Monday, February 11, 2019

Worst Party Ever/Dollar Signs/Late Bloomer/Community Couch/Planet Loser
Sunday, January 27th 2019
Lucky You Tattoo, St. Petersburg FL

Published at Apathy & Exhaustion

About a decade.  When asked how long I’ve lived over here, I’ve now reached the point where I can comfortably round up to that answer.  Despite my gradual transformation into a hybrid accepted in full by neither culture, it doesn’t take much prompting for the old country to come screaming back into the focus of my mind.  Take for example tonight’s first orbiters of the Lucky You nebula, Tampa’s Planet Loser.  This dream pop duo is here backed by a full band, but my attention is still drawn to the Branglophile stylings of the permanent members.  Guitarist Ethan is wearing a full-on sandwich board advertisement for Scottish soft drink Irn-Bru, while vocalist Amber is dressed like she just arrived from a chilly council estate, all hooped earrings and baggy tops (much of the rest of the U.S. may have become freezingly unliveable but it’s still winter down here nevertheless).  Amusingly, it fits. Planet Loser’s rhythmic indie pop is music suited to the dark northern climes, the delicate lifting strength of three guitars and a calming female voice. Despite clothing choices, there’s much more that indicates a heartland 80s influence rather than of the decade’s tail end baggy scene; the intro to Feel You Breathe sounds like it's going to be a cover of Close To Me by The Cure.  It’s no less enjoyable to realise that it’s not.

My writing relationship with local favourites
Community Couch has until now been series of near misses: arriving late to a gig they did with Piss Ghost (RIP) and Madison Turner; noting their cancellation of a September show in Richmond to push my anti-hurricane agenda; hearing an acoustic set at the first Planet Retro Punk Rock Flea Market while I sat barely out of sight attempting to flog paper manifestations of stuff like this.  I knew enough to know they’d be fun to finally witness properly though. This earworm queercore outfit channels self-doubt into community catharsis, as promised in their title.  There’s a lot of physicality for an act named after a piece of furniture you sit your arse down on; frontfolks Stove and Glen perform sustained coordinated kicks towards drummer Eli’s face during one tune, and Stove’s vicious hugging towards the end of the set encapsulates some of the emotional mixing on display in the music.  My pal Oliver jumps in at one point with a kazoo purchased from the WORST COMPANY EVER, one perfectly worthy of the Liquid Sunshine lyrics “I can't pay my bills, I don't know how we'll eat / I'd pick up another job, but then when would I sleep?”

Late Bloomer
from Charlotte, North Carolina, begin their set by thanking not just our St. Petersburg, but St. Petersburg of Russia.  Careful now. The way things are going with this ever-widening conspiracy (Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard are now apparently Kremlin assets too), it won’t be long until every resident of this city is stripped of their rights under the charge of trying to build a covert Russian enclave in the middle of Florida.  As their name might suggest, Late Bloomer -- like their 6131 Records labelmates Planet Loser -- are pretty deep in the nostalgia game, but at least it’s of a high quality. As they perform their respectable post-grunge college rock I can see the washed-out MTV2 video playing inside my head.  You can see it too, because it apparently exists for the track Life Is Weird, which itself harkens backwards with clips from 1950s television.  If only we could recycle our physical resources as thoroughly as we recycle our culture.  Strangely, both Scott on drums and Neil on guitar remind me of various underappreciated Culkin siblings.   I would avoid making mention of the recently disbanded McCauley comedy vehicle The Pizza Underground, if not for the fact that the producer/engineer on Late Bloomer’s recent record Waiting was Justin Pizzoferreto (known for his work with Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.).

It goes from
Life is Weird to Life Is Ruff with tonight’s other Charlotte touring band, Dollar Signs.  Life Is Ruff is a dog-friendly EP I would pick up (not to be confused with new one I Need Some Space) both because I was excited to finally see this lot and because at the time of the gig I thought I had a job on the hook and was prematurely seeing my own dollar signs.  Turns out I didn’t exactly, but other funding has thankfully since come my way.  This is a party that sucks you in.  Dollar Signs live are like The Front Bottoms plus Against Me! plus the trumpet bounce of Less Than Jake, fronted by Erik Button’s jovial inviting vocal style.  Bassist Dylan Wachman tells of a strange incident that took place 30 minutes earlier at a nearby sports bar involving a man in a peacoat and his pee, only for the stranger in question to show up and defend himself by proclaiming that “I washed my dick before I left the house.”  Inconsiderate bastard almost crashed the vocal of The Devil Wears Flannel, a great song (from last year’s This Will Haunt Me) that namechecks Orson Welles and Mozart, among others.  It’s in the same vein of lambasting popular music as I’m Better Than You by Kanye West, an old track that brought Dollar Signs to my attention years before West started donning his MAGA hat and talking a lot of foolishness.

Being that it’s an all-ages, booze-free, essjaydubbleyoo sort of hang out, youthful vigour is often present here at Lucky You Tattoo.  But in the case of Sarasota’s emo-ists
Worst Party Ever a significant subset of the crowd are constantly pogoing around the singer with an otherworldly level of enthusiasm.  I was waiting for him and his mic stand to hit the floor amidst all the excited attention and the music to come to an abrupt pause.  Worst Party Ever may or may not be styled after the dialect of Comic Book Guy, a nerd so insignificant that Matt Groening didn’t even give him a name, but their apparent popularity and riled-up base would probably net them more votes than some of the other 3rd parties out there.  The music inspiring such a reaction is much more energetic than their Dashboardy bandcamp offerings might prepare you for. Cries of “four more years!” are met with the response “what the fuck is that?,” suggesting maybe that the political wing of the Worst Party Ever empire hasn’t yet been discussed.  A word of advice: make a few well placed calls to the Russian embassy and Ye and you’ll apparently be unstoppable.

Friday, February 8, 2019

NEW DEAL, WHO DIS?
Current Big Green proposals for a Green New Deal are coalescing around inadequate targets

Published at A Beautiful Resistance (aka Gods & Radicals)

The Green New Deal is everywhere, perhaps in part because it has remained nebulous.  Years, cuts and specifics are all over the place depending on who you ask. The U.S. Green Party, for example, has detailed plans for what it might mean because they were the first to champion the concept here over the past decade, rather than just the past few months.  Those plans include decarbonisation of the whole economy by 2030.

Events this week supported by a large number of green NGOs (such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, 350.org and Food & Water Watch) seem to be an attempt to clarify the current clamour.  Amongst a number of admirable details they have settled on calling for 100% renewable energy by 2035 (note that this is not the same as total decarbonisation, as it refers only to power generation), and the phase out of fossil powered land transport by 2040.  No specifics are given for other emissions sources (such as the fastest growing sector, aviation).

The phrasing for the electricity demand used in all documentation is some variant of “by 2035 or earlier.”  It is my hope that the use of “or earlier” indicates a willingness to admit that 2035 is too late for any serious target, and has been included to allow for improvement at some nearby point.  Because the people who drafted this particular sentence must know that when you give government a range of goals rather than a firm demand they will rise only to meet the easiest interpretation: it will be read as “by 2035, and not a minute sooner.”  So the wording must be for the benefit of future activism.

What doesn’t make any sense in this scenario is why we would build this huge push for legislation that we know to be inadequate.  We have taken this approach before and gotten nowhere. There’s no point going from half-honest to mostly honest about the climate crisis at this stage.  These same NGOs are currently complaining that the Green New Deal bill unveiled this past Thursday by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t explicitly ban fossil fuels.  But the tone set by these demands hardly gives them steady ground for dissent (Ocasio-Cortez’s bill at least calls for net-zero emissions within ten years).  As the media representative for Extinction Rebellion NYC, Rory Varrato, recently explained on Redacted Tonight:

“Let’s pretend like [the deadline is] tomorrow, because functionally it is.  We know the inertia of this system, we know the obstacles we have to overcome, and 12 years might as well be a blink of an eye.   Indeed we have something like negative 30 or negative 40 or negative 200 years, depending on where you want to peg the problem . . . we have less than no time.”

With this framing, you could make a legitimate argument that decarbonisation by 2025 -- one of the central demands of Extinction Rebellion -- is also too late, on the simple grounds that it may already be too late to avoid a runaway scenario that makes life impossible.  But the date must unfortunately be in the future rather than the past. The only sensible deadline is not four numbers but four letters: ASAP. You will struggle to find a climate activist who disagrees with that by now.  The sooner we can get to net zero, the better chance at avoiding decimation we will have. So why would we rally for a later date when we could rally for an earlier one?

To the argument that demanding decarbonisation by 2025 is unnecessarily steep and will turn people off the issue, let’s consider the recent IPCC report that got all this action supercharged.  That report called for a 45% reduction in global emissions by 2030 (much higher cuts in high polluting nations) and the end of fossil fuel burning by 2050, so within that framework, these demands seem reasonable.  But there are compelling arguments that the IPCC significantly underplayed the urgency of the situation as it has done in the past.  For example, the panel used 1850 as its baseline year rather than the pre-industrial period of a century earlier, ignoring 0.3 degrees of temperature rise.  They also ignored natural feedback loops, assuming that only greenhouse gases emitted by humans contribute to warming. The idea that there is any carbon budget that we can safely burn is a falsehood.  This is what Rory Varrato meant by “we have less than no time.”

You begin to understand why the Green Party plans aim for decarbonisation by 2030; some have been stating that this deadline is necessary for a number of years.  You begin to understand why Extinction Rebellion activists stepped up their messaging from “Oh Shit” to “We’re Fucked” in the weeks after the report.  You may not know how seriously to take these criticisms, not being a climate scientist, but there's no controversy to the idea that every IPCC report in the past has been unreasonably restrained to the point of negligence.  To ignore the possibility that it may have been so again this time is nothing but a coping mechanism.  Holding back the worst news has not stoked action up to this point. It is time we were treated like adults and told the truth.

Another way to comprehend why the 2025 goal is the most sensible one being suggested is to look at targets that were being suggested by respected actors over a decade ago.  The Guardian columnist and Extinction Rebellion supporter George Monbiot wrote extensively and compellingly in the mid-2000s about the need to cut emissions in the rich nations by an average of 90% by 2030, with a greater emphasis on the earlier part of the period.  It goes without saying that we have utterly failed to do anything of the sort. In light of this, and without the need to understand complicated scientific calculations, it follows that we must now meet an even higher cut in an even shorter amount of time.  We have also learned in the intervening years that the situation is far graver than previously thought, for example lowering (at the behest of the Global South) the recognised upper threshold from 2 degrees down to 1.5. Thinking that we should have similar or perhaps even lesser targets today as those proposed in 2006 is, to put it politely, illogical.

I suspect 2035 has been picked based on what is deemed to be physically possible, politically realistic or socially bearable.  2035 is far enough away to be thought of as “the future”; there's a semblance of breathing room in it. Well, if we want to keep breathing, we don't have time to breathe.  This Green New Deal coalition by definition acknowledges that the concept of “realism” is elastic, based almost entirely on political momentum and will, so let’s get behind some serious stretch goals.  Speaking of politics, we might also consider how the difference between a 6 year timeline and one of 16 years frames our view of election cycles.

The former allows no room to worry about the next presidential pissing contest, as doing so would burn almost almost a third of the available time.  The 16 year timeline allows us to continue engaging with that game and its soap opera entertainment. While it may be reasonable to assume that little will be done via the White House before 2021, the question is where do we wish to put our efforts?  We can, as we are already being encouraged, spend our precious time debating the differences among the many candidates, whose theoretical eight year terms will still not bring us up to the main target date, giving them plenty of incentive to blather and stall and kick the can down the road as we have seen many times before.  Or we can make an impact on the election passively, by building the boldest social movements possible and making those candidates chase us for votes.

There’s no doubt that the excitement for a Green New Deal has reignited the conversation around climate breakdown, and for that we should be pleased.  This is not about being more radical-than-thou, nitpicking or trying to poach fellow activists. But the proposals sent to government offices this week risk channeling our efforts into a deadly end, and drawing attention away from those voices that are telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  The time for fiddling over percentage points with confusingly different base years and sector parameters is gone. We must get rid of it all and fast.

Monday, January 21, 2019


Last summer I was provided with some free calling cards courtesy of the lovely Cards For Humanity art project.  To get feedback for the project I recently answered the following questions.  The full results of these surveys will eventually take the form of a book and website.  You can read the promo that I wrote for them in September at this link.
 
1. Briefly describe your business or gig in ±250 words.

Radical Beat is a writing/journalism project focused on the intersection of underground music and radical politics.  I've been writing about music for about fifteen years, with the idea for Radical Beat coming about in the last few.  Basically, these are the subject areas that interest me, and as my knowledge and writing abilities developed I came to realise there was no reason not to bring the topics together, as there can be a lot of crossover.  I believe that cultural criticism is important for brewing new ideas and promoting creative economies, and equally important is political action, without which all the words in the world have little importance.


2. What impact do you think you have on the community?

I like to think that my writing encourages musicians to work on their craft, to reflect on what might be working for them and to know that some people are paying close attention to their efforts and what they bring to the community.  As for the political and environmental writing, hopefully they help to spread new ideas and connect the dots between various issues.


3. What do you hope to achieve? What are your goals?

I want to contribute meaningfully to scenes that have given a lot to me, and build community to change the cruel systems that we live under.  On a more down to Earth practical level, a paid job writing about music and/or environmentalism would be great!


4. Do you do this for profit? If so, is it your main source of income? If not, how do you finance it?


Radical Beat has been done entirely during so-called free time.  While the occasional bit of money comes in from selling zines, etc, there's so far no way I can see to pay my bills doing this.  Even as a pastime/interest with very little in the way of physical supply needs, it's hard to do around the need to pay the rent.  Projects like Cards For Humanity certainly help.


5. How have the cards benefitted your business/gig or reputation? Have you noticed any financial difference, such as the number of clients, sales, hits, or gigs? 
 
There hasn't been any noticeable surge in interest since I began using the cards, but more people have continued to follow what I do.  They've been helpful mainly in that I haven't had to worry about making low-quality cards of my own and don't expect to for some time!

6. Do you think well-made cards can inspire other craftsman to improve the quality and originality of the art and design scene in St. Petersburg? Do you feel a similar obligation to uphold quality standards in the St. Pete arts community through your work?


Yeah, absolutely.  A card might seem like a marginal thing, which it is in a sense, but I can see someone looking at a nice one and thinking "they put the thought and effort into this. I should put the effort into my thing, no matter what sort of thing it is."  I do absolutely feel the need to hold my work to a high standard of quality, hard and subjective as that might be in a lot of ways.


7. What differences do you notice between the social interactions you have with people physically versus through online networking sites? Do you think physical calling cards can help facilitate in-person interaction? Do you find in-person interactions to be more effective than online networking methods? How so?


A physical interaction, even a short one, features some of the stuff that I am always wishing for online.  Questions, feedback, compliments, all of which we are generally too distracted to have time to type out, in my experience.  As much as I bash materialism, the tiny dopamine hit of getting a pleasant physical object (with an extremely small environmental impact, to be fair) could help someone stay invested in conversation, assuming they were somewhat interested to begin with.  In my case I am not sure if in-person interactions have led to many actual page views, etc, compared to when someone has the real content to look at, although that may be a fallacy based on the fact that most of the work is online and that which isn't online I cannot track.


8. Has Cards for Humanity affected your outlook on voluntary arts barter? For instance, instead of treating peers as clients, would you now be more open to trading creative services with other local artists/craftsmen in an effort to develop more meaningful, altruistic communities?


I think faith in the concept of any kind of alternative economics like barter needs to be constantly renewed, in light of the fact that traditional economics is shoved in our faces and presented as "normal" every minute of every day!  So academically, no, I was completely on board with this sort of thinking before.  But it's a welcome reminder to question ones own motives in all interactions and up our "don't be a selfish atomised bastard" game.


9. Do you think this project could be replicated and adapted by other artists and designers to increase the camaraderie in the St. Petersburg community? For instance, how do you (or might you) give back? Do you think future unsolicited support for emerging artists should be encouraged? Why does a quality arts community matter to you?

Since much of the criticism I write is generally positive it's already promotional of other artists in a way (and occasionally, they are just full-on promo pieces).  I think one of the challenges here is that there seems to be a general feeling among artists that art is not sufficiently valued and they are underpaid already (which it's difficult to argue with).  On the other hand, if art is about being creative, then being creative in your economic approach should certainly be a topic for discussion, and indeed many artists do work for free or at a loss.  If artists of different persuasions are being underpaid then at least they can help each other.  So yes, this should absolutely be encouraged.  Without a quality arts community we have nothing but gourmet dessert fooderies and horrific retail mazes, at which point we may as well all just wait at home for the impending ecological meltdown.

Monday, January 7, 2019

GETTING THAT GREEN

“Any climate politics so closely identified with the global elite in 2018 is dead on arrival.” -- Kate Aranoff, The Intercept

This past Thursday was quite the ride for those of us following climate change policy here in St. Pete, just three days into the new year.  Mayor Rick Kriseman and the Office of Sustainability & Resiliency held a number of events, the first of which had a secret guest and special announcement regarding the city’s Integrated Sustainability Action Plan (or ISAP).  The guest would turn out to be Michael Bloomberg, mega-billionaire financier, former Mayor of New York, and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action.  With a current net worth of about $44 billion and at least six homes around the planet, this man is an authority on the low-impact lifestyles that we all need to adopt.

He announced that St. Petersburg was the twentieth winner of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge.  Having explained their climate change intentions, the contest winners (five more cities remain to be announced) will receive a support package and technical assistance to help implement them, including a Bloomberg Philanthropy team member to facilitate development of plans, training for local leadership and citizen engagement support to help get people on board.  Supposedly this two-year acceleration program to help meet or beat target carbon cuts is valued at over $2 million. It’s not clear how much of that amount will be a flat cash donation to help implement the ISAP, though there is a reference in the documents to “rapid response grants.” Kriseman refused to comment on what exactly that unknown amount of money might be spent on, but the press release from the foundation suggests the city intends to scale up energy efficiency and renewable energy financing models, as well as the residential solar co-op plan.


We might be willing to welcome the injection of resources and funds (especially as it constitutes a crude form of resource transfer from a wealthy source) and the stated goals of accelerating drawdown plans.  But getting this from Bloomberg, the 11th richest person in the world (“I put the money in the foundation and they take it out”) may indicate significant limitations in thinking for participating cities. Bloomberg’s business class is not going to accept a message against the underlying problem of economic growth, or even strongly against unfettered markets, and what he tellingly called “the grassroots” (meaning not regular activists but city governments) will keep that in mind when writing future grant applications and drawing up plans.  Consider the way Bloomberg utterly dodged a question from a Florida Phoenix reporter about whether he supported the idea of a Green New Deal Committee, a current popular demand that would bar politicians who don’t see a problem with accepting fossilised money.  Instead of answering yes or no, Bloomberg fluttered on about not getting this done “overnight” (the Sunrise Movement that is primarily pushing the idea is demanding complete decarbonisation within ten years, but go ahead and conflate those two timelines), about Trump, about the glorious national conversion from coal to fracked gas, as if he's never heard of methane emissions, or just doesn’t give a damn.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that just a few months ago, this “climate philanthropist” accused protesters blockading a pro-corporate Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco of being hypocritical fools working against their own interests.  Never mind that such summits still promote absurd ideas, like that market mechanisms can magically turn the threat of looming death for our planet into a bonanza for shareholders, or that the host Governor took millions of dollars in fossil fuel donations over his career.  How’s Bloomberg Philanthropy going to react when Extinction Rebellion US and other movements begin to forcefully point out that this wishy washy, business-as-usual approach is why we have been failing to solve this problem for decades?  That we need not the generosity of the upper class, but the restructuring of an economic system that serves them at our collective expense?  What are the odds of these arguments making headway in local government with a Bloomberg Philanthropy employee sitting at the table?

Later in the day came the ISAP pubic review & open house at city hall.  While there was no formal presentation or explanation of the action plan, residents were invited to browse documents and vote for priorities in a series of categories.  There appeared to be substantial support among those present for reducing all local emissions 20% by the end of next year, as well as for affordable housing policy and electric vehicle incentives.  The 20% reduction by 2020 (based on a 2016 baseline) is now apparently a firm commitment by city hall, designed presumably to coincide with the duration of the Climate Challenge program, and it is followed by a goal of a 40% reduction by 2025.  The final ISAP is not yet available to the public, but a recent draft and other documents are available at the city sustainability page.

Looking at these goals, we might consider a few things.  This is more than many governments in the US are proposing, to be sure, indicating an understanding of the need to make rapid cuts early in the timeline to lower overall total emissions.  Local government officials act within an environment of complex systems much larger than themselves, that like all of us they must navigate as best they can, with not even the likes of Michael Bloomberg able to have complete control over all outcomes.  But while there can be little doubt that there are people within official channels who genuinely care about climate breakdown, and who doubtless expended significant effort to get these plans put together, the simple, unbiased truth is that these cuts are still simply not deep enough given the need for the emergency measures that are now our only chance at survival.  

They are not in line with the recommendations of the October IPCC report, let alone the position of those commentators who suggest that the IPCC was not honest about the gravity of our situation.  The most recent publicly available version of the city roadmap (published in November) proposes an 80% cut by 2050, which, if it were to remain in the final draft, would indicate a catastrophic slowdown in efforts.  Honest city employees are no doubt aware of this, and would hopefully welcome the political capital to expand the plans drastically. It's up to those of us on the outside to help provide them with that political space, by laying out the stark and unpleasant reality.

Extinction Rebellion is calling for the declaration of an immediate state of emergency over the climate crisis from all levels of government, a society-wide mobilisation to bring emissions down to net zero by 2025, and a much more participatory democracy to make sure we all get a say in these defining times.  Extinction Rebellion Tampa Bay will be officially launching during a national day of action on Saturday January 26th.  We invite everyone who supports emergency climate action to join us that day at 10am in Williams Park.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Leftöver Crack
Leftöver Leftöver Crack: The E-Sides and F-Sides
Fat Wreck, 2018

Published at Apathy & Exhaustion

Here's my latent, superficially non-denominational holiday gift to all punks, skins, outsiders, and those who feel in general that humanity is driving itself into the abyss.  The Mariah Carey staple, All I Want For Christmas Is You -- a song so popular that 24 years after its release it just became the new single day streams record holder on Spotify -- is a subversive message of anti-consumerism.  “I don't care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree,” playing in every retail shithole in the West and probably beyond.  You are now allowed to admit that you like it without shame. You're welcome.

If it’s good enough for Mariah, it’s good enough for the Leftöver Cracks of our world.  It’s not necessarily the coolest thing to admit or a major indulgence, but I occasionally enjoy some Crack and company.  With a planet so obviously being fucked from every direction, we need a vast variety of mental medicines. We need deep analysis, daring artistic vision, boring data-driven reporting.  We also need simple messages that are easily understood, gut-based, emotional outbursts, the normal language of proper people. The Crackers fall somewhere along this spectrum, though it’s tough to say exactly where.  Their subject matter and positions are often pretty far outside the mainstream, somewhat radical even for the punk sphere. It’s also quite easy to see a juvenile or shallow aesthetic going on, of the kind that causes critics to refer to them as “music aimed at Garbage Pail Kids,” or “that awful fucking band . . . whose particular din is enjoyed by nobody with good taste in punk rock ever.  EVER.”

Point is, it’s tempting to indulge in what might be considered basic skin deep revolt sometimes.  Take for example the little number Baby-Punchers featured on this rarities collection that I am apparently reviewing.  What could be more satisfying than the opening line “Fuck your flag and fuck your face” when you’ve just had a run in with your dumbass neighbours, complaining that foreigners don’t care about “old glory” in front of you, then trying to imply that you’re somehow less foreign than other immigrants, as happened to me yesterday?  It’s almost as if growing up in England makes me more inclined to stick by my South Asian fellow complex dwellers.  The track (originally released on a 2006 split with Citizen Fish) features Jello Biafra bringing another welcome element to the already varied mix in a shouted word rant, and when it yell-culminates in “QUIT YOUR JOBS!  BURN DOWN THE MALLS!” you goddamn want to!  I will indulge those impulses for these few minutes if only strategically or metaphorically in my wider life (considering that the other thing I intended to do today was apply for some sort of rent-paying toil... that didn’t happen).  And as for the song Banned in P.C, I wish!  They just asked me in for another one-off shift, the merciless bastards.

Leftöver Leftöver Crack has been carefully and meticulously curated with the goal of coming across like an unattractive document of scum living, burned inattentively to stolen CDs by an anonymous compiler in between smack injections and nutting coppers.  You don’t believe it of course, but whatever. This appeal has always been in the actual music anyway, Stzas vocals generally seeming to suffer from some combination of proudly rough recording equipment and gargling too much cider and lean.  You could choose to interpret this all as “slum tourism” or “lifestyle anarchism” I suppose, or an attempt to artistically capture certain elements of life under this soul-sucking regimen; without intimate knowledge of the band members’ lives it’s mere guesswork.

Spanning their career as it does, E-Sides and F-Sides manages to round up a lot of the unusual stuff Leftöver Crack have often inserted into their works.  The number of vocal samples and skits present from the Rock the 40oz EP indicate Stza and co’s respect for hip hop mixtape creativity; I thought E-side might mean East Side until I realised it’s just a reference to the fact that this is a double LP.  (Interestingly, the long running website punknews.org did a similar mixtape idea last year called Banned From The P.C., that features a BBC live version of Gay Rude Boys Unite.)  There’s the wild west criminality meets Bad Brains of The Good, The Bad and the LöC, while World War 4, originally from an old Fat Wreck Christmas album, has some unexpected pop punk melody and background vocals.  There’s a really quite fun cover of Men At Work’s Land Down Under that I think even haters might enjoy, even if it is largely because it features somebody else's lyrics.

If you’re a serious fan of leftovers, ready to lazily consume them when you get home from another day working for The Man, you’ll find this either a cool single package to have or pretty much a waste of time, since the majority of the material comes straight from the bands’ various splits and EPs.  If you’re more a casual listener like me thirty tracks isn’t bad value for cuts that you may have overlooked. I would suggest checking the bandcamp tracklist to see where it puts you on this spectrum. Right, now that that’s sorted, what to do now? Back to Apple Pie and the Police State I guess.


Leftöver Leftöver Crack: The E-Sides and F-Sides can be heard at the bandcamp link above, and can be purchased (if you’re that unpunk) from Fat Wreck at this link.  It’s available as a digital download, on CD or a double LP.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Mosquito Teeth/Pig Pen/Car Bomb Driver/Dea & Saint/Mickey Spixx/Acoupstix
Saturday, December 29th 2018
Fubar, St. Petersburg FL

The Radical Beat musical heaven where punk and hip hop fuse at the, er, hip, was never presented so starkly.  
Acoupstix is once again funny and captivating, capturing the party in his grin as well as he captures the shitty issues of the day in this here column that he wrote.  Trio Mickey Spixx take a room already filled with so many bodies and fill it further with love, love, love.  I finally get to see Dea & Saint with their full band lineup, and I get it, in the sense that I don’t quite get it, and I’m looking forward to perhaps further getting it, which is kind of exciting in itself, because we don’t want to be either trapped or doomed by the forces swirling around us or the limits of musical convention.  Car Bomb Dave of Car Bomb Driver is in full force energy mode, showing up Howlin' Pelle of The Hives with his skinny tie and slack-clad microphone moves as the band blast through a high-powered setlist building to a furious version of Ace of Spades.  Police visit briefly, worried we might throw The Damned on the jukebox and smash the place up; ready for any scenario comes Pig Pen, suspiciously timed and snouted and masked and armed with thick bacon strip riffs.  Mosquito Alert, aka Mosquito Teeth bring a colourful peak of steamroller noise and lager flying madness, a cover of the aspirational Do What You Want, and a new, free mini album by the title of Fubar.

This whole thing feels like a celebration born of grief, like a New Orleans jazz funeral.  Aside from all the familiar musicians and scene supporters I see and chat with people that chronicle my own sordid history in St. Pete, which began just two months after the opening of Fubar: old friends from the MYRA Radio Network at St. Petersburg College, from Community Cafe, from Mother Kombucha.  The packed venue is a living document, hours now from being shredded. The sense of loss that is about to come over this place, scattering us back to our atomised lives and homes, is suddenly palpable and upsetting, of the kind that for a second you allow yourself to believe cannot actually be happening.

Do you know what this is, developers, landlords and the politicians who thrive on their donations?  It’s called COMMUNITY.

Their money will be louder than us until we GET LOUDER.  This is why we need groups like Extinction Rebellion Tampa Bay that will challenge the inconsistent policies we see from local governments and planners.   Climate change threatens us all, but community and survival are meaningless without one another, they are interdependent. Seeking to lower the energy burden on working people is undone by policies that encourage rising rents.  Protecting neighbourhoods from rising sea levels (which current plans fail to do anyway) is less meaningful when there’s nothing left in them but resource intensive chain stores and a resource intensive demographic that can pick up and leave at almost any time.  Climate and resource pollution will increase as long as cities are planned around the frivolous desires of those with excessive disposable incomes.  The objectives of our economy need to be seriously redirected, otherwise all of this will be gone one way or the other.

Mark January 26th in your diaries, and get ready to rebel.


Image may contain: text