Dark Technology’s Digital Light
I remember years back, when the first sheep was cloned. “Dolly the sheep” graced the front of a magazine, and as I looked at her, she seemed to be a very normal looking sheep. I don’t know what I expected, really? A sheep born of technology, according to the movies I had seen, should have some diabolical foreshadowing of evil framed in her eyes. She didn’t, but I still had a feeling about it that was hard to describe. We can clone sheep? It’s kind of alarming that we can even do that. This spawned a lot of hurried discussion with friends of mine about technological advances such as cloning, or the mapping of genes. I imagine the same kinds of conversation occurring when the atomic weapon was finalized years ago, and after its detonation. Are we getting ahead of ourselves, or not?
Years have steamed past, and I haven’t thought about cloning for a while. I know, deep down, that we are going to clone a human being. I personally think it’s been done already, but I’m certain we should be able to witness this in our lifetime. I don’t think we can help but to do it, because our curiosity is too strong. It brings up the question though…are we assimilating ourselves into the digital age in a way that isn’t harmful to ourselves? Well, are we or not?
I’ve found rest in the conclusion that we live in a dualistic world, and the digital age fits the paradigm of being bad and good at the same time. It may be that it’s impossible to separate the hemispheres, and we must accept one with the other. Beyond that, the management of digital darkness with transitional light will be the cradle of modern day philosophy. Without a management stratagem, we could slip on the peel and wind up staring into the sky with a concussion.
The digital blanket slowly creeps over our formerly analog world with a fluid sureness, it’s ones and zeroes flowing into the cracks and smoothing over the boundaries. Damn near everything is under the command of a brain or a processor these days, and sometimes even the brain is made servant to the computer overlord. Calling “customer service” is a splendid example of how a perfectly capable human brain is stranded in the airport jetway, while its owner’s fingertips slam away at a keyboard, looking for the permission to grant you a refund, process your order, or tech support your problem…”sorry for the delay, my computer is frozen up” is now an acceptable excuse for dithering away 10 precious minutes of your life, while the socially awkward silence is backed with absolutely toothless hold music.
We make digital photos. We make digital music. We make digital art. We live imaginary digital lives on video games. We have digital relationships and we go on digital dates. Millions of us across the world have an identity point (or points), on social media such as Facebook or Twitter that are filled with digitized descriptions of ourselves posted by us with thumbed acceptance by “friends”. Is it really real? What if all the satellites failed and the internet ground to a sudden halt. Does that thought unsettle you? I bet it does. I shudder at the thought.
Even as I write this, I remember pre-digital times of standing in line, waiting to buy the tickets to go see someone’s show. I stood in line at the same line at the record release, to get their album (now you just download it), and now I’m going to their show (which nowadays will be on Youtube). The line was an event in itself. Everyone dressed up to show up. You could look around and socialize with these people, because you would be going to the show in the same venue with them in the very near future. Was this a long time ago? No. Now, you buy tickets from Ticketmaster at a 4 times markup online, without a line to stand in, and all to see someone who shows up late to lip sync for you to a backing track, and ends their show early so they can get to the afterparty on time. I have a liking for almost every genre of music there is, and I still like going to shows where you might be buying tickets from the band members themselves right in front of the venue. Whether you like Death Metal or not, at the very least, these players believe in what they’re doing. They don’t have top selling singles, and they don’t lip-sync. They give you what you paid to listen to. You have to manage the darkness.
Nowadays, I watch as people stand in line during this current recession, not to buy an evening of debauchery and escapism…but to buy a PHONE. An iphone5 to be exact. This is the rockstar of the twothousandtens. Can that really be true? It is, because at first glance it’s a phone, but it’s more than that. It’s a freaking hand held digital device that has the computing power of ten years ago. It texts, it browses, it posts, it calendars, it calls, it takes messages, it takes pictures, it takes videos, it connects with the digital world outside of the real one, that we all contribute to constructing, and want to be constantly open to. When cell phones were first introduced, if you lost one, you would just go get another, and get all your friends numbers again. If you lose an iphone, you’ve lost your entire LIFE on that thing! It’s way more than a phone. I remember reading Brave New World in school and marveling at two lovers trying to find a secret place to make love outside the camera eye. We are in that world now. There’s a camera on every phone, every building, everywhere. “Big Brother” doesn’t even have to foot the expense…almost everyone has a camera on their phone. One mega-multi-eyed digital omnipotence. Powered by technology. Amazing!
When you look at an iphone5, it’s incredible that this piece of advancement is affordable enough for millions upon millions to rush out and buy it. Recession ignored. Like any technology though, when you remove the future designed outer casing, you expose the inside…the green circuit board, and the ugly components…the odd looking multicolored against gray…metallic components. Unseen, is that for every component, if it could tell its story, is an assembly line worker wielding a soldering gun, who hunched over that circuit board with a pair of goggles over their exhausted eyes, and burned it into the device. In the news, we find out that that worker is Chinese, and they work for FoxConn in China. They make the equivalent of 2 dollars an hour, and they work in hellish conditions. The iphone5 is being touted as the most successful tech product ever made…and as the articles say, that worker in China would never be able to afford one on the salary they are paid. Am I saying this to take a whiz on your parade, iphone5 fans? Not even. I love Macs. I work on Macs all the time, and I dare say that Mac products are more than a line of brilliance…they are a culture within themselves. People judge you differently when you’re on an Apple laptop. The same way the people who drive Mercedes are looked at a certain way. We live in a culture that deeply believes that we can identify with the products we own and which service our lifestyles. My point then, is that the management of digital darkness can only be managed if we know where to point the light. I know the Chinese workers agreed to work for 2 dollars an hour, but does that make it a fair situation? Does the gleaming, angelic looking iphone in your hand defer your thinking away from the reality of how it was made available? Does the fact that the strain imposed upon Chinese workers has caused them to riot at the factory? There is a real story behind that iphone5, is all I’m saying. It beckons you to enter the digital realm of imagery, music, entertainment, and social media…a place where the FoxConn worker is not so visible. On the other hand, a phone that sells by the millions is exactly what is needed in order to get our slumbering economy lurching towards success again. We need the iphone5. We need other stuff like it. So go out and buy that phone! But when you do, know that it’s not all good. Somewhere, and at some time, we have to start managing the dark with the light, because if we climb into the digital glow too completely, the dark may surround it…and we might lip-sync ourselves into forgetting it exists at all.
Well, it's political season ladies, gentlemen, and otherwise. We have a national election fastly approaching, and so the gas is getting turned up on the stove. A lot of bartenders will toss you from the bar for discussing religion or politics with other patrons, so thankfully the internet is not a bar. I want to discuss a bit of both.
In the Pledge of Allegiance, a curiously repetitive and indoctrinating mantra intoned while addressing the flag, there is repeated the word "indivisible". In my growing years I cycled this thousands of times. It was an image of unity that became entwined in being American. "United we stand, divided we fall" is another visit to that idea. It's the reverse of "divide and conquer", the generic catchphrase associated with the western world's philosophy of dismantling and occupying a foreign territory. How strange it is, that we are applying a divide and conquer pressure to our own indivisibility. What began as political teasing has snowballed into an alarming chasm in America, spreading out into the populace, and now we have two armies glaring at each other from either edge of the cliffs. We see ourselves as our own enemy.
I once read a psychiatrists examination of insanity and it's effect. He stated that there was a cohesive factor in the mind, that correlates all of the contradictions and paradoxes of a psyche and renders them as a whole. There is an agreement somewhere in the mind, even if all of it's components don't seamlessly combine. Insanity is going in the other direction. The concepts that are so readily accessible to the sane person become fragmented and disagreeable. The cohesion melts away. The insane person feels opinions and beliefs inside the self squaring off against each other, and eventually the stream of thought becomes a confusing maelstrom of wrangling voices, none of which carry the complete quality of the personality under duress. A "mental breakdown" usually proceeds an eventual failure of sanity. Anyone who has witnessed someone fall to pieces in this way has seen something they will never forget. It's hearbreaking to witness. If America metaphorically is like a person, then we are it's voices, and our cohesion is slipping away. If insanity continues to proceed, we could break down, and eventually fail.
There seem to be people pushing for this breakdown, maybe not realizing what it is exactly they are promoting. I also remember listening to a news piece about drug problems, and the researcher said that cocaine and heroin have a resurgence about every ten years. The reason, she believed, was that a generation becomes burned out by the addictive aftereffects of overconsumption and rehabilitates itself. The next geneeration, 10 years later, discovers the drugs anew, without realizing the sloping downside, and begns the journey again through euphoria to bitter loss. This is not a statement about drugs, far from it. But I bring it up as a statement about flirtation with ideas that become addictive ideals, and the seductive nature of denying the destructive tendency that exists therein.
There are so many contradictions in America that are tough to resolve. We are a nation that idealizes freedom, but our country was constructed with the labor of enslaved people. Slavery is the opposite of freedom. We idealize freedom of speech, but there are those that question patriotism whenever someone criticizes government. We idealize the peace process, but we are on the fast track to being the most warlike and violent nation in the history of the world. We idealize the ability to practice religion without persecution, but there are those that treat anything but Christianity with suspicion and revilement. We idealize unity, but we compartmentalize people by color, sexual preference, gender, race, education, class, and income. There is much more, but you get the idea.
Healing insanity begins with the resolve of a single contradiction, and as more divides become healed, the focus of the mind becomes unified. Thoughts and dreams become coherent and understandable. Behavior becomes calm and focused. Delusions subside and the realistic vista is restored. Functionality becomes the goal instead of satisfying irrational urges. Peace is an agreement, not a forced command. Government should be trying to serve the needs of the widest demographic of people possible, not just the needs of those with the most money and influence. All religions idealize charity, and caring for the poor, so who is preaching an abandonment of that principle? Why are they preaching it? Why are they campaigning for the advantaged treatment of the wealthy? Peace burns and brightens in the heart when you reach across your upbringing and embrace people that are different than you. Those people embrace you back, and widen and deepen your life. Living in an isolated world surrounded by people that agree with you is not a spur to growth and experience.
Every time I have looked into one of those bomb shelters built for what some think is an eventual nuclear holocaust, my mind fills with the same emotion. I would rather die. I would rather walk outside and let my last experience on this Earth be watching the missle descend from the sky and hit me the forehead. Huddling up with a bunch of people in a concrete bunker with no sanitation is not for me. I know what will happen. They will run low on food, and there will me a minature war in there. They will kill each other for the last scraps for horrible tasting food storage items and meds. The last person standing will open the door with an insane grin and marvel at the superbright wasteland. Then the zombies will devour that person like a deep fried snickers at the county fair.
You are a voice my friend. Your opinion counts, even if it is different than mine. We need lots of ideas and voices. We need to argue, but we need to resolve. Be careful how you vote, and be sure you know what you are voting for. Don't let these political suits divide and conquer you. No matter what happens in the election, the healing of insanity begins with us. I can deal with people that are different than me. I reach out to them, I don't exclude them. They teach me, and they test me on what I hold dear. The whole world does not need to be an extension of America. We founded our country on revolt, so how can we circumvent another nations opportunity to do the same? Let's face it, our power has made some mistakes. Let's learn from it and move on to a more prosperous and peaceful future. One that is free from addictive ideals and insane bickering, and one that is lucid and goal oriented towards a success potential for all.
Cheers to 2012!
The first conversation I ever had with JoneZen was outside the Viper room in
Hollywood, where he had just wrapped up a set in front of a wildly enthusiastic
crowd. As I made my way outside to catch a breath, I flowed out of the building
with the usual waves of aloof, but talkative party creatures making their way to
the curb. He popped out the door with handfuls of CD's, and started chatting up
the people, promoting his tracks, and THANKING them for coming to see HIS show.
This is the first impression you get of JoneZen, and it doesn't change down the
line. He very genuinely, is in love with what he does, and his enthusiasm is so
uncomplicated and pure, it radiates a positive energy that resonates with the
people encountering him. All that is THERE is impressive when you meet this
guy, but equally so, is what ISN'T there as well. He's not acting a part or
constructing a persona. He IS what you're looking at, and in a town full of
contrived miracles, it's a very direct approach that's as effective as you could
Whenever I've read the stories of successful people, I've noticed that they
like to contrast their success with their times of challenge. They talk openly
about the hard knocks that toughened their skins, the experiences that shaped
their attitudes, and the deliberate state of mind they adopted to leap the
hurdles. "Overnight success" is largely mythical, they say, and they point out
that while their skyrocket to success seems instant, it was in actuality, a long
time coming from a line of effort. Difficulties show you where your
vulnerabilites are, they say. When you hit the ground, the way in which you get
up proves your ability to rise from the ashes and spread your wings again. It's
the feeling of many who are able to get where they want to go.
The last several years have been high on energy and long on stamina for
JoneZen. He's one of the most prolific hip hop artists I know of, constantly
prompting me to click on new tracks he just blazed and posted. I've known
people who put out half the effort he does, and end up feeling the effects of
burnout. It was with great concern then, when recently, he made the
announcement that he would be entering rehab to take charge of cranking down on
the party juice until it began to take command of him. In my experience, either
you emerge from battling your demon twin as an even stronger person, with a
heightened outlook on life, or you become a cautionary figure, with a life long
fear of loss. I needn't have worried about JoneZen. He took on the
reconstruction of himself with the same joyfulness he applies to everythihg
So, into rehab he goes, and the tracks don't slow down. In fact, his output
INCREASED. Only this
guy would find a rehab facility that could have a
STUDIO in it. Now, left with nothing to do but recover and create, he set
sights on both, and the messages came out about the setbacks of rehab. He would
tell us how he had to attend meetings, and be observed, and be restricted. He
expressed frustration. He suffered the expected effects. And then, the word
began to be about new avenues in lifestyle, none of which were bottle-bound. In
the true sense of making a postive from a negative, JoneZen began the project,
"Beautiful Disaster", and self produced the album "Live from Rehab", chopping
and blazing in the confines of the facility, turning a real bad time into a real
good one. We hear a lot of stories about faded glories, so it's especially
gratifying to tell the tale of victory. Not only has Chris emerged from rehab
with his soul back in his hands, but he returned to rehearsing and performing
like no hiccup had ever existed. As of this writing, he has wrapped up
negotiations and JoneZen has now signed with Famous Records. His first
single, "Buried By Six" (produced by Father MC aka Fam Body) is set to be
released july 27th, and will be distributed by the Universal Music
Group.1. So JoneZen, as usual, a lot has been happening for
you lately. You're involved in several projects, and in different roles. How
would you describe the definitive sound of previous material being different
than the stuff coming out now?
"Yeah man a ton is going on. I did the EP "Live From Rehab", almost done with
my next album "Beautiful Disaster", producing Outta Controls next album "Back to
The Basics", started a new group with a producer Outta Control has worked with
(Striker) called Natural Union, that project is getting started, and working
with Straight Jackitt getting new material ready to record, licensing, shows,
and finishing our demo. Along with all the personal stuff…mentally and
physically fried, 7 years of touring, 400 shows, constant injuries, non stop
parties, losing my girlfriend, my dog, my apartment, having to drop out of
school again, my buddy died of an overdose, my brother moved to Chicago, sort of
putting an end to Outta Controls touring for now, and being thrown in rehab at
the same time…lots going on. LOL...
I think the sound is a reflection of all that. The sound has always been a
reflection of where I am in my life. Until now its been a party. On the road,
making music, still ups and downs, fights among band members and outsiders. But
for the most part fun. The music has always told my story. Before I came into
treatment I was writing about moving to LA, life changing, my health declining.
Now being in rehab its about all of that, what got me here, my family, my career
as a musician, losing friends, my girl, the changes I've made in myself as a
result of all of that and this experience. But at the same time it has a
positive outlook and there are still those "just rapping to rap" tracks. It's
not like "oh poor me" type shit. More like "God damn I can't believe all this
BS, but here we go lets keep grinding". But I do think it's a bit more serious
all around in the music and the lyrics. I say things differently, use less curse
words, am more articulate, theres more singing in the choruses. The music has
evolved and grown just like I have through this process. I'm really stoked about
it. "Beautiful Disaster" is shaping up to be my favorite disk to date hands
2. You've done quite a few collaborations with other artists. Who was the
most interesting to work with? What's your process for collaborating?
"Man I don't know. A lot of them have been done through the internet. It's
always fun when the artist comes to the house and kicks it. Mad Child of Swollen
Members was awesome. He did his via online, but we've toured with them a few
times and always loved Swollen Members. Luckyiam and Sunspot Jonz from the
Living Legends were really cool because they came to the house, had some drinks,
used our studio, and hung out. Same with Mary James he came over and kicked it.
We recorded with Metty from Sweatshop Union in our hotel room before a show we
did with them. That was pretty sweet too. We've been really fortunate to be able
to work with guys we've looked up to. It's been really cool. As for the process,
a couple we asked them to do on our own, a couple Latenite Billy in Tahoe hooked
up for us. But its pretty much just shoot an email or a phone call, send a beat,
get to talking, and go from there. Everybody we have tried to work with has been
really easy going about the process."
3. If it's alright with you, I'd like to ask about your recent journey
through rehab. What led you to make the decision?
"Man, sort of summed that up in the first question. But pretty much a shit
load of drinking! LOL. We drank constantly, everyday for over a decade. And I
had started smoking weed and drinking when I was 10. I was by far the worst out
of my crew. By age 24 I had the shakes bad everyday before I had a drink.
Literally could not type or anything without 3 shots in the morning and then
steady drinking all day just to function. The past 3 years my family really
started voicing some concerns. I ignored them. My excuse was always I had work
to do and I needed to drink to do work. I just kept on trucking until I got
arrested for passing out in a Taxi at the San Diego airport. Went to jail for
the night, got out, walked down the highway in the rain to the liquor store, got
a pint, then called my boy for a ride. So many stories like that its crazy. Some
of the shit I did was ridiculous. Years and years of shit like that. Then called
my Dad and said I wanted to get sober. I flew home, detoxed, and came back to
Cali. I had gone through detox before but on my own. No pills or anything. Just
shook that shit out for days at a time locked in a room. Fucking crazy. And when
I was home I saw a doctor who did some blood work and found out my liver was
shot. Another few years of drinking like I was and I'd be dead. So got sober for
a couple weeks and when I got back to Cali I was back at it and worse. Still
worked, did my shit, functioned and whatever but it was gnarly. Throwing up
everyday, couldn't eat, sleep, without being completely trashed. Then towards
the end a couple vacations sort of sealed the deal. I ended up going to Tahoe
for Thanksgiving last year ended up with two blown out knees, broken hand, stab
wounds, black and blue legs, burns on my hands, whip lash, punched in the face
about 30 times, and this was all in two days and in the name of good fun with my
best friends. Came home my girl was like jesus your crazy. Then New Years in SD
(San Diego), two black eyes and stitches in my lip. Just beat to shit for a few
months solid on top of my body shutting down from the past decade of tours and
parties. So that was bad, still didn't think it was a problem. It was who I was,
nasty man Outta Control. It was how I lived. So I get home again after that and
my girl had enough. We had been fighting for a few months. She sort of fucked
up big time in the beginning, and I couldn't let it go. But I have to give it
to her, she put up with a lot and tried to help. She would stay home with me
while I tried to kick the booze and lay on my back to help me stop shaking. In
the end, fighting about old stuff, and watching me go through all this drama was
too much for her.
We put our notice in for our apartment, I was looking for
a new place and my Dad flew out. He said that if I did not go to rehab, my
family could not be around me like I was. Just killing myself literally. My
chick was staying at her friends house so my Dad stayed with me, tried to help
me detox again. Watching your kid go through some shit like that has to be some
of the worst stuff ever. If thats not love, I don't know what is.. He's been
there for me so many times its ridiculous. Even when I had given up on myself,
he, my Mom, brother, close friends and family were always there. In the end I
decided to go. Picked a spot, packed my shit, had my last drink in the car
outside of rehab with my Mom, walked in that bitch and said fuck it here we
4. You were working on material in rehab, weren't you? How was that
possible, and were there challenges to that? Many artists find adversity to
spur their creativity, while others struggle with it. Which was the case for
"Before I checked in, I toured a few places once I found one I was cool with
going to I told the owner that I would come but that I needed my studio. He
agreed. It was hard to find the time to get some stuff done. I had a really busy
schedule but I wrote two songs a week and recorded them on the weekends. Sort of
a pain in the ass because I had a roommate. He LOVED to sleep all day but he was
cool with me laying stuff down. It was definitely pretty easy to write. I had so
much going on, so many new emotions. I just channeled all of that into music. It
has always been like therapy for me to write and record and this time was
certainly no different.
5. A great many people become aware that they have a substance habit taking
control of their living habits. What could you say about this that could help
another realize their problem is real, and what's the best frame of mind for
successfully defeating it?
"You have to want to. Simple. Nothing was important enough. Even faced with
certain death, losing my girl, my dog, all that shit did not stop me until I
decided it was time. And even when I went I was not sure. At first it was for my
family, I had no intention of staying sober. Then you get there, get over
yourself a bit, your head starts to work again, and if you let it happen it can.
I knew I had a problem. No doubt about it. I just did not care. You have to be
open man. And like they say in treatment…really surrender to your problem.
Understand that this thing has you licked and if you don't knock it off its
going to knock you off the planet. I still struggle with it everyday. I think I
always will. And I was a pain in the ass for the treatment team. I wanted to
fool them into thinking I was getting it. That shit did not work at all! They
had my number and we butted heads for the first couple months. As far as
recognizing you have a problem, don't pay attention to what you can accomplish…I
accomplished a lot. Take a real look at your using habits. How much, how often?
Is your health deteriorating? Are you losing your jobs, friends, loved ones? If
your answering yes you might want to try and get sober.
6. Because entertainment revolves around a party atmosphere for a large
part...what will be the strategy for moving ahead without indulging in the
"Oh I am still going to party. Just without booze or drugs. It all comes down
to being self aware. For me a huge part will be not letting that fuck it
mentality get the best of me. Having respect for the disease I have and
remembering that I have it at all times. Also keeping my friends around. They
know what I am doing and don't want to see me throw it all away. Being honest
and accountable and picking up the phone before I pick up that drink. Even with
all of that nothing is guaranteed. All I know is I am sober now, tomorrow is
another day and the struggle starts all over again. The party was such a huge
part of my life. IT was my identity. Or at least I thought it was. I had no clue
who I was without a drink in my hand. It's hard to let go but the more I do the
same things I used to do sober the easier it is."
7. What has become different for you as you recovered, in the way of
activities and your outlook? Has this changed your performing style or
"I think different. I don't jump to conclusions and make quick decisions as
often. I used to stress about getting stuff done now I stress way less and it
seems to get done effortlessly and in time. Its weird. And yeah, my outlook has
changed too. It's hard to explain. I just accept the stuff I can't change, am ok
with what is going on, and work to change the things I can. I'm not trying to
wage a war on reality any more. Shit is what it is. As far as activities go I do
the same stuff just more of it. I was a pretty productive drunk. Record a ton,
surf, keep in touch with everybody on my team, (friends, family, music contacts,
sponsors, management) always reading articles, sending emails, looking for new
avenues and companies to send music to, band practice. I guess what's different
is I go to AA meetings and participate in the stuff the house I'm at requires
you to do. Just stay super, super busy. Try and keep the ball rolling. That was
my mentality going into treatment. There was no ok take a break. It was ok lets
see what I can do with a clear head. This shit will not slow me down sort of
thing. I have not performed yet, but practice is the same. I still jump around
like it's a live show I am hoping the real deal goes that way too. I am lining
up some dates for myself and Straight Jackitt just mapped out a little show
schedule the other day. Waiting to confirm the dates but getting ready to hit it
hard again. And yes all of changes and new outlook are present in the lyrics."
8. I have to ask...you just dropped an album, "Live from Rehab". How was
this recorded? Was the album conceived in the confines of rehab? Or was it put
"It was done 100% in rehab. Recorded and released. Most of Beautiful Disaster
has been recorded in rehab too. Right now I am in a sober living house still
going to an out patient place every day. Taking drug tests and the whole 9.
Pretty much still in rehab as I type this!
9. One thing I find really inspiring about you is that you didn't slow down
at all during this difficult time...if anything, you increased your
productivity. What is the thought process internally for dodging negatives and
going after it with such positivity?
"It wasn't all puppies and kittens man. LOL. I had my problems with my
counselor and the process in general. My Mom and Dad helped me through that
though. But while I had my problems I never let it get me down to the point
where I was in a shitty mood all day. Finally I decided that being mad about
anything was useless and just a pain in my ass. I was only making my life
harder. I did not run the show they did. Once I acknowledged that and just laid
back life got easier. I was able to leave and record with Straight Jackitt, take
more passes to go out during the day, and my relationship with my counselor got
way better. (she is one of my favorite people now). I just have that fight in me
though. At first it was me vs. them. The whole thing they tell you is
"surrender" and I'm thinking "WTF you must be crazy. Im going down with a
fight". But really once I let go and accepted the process I got to do my thing
and it was easy to stay positive. People did trip on me for always doing
something. I had to-do lists, was always making calls, recording, just working.
A lot of other clients would laugh and be like your crazy man relax."
10. I've recently learned that one of your projects, Straight Jackitt, is
going to have it's material performed by none other than Alice Cooper on the
SyFy channel! Now that's a unique situation...how did that come about?
"The production company has used some of our other material in previous
films. We had just done that track and sent it their way. (I actually left rehab
for a day to lay the vocals for it) I guess the song they had for the part was
not working. They threw "Bleed Black" in there and I guess it worked perfect.
That movie comes out June 30th. I could not be more stoked. One of the first
TAPES I bought was Alice Cooper "Trash". I used to rock that all the time and
head bang as a kid. Now he's going to be performing one of our tracks in a
movie. For an artist I don't know if it gets any better than that. One of those
holy shit I can't believe it moments."
JoneZen is at work, rehearsing and making plans with his projects in Beautiful Disaster and Straight Jackitt...stay tuned for updates and links for live dates, new releases, and up to date into... www.reverbnation.com/jonezen
The Sugar Team has invaded Austin Texas for our most recent show across the U.S. While we were here we had the opportunity to enjoy all of the perks of South By South West, one of the most hyped music festivals in the nation. If there is one thing i can say about SXSW and Austin it would have to about the fabulous STREET FASHION!! Here are a few of my personal favorite looks seen walking around downtown...
What is it about pink that makes you feel so damn good? Well, at least me?! Not just any pink though! For me, the brighter the better. Hot pink represents femininity in a powerful, edgy, and bold manner! It screams, "I'm here. I'm wild. I'm fun. I wanna play." Hot pink makes me feel....well....like a GIRL BEAST capable of accomplishing anything and everything! RAWR!!! <3
Adjective: Of a color intermediate between red and white, as of coral or salmon.
Verb: Cut a scalloped or zigzag edge on.
- Pink color or pigment.
- A herbaceous Eurasian plant (genus Dianthus) with sweet-smelling pink or white flowers and slender, typically gray-green leaves. The...
- A small square-rigged sailing ship, typically with a narrow, overhanging stern.
How the color pink affects us physically
- Bright pinks, like the color red, stimulate energy and can increase the blood pressure, respiration, heartbeat, and pulse rate. They also encourage action and confidence.
- Pink has been used in prison holding cells to effectively reduce erratic behavior
Same is true of all entertainment mediums. There are films that are genre defying, and there are those that downright ridiculous, yet they rake in those almighty dollars without even trying. In a world that consumes entertainment with a voracious appetite, the right formula for success is a well sought out grail of holiness. There are empires built upon formula, but there are also avenues of respect lavished on those who can create the substance of art. One easy nominator is the question of money.
When does art "sell out"? Basically the idea is anytime artistic integrity is exchanged for money, then the soul is spent. But, isn't success dependent on making a lot of money in show business? Everything costs money, right? Good question. It was said of Shakespeare that he never really made a great deal of money in his lifetime. Fame and renown for certain, but money was not the goal of Shakespeare's art, at least from this side of history it doesn't seem to have been. In Shakespeare's time, a superstar status just didn't really exist. The artists of his time, including himself, were after fame, and not fortune. It was the recognition that they were creating immortal art that held a large audience spellbound, that proved enough to spur their lives as artists. Centuries later, we are still pouring over Shakespeare's sonnets and plays, digging deep into the richness of his art, and making emotional discoveries.
It would be great if all of art and culture were to be memorable over centuries of time, but that's not the case! How does one create work that generations of people will discover and love? How does one create work that is forgotten almost instantly? It's interesting if you really think about it.
The world of fashion bases itself on the principle of constantly re-issuing the "new". Fashion re-invents itself all the time, but as long as it's "new" to the audience, the excitement begins, and the image takes off, blazing down a runway, and onto the shoulders and hips of people who want it. Our nakedness is consistent, it's the constant flux of style that we identify more closely with. We allow ourselves to be re-invented, or we risk falling behind the line. It's something we have to be conscious of.
"Underground" is really just a term for the substance something has before the masses consume the newness, until it's commonplace. It's like when that new club opens and becomes the hot spot, before "everyone" hears about it, and it becomes trampled and overrated. And why does that happen? To put it rudely, fashionably astute people are constantly looking for the newest turn in the tide. The fashionably inept arrive too late to the scene, and they ruin it by beating it to death. Underground is a laboratory for the percolating dream, and above ground is where consumerism threatens to derail the train. Is money strangling art? What do you think?
We have cycled through periods of exploding goodness, and we have tumbled through periods of strange ways. We've had the Disco era, and we've had the Motown era. We've had the Renaissance, and we've had the Dark Ages. We've had John Steinbeck write a bestseller, and we've had Snooki from Jersey Shore write a bestseller. We've had Galileo condemned for seeking truth, and we've had Einstein glorified for it. We just can't make up our minds. We like the fullness and richness of genius, and we like the shallow hollowness of stupidity. We'll throw ourselves at either one.
So, psychologically speaking, what is different about underground art apart from above-ground infamy? Let's use the metaphor of an oak tree. While the seed is underground, not a lot of things notice it. There is water there, and soil, and all the seedling needs is to sprout and move upwards. It hatches from the seed husk and stretches towards that spotlight of the sun that all living things covet. We like to call new artists "groundbreaking", or "breaking new ground". So, the oak tree sprout breaks the ground and extends it's leaves in it's new environment. This new environment says a lot about the oak tree's success. If it starts in a forest, it just has to stay out of sight of the animals that will munch it. However, if it tries to grow in the crack of the city sidewalk, it's survival chances are slim. If it succeeds, it will grow larger, until it's noticeable, and then the birds may come and build nests and live on it. Once the tree gets high enough though, all you will see is the trunk. The birds that live on the tree will be up so high, that nobody can see them anymore. They are inaccessible. The trunk is the thing you see, and then it's one of many trunks in the forest. What we like to see most is the growing tree, that symbol of progress that's visible. Most of us in life are not giant trees. We're not celebrities that reside in mansions in gated communities who have a spokesperson and a lawyer. We like to see someone akin to us, that has extraordinary talent, who is noticeable, and whose fame is spreading. We tend to like the youthful energy of growth because the established finds it's niche and stays there. The hungry underground is hustling to pay the bills, and that energy is fascinating to witness.
There are things for whom the time has come, there are things whose time is coming, and others whose time has gone. It's the way things are. A lot of above ground art has become saturated with money and overexposure, and now fails to excite. There is a whole lot of art out there that is processed product, marketed to consumers, that is disposable afterwards. It lacks heart, and it lacks the drive, and starry-eyed idealism of an artist with their head in a cloud. Underneath it, though, is a rising plateau of entrepreneurial talent that produces on it's own, bypassing the established ways, and bringing it's art to the audience for the pure enjoyment of creation. If it's anything this economic downturn has to teach, it's that doing things for money's sake only, is to build a sand castle as the tide comes in. If you can't swim, don't get in the water. A great deal of the art, music, technology, fashion, and literature of the past decade is tied to a material era who's time is passing. We are now breaking the ground of new growth in the coming year. As those giant trees wither and fall to the earth, are you one of the sprigs coming up to take their place?
As this is my last article for 2011, I want to wish everyone a great year's end, and a happy new year! 2012 will be very different, and I'm looking to see what you all will do with it...have fun, everyone!!!
"Underground" art is interestingly enough, a tricky thing to stick a label on. Underground art is, by it's own nature, something that is not comfortable having a label stuck on it. So there are a few ways of determining the boundaries. The most obvious tag is the question of money. Pop music generates a whole lotta money, but that is not a guarantee that it's "good". Almost everyone could agree that just because an artist finds a huge amount of success, it doesn't necessarily mean that substantially speaking, their product is going to change your life. There are chart topping albums out there that barely encroach the starting block of art. A 'recording artist" may be recording, but whether or not it's art is a matter of fickle opinion.
Every once in a blue moon Sugar opens it's doors up to the male species. I'm not a raging feminist 360 days of year! ;) This summer I had the pleasure of producing and hosting Sugar's first out state show in my home state of Washington in hopes of shining some light on the up and coming and rising stars of Seattle and surrounding cities. Being from Tacoma I knew that there was a heavy hip hop and rap scene so we had our first ever Sugar Rap Contest. I got the chance to witness a lot of incredibly talented contenders, but to my great surprise and delight the rapper to take the First Place Prize was 253's very own Yung Zakk. Zakk won some very awesome prizes from our Sugar Does Seattle sponsors, Two In the Shirt, Sound Sessions with DJ Hyphen, A Real Grip, Shocking Goat, Seaspot Magazine, MissCaseyCarter.com, and more.
I recently got the chance to catch up with our young Northwest rap prodigy, Yung Zakk, to find out what's in store for the future, how Sugar helped, and what drives and inspires this rising star. (read full article below picture)
Sugar Pie: It's been 5 months since you won the Sugar Does Seattle Rap Contest, what's been going on since then? Yung Zakk: Ive just finished my 1st mixtape "NICE GUYS FINISH LAST" avalible Dec 25th on misscaseycarter.com also avalible on hotnewhiphop.com/yungzakk. In addition Ive completed few videos that are in the prosses of being edited. Ive also started working on my next project with J ROC (artist / producer of Track Addictz from tac). I have spoken with SeaSpot Media Group about some things that have been going on with me and I will be doing a follow up interview with them some time soon. Sugar Pie: Do you feel like winning the contest helped your career? Explain. Yung Zakk: Very much so. Winning the contest has opened alot of doors for me allowing me to meet people in fashion, media, blogs, music, photography, and more. All these people have created a huge marketing avanue for me. Sugar Pie: Who is Yung Zakk? Yung Zakk: Im an artists out of Tacoma, Washington. Ive been making music for a few years now and I'm just starting to put it all together. I believe persistence is key and that if u never stop you'll the last one standing. I just want to make good music and represent the NW well.
Dedicated to my gay and lesbian friends
All of my life I have marveled at just how provoked and agitated people can become about sexual preferences. The fear, anger, and prejudice have always seemed to be blown way out of proportion, when consideration is given to sexuality being a rather minor issue, really. I mean, why would I overly concern myself with how and with whom, other people want to express themselves sexually? This is coming from a person like me though, and I tend to be the "live and let live" type.
Recently, I have read news articles that lead me to believe that the issues of gay marriage and military service are going to be exploited in the same laughable way they were during the last election. The "social conservative" right lane of the speedway just can't get enough of stoking this wildfire. I believe the reason is because it's an easy place to begin polarizing people and their opinions. Let's face it, gay sexuality has been negatively imaged and ingrained into our minds almost from the day we awakened sexually in our lives. For some of us, it's been longer than others.
I grew up in a strange situation. My parents decided at a certain point in my young life, to embrace a VERY conservative religious lifestyle. All of a sudden, things weren't easygoing anymore, and a really rigid, dualistic world settled down over our heads. People and things were either "right" or "wrong", according to whether they were approved of by dogma. I remember being taught in church how "homosexuality" was such a terrible thing to do, that hell was the only destination available to a gay person. It wasn't like, let's say, gambling or drinking too much, because you can cut back on THAT. You really can't cut back on being gay. It's really kinda not like that.
I remember being struck at how unrelenting the judgmentalism was. Straight to hell for being gay? The whole thing was compounded by two of my childhood friends coming out as gay, and pursuing their sexuality without apology. My parents didn't want me "hanging out" with these guys, but they knew well enough that attempts to intervene in my friendships was not going to be fruitful. They offered their concern, but ultimately chose not to dwell upon it very much.
I didn't choose to be a straight man, the decision was made for me. By what force of nature, I'm not sure, but it's the very same source that made the decision for my friends too. I think I lack the "fear" of gay sexuality, simply because I have known and have been close to gay people my whole life. I know that they are just like me, they just go about their affairs of romance differently. I saw these friends "blossom" into gay sexuality the same way I "blossomed" into straight sexuality. I never remember a time, where I was looking at gay and straight sexuality, scratching my head, and said "oh, I'll just take straight sex". It just happens naturally. Nature is the dictator of what happens naturally, and gay sexuality occurs in nature, naturally. This is a very important point.
Biologists and researchers know that gay sexuality exists in in the wild amongst the other living creatures as well as with humans, it's no mystery. There have been some papers published on it, that have a basis in sound fundamental science, but researchers are wary of delving into the topic. They tread carefully because, sadly enough, it can cost you grant money, or even your career to touch this subject in a way that rankles the religious right. It smacks of good old American bigotry, the way being silently ostracized works. These believers in the idea that straight or gay is a "choice" will smile in your face, but turn their back on you if they believe you have promoted an unapproved lifestyle, by defining it in scientific terms. They simply aren't ready to deal with the obvious evidence yet, because the power of belief is very influential.
The power of belief is the same one that implies that procreation is the only guiltless endgame of sex. We live in the center of a population explosion that is so exponential, to cling to such an idea is not only a labyrinth of morality, it's also irresponsible. The most populated countries on the planet are now at the threshold of population control policy. That's the deal, people. I don't see the self righteous crying foul when we manage the populations of deer, bears, and other assorted wildlife. We have reached that point in the timeline when we must do the same for our own numbers. It's not a futuristic concept anymore, it's a present-istic concept.
So, all this means something that the prudish would rather not think about. Guilt free sexual relations. A brand new sexual revolution. We have filled the planet with our own kind, and are now free to explore sexual relationships simply for the physical and mental euphoria they provide. Couples can marry or whatever else they would like to do, and we shouldn't be assuming that procreation HAS to result somehow. It doesn't.
There are also lots of other questions to ponder. Can someone define their own gender regardless of their sexual equipment? There is some science that points to that hypothesis too. I don't have the space to list the references here, but the internet is loaded with studies on this. There is male, and there is female, and there are many points in between. Possibilities abound. This is not a comfortable idea with many who prefer there to be clearly defined gender categories, but we live in an interesting age. Gay sexuality was not only tolerated in ancient cultures, in some, it was simply part of the panorama of sex. People gravitated towards whatever it was they identified with. It's a rather recent development that gay people have had to endure such scrutiny as to allow the intolerant to relegate people to the outskirts of our society. We have to do better than that.
I hear all the time about gay teenagers being taunted and ridiculed to the point of tragedy. How can some be so cold hearted as to say that this is a choice the person makes? Who would choose to be taunted and ridiculed? Especially at an age when peer acceptance is such an important part of development? How can some say that they can "cure" gay sexuality? What an obnoxious thing to say! I could not turn around tomorrow and "decide" to be gay, simply because my compass isn't pointing in that direction. Neither can a gay person quit their natural sexual drive and go in another direction. That makes about as much sense as that ancient relic of an idea to try and coerce left handed people to be right handed. It doesn't work if the brain is not hard wired to do so. It ends up tragic.
So, as I watch the country gearing up for an election year, and I hear of candidates who willingly emit such befuddled nonsense as to say that sexuality is a selection one makes, or that they can cure gay people into straight ones, I feel the need to speak my opinion on the matter. It's time to put this to rest, and to quit allowing politics to ride this social aspect for gains at the polls. America is always going to be lopsided and civil rights challenged because that's what we are, but for God's sake, let's move on to the next stupidity project and leave people's sexual lives to their privacy. What do I care how someone else handles their sexual business? Why does anybody get so caught up in that? Why is it such a big deal? Politics adores a scapegoat, and I would rather see an election where these buffoons are forced to talk about the relevance of war, poverty, and economic struggle, instead of hiding behind gay marriage as a smokescreen. It's time to push forward, and the best way to do it is for people to challenge their own prejudices and dare to realize that gays and straights are really not that different. It appears that prejudiced people need encouragement from the populace to change their tune. All equality struggles in America have incremental change as their modus operandi. It's my hope that a show of indifference to gay drama mongering from candidates can lead to better debates over issues we can't afford to delay any longer. Word out for 2012.
The times they are a changin’ is an oft quoted song from the album by the iconic Bob Dylan. Hopefully it doesn’t appear to be hackneyed here, when I quote the very same song. The times are indeed changing, and Bob Dylan is remembered for being an artist that helped to define the social shift that was underway. What an era it was, with shootings at universities, car bombs, angry showdowns with police, megaphones blazing revolutionary messages, ineffective politics, and a civil rights struggle. It was something that was remembered with respect and admiration decades down the timeline of recent history, regardless of political implications. Are we embarking on a similar era today?
When I say today…I mean TODAY. There started in 2010 the “Arab Spring”, which was a series of protests that emerged out of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Oman, and several other locations around the Arab World. This resistant force, which is signaling a massive, consensus dissatisfaction with political/financial leadership, is now spreading globally. Uprisings have now begun in the United States, Europe and Africa. All of the protesters say that they feel the connection between their own protest and the others happening in various regions. The solidarity of the protest is instinctual instead of geographical. Most of the protests focus on the dissatisfaction of the participants, rather than making specific demands, and so far, the strategy has been gaining relevance. Those who are experienced with activism know that at first, your opponent attempts to dismiss you as a radical complainer out to dismantle the established order. You know…an “anarchist”, or a lawless and dangerous agitator. If the protest gains momentum, and includes enough people from diverse places, this strategy no longer works. If the police force cannot overcome and disperse the movement, then it has to be taken seriously, and the negotiation process begins.
Which brings us to the United States, and my personal experience with the Occupy movement. I went down to participate in the march from Pershing Square in Los Angeles to City Hall, where there is now a makeshift town assembled on the lawns north and south of the building. It is continually changing and growing, and so this article is going to serve as a snapshot of where the movement is, as of this writing. Where it will go, no one knows…we just hope that it does.
I have personally been an outwardly vocal critic of the financial setup of America, and of the hawkish, intolerant, and brutal far right wing of conservatism for a lifetime, or at least since I’ve been politically aware. My willingness to express my views and stand for them has sometimes cost me friendships at worst, and at best, it has aligned me with some very like-minded allies for discussion and enlightenment. In between, though, I have had the occasional conversation with someone who feels I’m naïve, or that I’m too interested in confronting what I don’t agree with. Am I? Whenever you stand up so you can look eye to eye with what you don’t like, you will encounter that voice…the one that tells you that it’s too much trouble to protest. Government will fix it. You should just wait and see what happens. Why do you want to do that? You’ll get arrested. You’re not doing yourself any favors. Etc.
What is understandable is its just fear talking. Fear of action, and fear of authority. Are we to fear authority? Are we to fear the people that we PAY and ELECT to govern? If there were no government tomorrow, would we architect another? Of course we would! That’s what we do. Can the power arrest and incarcerate? Yes, but submissively accepting what is silently unacceptable is enabling the very force you resent. So the obvious thing is to decide what action do you take?
Not everything has to have logic in life but some things need to be logical. I have been blessed to be born into a loving family, family who has been there for me all of my life and will always be there for as long as we are here on Earth. I hope one day to give the same love, if not more, to a child. My logic is when the time comes, and partner and I are ready to love a child, we hope to adopt. Everyone is always asking if we would adopt and Ethiopian kid from Ethiopia, because we are both ethnically Ethiopian.
My answer to that question is why would we? We all know that Hollywood has done its fair share of adoption of black African children, and so has the rest of white America. I remember walking out of the American Embassy in Ethiopia after having to register and seeing, not one, but multiple families with an Ethiopian baby. I would ask where they were from in the States and how long they have been in Ethiopia, and the answer never surprised me. They were always from a place where I knew for sure the children will grow up being the only black children in the schools, and opportunities to cultivate their Ethiopian culture and language? Forget about it.
Just to put things in perspective about how big of a problem this is I will introduce some statistics. Maybe when you read this you can help me understand why people go all the way across the world to adopt a child? Between 1971-2001, 265, 677 were adopted from places other than the U.S. During the same period, there were 581,000 foster children waiting to be adopted in the United States and only 127,000 were adopted. If those stats are not convincing, perhaps money is. The cost of an international adoption is $23,000 or more, while foster care adoption is $0-2,500.
Finally, I understand that people feel the need to help and give love to a child who isn’t loved and care for. What I do not understand is, how is one able to go to a place and live there for less than 14 days and feel comfortable in bringing a child who speaks a different language and has a completely different culture? I know many feel taking one or two or even three children out of an impoverish nation and giving them the opportunity to be the best they want to be is logically right, but if you really want to help the children living in these nations be what they can be, please first consider the following: doing adoption long distance, living in the county of origin for a year or more, learning the language, and promising to raise this child with love. This real love includes an understanding and respect for the rich culture they come from, understanding the discrimination and racism they will undoubtedly confront in the U.S., and contemplating how to support the child in their identity when they realize they were taken from the place they were born and raised without a deep connection with their own community. So if you know anyone who is looking to adopt I hope that you will take the time to ask them some questions like
Challenging people to look within the U.S. for a child before looking internationally? Tell them to ask themselves why they want to adopt? Contemplate why are they going abroad for a child? Are they seeing it as exotic??? They need to ask themselves if they have any connections to anyone from the child's community in the U.S,? Do they interact with diverse communities?
Thank you for taking the time to read this and feel free to post questions or comments I am always open to feed backs