Saturday, July 4, 2015

Picture us coolin' out on the 4th of July, and if you heard we were celebrating, that's a worldwide lie.

It's time for a female president.

I want so badly for that type of leadership, temperament and strength running our country.

But I have to vote with my heart as well as my head, and being a progressive I have only one choice in the primary, and that is Bernie Sanders.

Hillary is a lot of things, some I love, and some I strongly dislike (all policy based, none personal), but one thing she is not is a progressive.

Should she win the party's nomination I will wholeheartedly throw my full support behind her campaigning, monetarily, and using whatever voice I have both on social media and within the world as someone who has a larger audience than the average dude on the street through what I've been lucky to achieve artistically, but until that time that she is the nominee, I'm feeling the Bern.

As a longtime fan of his I identify with his support for working families, concern for the P-word (The poor, a word most candidates fear not say lest the Republicans say they support a welfare state), his sensible foreign policy, his criticism of corporate greed and Wall St, his looking for a workable but humane reform of immigration, concerns for the environment and education, and most of all his support of a single payer health care. 

True our current president whom I greatly admire is not so progressive himself in some areas, and his presidency has been nearly lock-step with Wall St., HOWEVER, in my opinion he has been able to enact legislation that is moving the country towards where I think it needs to go, and though a center-left candidate and President, he's managed to do great things for women, the LGBT community, working class families and all of us of progressive and liberal persuasion. (Kagan, Sotomayor anyone???).

If his presidency is followed by 4-8 years of a Democrat in office his legacy will be cemented and he will go down as one of the greats, ESPECIALLY in the face of the opposition, disrespect, and constant obstruction of the tea party and the right wing who have all fallen in line to de-legitimize him every step of the way, even going so far as to call into question his nationality. Truly astonishing.

There are those who think that a vote for Bernie is the same as Ralph Nader, but that's a false equivalence. 
Bernie is running as a Dem in the primary, and how he stacks up against Jeb is a separate argument, but I can't vote in fear, I have to vote with my conscience. Bernie is the one I most identify with in a blind quiz of policy and beliefs, Bernie is the one I've always respected, and Bernie is the one who speaks for the underdog, the 99% and most of my generation.

If you told me that should he win the nomination, Bernie could not beat Jeb and we would have Republican rule which would possibly get to appoint a Supreme Court Justice and seek to wipe away all of Obama's accomplishments and what they've done for the average American, then I would take pause.... but again, I can't vote in fear, and we've spent too long in the 2-party system voting for the lesser of two evils and look what we've gotten......

An endless war against a shifting and ever-evolving enemy we can't possibly "defeat", the largest disparity between the rich and poor in history, a divided country, a whole party who puts immediate gain and lobbyist interest above empirical evidence of climate change and one who choses religious text over science every time, a Congress frozen in paralysis, special interest and gerrymandering at the local and federal level, and the list goes on....

I didn't vote for Obama because he was black. 

He ran to the left of Hillary and when I heard him spoke and met him I wanted him to represent our nation, so neither can I vote for Hillary because of her gender, not when there is a VIABLE candidate to the left of her whose values I closer align with.

Again, should she win the nomination, fantastic, I'm in. 

Regardless of her past, shady dealings in Arkansas, her hawkishness and near neo-con foreign policy, (not that far from the Obama doctrine, I should add), her corporate and Wall St. ties, and the way Bill tried to inject race into the primary to make Obama seem like he couldn't possibly win (I cannot WAIT to see what John Lewis finally tells us when he dishes on what transpired in 08!).

Regardless of any knock you can throw her way (and not the personal, unkind attacks her enemies and the right have which are usually sexist and baseless), I will support her and help her win the presidency. Yes she acts like it's hers to lose and she's earned it, yes she can be abrasive (what presidential candidate hasn't! - also a very sexist-tinged argument which is dangerous), and yes she is not a progressive. 

But she is a Democrat, and I cannot see my country go to the hands of the Republican Party and it's lack of concern for the poor, minorities, the LGBT community and the 99% of Americans who aren't funding their endless campaigns and filling their coffers. We need education, training, infrastructure, social programs, THE EPA, immigration reform, to support unions, to make sure pensions and Social Security aren't privatized, to stop military spending, gun control, to become more isolationist and rebuild America before we police the world, and to restore the middle class.

And the Supreme Court? Does Scalia need another ally? That's my biggest fear and greatest issue for me.

The same judicial activism the right accuses every Obama and Democratic appointee of showing and what they witch hunt for in the hearings is EXACTLY what Scalia and Roberts practice every time they put on the robes, and I'm sick of it.

With church burnings, racial tensions, police declaring war on black Americans, income inequality, education being 3rd world in most US cities, climate change reaching milestones we were warned of YEARS ago when we had time to change it, a shifting, ever-browning electorate and civil rights finally being granted to all, it is time for America to have a leader who can guide us through these times which though not as perilous as the financial collapse Obama walked into, is every bit as terrifying and even more so in many regards.

I sincerely hope that this country heals and grows together and not further apart, and that is exactly what will happen if a Republican is elected in 2016. 

For my generation, for my family, for the future of the country I love, I'm voting Bernie and most importantly, I'm voting Democrat.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I got a room full of your posters and your pictures man, I like the shit you did with Rawkus too, that shit was phat.

When At The Drive In's album, Relationship Of Command came out in 2000 it changed everything for me. I went back and studied In Casino Out and Vaya like my life depended on it. I absorbed everything this band had to offer. 

My band, Tape was a mixture of MBV, Primal Scream, The Stooges and some 90's rap shit, but my stage demeanor, leaping off amps and over the drummer, knocking into the guitar player and basically having a fit was heavily influenced by Cedric Bixler (Before he went by the hyphenated, Zavalas). 

When they announced the first night of the tour at the Glass House in Pomona I bought tickets for my whole band. Mind you, back then money was tight and that was a big deal, but needless to say I went with most of my band and my then girlfriend in tow. 

We had played previously played to about 25 people in the small room next door, and that was just about the biggest deal ever for me, so this was major. I got there early, claimed a good spot, and though I missed the Murder City Devils (bummer), I was right in the middle of the crowd, eager with anticipation when Jim gave his Ian MacKaye rap and with that, the band launched into one of the most impressive sets of music I've ever heard, even to this day. 

I later went to De Facto (their side band) shows at the Knitting Factory, one of the 1st Mars Volta shows at the Troubadour, and continued being a mega fan all the way until they broke up. I never met the band, never needed to; the music was enough for me.  

Fast forward to many years later and my band, She Wants Revenge managed to play at the same venue where I had first seen them rock out at, The Glass House, selling it out each time we played. I couldn't believe that. Seeing a packed house for ATDI blew my mind, and here we were doing it ourselves. Crazy. Like truly never thought that was possible. 

 Around this time my friend Juan, a brilliant bass player mentioned in passing that he may audition for the Mars Volta. He knew how big of an ATDI fan I was, and though he was totally into it, I like to think that me freaking out about the opportunity and talking his ear off about it saying how he HAD to do it helped push him towards it. Soon my friend who I had played with was in this massive, immensely musical, beautiful prog rock band, wowing audiences worldwide. So cool.

Tim Ward, a dear friend who was working with SWR at the time told me that I would totally get along with the singer from the other hand he worked with, The Mars Volta. He told me that like myself, he skated around on days off on tour, loved old skate videos like I did, and that if we ever met we would totally get along. 

He introduced us through text message (if memory serves me), and we began a long and very cool text and social media relationship. We spoke of getting together to skate, but busy lives always got in the way. One day he met and later married a local girl I knew, and soon they were off having beautiful children and joining that club of touring dad, a gig I knew all too well. We stayed in touch, texted, made plans to make plans, invited each other to some cool life things, but then one day he moved back home to El Paso, and we never even got to skate Bronson Canyon as we said we'd like to. 

Then one day ATDI announced they were playing Coachella, and I was over the moon. I tweeted a congratulations to Cedric telling him how excited I was and then texted him and told him the story of how I'd taken my band to see them at the Glass House and how moved I was by their song, "Napoleon Solo". (Look up the story if you don't know it). I told him that they'd better play it, to which he replied, "Of course, just for you". 

So when I was front and center watching them tear up weekend 1 with my wife it was the coolest thing ever when they started that familiar guitar riff and played one of my favorite songs. It was really a full circle moment. Here was this dude who influenced me so much as a performer, doing this song at a festival I had the pleasure and honor off playing TWICE, something I never would have believed had you told me that back when I played with Tape. 

The next weekend I was in bed with my wife when my phone blew up with texts; "did you hear that?!"  "What the fuck?!"  I didn't get it. What was I missing? Oh, right...Coachella weekend 2. My friend Tyler told me that Cedric had shouted me out from the main stage of Coachella. I was gobsmacked. I couldn't believe it. Here he has told me he was going to play it for me, but a shout out? 

No. Not possible. 

It wasn't available on YouTube for a while, and when I finally found a recording of the show and the song I watched eagerly waiting to hear what he said, and as the song's familiar stains began, he spun around, and on the mic for everyone to hear, said, "This song is dedicated to Justin Warfield". 

I just got goose bumps when I typed this. 

I still can't believe that moment or what it meant for the fan that bought his band tickets to see At The Drive In to inspire them and him to reach for greater heights. 

That was one of the most magical rock and roll moments of my life, and believe me, I've had more than I'm worthy of. 

I thanked him over text and said we must hang, and when I caught wind of his new band, Zavalas I said we should play together, as my new outfit Dream Club would be a perfect fit. We continued to talk on social media, and the more things we found in common the more we couldn't believe we'd never met. 

The capper was one day when I posted pics of me with my Afro, jumping off amps with Tape. He liked the pics, and said, "how did we never hang out back then?"  That was so fucking cool. 

This past Coachella, Drive Like Jehu played, a band I could write a similar post about, but will spare you. What I can tell you is I dragged my girl away from Jack White late into the evening to see this band that blew me away in a bowling alley back in 1994 as a young lad. 

When we finally arrived after the long walk to the Gobi, there was nobody there. Literally about a hundred or so people gathered in the tent as they tuned up and line checked. Near the stage in the guest viewing area there were about five people lurking around. 

But there, standing alone and waiting patiently like the fan he was, was Cedric Bixler-Zavalas. 

I walked right up to him, grabbed him, and upon seeing me we just laughed and hugged. 

It was totally amazing. Years in the making, and of course, there we were, just two fans of music, waiting to see a band who changed our lives. 

I said, "of course we're the only two guys here". 

And it was so fucking special. 

When I met Barack Obama as he was campaigning for the presidency the 1st term I didn't ask for a pic, when I hung out with Lou Reed I didn't dare ask for a pic, but after we talked about our wives, our lives, our music, our kids, and how crazy that it had taken us this long to meet, I looked to my girl and said, "you have to take a pic". 

Music is magic.