Stresssssssssseeddddd ddaaaaa fucckkkk ouutttttt muchachos.. this is a crazy life I have.. all the drama, all the bs of a globetrotting gattabaout and none of the $ or people to help me do all the details… I don’t know man. I should just take a desk job somewhere and try to be happy.. I just.. can’t.. do.. it! you know what I’m talking about don’t you?
Come Friday, all that stress will hopefully be in the rear view as we’ll be in Mexico City con mi amgios Normandie Bluewho are going to show me around the legendary El Chopo.
and we’re going to hook up with the psychadelic punkadelic band Las Pipas… these guys are a trip.. you gotta give them a listen.
New EP “Jugo Cerebral” (Brain Game)
They have a new EP and the 4 tracks are absolutely must listen… Reminescent of the early punk from Peru “Los Saicos” (remember we wrote about them being quiet possibly the 1st punk band in Latin America or even the world?). Missed it, get it HERE.
We gonna hear Las Pipas live and find out what they have to say this weekend IF I can survive this week. So stay tuned.
In the meantime, check out their excellent EP HERE.
and their video below. More where that came from HERE.
Word is that everyday Russians have forgotten about Pussy Riot, that they don’t care what happens to them. Russia is a big place and they may not be freaking out about the lack of freedom of expression the way some in the U.S. are… but I’ll say this, Freedom of Speech & Expression is the MOST important right any of us possess. I believe it is a God given right and that without it, all the other problems of humankind stand no shot of being solved.
How can problems be solved if both sides (or more likely the several sides) of an issue can’t be debated? If an argument is only one sided, then I can guarantee you there is a silent party that does not agree.
If anyone, anyone, tries to silence you through political oppression, cyberbullying, intimidation, blackmail, whatever the case may be.. then you need to ask yourself “Why?”. What is it that you have to say that is so dangerous that others feel it must be suppressed.
Enough of the “you have the right to your own opinion, until it differs with mine” mentality. Enough of the “if you believe like I believe your great, but if you don’t you are shit” mentality.
Enough, enough, enough.
I happened to be in Miami when all of the Elian Gonzalezstuff went down back in the ’90s. I was shocked and saddened by so many Miami Cuban ex-patriots, many of whom risked their lives to taste the freedom of the U.S., refusing to allow others’ to even hint at an opinion different than their own (that Elian should be reunited with his father in Cuba).
It was a lesson in the irony and hypocrisy of our democracy. Freedom of Speech is especially important for those with whom we disagree. It’s easy to argue for someone’s freedom of expression when we agree with what they are saying.
I don’t know what Pussy Riot’s point is, and I don’t really care. I just believe in their right to try and make it.
I hear that those in Russia believe the whole Pussy Riot thing is a publicity stunt. To do what, I ask? To sell records of horrible, horrible punk music? Going to jail or a labor camp is a publicity stunt to sell records? The music business is rougher than I imagined then.
The reality is that if Russians don’t care about Pussy Riot, then they don’t care about themselves.
But I don’t believe that most Russians don’t care. We all should care and we all should fight, fight, fight when freedom of speech is being suppressed, regardless of the technique of the suppressors, be it jail, arrest, lies or intimidation.
My in box gets clogged from people asking me to review or showcase bands’ great new release. A little overwhelmed quiet honestly. I should be flattered I know, and I am.. but I’m also just really bored too, I don’t know.. this punk pin collection seemed kind of different. So I thought, what the hell?
See if your favorite punk band pin is on board by clicking HERE and using your zoom key. and check out some of the cool pics at their Flikr page HERE
Yeah, it’s been a long stretch of nothing but work for me trying to get this project “Raw Travel” off the ground. I can’t fully explain how much work this is in today’s consolidated media environment in the U.S of A. I mean, at times, it feels virtually impossible to make a living as an independent producer in TV. NOTHING should be this hard, but it is, and many people endure much more just to survive, so I won’t whine. I’ve been blessed by people who believe in what we’re doing and it’s getting done (50+ cities and counting in the U.S. and internationally this fall) with support from people at those very same consolidated media companies.
Corporations are made up of people, remember. And people, unlike corporations, are good, bad and in between because you see, they are people not a faceless entity like a corporation. Get it? Now don’t get me wrong, there have been a few incompetents and disrespectful folks along the way, some grossly so. But for the most part, people have been fair, good and professional. I am thankful for that.
Kids Should Inspire Us All To Do Better
Now the real work begins. Producing a show that was worth all this madness. I mean, we still don’t have a sponsor so we’re independently financing this and that means pressure, strain, sleepless nights, etc.
But I don’t care because I know, feel, that there is something there. We need to show that without actually learning about other cultures, other people’s struggles, that we’ll never, ever, ever be the society that I think we all strive to be. Never.
The U.S. and other “developed” countries can not be walled off like some wealthy enclave while the rest of the world suffers. We can’t be financially tied together (and we all are whether we like it or not.. thanks Wall Street greed and unrestrained capitalism) and not be spiritually tied together too. When a factory collapses in Indonesia, we all suffer. After all, they were making our cheap $7 t-shirts, excuse me, this just in $3 t-shirts.
Back in the day, I mean like 300 years ago, not that far back when you think about the grand scheme of the planet, people could be left alone in their part of the world and live like “heathens” or civilized man, or whatever their particular society desired.
Today, not so much. The U.S. can’t long term continue to be a bastion of ignorant mass consumption, it’s citizens seeking one fleeting pleasure after another to make up for the void in our lives at having been on a hamster wheel for so long just to survive with all the things we’re daily told we need, while other countries “make us stuff”.
There are so many angry, unhappy people in the U.S. That is the first observation I made when I returned here late in 2011, after JUST 10 months or so living abroad. The culture shock is insane for such a short amount of time but I had it. After living abroad for JUST 10 MONTHS I felt everything about me changed. The ground had literally shifted beneath my feet.
I discovered that comfort does not equate happiness. And while it’s hard to be happy, if you are soaking wet, homeless and hungry… it’s also hard to find happiness when you THINK you have everything you should want yet you still crave more.
What’s the answer? I don’t know. I’m pretty F’d myself. But now I know it. Where as before I thought I was pretty damned evolved. I’m not cool, I’m not evolved, I’m not intelligent or strong or wise. I’m struggling.The more I travel the more I know how much I don’t know. I’m both gaining more knowledge and learning how much knowledge I don’t have at the same time. How ironic?
I want to do the right thing, but can’t quite fulfill what I think is my potential….I’m that guy who could, almost did but might not do it and that scares the shit out of me.
But here is another thing travel does. It takes the focus off of me for a while and it puts it on someone else and their situation. I see many people, less comfortable than I, and they are, quite often… for the most part, generally happy despite working 14-16 hour days at grueling task for little money.
I myself, when I travel, am less comfortable than I care for.. but you know what? I too am happier. Lack of privacy, proper sleep or riding along in an uncomfortable chicken bus for 8 hours straight bouncing along rough roads, hugging cliffs, literally taking risk with one’s own life, simply by taking a bus?! It sucks but strangely, it also makes me feel more alive… and happier.
I’m forever changed by travel and the reality is, I’ve done nothing compared to most hard core travelers or what I hope to do in the next 10-20 years. I haven’t been to the nether reaches of Africa or Asia (yet). I’ve done precious little actual volunteering and am frustrated at the lack of clarity and potential to actually DO something worthwhile to help. Helping should be so easy right? So many people need so much.
It’s not. Helping is hard. But I’m committed to finding a way to doing it and not only doing it but yelling about it while I do it. Not to brag. I’m thankfully (one of the only good things about getting older I guess), well over that. I don’t need recognition anymore. In fact, I prefer not to have it. Really, truly do not. I’m not just saying it. What a great, freeing feeling that is.
Kids in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia with their new (gently used) baseball equipment
But if we are to end poverty, to make a difference in the world, then OTHERS have to see how it can change their lives too, so if I do something good, I will yell and challenge others to do the same. My inspiration came from a book entitled “The End of Poverty” and one of it’s messages is clear, to end poverty, we have to stop being so damned polite when we do something for others. Brag if you will, until it becomes the norm to help others and abnormal to be selfish.
I’m not Mother Teresa. At best, we’ll be able to touch on the voluntourism opportunities from other countries in Raw Travel. At best.
That is frustrating because I want to do more but to do more without the proper context or knowledge will sound preachy, shrill and silly. So the show will reflect my learning curve and maybe that is a blessing in disguise.
Often I think , maybe I’m just not meant to be a communicator… and that is why things are so hard. Maybe I’m really just not that good at what I am trying to do.
Yeah, I think about that. There is some truth there. Let’s face the facts. If I were that good, I’d be making ground breaking documentary films that make you cry and I’d be accepting awards and people would be begging me to come to their college or university or whatever to talk about my “art”.
But then I look and see what IS on TV and after I puke, I think shit man, I have to do something better than that swill. The shows are so shallow and, not surprisingly, the people who produce and greenlight them (I’ve met enough of them to judge) are in an insular world that rewards one thing and one thing only, success.
Their smarmy, dress well and largely alike and move in packs and often wear these smart, little frameless glasses of an intellectual or a librarian that is the trendy look these days. They have no clue and that is probably why they were drawn to TV as a profession in the first place. That’s OK only because I know what it’s like to have no clue, but now that I have some semblance of a clue, that just is not acceptable to me anymore. Producing TV carries a responsibility, if only to one’s self, whether it’s acknowledged or not.
I mean who wants to be on their deathbed thinking about what a great gift to mankind they made with “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” or “Here Comes Honey BooBoo” or “Alaska State Troopers” Or “Flip This Hotel” or bla, bla, bla? But they’re thinking the only other alternative is career suicide. They are wrong of course.
So, here it comes.. Raw Travel , travel show that attempts to have a conscience. We strive to be authentic (really real, not reality show real), respectful and to prick people’s curiosity and how they see the world. I know people, especially Americans, but all of us, are looking for more. I know because I believe that is where the anger, frustration and sadness is coming from. The search for more that is as old as mankind itself. Or at least when mankind didn’t have other worries like mere survival on his/her hands.
An ADORABLE, little 12 year old girl committed suicide in NYC recently. I read about it and wept. Still do when I think about it. She had been cyber-bullied and beaten up by other kids and it was posted on You Tube for the world to see. The parents of those teens must be so proud now.
In Memory of Gabriela Molina
Why should an adorable girl like that, or any kid for that matter at that age ever hang themselves? It happens in the Badlands at the Lakota reservation here in the U.S. all the time. Which also happens to be the most poverty stricken area in the U.S., perhaps disproving my earlier point (comfort does not equal happiness).
Does this happen all over the world? I didn’t know this little girl or her family, but I’d like to dedicate an episode of Raw Travel to her if I can. I’m sorry I never met her, especially in her time of need. One kind word, or even a smile, from even a stranger, might have changed her fate. My heart aches.
Misery.. it’s as old as the world. And hard as it seems to comprehend, the world is probably the best it’s ever been with less wars, less atrocities, less hunger than ever before in the history of mankind. But now, we know (or should) know more the misery our brothers and sisters are going through thanks to technology.. that double edged sword of good and evil (as all things are).
And until we at least try to alleviate some of the misery of our fellow man, do any of us ever have a shot of seeing fulfillment and self actualization? Depressed yet? Maybe a little Angry? Maybe a lot angry? Me too.
So what’s the point of this rambling missive? There is none. It is what it is. Except to say I’m finally digging out the old passport, putting my shit in storage (what little shit I have left) and going down to Mexico and Central America for 8 weeks to tape Raw Travel. I’ll be posting videos, write ups and pics of punk, ska, reggae, bands and the underground scene from our travels along the way.
First stop, El Chopo in Mexico City in mid June.
Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you, maybe I can make up for it with some real, angry, punk music. As far as I’m concerned the perfect tonic for a world not GONE mad , but STILL mad…. and maybe, just maybe actually getting better. I think it really is. And travel, the healing power of travel, is one of the reasons why.
Until we can get there.. enjoy some music from El Chopo.. the punk underground hood of Mexico City. See you soon amigos.
And if you know about those things you know about Cuba Skate, a not for profit giving Cuban youth much needed hope through something as simple as skateboarding.
And you know about the documentary film Cuba Skate is fundraising on Kickstarter to raise $8,000 to help make their documentary film? ah ha! Got ya! You couldn’t know about that because I have never written about that before until now because it’s a new project Mr/Ms. Know It All!
That’s OK. We’ll forgive you IF you donate HERE, even as little as $1 to help these guys raise money for their film. We’ve donated $100 from Punk Outlaw Records partly because we’re good guys, partly because I want to see this film made and partly due to guilt (I promised to contribute 10% of sales from the Punktology CD and our sales, while still growing, never quite made it to the minimum we needed. So now, problem solved.
Forget the fact that I’m strapped for funds to produce my own project “Raw Travel”, (no, I don’t want your money…yet, still trying the commercial route), a deal is a deal and $100 ain’t going to change that project one way or another.
So if you have a $1, or $5 or $10 or $20 or more to spare, I think these guys are worth it. There are a million causes screaming for your $, I know… and you should choose carefully and pick something near and dear to your heart, but if you decide to go this route, I think it’s money put to good use.
Respect, Hate or Fear the Police? I’d say it depends on who you are and where you are. I’ve never been roughed up by the police so I’ve always had a pretty positive attitude about them. They get paid garbage and put their lives on the line to keep people safe. But that is here, in the U.S. under my circumstance.
It occurs to me there are 3 basic classifications: The Protected, The Protectors and the Unprotected.
What about in Latin America? Or other countries like Russia? Well, I know first hand in Cuba the police are there to harass and jail not protect and serve.
As I gear up for my trip down through Latin America next month I’m wondering which type of police will we encounter? Will we encounter ones like we did in Quito who made a show of helping me after some local thugs tried unsuccessfully to take my camera but I later learned were probably in cahoots with the robbers?
Or the kind that ignored me in Havana, as they hauled away the punk who’d been brave enough to chat with us on camera about what he really thought of Cuba?
As we roll through Guatemala, a country still reeling from a civil war and where they just convicted their Ex President of genocide, most people just plain don’t trust the police. Will the police protect us or indirectly (or maybe directly) rob us?
In Colombia, the police were very cool to me. But what if I’d had dark skin and didn’t have a U.S. passport? What would happen then?
This video makes me think twice about the police.
Of course, it depicts bad ones at their worst. 9/11/01 in NYC was New York’s finest at their best. Though I met a few who were scumbags, most I met were just good guys doing their jobs as best they could for an often less than appreciative public. On 9/11 they willingly and heroically gave their lives so others could live.
Police and punk conflict goes back a long ways to the early days of punk, especially in Los Angeles. But at a Pennywise concert in NYC a few years back, there were some punk loving, tatted up NYC cops on stage, singing along to Pennywise’s anthems of self improvement and personal power.
Police, maybe they are just like the rest of us, some good, some bad. I don’t know.
Here is something we don’t present often enough, punk inspired humor.
I love NYC and I love Saturday Night Live (SNL), I will not lie. It’s one of the few shows on TV I try to catch religiously. When Margaret Thatcher died, SNL took full advantage and presented a fake band “The Bizarros” in a very real looking, fake documentary as the only punk band with a lead singer, Ian Rubbish, that ever dug Ms. Thatcher. You might even notice a few familiar faces in skits as well.
I thought it was hilarious. Fred Armisen is hilarious. If you haven’t caught his show Portlandia on IFC or Netflix, you should. Then again, you probably need to be from the U.S. to appreciate Portlandia.
Not so with the Margaret Thatcher skit. Brits should well appreciate this bit of humor and I’m sure our Aussie friends as well. Latin America? I don’t know guys. Weigh in, would love to hear what you think amigos. Does this humor translate? I hate to keep a good joke to myself.
Also, Ian Rubbish has his own website where you can find out more and even download 4 pretty good songs by Ian. Check it out here.
Christian Hardcore? Yes, it exist. Don’t believe it? Then check this film from Canada coming out next month called ChristCORE. Religion and punk… how do you feel about that?
Here is the info on the film from the publicist.
ChristCORE is an inside look at the explosive subculture of Christian hardcore music that is surging across North America. Canadian filmmaker and atheist punk rocker Justin Ludwig goes on tour with two evangelical hardcore bands — driven newcomers Messengers and Christcore superstars Sleeping Giant — culminating in the important Cornerstone Christian Music Festival. The tribulations of touring combine with the trials of preaching from the stage for these talented musicians and devoted evangelical Christians.