Gut Reaction: New Nine Inch Nails Video Plays On Video Game Urban Legend

There’s a couple of items to note with the new Nine Inch Nails Video LESS THAN which seems to also serve as the lead single for an upcoming EP later this month.

For one, the single seems to be way more hooky than the Not The Actual Events EP released last December which wasn’t bad by any means, but might have taken a few efforts for some fans to get into. Considering that came smack dab in the middle of retail hell where I witnessed a 65-year-old grandma cold-clock a 20 something Frat Bro for a 43 Inch TV and overnight shifts prevented me from frequenting bars to hinder my seasonal depression, I’d say Not The Actual Events was perfect mood music.

But it’s summer, rompers are in season for all, and a sweltering southern heat that could only be cured by an impeding Nuclear Winter or..um..lemonade calls for something with a little zip.

And LESS THAN has a type of With Teeth zip that I adore.

Secondly, the video is rooted on an urban legend about Polybius, an alleged game  from the 80’s in the arcades that was said to give players psychoactive problems.

I’d expect nothing less from the man that spent much of his downtime while touring in the 90s playing Doom, which led to him composing the music for Quake.

What I’m saying is a video like this not makes sense but should have come a long time ago.

Check out the video for yourself, though I promise there are no worries of night terrors or amnesia. Just maybe a hunger to devour the upcoming Add Violence EP on July 21st.

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Take Off Your Pants And Jacket: Annual Pants Tour Show At The Hi-Tone

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Fourth of July Season in Memphis often leads to one question: Was that fireworks or gunshots I just heard?

This isn’t to stereotype a city that years ago was the top dog in city Homicides before conceding to better killers like Detroit and Chicago. The adage of stay in your lane can add miles to your life in this city, just as long as you know where to drive or park. And I was in the Mid-Town area, which in years, has transformed itself into the southern charmed hipster center of West Tennessee. Thefts and bulgaries are more common in that area than homicides.

Still, with the sun setting and while trying to cross the street to enter the Hi-Tone for a show of raucous rock, cheap beer, and wafting cigarette smoke, noticeable pops went off.

And as a result, I walked towards the venue a little faster.

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The night’s show was thanks to local Punk band and Smith 7 Records mainstay Wicker, whose annual Pants Tour has not only served as a multi-week showcase of local talent but has also placed its charitable heart on its sleeve. During Pants Tour, Wicker has chosen a charitable organization to give all their proceeds from the shows.

This year’s cause was for the Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Coalition which is appropriate given the political, social, and racial climate as of late.

July 1’s show featured a lineup probably as diverse as a Llollpooloza lineup, just without the huge ticket price.

First up was The Acorns aka the one-man act of Ryan Hailey aka a man, an electric guitar and a host of energetic, humorous, and catchy songs. My buddy Patrick, who is a guitarist for Wicker has shared many of The Acorns’ songs with me at work, while often going “..Oh, you’ve gotta listen to this one. I think you’ll appreciate it.”

And 9 times out of 10, I did (the 10th time I was too occupied with going to the bathroom, sorry dude, I’m only human).

Ryan is a creative machine, writing songs, joining bands, and even directing music videos. I don’t want to throw around the term creative genius or anything as that sounds to hoity toity, so we’ll just say “RocknRoll Robot,” and keep it moving.

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The Swansons were up next playing their final show but it was my first time seeing them. Naming yourself after the best character from Parks And Rec is grounds to become an instant fan favorite. The self-described sad rock stylings of this three piece would have you hooked. And then there’s a song like I Don’t Think You Hate Me, which sonically sounds like walking down a suburban culdesac dimly lit by streetlights before madly sprinting towards nowhere. Yeah, just my luck I discovered this band right upon its death. But I did the same thing with At The Drive-In and they’re back, so maybe I’ll be alive long enough to witness a reunion. Also, drummer Walker’s cymbal flying off his kit as he thundered into it, seemed kind of a poetic statement, given that this was their final show.

Or maybe I’m just reaching for a proper ending to a band I just met.

Goodbye Swansons, I hardly knew ye…no, really.

If the Swansons or their musical death dampened the mood, then Wicker picked it back up.

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I often fear being friends with people in bands because then there’s the threat of their band sucking. Patrick ( one of Wicker’s Guitarists) and I have built a friendship on a shared love of numerous great bands, alcohol infused commiserating on life, and pseudo-conspiracy theory podcasts. You know, good ole American male bonding. It would have sucked to have to lie to him about my enjoyment every time dude played his band’s music.

Lucky for me, I don’t have that problem.

I dig Wicker and their catchy punk shenanigans. And as cliché as it is to say that they’re a band you have to see live, it’s no less true. You’ve got singer Brain Vernon draped in American Flags like some makeshift Apollo Creed in an alley fight sing screaming his high register voice out, three guitarists and a bassist jumping and screaming like their having a throw-down in their own pit, and a drummer who hits with so much strength and precision, you’d think he’s in an MMA fight with the kit. So yes, Wicker is a band you should see live.

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Another act you should also witness are HEELS. Look maybe I’m biased with this guitar-drum two-piece because 45 minutes before their set, they too-sweeted me for my Kenny Omega shirt.

Maybe that bias continues because like me, they were happy to be at the show, but both had their DVR’s set for the NJPW G1 Special that was running on the same night.

To qoute Gallows and Anderson, they’re “Good Brothers.” But they’re also a good folk punk duo that also undeniably sound as if they were smoked in a Memphis BBQ pit parked next to a dive bar in an open field. They ‘re what I wish Alternative music’s current infatuation with folk would sound like, instead of just uninspired and boring. Also, the onstage banter between Brennan (Vocals and Guitar) and Josh (Drums) sounds like it was raised in the confines of a comedy club.

Finally, Grandpa Grew Trees closed out the night’s show, sounding like if Radiohead developed a crush on My Morning Jacket. Grandpa Grew Trees gave the sense that they are probably destined to be on a best of list from Pitchfork someday if they aren’t already. They were incredibly tight and while I would never take anything away from the other bands, they seemed more technical but without being unnecessarily heady.

While the energy in their songs were low-key, almost dream-like, it seemed like the perfect cap-off to a mostly high-energy show.

Pressing Matters: I’m Afraid Of Americans, I’m Afraid I Can’t Help It

 

The first time I saw David Bowie, Trent Reznor was chasing him.

Not in a for musical glory sense but literally.

The guy was chasing after Bowie like some 90’s thriller.

Fitting since it was 1996.

Through a Buzzworthy Track on a MTV that still baked the majority of its bread from music videos, David Bowie was being stalked and chased by the Nine Inch Nails frontman.

Needless to say, the catchy bleep blops that rhythmically punctured the song—this was the popular Reznor Photek version and not Brian Eno’s original—and the head scratching chorus of “I’m Afraid Of Americans,” had me both perplexed and hooked.

And scared.

When a 12-year-old black kid whose family was rooted in the Southern COGIC Religion hears the words “ God Is An American,” his naive religious tension rises.  

I’m going to hell for listening to this,” I cried.

That remains to be seen.

I wish I could say that it’s the passing of Mr. Bowie that has me reminiscing about the song. And make no mistake, his death is still a razorbalde Jolly Rancher that’s hard to swallow. But honestly “I’m Afraid Of Americans” has been playing in my head on repeat because 20 plus years later, I find myself neither frightened at the prospect of hell due to controversial thoughts in a Christian Home.

I’m actually afraid of Americans.

Forgive me for pulling an “not all men” defense here, but when I say Americans, I don’t necessarily mean all Americans. Saying that would also mean that I’m afraid of myself.

I have a range of feelings concerning myself, most of them somewhere between, “Hey, I’m an alright fella,” to “Oh you blundering ogre idiot.”

Fear isn’t in that range.

It thrives within another.

When it comes to Americans, there’s a specific kind to pinpoint.

These Americans are usually white.

They are usually archaic in either age or their ideals.

These Americans drive with their SUVS, Hummers, and big ole white Pick-Up Trucks, sporting a Trump Bumper Sticker, Jesus Fish, or just the an entire American Flag.

They wear their supposed patriotism not on their sleeves but completely smother themselves within it though the very fabric may be tattered and torn with nationlism and paranoia for those that don’t look like them.

Their eyes glare at anyone who would dare take a knee instead of place their hand over their heart during the high school football or soccer games their kids play in.

These Americans say brother to their black coworkers or church members while hissing nigger at their pants-sagging nappy haired children.

Their children absorb and manipulate other cultures while decrying those very same cultures as inferior on social media.

These Americans are too tuned into Fox News or worse, their Facebook New Feeds rather than actual legit or at the very least, reputable news sources.

These citizens look at protests like Black Lives Matter or the Women’s March not as fights for equality or fights against a system that brandishes injustice, but rather see them as troublemakers, whiners, and people who should be grateful for the status quo.

These Americans defend against punching Nazis.

And finally, these Americans that I speak of, that to me are truly my own personal boogeymen look at the recent actions of their president not as rocket ship towards Facism or World War III but as safety and loyalty.

To paraphrase Bowie I’m Afraid of Americans. And I’m afraid I can’t help it.

I’m afraid of anyone who brandishes our American Flag now because it only reminds me of anyone who brandishes the southern flag.

I’ve spent years hearing of that flag’s defenders here say that it isn’t a symbol of hate but of rebellion and tradition despite it already being tainted with the blood of countless Blacks and Native Americans.

It’s messed up as technically, just as I am a southern, I’m also an American. And just as there are things about the south I adore—the concept of Southern Hospitality, the food—there’s so much to love about this country. But just as with the area, I’m not meant to be the prime recipient of all that’s supposed to be great. Ironically, to many, mostly white folks, I’m targeted as a reminder of what’s wrong.

Or maybe I’m just a constant reminder of what their ancestors did wrong.

No one likes to be reminded of the past when it’s filled with guilt mind fields, especially America.

I’m often told that dwelling in the past gets in the way of swimming towards progress. However no one seems to keep in mind that stubbornly moving along without addressing the anchor will only cause you to sink no matter how hard you swim.

The proclamation of Freedom of Expression and the right to rock certain symbols and Flags is always invaded any hint of protest from me and probably every other person of color having to deal with racism’s multi-layered forms.

Because let’s face it, Racism is a rotten onion often thrown at our heads.

But for every declaration or admitted bondage to “Da 1st Admendment,” you never hear important variables that need to be dissected.

Your Right To Free Speech is fine and dandy on paper, but what if that speech includes hate?

And what if a symbol that started off as a romantic ideal instead became perverted by the actions of those who still drape themselves in it like a well worn blanket?

This is my problem with the American Flag currently. A cloth I’ve been indoctrinated to pledge allegiance to since I was five.

It is supposed to be a symbol of what makes America so great. But the fine print to that is that whatever greatness it contains, I’m not meant for it. But the burden of gratefulness for its existence and how it’s supposed to correlate with my own existence in this country even though it fails me in that regard, is still placed upon me.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire what it was supposed to represent. What it was supposed to mean. And to those that rock it because it has a deeper meaning for them devoid of hate, I respect.

That being said instead of looking at someone’s bumper sticker of the flag, or if they’re so bold, placement of the cloth in the back of their pick-up truck, my immediate thought isn’t “Oh, this person loves their country.” It’s “Oh, this person probably detests me.”

I shouldn’t think that.

I shouldn’t have to at all.

But when you’re constantly reminded just how meaningless your life is in this country, how no matter the quality of your actions or character, that you are seen as less than human, I have to think that way.

I have to be wary.

I have to survive.

And if I’m lucky enough, figure how to evolve that survival into living, because there is a key difference between the two.

It feels as though I have to be afraid of Americans because I don’t have a choice.

I don’t know how Bowie would feel about me relating his song to this personal fear. I mean, when he wrote it, the tune was more of a comment on the invasion of American ways, culture,and corporatism to the rest of the world.

I would like to think given how sharp of man he seemed, if performing now, he’d realize that the song can have a completely different yet relateable meaning.

Top 5 Donald Glover Performances In Derrick Comedy

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Donald Glover is a Renaissance Man.

The actor/writer/music artist has had a stellar personal season with the success of Atlanta and his latest album Awaken, My Love.

But I remember noticing Glover’s talent before he became Earn, Troy, or Childish. Back in the saloon days of YouTube, Derrick Comedy—a New York based trio featuring Glover, Domminick Dierkes, D.C. Pierson—were making my friends and I laugh heartily in our dorm rooms. And with each sketch, Glover was also making his presence known.

So I went on YouTube this week, and started listing my favorite Donald Glover performances in Derrick Comedy.

Take a look.

  1. Don’t Jerk Off To This

It’s subtle, well the jokes are. The set up is anything but that, as it takes a herculean effort for three friends not masturbate to a bowl of fruit. It’s the don’t press that red button scenario except with fruit and genitals.

Right.

Normally I would have given an honorable mention to this sketch in place of Girls Are Not To Be Trusted, but it’s Glover’s dialogue to his friend Thomas as he catches him going for the bowl of fruit.

As his friend sneaks his way to the coveted bowl, there is Glover’s character, drink in hand, waiting in the dark for his pawn like some expectant predator in a psychological thriller, delivering a dialogue that would seem diabolical if not capped off with “…bring it to me so that I can jerk off to it.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdfMu77sYH4

  1. Boy Band

The first thought when always viewing Boy Band is usually “This is so wrong….but that catchy chorus tho.”

The concept of the sketch, which flips the script on adult perverts lusting after underage pop sensations is both cringey and hilarious if only for the fact how close to the truth it actually nails—looking at you people who countdown to when a pop star becomes “legal,”–and that would be fine enough if you didn’t have Glover singing such a catchy chorus over the band’s music video. Some might point to Culdesac or even I Am Just Rapper mixtapes as the first time they considered Glover’s great musical ability, and that’s fair. But in between the disapproving “this is so wrong” head shaking and guilt-ridden guffaws the first time I watched this sketch, I kept thinking, “Man this dude should really consider doing music.”

  1. B-Boy StanceReggie: “I’m a martyr, I’m a martyr for hip-hop”

Journalist: “Martyrs are usually dead.

Reggie: “Well I’m little dead inside.”

My favorite episode from Atlanta was definitely “B.A.N.” which featured the Dateline’s esque spoof of the transracial character. It reminded me of B-Boy Stance, at least in spirit, and I think if you view it you can find a few connecting threads: the Cable TV Tabloid Documentary Style, the character that’s either delusional or just truly believes in what they’re doing all shot back to you in a humorous shell. But while the B.A.N. segment on transracial could still layer itself like a shawl onto the continuing and complex dialogue of race in the U.S., B-Boy stance isn’t that heady.

Instead, it turns the wackiness up to 11, as Glover delivers the funniest lines with strong comedic timing such as:

“Why don’t you go marry Jay-Z and have a normal life where you hug each other your arms that are free from your back…and scratch your legs where they itch last night.”

  1. Jazz Man

What’s the greatest sketch of all time?

Monty Python’s Dead Parrot?

SNL’s Celebrity Jeopardy?

All are worthy contenders for the title. But let me add in one more to the match: Derrick Comedy’s Jazz Man.

For me, this is my “Who’s On First.”

It’s also my personal Scarface as far as quotable works.

“Won’t let me drink at your bar huh, well here’s some Jim Crow for that ass.”

“Immma go have sex with like five white women tonight. You guys have fun.”

“Ooooh I just orgasmed onstage from your white hatred.”

The premise is bonkers as it’s essentially a large fart joke wrapped up in a historical discussion on racism and cultural appropriation for commercial profit. In any one else’s hands this would fail before even making it beyond a table reading. And no other actor besides Glover could pull off the delivery that this sketch needs to remotely work.

The utter disgust and disdain Glover gives to a hypocritical audience that would pay money to see him play his trumpet but at the same time would also deny his character basic civil rights and human decency is as funny as it is brutally honest.

This sketch seems like artistic revenge for the never-changing relationship between black music, black people and the people that love the music but not the people.

5.) Jerry

Jazz Man may be my favorite Derrick Comedy and general sketch of all time. But Jerry holds a special place in my comedic bone due to being the first Derrick Comedy video I ever watched. In 2006, during the wild west days of a budding YouTube, the Junior Year in College version of me watched as Glover gave one of the most landmark and enthralling comedic performances I’d ever seen.

Ok Ok.

That last sentence was too Inside The Actor’s Studio, but in 30 seconds my belly was shaking too hard from deep laughter as Glover’s Jerry character went into denial, hysterical yelling and sobbing, and then even further in denial, and more hysterical yelling and sobbing all because the poor kid had an accident in his pants.

Jerry would serve as my introductory video towards friends and family members into Derrick Comedy and Donald Glover until, well he didn’t need an introduction anymore.

The world knows who he is.

Still, looking at Jerry, it wasn’t hard to tell that Glover was going to be star.

From pooping his pants to Lando, Mr. Glover has come pretty dang far.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIF0UCFd3FM

Okay you’ve heard enough from me, so let me hear from you. Let me know what your favorite Donald Glover centric Derrick Comedy sketches are.

Pressing Matters: Seeking An Oasis In The Alternative Facts Desert

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“It is never our intention to lie to you.”

It shouldn’t be for any press secretary for any president, but the above stated quote from Sean Spicer isn’t reassuring to me, especially when what followed was finger pointing and deflecting.

The Trump Inauguration had little chance of going off without any controversy. The ceremony has been under extreme scrutiny ever since the climax to election night, shooting a barrage of reports and memes daily until the magical date.

But to be fair, having a concert lineup that looks like a Greatest Hits Complication Exclusive for Walmart is a hilarious notion to highlight. Too bad it’s the only item I could laugh at.

But the biggest takeaway from the inauguration itself which is the reportage and dispute over the attendance numbers, has me frightened over the state of the press.

In case your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr feed didn’t receive this (and in this post-truth world that’s very possible) pictures were shown comparing the Trump Inauguration Attendance to the Obama Inauguration Attendance.

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As you can see, the numbers were comparably low for Trump.

Or not if you believe Spicer who reported that Trump drew

“the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”

He then called out the media, claiming their false reportage was made only to discredit Trump, and that the pictures were highly inaccurate.

It’s a case of Spicer said versus what the media said.

Ha!

No, no it isn’t!

It’s not even a fair fight for Spicer. This is like a toddler against the Hulk.

PBS showed a time lapse video of the National Mall indicating visually that attendance never came close to the same scene during Obama’s 2009 Inauguration.

The New York Times estimated that the Trump crowd was only 1/3 of Obama’s 1.8 million.

And as reported from The Guardian:

According to figures shared by the Metro Washingtonsubway system on Twitter, 193,000 trips had been taken by 11am on Donald Trump’s inauguration day, compared with 513,000 during the same period on 20 January 2009 when Barack Obama took office.”

And of course there’s the Women’s March, which took place that following Saturday, which made the National Mall look packed compared to Trump’s Inauguration, having at least hundreds of thousands at the National Mall as well as more in other big cities.

Spicer also didn’t make matters strong for his initial argument when during a press conference with the media earlier Today, he tried the method of finger pointing and deflecting.

He pointed at another agency that gave him the wrong number of attendance. And then deflected to the number of TV and online viewers who instead watched the Inauguration from the comforts of their home. And if I were Spicer, I would have probably led with that to save face, although I’m sure that by doing that, he just gave a few reporters an idea for a great follow-up story.

If I can leave with anything from this fiasco, it’s that the relationship between the press and President is going to be rocky at its best and nonexistent at its worst.

And coupling that with a decreasing number of staff in newsrooms, a news competition skewed more on being first than being accurate, and the threat of fake-news confusing people, the situation is looking grim for hard-fought, important journalism.

The Trump Team IS willing to lie to you.

Make no mistake about it. And its supporters have made it clear that they’ll drink the kool-aid even if laced with razorblades. In fact, most of them will regurgitate those razorblades and throw them right at the eyes of anyone who disagrees with their leader and his spew of alternative facts.

But my question is with Watchdog Journalism needed now more than ever, can the those in the media that really care, continue to do their job in a climate that’s trying to make them extinct? And more importantly, how much does the public really care?

I ask that last question not expecting any answer through their words but through their actions.

Is the public willing to read, watch or hear? Is the public willing to still trust? Is the public willing to pay?

Pounds: Prelude To Madness

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“I’m thinking about doing two-a -day workouts. Do you have any advice?”

Time slowed down for my co-worker, Zach, as the statement and question reverberated between his ears and brain. He stopped moving, which is an amazing feat for the 20-something whose natural stance is usually set to a kid who just chugged two cups of Kool-Aid.

His quick-witted responses usually matched my own to the point that our superiors and our co-workers were left scratching their heads, deciphering the dialogue we were already celebrating with laughter.

But here he was, silent for ten crawling seconds, his face contorting to a puzzle he couldn’t figure out.

The record had scratched.

And then, as the pause button on life lifted, laughter surrounded the room.

Holding his insides, Zach responded “ Hey DC, did you hear what Calvin said? He’s thinking about doing two-a-day workouts. Any advice?”

You could feel the mocking air quotes in his question to our mutual co-worker.

“Yeah,” DC said, with a pointed eye-brow, “DON”T DO IT!”

Advice noted.

Unfortunately my bloodline was cursed with the skill of ridiculous stubbornness.
For instance, family members that have died—God Rest their Restless Souls—didn’t just simply die. They suffered through something that should have killed them in one hit, only to bounce back for a brief encore and then die.

My sister believed that it was their way of fighting to spend one last time with their loved ones. I think it’s the family stubbornness kicking in annoying the face of death.

And though I may have to make that final trek one day with the Reaper, my stubborn kick was going to occur this time during my crazy idea.

Two workouts in one day.

It’s not that I’m trying to upstage anyone, or fuel my ego with this attempt.

It’s just that year in and year out, my workout regime feels like its in a rut.

And when someone’s in a rut, they have this drive or craving to spark some type of difference no matter how jarring or extreme. So while some people dye their hair, go sky diving, or take a BDSM class to combat their ruts, I’m just attempting to murder myself at the gym.

Really, my adrenaline shot is conservative compared to others when you think about it.

And the only hangover I’ll suffer through is sore muscles, right?

Right.

Or a dangerous injury.

Damn my family’s stubbornness.

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The Plan:

Workout A:

20-25 Minutes On Elliptical

Ab-Machine—100 Reps Or 10 Min

Ab-Machine (Sitting)–60-Reps Or 5 Min

Side-Ab Machine–60-90 Reps

Treadmill-Jogging/Walking With Increasing Elevation For 15 Minutes

Workout B-1 (Upper Body):

Bench Press- To The Point Of Exhaustion With Increasing Weight

Cross Fly- 30 Reps

Triceps Machine-30-50 Reps Increasing Weight

Pull-Down Machine Alternating Chest And Back—30 Reps Each With Increasing Weight

Dumbbell Curl—30 Reps With Increasing Weight

Push-Ups—30 For First Month (Add 10 Each Month)

Barbell Lift—30 Reps

Workout B-2 (Lower Body)

Jumping Squats—30 Reps

Barbell Front Squats—30 Reps Increasing Weight

Barbell Back Squats—30 Reps

Calf Raises—30 Reps

Squat Machine (Seated)–30 Reps

Leg Extensions Increasing Weight 30 Reps

Leg Curls Increasing Weight 30 Reps