Street people addendum

So, I wrote the other day about an out-of-the-blue e-mail I got about where to find homeless people and prostitutes to interview.

The whole e-mail exchange was pretty bizarre in and of itself, and I guess I was struck more by the person's naivety about researching the subject, more than giving an educated response.

That said, my pal Rebecca, who does good work in the social services field, had some excellent advice for the person seeking to interview the homeless, etc:

I just spent a few moments catching up on your blog. I read the entry about the crazy people and wanted to give you some advice to pass on to the person looking to interview homeless people or prostitutes, which is this:

That type of field work is dangerous. Wilmington is plagued by many of the same conditions that plague Baltimore; one of these problems is heroin addiction and trade. The areas in which one is likely to find homeless or prostitutes on the street, one is also likely to find violence. Add to that the fact that homeless people are often suffering from some type of mental illness makes it even more risky to approach them without preparation.

This person should absolutely not go wandering around Route 13.

This person's best bet is to try to find subjects for his/her research project through a case manager at some type of shelter, transitional housing program or recovery program for sex workers. He or she should be able to find such programs in the phone book, through churches, or by contacting the City of Wilmington.

He or she should also be prepared to follow informed consent procedures that are appropriate both culturally and in terms of literacy level, and should be prepared to offer subjects some sort of incentive (e.g., grocery store gift card) for their time. In short, he or she should be prepared to treat these people with respect and dignity.

I do this type of research often in Baltimore and know how difficult it can be to do it both safely and without hurting those you're trying to help. I'd hate to hear about someone -- the researcher or the subject -- getting hurt because someone didn't know what they were doing.
Mark Erdody in Bullpen Catcher

So, I was listening to the most recent Hip Transistor show, hosted by Mike Lupica.

He played a song by the band Black Helicopter, which features former members of Green Magnet School and Kudgel.

Just this weekend I was looking over some old cassettes and saw one by El Tiante.

That band that featured Mark Erdody of Kudgel and his future wife Kara. For a while I played drums in the band.

That was over 10 years ago and the last time I ever played drums, with the exception of a one-off gig with Lettuce Prey.

Anyway, I haven't spoken with Mark in a while, which is a shame. He's one of the coolest dudes I met through punk rock.

I put on two Kudgel shows in Delaware which were fun as hell. After one of the shows there was a huge blizzard and the entire band (along with the Cheater Slicks) were stuck in a house in Newark, DE for three days until the snow melted.

I was glad to see that he's got a new band called Bullpen Catcher.

I'm thinking of dropping him a line, but honestly I hate when people google me online, send me a "hey-how's-it-going?" e-mail out of the blue and then fall out of touch.

I think people fall out of touch for a reason, primarly because that is the nature of friendships. They come and go and forcing them is kind of lame. So hopefully we'll cross paths again. We'll see.

Maybe Mark will google me and send me a "hey-how's-it-going?" e-mail out of the blue, which in this case, wouldn't be a bad thing at all.
Enron movie

I checked out "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" this weekend over at Theater N.

In case you haven't heard, it's documentary that exposes the disgusting and corrupt side of Enron (and corporate thieves like them, such as World Com).

Overall, it's a pretty intriguing film that illustrates how Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling led company employees and investors on a wild ride of deceived and multi-million dollar scams at the expense of everyone involved.

In short, their plan was simple: Keep stock prices as high as possible.

The methods used were a little more complex including accounting techniques that allowed them to put non-existent future profits on the books, manipulating energy resources (including causing deliberate blackouts in California) and many others that can't be explained away in a paragraph or two.

Once one fraudulent scheme began to fail, Enron quickly created another. All the while Lay and Skilling faked the company's performance - and fooled everyone. As the inevitable collapse of the company neared, Lay, Skilling and other Enron top execs cashed in their stocks for millions upon millions.

They urged employees and the public at large to invest in Enron stock, even though they knew it would be worth nothing. And sure enough, the company imploded and left thousands of employees and investors, many of whom had invested the bulk of their 401K with stocks worth basically nothing.

If the film has any fault, it's that it doesn't successfully illustrate the intricacies of Enron's deceipt. But that may be based on the fact that Enron's tactics were so complicated in their own right.

Still, there's no escaping the fact that Lay and Skilling ripped off common people, like you and I, and took their life savings and retirement funds and pissed them away.

It's an outrage shit like this can happen. Imagine if the company you worked for urged you to invest in their stock, then stole all your money as it went down the shitter, leaving you with a 401K and stock portfolio worth nothing.
Taylor is a punk rocker

I haven't updated this site in a while and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

It's primarily due to the fact that one of my other sites is taking up a majority of my publishing time.

I miss chatting about all the stupid crap I've been up to lately here.

Speaking of stupid crap, I wanted to bring you up-to-date on what my pal Taylor Roark is up to.

First, he celebrated his wedding last month in France. He got married a year previously, but just now got around to having a big party and ceremony. His wife is a cool chick. Her name is Christal, but I may have the spelling wrong on that.

Anyway, Taylor had the party in some remote French castle or some such nonsense. Then for a honeymoon, he spent two and a half weeks in the UK attending alternative lifestyle classes.

If you know Taylor, you know he's alternative enough. He's been a bus driver and a Wall Street Lawyer as well as a part-time blacksmith. Anyway, Taylor took classes on permaculture as taught by Penny Rimbaud, the drummer of Crass.

Only Taylor would spend his honeymoon with one of the dudes from Crass.

I feel obligated to keep the world informed about Taylor. He is easily one of the most interesting and complex people I know. Plus he likes Devo, which is a big plus in my book.

I keep urging Taylor to take up blogging and create his own spin on the world. He's got some cool field recordings of Tibetan forests and all kinds of weird shit he recorded on mini-disc while tripping his brains out on mushrooms in Uzbekistan.

Or something like that.

Anyway, this one's for you Taylor. Thanks for keeping it real all these years.
Crazy people

I got two e-mails from people who must have googled "semi-hip people living in Wilmington, DE." How they found me, I have no idea.

The first was an inquiry about the best place for record shopping. I said that it's slim picking here in Delaware. For new CDs and some vinyl, check Bert's on Main Street in Newark.

The New Castle Farmers Market has plenty of people on the weekends who have vinyl. Since I go weekly, I see a lot of the same old crap, but to newcomers, it's fun hunting through old vinyl. I've found many a punk gem over there.

Here's where it gets weird. The second e-mail was from someone who wanted to know where they could meet real, live homeless people and prostitutes so they could interview them for their sociology paper.

Like I would know where to find a whore in Delaware!

So, after I told them to go down to Route 13, I told them they should go interview bankers on Market Street Mall. They are whores themselves, albeit of a different strain.
Federation X interview

Here's an interview I did with Ben from Federation X. The interview also spawned a concert preview that I wrote for which you can read here.

How did you get turned on to punk rock?

Growing up in Olympia, watching Karp, Unwound, Fitz of Depression, Irving Klaw Trio and Godheadsilo in basements and the likes. Amazing, totally original music, not necessarily "punk" punk like Rancid boots and straps, but pure early 90's punk rock optimistic ideology.

What was the best concert you ever saw?

Oh shit, some of those basement shows in Olympia when we were in high school were off the hook. The Champs (before they were "fucking") at the Lucky Seven house blew my little mind.

When you're not touring do you still do a lot of music stuff? Or do you read, write or do other art stuff?

I play a plethora of instruments, practice daily, and play around town two or three times a week. I play lap steel, piano, and accordion with a shit-ton of honky-tonk, bluegrass and art-country bands. Some of those bluegrass shows are becoming bigger than most FedX shows. But it's really just for fun, practice and a musical challenge.

Any members in the band Howard Stern fans?

Um, sure. I don't really get up that early, I don't have Sirius, and I don't watch his cable porn show, but hell, he's bearable and pretty funny I guess.

What kind of stuff (if any) do you listen to in the van while touring? Audio books? Satellite radio? zines? comics? Music?

We listen to nothing on tour right now. We only have radio, so sometimes it's the Phil Henry show at night or Art Bell. Our roadie just got an iPod, so I guess things are going to change. I read a bunch of books.

Is there a reason that the band didn't go back to Albini to record "Rally Day?"

Always change the formula to stay on top of your originality. We wanted to record somewhere really comfortable with someone we know as bros. We kicked ass on recording the last two records in lightening fast efficiency, so we decided to try something a little less efficient - a little bit of "studio fucking-around-ery".

How was the experience working with Albini?

Steve was THE lesson in efficiency. Those nerds at Electrical Audio are total scientists. He was also amazingly funny, sincere, and totally entertaining.
He did a great job and helped us immensely.

How did you come to choose Ryan Anderson to record the new album?

He had the best weed. Really he's a good friend, a great engineer, and a comfortable guy to work with.

Do you remember the first record(s) you bought?

I bought three 7-inches; Black Flag, Gas Huffer, and Long Hind Legs. I remember buying Stones shit when I was a kid, and some Kenny Rogers.

What kind of music was played in your house (if any) when you were growing up?

Hooked on Classics, Shaft, Simon and Garfunkel, ABBA. All those staples of middle America. The most important however was that my father is a huge Willie Nelson fanatic. Nobody has affected me more than Willie.

Do you read any zines? If so, any comments on the quality of writing in them? Or any constructive criticism on how they could be better?

I kind of gave up on music and political zines sometime in the 90's. The only "music mag" I read now is Chunklet. And that's because it's nothing but humor - grated, directed at indie band record collector nerds. Nothing is as progressive as good humor.

Best live bands out there right now?

400 Blows, Last of the Juanitas, Big Business, Narrows, Fleshies, Toys That Kill, Drunk Horse.

I've never been to Total Fest - what's it all about?

A shit ton of amazing art-rock semi-metal bands. Josh Vanek of Wantage USA has accrued one of the best rosters for any label I've ever heard.

Ever toured overseas? If so, how is the response?

We did a short UK/Belgium/Spain tour a couple years ago. We had a blast and the Euros geeked out. We're returning this fall.

Favorite place to play?

Flagstaff Arizona has been one of those small towns where everybody there has become family. We play some shit storms in Oakland too. Our last house party we played in the kitchen when the basement flooded. I stood on the stove, Beau almost prematurely exited through the window with his drum kit and Bill surfed.

Favorite movie?

Oh hell, Chinatown? I love Todd Haynes right now.

Vinyl or CDs? Why?

I choose vinyl because I loose, break, disrespect and scratch CDs. LPs look, feel and sound better. It's a lot more concrete as well. It takes some balls
to drop duckets on vinyl where CDRs are plaguing everybody's CD collection. Albini had some good words about longevity on this topic. Then again I don't
have an iPod yet. That might change my tune.

Any opinion on "illegal" music downloading? For example, how would you feel about someone downloading a copy of "Rally Day" or other bands on Estrus?

Buy the record if you really like the album. But whatever, do what you gotta do. It's good to know people want to hear you. If a band wants to sell records they better make the artwork fucking perfect and the songs amazing.

Do you have any good tour stories?


If you could hang out with any musician for a day (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

Willie Nelson.
Man oh man...

It's been busy alright.

Here's a piece I wrote on a local dude from Bucks County, PA.

His band's name is Peasant and they just put out their first CD.

I interviewed Hugh Masekela today. He's such a cool dude. I did the non-obvious music writer thing and actually asked him interesting questions.

We talked about Clifford Brown for a while, then we talked about reading books and just life stuff.

I hate interviewers who ask all the obvious questions. Masekela is playing the Clifford Brown jazz fest on Sunday.

Also on Sunday I'm interviewing one of the dudes from Federation X.

I'm doing a preview for their shows in Wilmington (!) and Philly next weekend.

Monday I'm finally getting a chance to see The Bellrays. I'm stoked about that. They are opening for Bloc Party and Pixies.

Then I'm going to check out World Cafe Live on Wednesday for a tour, dinner and seeing The Bad Plus.

I'll be seeing a lot of bands over the next few weeks.

This week is the Clifford Brown Jazz Fest. I plan on seeing the Funky Meters and Hugh Masekela.

In fact, I'm going to be interviewing Hugh Masekela for work. I heard him interviewed once on Talk of the Nation and it was compelling radio for sure.

Then I'm going to see The Bellrays and Bloc Party who are opening up for the Pixies. That show is next week.

Then Federation X is playing later next week just a few blocks from my house. I'm so stoked to see them.

Also, I'm going to be checking out a show at the World Cafe Live and reviewing it from work. Not sure who the band will be, but I'm hoping to see either The Bad Plus, Emiliana Torrini or Eels.

Devo is playing this summer in Atlantic City at the House of Blues. I haven't decided if I'm going to go, but I really have been wanting to see Devo live for a while now.

Too bad my pal Taylor lives in France now, because I know if he was around, he'd go in a heartbeat.

I remember in college going over to Taylor's pad and saw a "New Traditionalists" poster hanging on the wall. I knew then he was a righteous dude.

One night, a bunch of girls literally drove their car through the front door of his apartment. Those were insane times.