threat.
4. They had set up camp just a few miles shy of the mountain’s crown, the brutal climes tempered by their enthusiasm. The next day’s journey would bring them to the summit, to victory. They would stake their claim by sticking a flag into the ice. As the men erected their shelters, stringing ropes through the picks axed into their chosen precipice, the women started fires, certainly the harder task. But the blizzard had not started yet, and once their smoking embers grew to roaring warmth, they cooked their rations and ate hungrily. Their meager sup of beans and coffee tasted like no other food they’d ever eaten. Afterward, they sprinkled tobacco on their rolling papers and smoked thin cigarettes in each other’s arms. That night, none of them could sleep, all of them stirring with anticipation. The morning’s climb would be the culmination of all their efforts, the reward for the stress and perils they endured. But they would never reach the peak.
5. The piercing squeal did not wake her, but the screaming did. By the time she clawed her way out of the tent, most of them were dead. She ran with no jacket, neither gloves nor cap. Only then did she hear the high-frequency tone, that shrill banshee resonating from every which direction at once. By the time she reached the lake, she was alone. She was well past the shore before she realized she was running on ice now, and not the even terrain of mountain.
6. The jagged lightning lines forming in the ice strike like thunder. Spider-webbing around her menacingly, the cracks encroach closer and closer. Then, through squinting eyes tearing up from either existential terror or the stinging wind, she sees a rock crag that must telegraph the shore. A breath later and she dashes for solid land. But the weight of her boot sinks through the ice, and the lake swallows her legs up to the waist. The oxygen leaps out of her lungs, shocked at the sudden cold beyond imagining. Crying now, sobbing, she holds herself up by the elbows, her chin numb on the frozen lake surface. If only her legs were numb, too, but instead they burn with the ironic pain of frostbite. As the water soaks up her back, sending spasmodic shivers through her being, she can’t help but wonder, even now as she faces subzero drowning, “What was that sound?”
7. When the expedition doesn’t return, the rangers assume they took a detour and will be down shortly. It’s quite common in these parts for hikers to underestimate the time necessary to reach the crest. Worst still, many fail to appreciate the treacherous chore of coming back down. But when another two weeks pass, and at the urging of grief-stricken parents, a rescue party is dispatched. It’s another week before they find the remnants of the campsite.
8. The tents had been torn open, which was strange, yes. But what was stranger still was that they had been slashed from within. This fact ruled out the prevailing theory that an animal - perhaps a bear or wolf - had preyed upon the unsuspecting campers. So what had drawn them out? Why were many of the survivors found shoeless hundreds of feet away? What malevolence would cause reasonable people to flee their campsite in the middle of the night, braving unimaginable cold in bare feet?
9. The coroner found the gashes and wounds too neat to be the claws of a bear. A head was discovered a quarter mile from the scene. The coroner ruled some sort of blunt trauma had disconnected it from its owner, but offered no theories on what force would be strong enough to perform such a deed. The final shock came from the toxicologist. All six bodies contained high levels of radiation, enough to warrant quarantining the cadavers (as well as all rescue personnel who had come in contact with them) before burning their remains against the families’ wishes. Shortly thereafter, the investigation was closed with no further explanation.
You seem surprised to see me…
I am humbled by your very presence.
Its been much too long since i have seen your face with any regularity.
A fact riddled with regret and yet, joyful exuberance.
Do you have a light?
a transcript, the latter two thirds of a ‘speech’ by a real man:
10:45 PM - Brooklyn, NY - Manhattan bound 6 train
a man tip-toes on to the subway seconds before the doors would have surely close on him. he speaks, something to the effect of “3 years ago, I was just like you”. I dont exactly remember, but whatever he said, it had the hint of stinging desperation and was poorly conceived in its overtness. A few more crucially forgotten plot points, then:
"…where they drugged me and gang-raped me. when my wife entered…the house, and saw me layin in our bed, with two women, she flipped, and she took it the wrong way. I wasn’t committing adultery. i was being gang-raped. i went down to my local precinct to press charges, and my two lesbian neighbors told the cops that the sex was consensual. charges were never filed… i lost my wife. i lost my job. i lost my apartment, and I’ve been livin as a homeless…yankees fan for 3 years now. and now I’m tryin to make this right. enough is enough. if the yankees won the world series, i could be bein homeless in New York City. that inspired me to get off my ass. (inaudible….) be productive and do Somethin. can’t get a job cause i’m tryin to apply (automated female subway voice: ‘Entering 33rd St.’) for (inaudible). (inaduble) improve, know’t I mean? I- I- I- I- I- can…I- I- can’t work, but can be more financially stable. i too want a yankees hat but i can’t afford one. i don’t look up to the jay-z’s i look up to y’all. y’all my role models. ("stand clear of the closing doors, please.") if we could all get together and say ‘let’s go yankees’, how many of us could get together to help out the unfortunate? Y’all money dont go to the drugstores…or, or, to dope handlers, liquor stores, cause i dont do any drugs. Your money goes into the barber shop and to the desperate hands of a minority…and to coffee…"
Leave the war. Buy a van. Load your gear. Fitter, Happier, More Productive. Put the iron on the pavement and the pen in your hand and write till your fingers bleed and your liver fails. Buy a mad dog that wont sit still. Fashion an idea for a fireworks display. Be ready with a stainless steal machete. Drink a half a pint of Ballantine’s each day. Maybe hole up in a room above a hardware store, and cry nothing there but Hollywood tears. Put a spell on some poor little girl, stay like that for 27 years.
Pack up all expectations, lit out of California, put a flyswatter banjo on my knee. Live off of angel hair, some benzedrine for getting there. You can find me in a eucalyptus tree.
Some say I’m doin the obituary mambo. Some call it hangin on the wall. Perhaps the yarn is the only thing that holds this man together. Some say I was never here at all. And some might see me down in Birmingham, sleeping in a boxcar going by. And if you think that you could live a bigger tale, I swear to god you’d have to live a lie.
So last night we played our pick-up gig at Venice Bistro in preparation for tomorrow night’s big CD release party at the Key Club. The show went very well in spite of a clusterfuck of technical difficulties sprung on us at the last second. We forgot an important chord for the electronics, our drummer Joey broke his finger and the sound guy refused to let us use his precious 3rd mic. But even though we had to cut one of our best songs, we killed the set and filled it out with a solid jam session.
Afterward we were decompressing out in the parking lot when a Venice Beach local stumbled over to us, mumbling about “bitches tryna make me jealous.” We had encountered him earlier when he offered us a dollar for a blanket to stay warm. Toby gave him a towel; the best we could do. But when he came back, he didn’t want anything. He casually joined our circle and told us his life story.
"You ever fall for a woman and then she says she don’t love you?"
He told us he spent the first 18 years of his life living with his 3 sisters who relentlessly emasculated him and then the next 18 years of his life with his father who didn’t help much. Now he couldn’t catch a break with any women. “I knew being a man would be hard, but I never knew it’d be this hard,” he said. We tried to console him, commiserating with the occasional, “Yeah, man, life’s a bitch.”
Wistfully, he concluded it was best to have faith that “our heavenly father” would take care of us. We disagreed, saying, “But you ARE the heavenly father. You just forgot.”
Take the world in fast-motion: clouds brew above mountains before hurrying across the landscape, dissolving to raindrops absorbed by the sea. A daily ritual of infinite days. Peaks and crests emerge from the hills, like sinews of muscle swelling with strength. A green film of stubble spreads over the rolling knolls, the yawning blossom of fauna reaching for milky sunlight. There the mineral strength passes to wood in the curvature of bark - a giant’s legs taking root - the sun god’s power softened from rocky crag to groaning birch.
And from the oceans they come forth, the fleshy breathers of bone and blood, squinting in the hot light and shriveled by thirst. From mineral to bark to bone, the skeletons forget their divinity in the siren’s wail of hunger pangs. They build walls and wage wars and eat the land and when the land is eaten the eaters eat themselves. All the while they tremble to remember the origin encoded in their skin, in the air, in their water. They struggle in vain until their breath leaves them, questions unanswered, their moisture soaked back into the ground their ancestor.
And then they see it. A bolt of lightning branches through the sky and the morning light beams red through their eyelid and they see it: the spider’s web of veins and capillaries glowing blue, the branching circulatory system of their pupil. The flow in their arteries like the tendrils of rivers, like the snarl of roots below and bramble above. The bright cluster of synapses on gray matter like knotted bundles of stars. It was staring them in the face this whole time. They starve themselves, howling chants and prayers, accelerating their consciousness until they too vibrate at the speed of the world: the rate of motion where the divine lifeforce pulsing through all things is readily tangible.
They build spaceships and train rocketmen and propel them into the blackest corners of the abyss, unclear if they chase the light or flee the grasp of time. But the faster they go, the slower the stars burn around them. Faster and faster still through lightyears of space and galaxies passed until finally the moment arrives: time stops, transforming the universe from a film strip to a painting. Their minds step out of the continuum, free to explore every moment at every angle.
But they are blind again. For as they frolic through their histories saving every bungled kiss and exacting vengeance on their enemies, behind them the bubble contracts. The life of the whole universe flashes before all eyes until draining back into the Big Bang. Whole nebulae and solar systems circle the cosmic tidal pool like a galaxy sucked into its own black hole. And in the childlike silence that follows, a tiny voice, larger than a million suns, will loudly whisper, “Again.”
Many many thanks to everyone who came out to the Palms Bar last night and also to Max for setting the show up. It’s a dark, intimate venue with a positive crowd. Last night was the first time in a few years we gigged with our buddy Max. Back in college, we played annual Halloween shows together and did a couple regional tours. It’s good to know the tradition lives on. Follow him on his first national tour, he’ll be posting regularly to Twitter and the YouTubes.
We gave away 20 free copies of our acoustic EP “Take Care,” and we just might do it again at our next show at Venice Bistro, September 30th. We’ll be playing a full band set at this restaurant/bar so definitely come check it out. Also, the show is totally FREE and there are no drink minimums or any of that Sunset Strip bullshit. And barring some kind of divine disaster, our brand new EP “Oroboros” should be available by then too. Fingers crossed.
The banks reported record profits this quarter thanks to the billions of taxpayer dollars the government doled out to them. It’s bad enough that the people who ruined the economy are the ones siphoning even more of the poor’s wealth, but to take the bailout money and then call it a profit is perverse. While Goldman Sachs reports nearly $4 billion in profits, the public is docile and silent. Instead, elderly fools are crowding into town hall meetings to obstruct the healthcare debate by calling Obama a Nazi.
In the Bush years, I was derided as part of the “loony left” by many people: yeah I was among the crowds of thousands around the world who protested the invasion of Iraq, who wore shirts scrawled with “Not my president” and spouting conspiracy theories about a Bush-Cheney torture program. At the time, to assert that the American government tortured was an affront to decency and a sure sign of madness. We praised the subversive message of the "Zeitgeist" documentary that bombastically claimed that Americans were the victims of a century-long ruse by the central banks to divert money from the poorest of the poor to the richest of the richest. For doing so, we were mocked and insulted as lunatics.
But now, several years late, the media is reporting stories many of us suspected all along. The Bush-Cheney torture program was implemented from the highest echelons of civilian government with the express purpose of punishing and dehumanizing prisoners of war. Unlike the former administrations’ claims insisted, the torture was systematic and utilized identically across all theaters of war. Now we even have stories of Dick Cheney organizing a secret assassination ring that was kept hidden even from the president. To have asserted that Cheney had a cadre of clandestine hitmen a few years back would have laughed you out of polite conversation. But here is the disturbing truth.
And as for the conspiracy theory that the banking cartel is scamming the planet wholesale for all its worth, a casual examination of the news in the past year will lead you to the obvious conclusion. In Matt Taibbi’s article in this month’s Rolling Stone, he articulates how Goldman Sachs was involved in every major bubble since the Great Depression and how this notoriously greedy corporation has profited from our suffering. The simple fact is, for anyone who is willing to look at reality, it is plainly obvious that the elite power structure of America is brutally corrupt, self-serving and motivated purely by greed at the expense of the American taxpayer.
In 2000 to suggest that Bush and his cronies were conspiring to invade Iraq on false pretenses as part of a decades long plan that had been seeded during his father’s term was laughable. But in hindsight, that’s exactly what happened, and all those conspiracy theory nutters were absolutely right. While “Zeitgeist” presents numerous factual inaccuracies, the documentary struck a deep truth with regard to the global economic system (for the record, I don’t endorse the notion that there has been a concerted, organized conspiracy since the early 20th century to enslave the human race; rather I think the current situation is the result of collective behavior on the part of numerous individuals pursuing their own rational self-interest, not some nefarious endgame of world domination). The very people who are raping this country are given help by bilking money from the very people who have been robbed. On last night’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart ranted about how Bank of America has made billions of dollars simply by charging overdraft fees. So the people who have run out of money are forced to pay the banks for having no money, sending even more wealth from the bottom up to the top.
In the past decade, the top 1% of the population took in over 21.2% of the income. One of the principle laws of economics is that as the value of goods increase, so too must workers’ wages so that the workers can afford to buy the very goods they are creating. But since the 1960s, a disturbing trend took root: the price of goods rose while wages stagnated. How could this be? The explanation is that decades of entrepreneurial investments paid off and the people who provided the capital reaped their benefits. The wages stayed flat and the extra money that should have gone into the workers’ pockets instead went to the CEO’s and company founders, a pay-off on their investment. It sounds harmless until you realize what they did with that money: they did not reinvest their profits back into the economy, but they saved them in banks that lent the money out to people who needed it: the workers whose wages had remained static. So the elite literally lent us back our own money, miring us deeper and deeper in debt everywhere, culminating in a wave of defaults that left many banks crippled and the economy in shambles. Enter the bailouts and rescue plans, diverting even more of our meager wealth to the very monsters who fucked the system raw.
It’s unlikely that this depressing story will end with mobs of people with pitchforks storming the offices of Goldman Sachs to reclaim what was stolen from them. This scam has been waged on such a gargantuan scale that it’s simply beyond the average imagination to fully understand the scope of what’s happening. So instead we’ll roll over like we always do, let the government quell the instability back to the level of the status quo and hail themselves as heroic agents of change for reverting to the very system that got us here in the first place.
Actually, while I’m more inclined to believe the latter option, I’m still optimistic that this con job cannot persist much longer: we are running out of oil, clean water and air. Without a wholesale transformation of society - including its distribution of wealth and power - our civilization is doomed already. The forces that run this giant economic ferris wheel are drying up. As much as the powerful - both well-intentioned and not - try to stabilize the situation so that the banks can keep on doing what they’ve always done, the ground beneath them is shifting. People will either shake off their unsustainable lifestyles and find a new way to live, or die trying. There is a way out.
In the end, post-production on this 4-song EP will have taken 2 months. This statement isn’t a complaint by any means; we were prepared not to expect results to stay on schedule. With music as in movies, everything takes twice as long as it should. This 2 month waiting period reminds me of the last semester of college.
Stay with me for a moment…. My last year of college I had only 3 classes a week at 2 hours apiece, which meant that besides the 6 hours I sat in lectures, I had my whole week to myself. Going into my final year, this schedule seemed a godsend: all the perks of being a college student with little to none of the responsibilities. But all this free time quickly soured on me because I realized that with nothing else to do, all I could do was stress and worry about my impending graduation. Sure, after we got our diplomas and packed up all our things, we’d all go with the flow and find our footing in the “real world.” But in those months leading up to that, with nothing to do but plan, it was easy to get carried away by all of the anxiety.
I find myself in a similar situation now. Once our record is finally released next month (knock on wood), things will start rolling again. We’ll be able to book shows, do interviews, court labels and be active in general. Until then, though, it’s a lot of sitting around twiddling our thumbs, wondering at the myriad things that could go wrong.
Despite the slow pace of our progress, the month of August has been an unexpected surprise. Our show at the Knitting Factory came together out of nowhere through the best possible circumstances: a bunch of friends reuniting with the conviction to put on a kickass show for the fun of it. And then later this month we’ll get to play again at the Palms Bar with our old friend Max. We gigged with him a bunch back in college, but we haven’t played together in over 2 years. The show will be the kick-off to his first national tour and I’m glad we’ll be there to mark the occasion. The fall will be an exciting time and we eagerly anticipate it as we try to enjoy the calm before the storm. So much of being a performing artist is about not psyching yourself out, about staying centered and excited even when the momentum appears to ebb on the surface. Anxiety can easily derail any creative endeavor and keeping a positive attitude is crucial.
All that being said, this has been one hell of a summer and we’re going to relish every last drop of it before things kick into high gear in the coming months. Hope you’ll join us for the ride….
Today we found out that Joe LaPorta is out of town until the 27th which pushes our whole schedule back another week. Realistically, we probably won’t have hard copies of the EP available until September 10th or so. That’s quite a bummer since we’re playing a free show on August 30th at the Palms Bar with comedian Max Goldberg and we wanted to have them ready by then. Well, this is the nature of the business so life will go on.
So yesterday we sent off the masters to the Lodge in New York City to be mastered by Joe LaPorta. He’s worked on some of our favorite records of the past few years, so it’s pretty kickass that he’s mastering our EP. It will arrive in New York tomorrow so hopefully we’ll have it ready by next week, at which point it will get sent off to be pressed. Then it’s only a seven business day wait until they are in our hands and on sale to you. iTunes will take a little longer which is ironic because you’d think it’d be easier to post the songs online than mass producing hard copies, but so it goes.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the show last night! It was a blast - waves of positive energy came off the crowd and it felt great to be apart of it. The Lupins and Dino rocked it long and hard, and the place was packed. As I said to Alex last night, the best thing about this community is that the kids aren’t afraid to have a good time. In the rooms next door to us, a couple metal and punk bands were playing, and while they had large audiences decked out in studded belts, patches on their jackets, and green hair glued up in mohawks, they were absolutely motionless, statuesque as these aggressive, heavy bands poured their hearts out on stage. These kids were too busy posing and stealing glances at each other’s outfits to even enjoy themselves. It’s refreshing to play for people who are not afraid to dance, to sing, to clap along even though it’s silly. So thanks for being great.
If you liked what you saw, come check us out at the Palms Bar on August 30th. It should be an eclectic show with magic and stand-up comedy and some great music. It’ll also be our de facto CD release since our EP will be ready by then and we should have some other surprises.
It’s not that I’m surprised that there’s such inane opposition to healthcare reform, just that it seems to be working. While I remain optimistic that some sort of public plan will come through for us, the sheer extent to which lobbyists and the right wing are going to derail this progress is astounding. Of course the insurance & pharmaceutical companies want to keep things as close to the status quo as possible, but the Republican scaremongering campaign is completely unhinged. Senior citizens around the country are piling into town hall meetings spewing vitriolic nonsense about Obama’s plan to euthanize the elderly and fund abortions.
Any rational American knows that insurance companies have been dicking sick people over relentlessly. People are abandoned by their healthcare providers at the very moment when they need care the most. Insurance companies, motivated by boosting their bottom line, take every excuse and opportunity to deny their customers coverage, leaving the sick with enormous hospital bills that drive them deep into debt. Couple that with escalating treatment costs and the average American is really hurting. Not only does it hurt the average family, but especially small businesses that are burdened with having to provide their employees inordinately expensive health insurance. Many companies are going out of business or laying people off in droves just to stay afloat. More and more regular, responsible people are finding themselves without insurance and unable to pay astronomical hospital bills. These people sink deeper in the hole and drag the whole economy down with it.
The arguments that healthcare reform is too expensive and that now is not the time are another piece of counterproductive propaganda. Yes, reform is costly and we will have to legislate ways to minimize that burden in the future. But the situation is already dire: the economy is struggling to get back on its feet, and an uninsured population that continually gets mired in medical debt, combined with businesses tanking because of skyrocketing healthcare expenses, are extremely dangerous, unsustainable circumstances that will guarantee the recession gets worse. The fiscally conservative and responsible approach to the problem is to address the issue now: provide a public plan that offers a safety net for those who need it and creates competition to keep the private insurers honest with those who don’t. The tea-bagging right frothing at the mouth at these town hall meetings are the remnants of a dying generation losing their influence on the future. Last year’s election was a loud and clear repudiation of the status quo, and these people are just too bitter at their exclusion from the mainstream to quietly accept the change that this country so desperately needs.
Many thanks to all those who came to our house party last night at Babar. We played a preview of tonight’s set at the Knitting Factory and it went over really well. Tonight should be a really great show with the Remus Lupins and Secret Secret Dino Club. This gig will be our first show since holing up in the studio for most of the year, so we are bursting at the seams to hit the stage. We were actually caught off guard a bit with how unexpectedly this came together. Our CD’s won’t be here until late next week so we won’t have anything to sell tonight, which is a bummer. But we are still glad to have the chance to share the stage with our good friends and play some new material for everyone.
We’ll be playing in LA again later this month and it should be a great show with some comedy and magic. I’ll announce the date and location for that later this week. Till then, hope to see you all at the Knitting Factory tonight. Bring your dancing shoes and your drinking livers.
The salt shaker was empty so he popped off the top. He opened the metal slat on the iodine jar with the lady in the yellow raincoat. As he poured the salt from the jar into the shaker, a full-grown moth fluttered out of the container and careened wildly toward the light. He looked at the container and the saltshaker, now half-full. He threw them both in the garbage and went out to buy more salt.