Monday, September 26, 2011

10 Bad Bosses - Comedy

"Do you have plans? We're going to need you to stay a little late tonight..."

     Everyone at least once in their life has to wake up one day and realize they are working for a bad boss. These horrible overlords are creatures of a darker, work-or-be-killed universe, where only the strong survive because they are willing to work 40 hours a week of unpaid overtime. 

"I like to think of it as being proactive."

     #1 The Howler

     This posterboy for intermittent rage disorder has two settings: “Loud” and “Marine Corps Drill Sergeant on PCP.” Bonus points if his eyes bug out, he turns red and hot spit pelts your face when he blasts you for not restocking the paperclips. Your best bet is to endure the noise until you’re shopping for powertools and handcuffs while looking for places to bury a body in the desert when you get all horror movie up in this biatch.
      The Good: At least he isn’t passive aggressive. 
      The Bad:  WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE'RE OUT OF PINK STICKY NOTES!!?
"You want to check your email during office hours? Are you crazy?"

     #2 The Fossil from 10,000 B.C.

    In his day a janitor working 35 hours a week could raise a family of four while the wife stayed at home. He doesn’t realize that the minimum wage has gone up since then...but the price of living has gone up even more. He thinks gasoline is still ten cents a gallon and medical insurance is a communist conspiracy. When you ask for Friday off he tells you of the time he lost an arm in an explosion and still worked a 27-hour shift, staunching the flow of blood with a scarf he created out of his own navel lint. 

      The Good: At least these bastards are all going to be retired in ten years. 

      The Bad: By the time they do mad cow disease will be a fringe benefit. 

"Just take phone messages and tell my clients I might be in later on today, but if not, I could be in tomorrow or the next week..."

     #3 The Non-Boss

    Maybe some of your co-workers have met him, but otherwise this boss is as fleeting as a flying saucer and as elusive as the sasquatch. He occasionally calls you, but other than that he is persona non gratis…incognito. Eventually your job begins to feel like an episode of The Twilight Zone, a dadaistic performance art piece, or some obscure French flick. 

      The Good: Browsing Facebook from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. has never felt so easy.

      The Bad: Can no one fire you for doing nothing for nobody?

"I yell because I DON'T care."

     #4 The Ultra Hardcore Retired Military Veteran

This guy fought in in a war somewhere, so expect to make as much in a week as a Saigon whore made in an hour during the year 1971. If you run out of paper while the phones are ringing as you simultaneously juggle sixteen projects that need to be done by 5 p.m., don’t expect a lot of mercy…at your age he was hip-deep in blood, ammo casings and napalm while your weak-ass thinks credit card payments can be rough.

The Good: There isn’t a dress code so you can stick it to The Man. 

The Bad: “The copy machine is malfunctioning? We got VC in the water! I thought you said this LZ was secure!? Lay down suppressing fire and fall back squad-by-squad to the Honda Civic!!!”

"Why don't you get Fridays off? I always do!"
       
#5 The Son of the Boss

Possibly the lowest business life form there is, the Son of the Boss is unqualified and knows it. He’s either a poor surrogate for his father, aping everything the old man says and does, or he’s a total screw-off that steals your good ideas and takes credit for all that you do. 

The Good: You could make friends with him, but then he might become The Best Buddy.

The Bad: When that big project drops dead and that bus comes around the corner, expect to be thrown under it when the dad demands a scapegoat. 

"I'll sign your paycheck on Monday...I'm late for my golf game."

       #6 Starscream

Treacherous, ambitious and dangerous, Starscream is a pain-in-the-ass to work for because he’s always trying to overthrow the leadership of Megatron, despite the fact that he continually loses against the Autobots. Starscream also despises humans, which would explain the lack of medical insurance, 401K plan and paid vacation. Despite the fact he’s the most ruthless Decepticon, his high-pitched, screechy voice undermines his authority for him. 

The Good: Being 31 feet tall and weighing nearly 6 metric tons, he’s easy to hear coming if you’re checking out porn on the Internet.

The Bad: He can fly at Mach 3 so his commute is brief. He’s also probably having sex with your computer. 

"I'm scheduling an aspiration statement to arrange aperture moments 
so we can e-tize."

        #7 The Jargonaught

This boss likes to use every buzzword there is to describe everyday office existence. “You have to be proactive. A self-starter. A go-getter. Now airwire those econometrics extrapediately.” He also likes to talk fast because it makes him seem efficient. “I hate to gazump the new item, but unless you want to be lateraled we’d better make a WAGposte-hasteor we’lllosethatLOMBARD.”

The Good: At least he looks like a manager, since these types believe everything they read in GQ.

The Bad: He’s probably either a LIHOM or a LOMBARD. 

"I don't care what my dad says...I like you!"

        #8 The Best Buddy

This guy’s friendly demeanor quickly becomes ingratiating. “Hey, dude, let’s hang out this Saturday!” You’d turn him down, but that could lead to reprisal. Friends make requests, but The Best Buddy knows he has the power. The real trick comes when the sadist asks you what you have going on Friday night because he wants to slay your weekend by hitting you with a shift you’ll despise.

        The Good: At least he kind of kisses your ass.  

        The Bad: How long can anyone fake smiling before they feel like that lunatic from the natural male enhancement commercials?

"Did you get the memo? Next week we'll be implementing 
a new KRONOS time card system."

      #9 Buffalo Bill 

Kept naked in a pit while you starve long enough so that your skin might better be harvested to complete his macabre girl costume, this boss spends long hours in his room sewing while you freeze in the mud. Sure, this job is comparable to working at McDonald’s, but at least fast-food jobs pay you an hourly wage. 

The Good: If you catch his little dog it might be used against him.

The Bad: “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose!”

"If we abolished minimum wage it would finally free up the nation's job providers."

     #10 Maximillian

     The new job is weird enough, and you can't believe the beard-and-a-haircut-combo the boss has.

"The new KRONOS time card system is working perfectly...don't you think?"

        But the gigantic evil robotic manager really creeps you out. He floats down the hall, silently entering your cubicle to stare over your shoulder while you balance Excel spreadsheets. Talk about a micromanager. That, and the whole spinning-razor-blade appendage thing. Plus, he can kill you with lasers.

        The Good: At least he's not a Howler. 

        The Bad: You just know that deep down inside, if the whole place ever goes to hell that red visor will open and you'll see the crazed eyes of the boss, staring at you forever while you try to photocopy a 300-page report, double-sided, with the collator jamming up on you, and just when have ten more pages to go you run out of toner.

Or maybe he's just multitasking.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mikey Mo the MC - Music


     I propose that if gangster rap is hip-hop's right wing, political activism is it's left. Artists like Public Enemy, Zion-I and Roots Riley from the Coup all use music as a medium to deliver a rallying cry for justice and social change. Mikey Mo the MC is a Bay Area hip-hop musician who is a part of this proud heritage.  
     While political hip-hop has been done before, the Bay Area has always done it a little bit better. Mikey Mo's latest album, Rule By Decree, is a perfect example of how potent hip-hop can be when it's used to promote social activism.
      "Freedom Ain't Free" is Mikey Mo's personal message about getting involved and getting out the vote. "The track is a politically driven song about making it in this world,” explains Mikey. “Everything has a price—even freedom!"


     Mikey isn't afraid to points out some of the more negative aspects of America in his album including widespread government surveillance, increasing political corruption and the continual threats to our civil rights, rising trends that concern Americans on the left and the right.
     Other tracks on the album discuss important social issues like our countries current flawed economic system and it's gross misappropriation of wealth, an issue so alarming it's become a platform of Obama's 2012 presidential campaign
     The album's production is courtesy of Sanabria, one of Latin America's greatest modern producers. A native of Venezuela, his collaboration with Mikey Mo is a perfect fusion of talents, when you consider Latin America's turbulent political history and it's own struggles for freedom.
     

     Latin America's hip-hop scene is extremely competitive. The country is seething with talent, and Sanabria has worked with the best of them, including notable performers such as DJ Kane & Ricky Rick, NK Profeta and Rekeson.


     Rule By Decree will be available on September 20, 2011. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Afro-Terrestrials: AfroTek - Music


     Somewhere back in the 70's the roots of hip-hop wrapped around the sci-fi literary movement (especially certain pulp elements) and tapped into a rich vein of celestial imagery and space age soundscapes that made behinds boogie. 


     Africa Bambaattaa seriously wasn't funking around. "Planet Rock" unleashed something that literally was state of the art tech at the time, teaming up with Kraftwerk, a German industrial band so OG they were industrial before the genre had a word for it.


     "Planet Rock" is a mechanical blast from a rarely heard past. Hip-hop was still figuring itself out, although it had great sources to work with, thanks to rock & roll, blues and funk.


     Africa Bambaattaa was both an innovator and a visionary. Bands like Parliament-Funkadelic took that ball, plugged it in, and flew the construct as far as they could go. George Clinton's unorthodox posse counselled all not to worry, because the Mothership was going to land and save us all from The Man.


     Their concerts unleashed all the imagery your eyes could take, as if the album cover's high-tech groin shot wasn't enough.


     Thank God, the aliens are here, and they are down to funk out.
     Modern hip-hop artists don't forget the bedrock of the genre that they stomp around in, so artists like Common and Ice Cube haven't hesitated to put their own spin on some old-skool classics by infusing the tunes with some of their own voltage.


     Unity Lewis is keeping the vision alive. The MC is giving listeners something electric, galactic and certainly funkadelic with The Afro-Terrestrials: AfroTek
     If you are down with iTunes, you can check it out here
     Offering the work as a "sci-fi story," the album even has a fictional report to get you in the mood. Here is an excerpt: 
     ...
     The Afro-Terrestrials Report:
     Date: July 3rd 2014 
     Time: 0400 Hours 
     Mission: Agent Republican Power Surveillance
     The tribal leaders are identified as follows:
     Tai-Chi (aka Don Juan Immaculate): 
scientist/ producer/ specializing in dimensional navigation, elemental alchemy/ supreme geometrics
     Unity (aka Young Precise or YP): 
doctor/ emcee/ specializing in herbal remedies and immortality
     F.L.O. 
philosopher/ emcee/ specializing in meditation, telekinesis and atomic energy
     After three years of observation, the US government concludes that the Afro-Terrestrials are alien life forms from the Sirius Nebula. Through the use of the Merkaba, they travel through dimensions gathering information. 
     With their knowledge of ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) technology they have created both zero gravity transports, and zero visibility transparent transports. They have occupied our planet for the past 50,000+ years. It is speculated that there may be thousands if not millions of these beings hiding in the ghetto's and slum's of the America's, Africa and Asia.
     We shall continue to monitor their activity and listen to their music for hidden codes and instruction.
     ...
     "Out of This World" brings the space funk and drops it down, hard. The beats drip tech as the lyrics reference the genre, keeping the digital torch burning. It's always cool to hear hip-hop with some literature to it.
     Lewis is offering  the EP as the first of seven installments of free music, each with it's own separate theme, for fans to groove on until the end of 2011. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hollywood Undead - Music


 I am very protective of my cell phone. I keep it in my pocket or lock it up. It usually just stays in my car. I never let anyone mess with it. If it got stolen I'd call the cops, the FBI, the NSA and Sylvester Stallone's private mercenary army from the documentary he shot about his life a few years ago

 No one messes with the cell phone.There are too many numbers of artists I've interviewed. I still talk to a few of them, but it's usually just quick text messages, since they might be on the road touring.

Funny Man from Hollywood Undead was one of those people I could hang out with. He was truly a riot to talk to. There is a blend of funny and cool that happens with musicians, where, yes, they have thousands of fans everywhere, but they aren't too cool to express a sense of humor.

After the interview Funny Man hooked me up with VIP passes, so a friend and I got to go see them play,  and even hang out with the band in the bar. 

Of course, I was there with 50 other people so it's not like we played beer pong to the wee hours. They were damn good people, though, and their show was off the hook.
... 

Hollywood Undead perfects the business of taking risks

Hollywood Undead is the kind of band that defies classification because they are that original and that good. This confuses critics and entertains fans, so the alchemy is doing something right. With six members in hockey-style masks making music, it’s going to get eclectic.

The six young artists delivered solid work with their latest album, American Tragedy, which presented the listener with an audio smorgasbord to feed every rock taste. Building upon the successful formula that infused their first album, Swan Songs, the group has added dance, techno and synth elements to the mixture, giving their Revolt Tour the rocket fuel it takes to sell out seats.

Vocalist Funny Man pulled himself away from the fun he was having to chat with CULTURE. 


I’ve heard you guys described as nĂ¼ metal, rap, hip-hop, alternative rock and crunkcore. How should your band really be described?

 There is no genre that sums us up. Our style of music is just what it is. I mean, rap, rock, metal . . . there is no description for what we do. We are Hollywood Undead. Everyone in the band is so different, I mean, there are six of us. Everyone just puts in their mix of personalities and music, and when you get to our show you get everything we have. 

 You released your first album, Swan Songs, back in 2008. How did it feel working on American Tragedy?

 What happened was that our band went through a lot of changes, so we are just trying to take things to a whole other level with our new member. We went to the studio and just made it happen. Coming in and doing American Tragedy, I just wanted the world to see something new. We wanted to prove we could keep making great albums.

Did you get any complaints over your song “Been to Hell?” The song delivers a harsh portrayal of the entertainment industry.

Well, the message is “Just stick to your guns and go for it.” When you go to Hollywood you have to just go for it because there’s no room for anything else. Don’t even bother if you aren’t willing to risk everything. I’ve seen it happen a lot. I have to give credit to my girl. She’s been a songwriter for six years now, and she’s just making a killing, now. She had to really pay her dues, though. It’s a machine out here, and it will grind you down. 

What are your thoughts on the legalization of marijuana?

Well, I think it should be legal, but honestly, I feel it’s never going to be. There’re just so many assholes that don’t want us to get high. I don’t give a damn, though. I grow my own weed and I’m perfectly happy with how things are now. 

Why is it that there are still some politicians that are still standing in the way of progress?

Because they had a boring childhood. What’s funny is that right now I’m in downtown Sacramento, and I’m trying to find a bar, and I keep asking all of these politicians walking around here and they won’t tell me anything. 

Your taxes pay their salaries, too. What’s up with that?
Exactly! I don’t give a damn about politics. It won’t matter if [marijuana] is legal or not; it’s always going to be there, no matter what.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Khaled M. - Music


This interview with Khaled M. is from May of 2011. You can find the original article here. I got the interview with Khaled M. through Skinnie Entertainment Magazine just as Libya started getting it's revolution on, and it was surreal to interview a person whose father had been a victim of Gaddafi's regime.


I liked interviewing Khaled M. because he was such a genuine person to talk to. Some hip-hop artists really keep their act on, which is why they tend to be so successful doing films. Khaled M. was humble, yet professional, focused but open-minded. Despite his growing fame the guy really was a grounded individual.


His horrific descriptions of the terrorist act his government perpetuated upon his family in Libya, especially his father, made me thankful that NATO got involved to decrease the civilian death toll. I was also glad that Reagan bombed Gaddafi back in the 80's.
...


Khaled M. (Khaled Muammer) is an American-Libyan hip-hop MC creating revolutionary music at a time when his homeland is in the midst of one. 


He fine-tuned his skills in Chicago, working as a ghostwriter for other hip-hop and R&B musicians while he perfected his freestyle-driven signature sound. 


Now Khaled M. is an MC on the rise, touring around the world with industry heavyweights such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Tech N9ne and Insane Clown Posse.


Recent political protests in Libya over Gaddafi’s totalitarian regime have placed a different kind of spotlight on Khaled M., who had grown up in a family that had fled Libya for their lives to live in a community with strong ties to the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. 


His song, “Can’t Take Our Freedom,” has become a rallying cry not only for protestors in Libya, but for anyone facing political oppression around the world.


What did your early years as a ghostwriter teach you about hip-hop and the music industry?


Coming up when I just finished high school I wanted to be an MC myself, but I wasn’t ready to launch my solo career. Those early years taught me about how to write a song and to understand the flow, delivery, the chords and the hook…it really helped me to develop that. It also taught me not to burn bridges. Before, if I didn’t like a song by another musician I’d say something about it. Now, I know when to keep my opinion to myself.



You were born into a family that had witnessed your father being jailed and tortured by the Libyan government on a routine basis. After they fled their home to eventually live in America, you were raised in a community with strong ties to Libya. How do all of these experiences affect your art?


I think more than anything that my experiences growing up taught me about what is important in life. We grew up poor but I had a very happy childhood. My family instilled me in certain values…that it was important to fight for justice, for freedom and to see what was more important in life.


From what I understand, your father was a poet as well.

My father never sat me down and taught me writing. I’d always hear him freestyling these little songs. He’d make little rhymes about how I didn’t like a certain food or things that would happen during the day. He was very clever and always had something witty to say. I was too young then to understand the magnitude of how good his writing was.

Do you look forward to visiting Libya once a new government comes into power?


It’s surreal. We always felt that any moment we could go back to Libya. That’s why a lot of Libyans grew up poor, they didn’t invest or save anything over here because they always thought they were going back. As a child I always thought we’d go back.


When I became a teenager I realized that this was America, this was my home. Recently, our group became more about making people more aware about what Gaddafi had done. Every male family member on my father’s side has been tortured and imprisoned by Gaddafi.


It’s going to be very emotional when we go back. It’s going to be an exciting time and a sad time. There’s a lot of family there I haven’t seen before, although I met a lot of them in when I was in Tunisia in 2004. To see a lot of my friends and family back in Libya again will be very moving.



Right now you are a young Moslem male growing up in a politically charged time in America. How do you feel about the country?


At the end of the day, regardless of what actions the American government or certain people might make, there are truly good people here. I think a lot of times a smaller group of negative people with loud voices can make life hard. I grew up as an outsider. All the King hearings, the fuss about building a Mosque in NYC, that can hurt.


There’s a lot of mixed messages. I have a lot of personal beliefs about what the government has disclosed and not disclosed. I think anyone who watches the media has to understand that they need to do a lot of research.


I don’t watch Fox news or anything like that. For instance, If you watch the news, you’d think that all Arab men are Moslem. But it’s only 18%. I feel sometimes I’m part of a culture that can be under attack. I get randomly checked, every flight. But I understand, we have to stop terrorism.


What’s it like for you in the world of hip-hop?


In the hip-hop world there is no anti-Moslem attitude. There’s big ethnic backgrounds, there’s Latinos, Chinese, Black people…it’s a big family and it’s a beautiful thing. Many hip-hop artists are Moslem, too. Because of this there’s a lot of cultural understanding. People don’t act weird when I have stop and pray.


The Libyan protest website you were a part of, Feb17.info, was influential in helping  the people who were under Gaddafi’s regime get their message out, despite the government’s attempts to block communications to the outside world. What was it like being part of the technical and social side of a revolution?


Feb17.info was part of a lot of other things, a lot of different people from many areas working together to help. We called people in Libya, got a hold of them, and we offered tutorials to teach people there how to get Internet connections, using proxies and other technologies, like Google Voice, to get the word out.


People involved in the political demonstrations in Washington, D.C. during the protests in Libya wanted to be there so much to help. They wanted to be in Libya, helping them, fighting, giving medical aid…but people over there told us they needed the help we were giving them. They were the ones who told us that what we were doing was very important.


With all of that going on you still have had time to create a highly anticipated new project. Let’s talk about it.


I’m releasing it in early spring, late summer. It’s called Free P. This is my debut project. It’s a compilation of original material with original beats and music that I’ve been working on. I’m offering it to the fans for free because I don’t’ want anyone to miss it.


It’s not an album. An album is based on a theme. This is a compilation of songs that I have made over the course of my career. It’s more of a collection of unreleased songs.


My manager and I often say that we are free spirits with how we set up my tours. That’s the way I make my music. I don’t write anything down, I revise until I have something I like. That’s how I create my songs. I have a very diverse set of songs because of the spontaneity in my music. That’s what Free P is going to show to everyone.


Friday, September 16, 2011

The Awesome Power of Joe Rogan - Comedy

   
    Joe Rogan is more than just a talented comedian— he’s a 21st-century Renaissance Man. Aside from performing stand-up, he’s a commentator for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, was the host of the popular show Fear Factor, and played a key role in the late, great sitcom NewsRadio.
     His Spike TV comedy special, "Talking Monkeys in Space," will air March 27, on Comedy Central, coinciding with its release on CD and DVD. Also look for him in the upcoming big-screen release, The Zoo Keeper.
     Even with all his success, Rogan remains an outspoken proponent of marijuana legalization. As a user himself, he certainly debunks the idea that cannabis smokers never get around to doing anything.
     In an interview with CULTURE, Rogan spoke candidly of his career, his cannabis advocacy, and why politicians deserve roundhouses to the head.
     You’re a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Are you training in other forms of martial arts?
     No, basically all I do is Jiu-Jitsu these days. I don’t have a lot of time for anything else. I hit the bag but that’s about it. There’s no brain damage, either. It’s a cumulative thing. That’s why I don’t like to box.
     I’m a huge fan of martial arts. It’s the only sport I follow. I like combat sports but I used to watch professional pool. Pool used to be huge in America, and somewhere along the line it dropped off. People used to dress up in suits to watch it, but something happened and now it’s not as popular.
     A related question: If you had the chance to kick one celebrity in the head and get away with it, who would it be?
     That’s a good question. It would have to be a politician. It would be someone responsible for how fucked up the world is.
     I always wanted to kick Kim Jong Il in the head.
     Yeah, but that’s something the North Koreans should do. You can’t go overseas and mess with other governments like that. That kind of thing has messed up our country.
     You mentioned in one of your shows that around the time you were doing Fear Factor, people forgot you were a comedian. What happened?
     Well, it’s not that people forgot—they just didn’t know. They didn’t know who I was. They just assumed I was only a game show host. They just stop being funny. I think most people had no idea who I was.
     What did you do to turn that around?
      I just kept doing comedy. I think people were coming to see me because of Fear Factor. People came to see me and didn’t know what I was going to do. It’s a matter of doing more comedy. Putting out that last CD (Shiny Happy Jihad) helped out, plus the special on Spike TV, but it was a lot of constantly performing, becoming popular through word of mouth. I was just constantly moving forward. Now I’m more known for comedy and the UFC.
     What can fans expect from the CD/DVD release of  "Talking Monkeys in Space?"
     I did a special for Spike TV, but there’s also a lot of behind-the-scenes material, question-and-answer stuff. We’ll give people microphones and let them come up and ask questions. It’s a fun thing to do at shows—it’s not some act, and people know that you are talking off the top of your head and end up asking interesting questions. It’s a more organic experience. If you like a guy and you see his routine, that’s nice, but there’s a difference between your routine and riffing.
     Are you looking at doing any more movies or TV shows?
     Well I did  The Zoo Keeper recently. Kevin James is in the movie and I play his enemy. I know him from when I was really raw. I had known him way back when I was only doing shows for two years. I don’t mind doing movies, but I prefer UFC and comedy because I prefer not working with actors.
     A lot of celebrities support the medical and recreational use of cannabis, but you really speak out about it. Why is this issue so important to you?
     It’s important to me because when I was younger, I had the wrong idea about pot. I had this misconception that pot made you stupid and lazy. But it turns out that those people were just stupid and lazy. Pot won’t enlighten you if you are lazy.
     A lot of people are victims of the propaganda that was released in the ’30s, and we’re still dealing with that now. Look at Partnership for a Drug Free America—it’s a business. We are being lied to, and it’s as if our society is being treated like nothing but infants. People just repeat what politicians say. They don’t research it.
     People would be angry if they understood marijuana and what was being done to them because they are missing out on a staple of life. It allows you to understand yourself in a deep way, to look upon your actions and how they affect people. It’s a great thing for enhancing your creatively. It’s like a turbo charger. It’s not like it’s hurting me. The stuff that I write is better when I’m high.
     Marijuana can help you find parallels in humor, and make those mental leaps. Comics who explore their own consciousness often use cannabis, mushrooms, etc. because those are tools that enhance perception. One comic who does that is Norm Macdonald. He’s a huge pothead. He has such an oddball, left-field brand of comedy.
    What do you think about the effort in California to legalize cannabis?
     I think the issue is that these people running the clinics are not following the law. They should follow the law and keep the clinics respectable, like placing them away from schools and communities. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. It’s just like liquor stores.
     There’s something wrong with selling it only for medicinal purposes. California needs to change it to a system where it’s available for responsible use. When that’s done, people will pay for it, the state will get money from it and this will open the floodgates.
     But I think the genie is out of the bottle. Thousands of people use it. People don’t have to go to some scumbag to get pot. It’s like we’re still living in the Dark Ages. It’s hypocritical that we have these laws in the Age of Information.
     However, I wouldn’t want a strip club down the street. There’s plenty of room for dispensaries and liquor stores. They will get to the point they need the profit and they will take the chance. It’s changed the way people look at it.
     Obama said he wouldn’t go after people unless they violated federal and state law. That really opens the door for responsible use. You allow it and then require people to get prescriptions, but after that, marijuana is going to be allowed, period.
     Are you a medical-cannabis patient yourself?
     Yes. I have been for the past six years.
     Do you feel your support of cannabis has helped or hurt your career?
     It’s impossible for it to hurt. What I wasn’t going to do is not be honest. What I want to do is to tell the truth. Anything I could gain by not talking about cannabis is something I don’t really want, anyhow.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Seth Petruzelli - MMA


     Back in October of 2008 I interviewed Seth Petruzelli for Skinnie Entertainment Magazine. He was fresh from defeating Kimbo Slice in a CBS national broadcast of an EliteXC match.
     Petruzelli was brought in as a last-minute replacement, creating quite a scandal when he knocked out Slice in 14 seconds.
     Slice, an underground pit fighter made popular by YouTube, looks about as scary as an MMA fighter could possibly be. A lot of people couldn't understand how Petruzelli took the massive Slice out.
     Well, Petruzelli is 200 lbs, and had been doing martial arts for most of his young adult life. His punch had most of his weight behind it as Slice rushed forward. When Slice's jaw hit Petruzelli's fist, it was like two cars colliding head-on.
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Seth Petruzelli

     For anyone who’s spent the last few months in frozen suspended animation, last October Kimbo Slice was slated to fight Ken Shamrock in Florida for an Elite XC MMA match.
     But Shamrock ended up with a busted eye in training, which meant that the Florida Boxing Commision put the kibosh on Ken allowing the less-famous Seth Petruzelli, who was slated to fight Aaron Rosa, to battle Slice instead.
      Petruzelli became the stuff of MMA legend that night by beating Slice in less than 30 seconds. Controversy has followed with some saying Petruzelli was paid to not go to the ground with Slice. UFC President Dana White has also Elite XC and Slice over the matchup. Now it’s Petruzelli’s turn to give us some of his words.

Alright Mr. Petruzelli, where did you learn to fight and when did you start?
     I started taking karate lessons when I was 7 years old at the Kobayashi Dojo in Cape Coral, Florida. I also wrestled in high school. I later trained in Thai boxing, kickboxing and eventually moved to Orlando to study Brazillian Jui Jitsu. I got into MMA fighting and got noticed by promoters and turned pro in 2000. I was also on a season of the Ultimate Fighter TV show.

How did you end up fighting Kimbo Slice?
     I was warming up for my fight with Aaron Rosa, and I heard that Ken had gotten hurt. Elite XC asked if I wanted to fight Kimbo Slice. I said, “Hell yeah, let's do it.” I only had 5 minutes to think about it.

What did you think would happen? 
     I knew who Slice was and I wanted to get into the ring with him and fight him. I've seen his videos, and he’s pretty good, but it's a lot different when you fight trained fighters. I knew that I could fight him, and that he was a straight-forward boxer with not a lot of angles. My plan was to hit with push kicks and shoot him (take him to the ground), but I landed a good shot on the button.

Tell me more about the fight, please.
     He rushed me, and he was pretty intimidating…I did what I did, which was throw some push kicks to get him off me but he kept coming in. I threw a kick and ducked down to throw a body shot, hooking right, and I saw him stick his chin out and went for it. After he was going down my body took over and I just rushed him. I kept pounding him and he wasn’t stopping me. I knew the ref would jump in and stop it.

Do you intend to fight for the UFC? 
     For right now I'm under a contract with Elite XC. I was in Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter and they released me from my contract afterwards and said, “Go get some wins.” Right now I’m in a  four fight deal with Elite, but I would like to fight for the UFC, too.

It's been said that in another interview you were paid by Elite XC to not shoot and take Kimbo to the ground. Is that bullshit? 
     I was misunderstood in an earlier interview. All that happened was that I was offered a knock out bonus, and that Elite XC wanted a good, “stand up fight.” Bonuses are common. Their words didn't change my game plan at all.
     Plus, Kimbo Slice was already training to take on Ken Shamrock. He probably had a ground game, but things went differently. MMA fans like a good fight, and tend to cheer more over two fighters who are going toe-to-toe. The “stand up fight” is just an expression.

Apparently, Dana White, President of the UFC, has been harshly critical of the match. What are your thoughts? 
     He’s just standing up for his organization, so he has to dog the competition. Dana White has been pretty cool with me.

Where and when will you be fighting next? Has that match "changed your life?" 
     I’ll be fighting in January or February. Some names have been thrown around but nothing solid. The 205 belt is vacant, and I certainly want that 100%. I'm getting offers from sponsors, I'm getting noticed, and it feels good since I've been busted my ass since the year 2000.

Are you going to have a rematch with Kimbo Slice?
     Yeah, I do, but Slice hasn’t been cool with that. I know why, if it happens twice his career would be messed up so it's better to fight Ken Shamrock. Slice will make a huge comeback fight which will get him back on top. Everybody gets losses, it’s part of the business.

Seth Petruzelli's page at UFC.com.

Atmosphere - Music


The magic part of any good interview is when both the other person and I are just having a good conversation.


No matter how friendly everyone gets, I still have to madly type down everything everyone is saying, so I don't let myself get too relaxed.
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Self-Taught: From the streets of Minneapolis to the recording studio, Atmosphere’s Slug keeps his songwriting personal


Slug is the lead singer and MC of Atmosphere, an independent hip-hop band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The group combines addictive guitar hooks, provocative bass lines and solid drumbeats with Slug’s lyrical style to form a powerful, enduring combination. After more than a decade, Atmosphere still plays sold-out shows from here to Europe.
     
While Slug’s philosophical approach to writing songs goes beyond the usual guns, bitches and boasting, he isn’t putting that perspective down. “To me, hip-hop means making something out of nothing. It’s about the struggle,” he says. 


“I don’t disagree with hip-hop songs that talk about guns, dealing drugs, getting shot or anything like that, because I think they are still talking about what it’s like to struggle. . .there are a lot of different people in hip-hop, but we’re all talking about a similar place. Some struggles are personal struggles, while others struggle with the street.”
     
This stark honesty allows the artist a wider range of material. Songs about poverty, losing a loved one, being addicted to drugs or falling out of love gives Atmosphere’s lyrics a painful, original quality.
     
Atmosphere’s latest album, The Family Sign, contains just as much emotional substance as its previous work. “I guess you could say I have a lot of depth. I might credit that to how much I over analyze my own lyrics,” Slug says. “I am a pretty insecure artist, so I spend a lot of time breaking down my art.”



Slug promises that the latest album is going to live up to the band’s reputation, rewarding fresh listeners and loyal fans alike by surprising them both with an album that is both classic and completely original.
     
“What you can expect out of our new record is what we’ve built so far. If I take a hard left, I’m going to warn you, but it’s always going to be a great trip,” he says. “Our goal with every album is to figure out how to best articulate where we came from in a way that allows people to relate to us. I grew up in the ghetto of Minneapolis, in the south side of a rough neighborhood, so there’s a lot of [that] self-taught attitude in my writing.”
     
When it comes to music, Slug is both an artist and an architect. He demands perfection from every song he helps construct because he enjoys the process of creation. “You can break artists into two different groups,” Slug says. “There are artists who get validation by presentation of the art, and there are artists who get their validation from technique. Some make art, some present art.”
     
Yet the songwriter admits that he might aim too high at times, but that’s how he operates stating, “I probably get a little obsessive. You can take a paintbrush and do it really quick, or you can do what I do and maybe go over it too much.”


Slug doesn’t think enjoying the presentation is wrong. If your creation isn’t up to par, there’s always the danger of unveiling something that sucks; any artist has to have a particular kind of courage, according to Slug.
“There is a humility that comes with being a type of artist who gets off on the presentation because of the risk,” he says.


His emotional dedication to the songwriting process keeps him objective. When it comes to the final presentation, he’s not trying to convince you. When asked if he’d be fine with a person only keeping one hit from The Family Sign on their iPod, he said: “Yes, exactly. If you only listen to one song on the way to work, that’s fine with me.”


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dropkick Murphys - Music


When Dropkick Murphys released their fifth album, 2005's The Warrior's Code, I was working for Skinnie Entertainment Magazine. The editor, Hans Fink, set me up with the interview as a favor because by 2005 I had written articles for just about every section the magazine had, including sports and comedy.

Of course this band is one of my all-time favorites, although I have to confess that I really didn't care for The Warrior's Code. 2011's The Meanest of Times proved that the 'Murphys still had plenty of firepower left. "Surrender" is my favorite song by this band, next to "Worker's Song" from Blackout.

Tim Brennan, guitarist and vocalist for the band, was a very friendly person to talk to, although I could tell that the band had been partying quite a bit the night before. 

JTD: Hey man, thanks for talking to Skinnie Magazine.

TIM: No problem. Thank you.

JTD: Where did you get the name Dropkick Murphys?

TIM: The Dropkick Murphys was one of the first dry out clinics in Boston, started by a local boxer. There’s a song on the new album called “Sunshine Highway” that talks about it.


JTD: The Dropkick Murphys have always been very patriotic. I’ve been to your shows and have noticed there are a lot of American flags and everything. Did 9/11 reinforce this?

TIM: Obviously, to a point. Everyone had it to begin with, but 9/11 was a good reminder. It became more prominent, after 9/11. The American Pride Tour wouldn’t have happened, otherwise.

JTD: “Citizen CIA” has a very political message.

TIM: More or less. It’s a “what if?”

JTD: What if the CIA was using a temp agency to hire people, or something like that?

TIM: Yeah. “Why not pay for college? You’ve just graduated from High School, so join the CIA.” If the CIA is just hiring anyone, something’s wrong…so the song is hypothetical, not political.

JTD: Yeah. Once you choose a slant, it’s like you are labeled and put into a category that you’re stuck in.

TIM: We never had a political slant…Republican, Democrat, whatever. We always had songs about the unions, but once we did a song that ended upon on the Rock vs. Bush album.  We got emails and letters from people who were just angry. 

JTD: It gets messy.

TIM: That’s not us. We don’t want to just be known as a political band.

JTD: Do you feel the L.A. scene gives you as much support as you get on the east coast? 

TIM: We do. The shows are great, so it feels like it. The fans really like us out here.

JTD: But I’ve always admired how you guys are very loyal to your Boston origins. You’re not some band that just moved on and completely forgot where they came from.

TIM: Obviously. I think where we came from, that New England mentality, really keeps us grounded. 

JTD: Certainly.

TIM: We’d never move away from Boston.

JTD: I can’t imagine you guys moving to Beverly Hills. 

TIM: Yeah, that’s not us.

JTD: When are you going to do another Who song? Your cover of “The Kids Are Alright” was epic. I like it more than the original.

TIM: Thanks, man. We actually do “Baba O’Reilly” too.

JTD: Really? Wow…

TIM: For our live shows. We almost recorded it for “The Warrior’s Code,” but we play it live. We don’t play the very end, though. It’s an abridged version. But the band loves The Who.

JTD: Is it because they kind of represent the early punk scene? The Who really helped to start it all off…

TIM: Well, obviously, I mean, they weren’t a total punk band, but you look at Pete Townshend, and he was just pure rock and roll. 

JTD: When did you first incorporate bagpipes into your music? Did the audience take to that right away? It’s very distinctive.

TIM: I think the band used them when they first started out. 


JTD: Onstage, too?

TIM: No, at first they just had their buddy Joe Delaney, but then they just went with pre-recorded bagpipe music. Later, they actually had a piper with the band onstage during the shows.

JTD: I like bagpipe music.  I’ve been to some highland festivals, and I’ve always felt that bagpipes symbolized rage and rebellion. It goes along with the punk spirit.

TIM: Totally. I agree. I think they fit.

JTD: What’s it been like performing a cover of “Tessie?"

TIM: We played it in New York, and we really should have had a fence to protect us. The crowd hated it. They started throwing bottles and everything.

JTD: Really? Ha ha! I never thought of that…

TIM: Yeah, it was like that one bar scene in The Blue Brothers. I didn’t think about it at the time, but we played “Tessie” the crowd just hated us…it was terrible. So the next night we’re going up on stage, still playing in New York, and I saw it on the set list…

JTD: Oh no.

TIM: I told Ken “No,” but he insisted, so we played it anyways, every night in New York. I just learned to dodge the bottles. There were some people who just laughed it off, but some people in the crowd were pissed.

JTD: Fuck, man…danger and excitement.

TIM: Yeah.

JTD: Did the Red Sox call you up and thank you?

TIM: I don’t know…they gave us free tickets, let us go to Fenley Park, so yeah, they were more than thankful. We didn’t have carte blanche of the whole stadium, but it was close. 

JTD: That still must be pretty incredible, being a part of baseball history like that.

TIM: I don’t know if we were part of baseball history, but it was still great to be there.

JTD: Could you please explain the song “Wicked Sensitive Crew?" Were you guys just sick of Emo rock, or what?

TIM: Not really.  It was originally just a dig at me from Ken--that was the idea--a song about being sensitive. About looking around at the pop punk, you got kids with tough tattoos singing about being sensitive. None of us are in a gang or anything, but we just thought it was funny, so we recorded it.

JTD: I remember being at a Social Distortion concert and hearing Mike Ness talk about how, back in his day, if you had a green mohawk and tattoos you’d probably get your ass kicked, and now everyone at the mall looks like that.

TIM: Yeah, totally. It’s weird…it was a style…people who were punk were just dirty, but now there’s a whole different sort of scene.

JTD: What was it like for you guys, playing in Ireland?

TIM: Pretty crazy. When I first joined the band, I figured we had fans in Ireland. I thought at first there’d be a few people who wouldn’t like what we are doing with their traditional sound, bagpipes and stuff like that. But no, we were well received. The fans really like us. We even got to play with Cait O’Reardon from “The Pogues.” People loved it. 

JTD: Well, thank you for talking to me today. I really appreciate it.

TIM: Yeah, be careful with that “Three Straight Guys and Ken” thing. That might get me in trouble. (Laughs).

JTD: I will. Good luck on the tour.

TIM: Thanks man, thank you.