Book review by General Labor
“It’s hard to find words. I have played in so many spaces with precarious floors and beams and stairs and not enough exits and certainly no sprinklers. Warehouses, squats, basements, rooftops, barns. Playing music saves my life. People tell me listening to music saves their lives. People telling me that my music saved their life saves my life even more. And we take the risks. Playing and listening in unsafe spaces. Because when we feel like we are dying anyway the risks don’t… seem as risky as the risks we already face every day. The risk of self destructing. There aren’t enough places for us to gather.
Our favorite places get turned into parking lots. So many clubs with their overhead and their staffs and their contracts and their lack of inclusivity and lack of tolerance and their age restrictions and their bars and their bigots. Those spaces are also unsafe just in different ways. Those spaces break you if you don’t make em the money. Because it’s always about the money. The fucking money. They will make you feel like a failure. Like a piece of shit. But all we can do is art. So we meet underground. We lurk in the shadows. And there it isn’t about success or failure. We sing and scream and cry and laugh and dance and group hug like cinnamon rolls and tell each other to get home safe and stay safe and be careful because the world is scary and the world is risky. We know we have to take care of each other.
So we meet in warehouses. Where we can just love on each other and escape from all the scariness and sadness. We take care of each other in our unsafe spaces that can feel so much safer than your safest spaces.
Imagine you were on a sinking ship. And there is only one lifeboat. And someone screams that there is a chance the lifeboat might tip over.
You’ll take that chance.
If I hadn’t had people inviting me to their unconventional venues over the years I would have been dead a long long time ago.
We’re not trying to put each other in danger. We are trying to save each other’s lives. We love each other so much.
I love you all.”
(- Kimya Dawson)
“Obama was just a place-holder for fascism. Not that he wasn’t fascist and not that the Empire and police state didn’t metastasize under his regime, but that opposition to it dried up, for the most part. It was a brilliant move for the ruling-class.” (-Cindy Sheehan)
“The reprehensible fact that President Obama will not lift a finger to help the police-state besieged Water Protectors at Standing Rock speaks volumes about President Kill List’s true nature. Installed to bestow a multicultural face on the elitist crime spree known as neoliberal capitalism and US economic and military imperialism, his presence further bolsters the traditional role of the Liberal Class, to wit, to serve as a protective barrier between leftist, labouring class,… and minority socio-economic movements and the capitalist overclass.
Obama’s (non)action regarding Standing Rock is an object lesson in the form. When Alabama Governor George Wallace and Birmingham’s Chief of Public Safety Bull Connor fired volleys of tear gas, targeted with high-pressure water from fire hoses, and set attack dogs upon civil rights activists in the Jim Crow-ruled streets of Birmingham, the world took note and responded with umbrage. Obama’s presence, as it did with the Bail Out of the Wall Street criminal class as Main Street reeled and languished from their scams, serves to buffer any outrage and smother, by neglect, wider support or action by liberals.
In the coming months, when President Trump allows or orders police state goon squads to brutalise dissidents…just wait for it…liberals and faux progressives will revert to full umbrage mode. Trump has transformed the nation into a police state, they will bray. The problem will not be capitalism and the System Of Plunder’s inherent deprivations, state violence and institutional racism. No. The only problem will be Trump, The Orange-Stained Il Duce, The garrulous rouser of Cracker Barrel fascists, Sauron’s Eye Atop Trump Tower.
Yet, as we speak, the shock troops of the US police state drench and pummel the unarmed Water Protecters at Standing Rock with high-power streams from water cannons, in sub-freezing weather conditions, reign volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets upon them — yet the Liberal Class, still in the thrall of their post-election hissy fit, cannot be bothered to notice the unfolding obscenity. All of their outrage has been postdated to arrive in the era of Trump.” (Phil Rockstroh)
“White people, men, straight people, cis people, Christians, you are going to be offered an out, a bargain, an olive branch. They will offer you some normalcy and safety to break ranks and join the winning side, or at least the quiet, enabling, uninvolved side. This is always done; has always been done. You will be offered the opportunity to calm down and make nice and retain lives like the ones you had before for yourselves and your families.
I will understand that those offers might be tempting. I will even understand some of you taking those offers. I love safety and comfort and my family too. Please, when that opportunity comes, look at history, and remember how false it is. Please don’t break ranks with the people more vulnerable than you. Please, remember what happens when you’re not watching, what this week feels like, what it has felt like for some of the rest of us for a long time. Please, look at how we’re reacting and remember we are afraid for good reasons, and don’t leave us behind.
We are counting on you. We are hoping for your best and bravest selves. Help us to get out of this alive. Please.” (-Elena Rose)
“Wow. Eight years of having your rights eviscerated, economic decline, children drone bombed, torture becoming the norm, and hundreds of thousands of people being bombed overseas and I heard nothing but the sound of crickets from our alleged “leftists.” One day after a Republican wins an election and it looks like the million man march out there. You people should just admit it. You don’t care about rights, war, murder, or freedom. You are party cultists and nothing more. I guess you finally found your voices after eight years of silence. Too bad you couldn’t find your principles.” (-Brandon Turbeville )
“A revolutionary career does not lead to banquets and honorary titles, interesting research and professorial wages. It leads to misery, disgrace, ingratitude, prison and a voyage into the unknown, illuminated by only an almost superhuman belief.” (-Max Horkheimer)
“Real revolutionaries adorn themselves on the inside, not on the surface.” (-Che)
“We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world—bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts.”
(-Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century)
“THE MOST FRIGHTENING feature of the civic melancholia in present-day America is the relative collapse of integrity, honesty, and decency — an undeniable spiritu…al blackout of grand proportions. The sad spectacle of the presidential election is no surprise. Rather, the neofascist catastrophe called Donald Trump and the neoliberal disaster named Hillary Clinton are predictable symbols of our spiritual blackout. Trump dislodged an inert conservative establishment by unleashing an ugly contempt for liberal elites and vulnerable citizens of color — and the mainstream media followed every performance (even his tweets!) for financial gain. Clinton laid bare a dishonest liberal establishment that was unfair to Bernie Sanders and obsessed with winning at any cost — and the mainstream media selectively weighed in for pecuniary ends.” (-Dr. Cornel West)
“For many decades a very controlled and corrupt media has been directing the attention of the masses by uniformly reporting on a state of …managed chaos, which is scripted and staged to produce mental confusion and fatigue. The relentless reporting and rehashing of catastrophic and traumatic events, with images of despair and destruction repeatedly planted into the minds of the viewers, create supreme states of anxiety and are, in reality, a form of psychological warfare. Authorities play with truths, half-truths, deceptions, and lies to render you hopeless, feeling it is pointless to do anything – this now passes as ‘the news’, and it can rule your life.
When millions of people focus their attention upon listening to the same words, seeing the same pictures, and hearing the same descriptions, tremendous energy is generated and a massive thought-form is created. Thought-forms are vibrational blueprints that hold instructions for manifesting reality. The media captures your attention and then programs your imagination, essentially canceling your your own unique creative drive to self. You have been conditioned to believe that all you need to know can now be found in the wonderful world of electronic boxes and the information and entertainment they hold. . When ‘the news’ is slanted toward a continuous message of war and conflict, a state of despair and a sense of hopelessness are created. A paralysis of power takes hold because you become convinced that the only reality is what is described and prescribed by the authorities in the box. Reality is created and produced by each and every one of you, and those seeking to control the world have kept this knowledge a well-guarded secret for ages.
Now the cat is clawing its way out of the bag at last, screaming and hissing, which makes this a very special time to be alive on this planet. Free your mind, and you contribute to the freedom of the whole human race. Follow the same tired old script, and you participate actively in your own enslavement and that of your fellows. The choices are yours and yours alone to make.” (-Jonathan Shaw)
“We got wishes as unstoppable as nitroglycerin. Just a tiny spark of dreamfire, and we explode into a dazzling blast of TNT dynamighty. No sleepwalking saints gonna lull us into submission with soporific hymns. No terminators are gonna X out our revelators. No gutter-breathed bullies are gonna stomp all over our shine. Cue up that old sweet song of peace. Gonna show all the haters and spiritbreakers how we can roar in the resounding key of We. (-Rich Ferguson)
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, impostors, thieves and traitors are not victims… but accomplices.”
(- George Orwell)
“The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They’ve got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.”
“But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.
“You know what they want? Obedient workers people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they’re coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club.”
“This country is finished.” (- George Carlin)
“Why are people who condemn obscene displays of wealth called haters but not those who don’t want to see poor people in their neighborhoods?” (-Rasha Foda)
“The State just announced they were closing the airspace above the camp so that we cannot use drones to record what is about to take place. They want to commit this deplorable act without cameras, media, legal observers, etc. They want their horrifying, egregious civil rights violations to be shrouded in secrecy and silence. They will not succeed and their actions will be disseminated for everyone to see.” (-Lauren Regan)
“Headline from that faux progressive dispensary of lesser-of-two-evils casuistry, Alternet: ‘Bernie Sanders Makes a Powerful Case for Continuing the Revolution—Under a Clinton Administration’
Seriously, Bernie? How credulous do you think we are? You know damn well the Democratic Party is the graveyard of leftist and minority socio-economic movements. You would have gained a degree of true power and influence had you joined forces with Jill Stein rather then evincing the miserable role of Judas Goat. And don’t attempt to ply us with the ‘hold their feet to the fire’ canard i.e. — the mating call of the toxically innocent and of faux progressive sellouts.
Shall we go over a few facts that reveal your new and improved revolution within the High Dollar owned and controlled Democratic Party is as fraudulent as the original one you staged within the High Dollar owned and controlled Democratic Party’s primary sham?
Hillary Clinton has announced former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as the head of her transition team. Salazar, a former U.S. senator from Colorado, now works at WilmerHale, one of the most influential lobbying firms in Washington. Salazar — like HRC’s pick for VP, Tim Kane is a corporate fixer and Wall Street bag man. Both have given vocal support for and lobbied in favour of fracking, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Keystone XL pipeline and have taken adamant stands against progressive measures to reform Wall Street.
Sure thing, Comrade Bernie, the corporacrat cabal surrounding HRC are going to be rendered sleepless, nightly they will be staring bug-eyed at the ceiling, mortified that have found themselves on the fighting side of “the get a life” crowd. (-Phil Rockstroh)
“First, I must say….. I’m glad I wasn’t shot..
Now to the real story..
If you didn’t know, that was me being taken down by the riot officers. From what I recall I was in a line of peaceful protectors. We had a mission that did not involve being attacked by authority abusing, short tempered mercenaries protecting large oil companies.
I have been charged with Engaging in a Riot. I heard the Moron County Sheriffs statement lying about us crossing some imaginary line. First off, there was no line to begin with. The only line formed was our line of warriors protecting our people when they rushed forward to attack us with mace and violently push us in the chest to move us backwards, frequently causing us to trip and fall so they can nab us on the ground.
I was singled out by the officers to put under arrest because as we had our media teams filming the atrocities set forth by these cops, they continuously tried to grab our camera men and women to prevent us from getting out the true stories. Every time I watched an officer move forward on someone with a camera, I either stepped in front of them or pulled that camera person out of the way. One officer caught on to what I was doing and informed the overly aggressive mace attacker to move up on me. I had my hands up from the moment they arrived to our group to the moment they put me in zip ties.
During the time I was in those zip ties, which was 10 hours to be exact, I went through my day as my normal self, with humor. From cracking little jokes on the cops like telling one officer “I like your ugly stick” and he responded with “why do you call it that?”, I said ‘because ugly people hold them’. To urgently screaming in a garage full of protectors and officers ‘I NEED AN OFFICER OVER HERE!!!’ and as they rush to me, I calmly state ‘my nose itches’.. I used my humor to maintain an image to these officers. Even on our three hour trip to Fargo police station, we sang songs and told jokes. We humorously gave our transferring officers a hard time, encouraging them to smile.
We have been labelled as verbally abusive, cattle-stealing, riot-engaging eco-terrorists. How can I continuously inform the world that we are peaceful people when we can’t even convince the officers in front of us that we are peaceful? Regardless how unfortunate it is that they are treating us so brutally (I mean, look at this image of me being slammed), we still have the potential to humanize our image by remaining peaceful, friendly people.
After spending over 10 hours with arresting officers, I managed to ask at least four of them ‘We’re probably the coolest bunch of people that you’ve arrested aren’t we?’ And every one of them hung their heads down and slightly smirked ‘Yeah, you kinda are’.
This is the power we have. We can change the game. All it takes is a little humility and humor. ”
Let’s put this pipeline to an end with our power..-(-Chad Charlie, Water Protector, Oceti Sakowin Camp)
“There is no subjection so perfect as that which keeps the appearance of freedom.” (-Rousseau)
“The Hillary Trump campaign is a massive fraud of the most vile type. A lot of people will be killed as a result of their sham to install the most hawkish candidate in our lifetime. This country is doomed because of easily lead voters”. (-Pete Sounds)
“In the days when you were hopelessly poor, I just liked you more…” (-Morrissey)
“Trump is the perfect modern American. He’s a human consumption machine with no attention span, no self-control, no beliefs and no hobbies outside of sex, spending, eating and talking about himself. Nixon at least played the piano and read classics. He was an intellectual with a pig’s heart. Trump is just the pig part. The distance between the two men represents how far we’ve fallen as a nation in the last 40 or 50 years. ” (-Matt Taibbi)
“Modern man has transformed himself into a commodity; he experiences his life energy as an investment with which he should make the highest profit, considering his position and the situation on the personality market. He is alienated from himself, from his fellow men and from nature. His main aim is profitable exchange of his skills, knowledge, and of himself, his “personality package” with others who are equally intent on a fair and profitable exchange. Life has no goal except the one to move, no principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction except the one to consume.” (-Erich Fromme)
“It sucks to have to look people in the eye and share hopelessness, while simultaneously trying to hold hope, push for possibilities, and squeeze options out of thin air. That’s what we are forced to do in a town that lacks political will to truly house people first.
I have contact with unhoused folks and advocates every single day of the week. I receive constant requests to help mostly elderly folks who are sick, have no family support, and are struggling to navigate systems that put up more barriers than effective assistance. This week alone I’ve helped brainstorm 4 cases of folks in their 60s-70s living outside. I’ve also delivered warm clothing and supplies to a dozen individuals under bridges and helped several folks do their laundry. I don’t say this for attention, I say it because I’m trying to illuminate the need.
I am honored to be part of a community of folks who care, who volunteer, do the same stuff I do, or who donate regularly. While we have meaningful connections, build networks, and feel generally positive about “doing good” – we often experience our work as a “drop in the bucket.” Because it is. Because this city (and state) actively and systemically discriminates against unhoused people in a whole bunch of ways.
All my unhoused compatriots who survive on the streets perform daily miracles figuring out how to live another day, how to get “comfortable” on pavement in 27 degrees, how to make a can of spam last 3 days, how to “sleep” on a bucket so they don’t get arrested, how to prevent another amputation from frostbite, how to navigate constant fear… They do the hardest work against incredible odds and constant critical scrutiny. And then they die, lucky to get mentioned in the paper.” (-Arwen DeSpain)
“We are living in an amazing time.
We are the generation watching the myths unravel. The lies that have brought us here are being put on display. We are the generation who are witnessing the end of silent complacency.
We are living in a time where simple truths are being revealed, no matter where we look, no matter how hard we try to deny it.
The distractions no longer distract us. The lies no longer convince us. What we believe no longer feeds us or comforts us.
It is a …great awakening.
We are blessed, many would say cursed, with having the responsibility to choose what future we pass on to our children and grandchildren.
And it is hard and frightening to have such responsibility.
But we cannot pass the buck, we cannot pass it on the those not yet born, because if we fail to act, now, the future will be set in stone.
When the water is gone, when we are drinking poison, when the land is barren, when the air makes us ill, who can say there is a future in that?
Should we obey laws that keep us from defending our lives and the lives of our children?
That is a hard question for many people to answer, because it relates to what we want to believe, but ignores what we know to be true. Never has it been more evident that what is legal is not necessarily moral. Which of these will you support?
So now, the battle of this generation is being fought within each of us. We must decide what is right, and then we must act on that decision. We cannot look to the left, or to the right, or behind us to see what others are doing. We must focus on what we are doing.
We must deal with what is right in front of us.
There is great wisdom waiting for us to discover it.
Whatever must fall before us, whatever beliefs or comforts must be sacrificed, whatever we must take apart, we must accept that it must be.
If we are to survive.” (-Lee Burkett)
“In recent days, Democrats have formed a circle jerk of self-praise for Obama for his eight years of avoiding any hint of a sex scandal.
Sorry to be a hagiography cock-block, Democrats. President Predator Drone got off stroking his “Kill List.” The war crimes involved in attacking wedding parties and slaughtering innocent men, women and children is not absolved in the least by keeping his zipper closed.”
“Thanks, Senate, way to go Congress, it appears your heart is as Black as the Oil Obama bathes in… Multi billion dollar arms deal for The Scum A ribs.. It took 8 years to figure you out P.O.S. I hope the same fate on your Daughters as the School children of Yemen…have nice Oily Fuckbar day.. Peace out.” (-James Recca)
“This is the whole stupid thing about all these unblood relationships. They depend on people staying the same, standing in the same spot they were in over a decade ago, when they first met. Surely the reality is that connections between people aren’t permanent, but fleeting and random, like a solar eclipse or clouds meeting in the sky. They exist in a constantly moving universe full of constantly moving objects.” (-
“I used to think that people who supported the Dems above all reason were smart, but gave them a break because of propaganda and conditioning, but now I think they are stubbornly ignorant and nothing will change that.” (-Cindy Sheehan)
“I am a 65 year old deplorable, basement dweller, part of the bucket of losers voting for Jill.” (-Becky Winslow)
“Americans who believe anything politicians, celebrities, or media hacks say about Syria, Russia or any other so-called threat to their lives or freedoms are living in la-la land, custom tailored just for them. These people don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone but themselves. They have a vision and an objective and we’re not included.
While the world burns, they’ll be sipping margaritas in underground bunkers, waiting for the smoke to clear and the ashes to settle on our bones.” (-Rasha Foda)
“Now we can see, in graphic terms, and sit in the comfort of our homes, and watch a human being being choked to death, or watch someone who has his hands up being murdered by a policeman, in graphic detail, brought to you in living color. This is the reality that the black people and poor people have confronted for centuries. And now it’s something that’s an object of conversation.” (-Ajamu Baraka)
“You’re better than at least two Dylans (Thomas, Bob). I hope you’re saving all this and pouring it into your book or more songs.” (-Falling James)
“The Ugly, Heartbreakers, MC5, Viletones, The Who, I thought were Gangs that happened to play R n R.
All with Vices that woulda made Rimbaud blush. Hustlers that knew what ‘I’m the best, and even if you beat me, I’m STILL the best’ meant.” (-Steven Leckie)
“While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” (― Eugene V. Debs)
“Resistance is the secret of joy…” (-Alice Walker)
” Of course, it is easy for liberals to notice and feel superior to Trump’s vivid psychopathic tendencies and the inarticulate, often inchoate, rage of his followers. Yet they possess a blindspot when it comes to Hillary Clinton’s raging pathology. Blindspots are inherent to the U.S. collective mindscape, after all, the nation’s landscape is seeded with the brooding corpses of the nation’s exercises in genocide. It is one of the reasons I chose to leave the U.S. The relentless insults to heart, mind, and soul were a constant annoyance. Apropos: With both Trump and Clinton supporters, their belligerent obtuseness is an abomination, their citadels of self-reference impenetrable, their bulwarks of smugness unscalable. Why? A capitalist culture deems self-awareness a domain of “negativity.” Trump’s manic salesmanship is appealing to klaverns of nitwit nationalists, where mindless bluster and inexplicable confidence are admirable qualities. Reflection and ambiguity are for losers. With liberals, class superiority is the linga franca of their realm. Both shun the process of self-awareness. The endeavour is painful and the social friction attendant to the act can be unbearable. Yet: In order to know one’s individual heart and mind, one must be able to weather disapproval. At times, one must sink low enough in the perception of others in order to rise into oneself. U.S. presidential election cycles are the last place the phenomenon is likely to transpire.” (-Phil Rockstroh)
“Love your children & the people you love out loud, boldly. More loud & more bold than all the hate that is visited upon us. This is not the whole thing, but part of the antidote, our unapologetic in your damn face love.” (-Asha Bandele)
“Despite the draconian police-state tactics deployed to silence our voices, our campaign was undeterred. We accomplished a historic breakthrough during the debate, by using cutting edge social media tools to insert my voice live into the debate in real time.” (-Jill Stein)
“America has never been great for people of color” (- Colin Kaepernick)
“There’s no sense of entitlement like BOURGEOIS ENTITLEMENT… Lesser forms just won’t do once you’ve tasted the REAL THING…” (-Eyeball Jackson)
“I believe that there will be ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think it will be based on the color of the skin…”
JEFF WARD “CARRY ON DREAMING” (-BOOK REVIEW BY GENERAL LABOR)
It’s hard to read, where I’m staying at the moment, too much loud media blare, my eyesight is terrible, there’s no good light, and my optical prescription is severely outta date, I’m getting fucking old, in my knees and my hands, as well as in my overall outlook, pessimism has poisoned my once indomitable enthusiasm, the weight of my experiences is a heavy drag to carry, a bag of bricks, my lower back is outta whack. In my head, I’m still writing all these provocative lyrics for my dashing band of anarchist punks to perform at neighborhood power to the people rallies, but in my default reality, I’m tasked with a lot of painful lifting and bending and cleaning and scrubbing, with a bum hand and a ruined back, and it’s only when I can escape into a great song, or dusty old book, or hard won sleep, that I find respite from the ravages of middle age, and chronic horror that my rocknroll fantasy died so young, and my middle years have witnessed the desecration of the Bill Of Rights and Geneva Conventions, common civility, affordable housing, and popular music with true heart.
This book has been an affirming and consoling companion to me in the midst of a dreary, grieving, icy winter and if any of my words sometimes resonate with you, even if you are as blind as I am, or share my deteriorating attention span, you will be positively dazzled by Jeffs’ masterful, poetic command of the language, as well as his naked, bruised soul, and slashing wit, and endearing sense of comedy and spontaneity and mischief, which jumps off of every page. You might even learn something before you’re through, too…hey, hey, hey. Jeff Ward is a kindred soul, a real cool character, a casualty of a guilt inducing Catholic upbringing, the kind of wild eyed bohemian immigrant who used to inhabit the Lower East Side of Manhattan, back when it was a burlesque carnival, an eternally inspirational melting pot, a true fondue of cultures, before the banker scum and billionaires took over and handed it all to their surgically enhanced, elitist, “I’m on the list” millionaire kids, who all think they invented disco, drugs, and nudity, and their violent thug NYPD choke holding wolf packs, who really will kill you over a cigarette. He’s the kind of debauched, but good natured, gypsy spirited, leather clad novelist who one would see lurking on the periphery at an after hours bar, or performance space freakshow, or hustling his random wares on the sidewalk…Back when immigrants, outcasts, and artists from all walks of life, were still permitted to congregate in Downtown Manhattan to share ideas, to sing and laugh, and improvise… to push the boundaries of style and music, food and fashion. Before the One Percent Wall Street investors and real estate scum and think tank social engineers voted all us poor people off the island. Like me, Jeff rode a roller coaster of emotions, he seemed to have bursts of right-on confidence that one would expect from a talented, rail thin, good looking, British artiste, with a distinct Gonzo-streak cavorting wildly with a fearless pack of starry eyed friends in America with his charming accent, a modest cult following, and an enchanting encyclopedia-like knowledge of history, sociology, civil rights, jazz, glam, punk and folk, art and politics, followed by crashing, immobilizing, paralytic depressions.
He’s an intense fella, a sincerely sensitive dude, a fantastic guitarist, an astute observer, a cool feckin’ onstage presence- what a talented writer, though, he really brings his old friends and ancestors and sainted artistic influences with him, you can easily feel like you’re along for the accelerated heartbeat, hundred mile an hour, madcap, road trip, sunglasses, windows down, risky adventures, as he and his uninhibited, eccentric pals and beautiful lady, Carmen, go forth on their bebop escapades and sacred pilgrimage to the savage heart of the Wild West That Never Really Quite Became What It Should Have Been, because you can’t build your egalitarian shangrilla on top of a bloodsoaked graveyard, exploring Harlem and New Mexico and driving cross country and making psychic friends with wildlife in the desert, and even braving the subways, at night. Pre-Taylor Swift. Pre-Lady Gaga. Pre-Annoying Orange President. I was downtown for some of that transition from all-night amusement park to hard-hearted domain of the angry elite, and witnessed the tragic shift, firsthand. From the greatest and most magically diverse city in the world, to just another exclusionary mall, another gated community, a private country club for rich people, patrolled by brutes. I remember when the Rivington Street dope dealers and the bums with the weegies were still scarier than the unaccountable, insanely murderous, gentrification gestapo. I saw the Tompkins Square Park riots, the closing of all the tiny record and video stores, and delis and hundred year old ethnic restaurants to clear space for Target, Starbucks, all the shitty big boxes. They used to say it was “bread and circuses” that kept the common folks from rebelling, but now it is just like, prohibitively expensive gluten free crusts and no more circuses, so, there is just the total surveillance, internet rumors, violent cops, and constant threat of excommunication, if one recklessly rejects the transparently false, official narrative, fails to comply with military standards, or does not acknowledge the worship worthy rank and title of some vengeful representative of the ruling class. “What do we got for entertainment, cops kicking gypsies on the pavement” has become our way of life here. Nobody bats an eyelash when a black kid is gunned down in the park by Klansmen with badges. Affordable housing has been steam-rolled everywhere, so the rich can throw up more phallic hotels and luxury condos where there used to be homes and gardens. This is happening all across the Amurikkka, now.
We are a divided and conquered people, we are under combat boot and occupation, of storm trooping enforcers working for the clampdown of these shadowy deep state despotic, dystopian rulers, at war with us from the inside. Poor folks are being banished, exiled, criminalized for existing. The bars where we used to congregate after a hard day of work, became insanely expensive and one has to find their way home through the gauntlet of college drunks from out of state and landed gentry frat boys and cops at the end of the night, so people I know mostly stay home, nowadays, few people get together, fewer can afford to gas up the old car, so there ain’t much travel, or interaction with anyone, off-line. The surveillance-grid can be entertaining, but when people don’t see each other in real life, it’s easy to lose touch with those elusive, subtle things, the shared humor, the songs, the common bonds, smiles and the sounds of laughter, and deeply held beliefs that once held us together. It’s a rare treat to be transported back to his old neighborhoods in Brooklyn and scummy rocknroll dives of the Lower East Side via Jeff Ward‘s astonishingly vivid descriptions and seemingly photographic memory, he has been cursed with an extra scoop of pained brilliance, so he effectively captures the ever receding sights and sounds and hopes and fears of generations of rebels and rockers and newlyweds and grandparents. While I only brushed with the guy once or thrice in real life, I’ve been an ardent fan of his romantic psychedelic excursions, confessional, socially conscious commentaries, essential essays, and filthy glam punknroll works for decades, now-he’s one of the last surviving authentic Beatnik storytellers, still present in the right now. What a fucking explosive talent.
I remember that first show he played at C.B.G.B.’s with his barnstorming boys from Birmingham, when they seemed confidently poised to totally take over the whole NYC glam rock shebang. They had it, man. Personality on fire, mad for it punk energy, they just tore it up. Smoked all the name-dropping American bands with the showbiz connections and moneybags. The perennial name brands could not hold a Betty Page Zippo to Gunfire Dance, who brought guts and desperation to the scene, when everybody else was just starting to coast on their cheeseball laurels, phoning-in the same old set, or merely snort shit from the sidelines bragging about some dead celeb they used to do drugs with. Gunfire Dance brought real urgent rocknroll street soul, that connected with the people, while the others were just competing to be the next Bon Jovi, or Nirvana, or whatever. Americans are so hostage to their own rat race ego-trip, they don’t even usually have any idea what is happening beyond their own cloistered bubble of comfort and self-congratulations. Ward brings with him a sense of joy and gratitude and can somehow still see sunlit beauty among the bodies and lies and broken glass and debris. Some of the most moving bits of Jeff Ward‘s books aren’t even the heightened reality, action movie stuff, or harrowingly senseless tragic scenes, and there is plenty of that, but just the simple, private, Hallelujah moments he shares about being a kid, or books he’s read, or discovering public radio and the flower like awakening of his own social conscience, or improvising whimsical Jimi Hendrix-like prose, or gazing upon natural wonders, or attending fiery protests for the first time. He loves nothing more than setting out for adventure and communing with the flickering apparitions at decaying landmarks where sixties gurus, drunken writers, gold toothed street musicians and hedonistic rockstars once sang and danced around the eternal bonfire. Jeff is the real thing, in an era that rarely rewards truth and soul. He came in search of freedom and the American Dream, he knows way, way more about our history here, than most of us do, his novels are like sub-cultural text-books, roll-calls of our forebears and the fools and sages and gritty guitarists and doomed bullfrog voiced winos who came before us, and found, instead, a murderous rampaging, racist cop, permanent-war state; still he rises, and honors and venerates the righteous outlaws, standup comedians, prophetic healers, and poetic preachers, who came before us. He arrived right when Giuliani was killin’ off all the peep shows and punk bars, indie shops, and mom and pops, to real estate titans and white collar criminals. That was almost the very moment when the important people who made a difference in the arts started dying in rapid succession and all their hanger’s on and the lingering few also-ran’s pushed their way to the make a buck, V.I.P. lounge. Firm curfew nine o clock, and then, the Fleshtones and Cheetah Chrome must leave the stage immediately, so the DJ’s can change over to dead, canned, R2D2 techno music. WHAT THE FUCK? Who decided it was a good idea to kick out all the greatest living rocknroll entertainers, so all those dreadful I-Phone kids could have more robot muzak selfie time? I’m moving to Spain, where the Fleshtones play all night long, in the streets, for entire villages of grateful people. Fuck this jiveass office cubicle shit. All these rich heirs and heiresses, being shoved into my awareness from every media platform all day. Rich housewives of Cable Television Unreality Shows, whose only contribution was sucking off some evil rich guy for breast implants and more Botox. Ugh. Such unbelievably hideous times we are living in.
I first started seeing it all go down right when bands like Gunfire Dance, Pillbox, Lazy Cowgirls, and the Comatones were being completely ignored by the powers that be, even though they were obviously, the ones with all the danger and panache and soulpower and rocknroll authenticity-they were being intentionally overlooked, so some suckshit nepotism nephews could assume center stage as reigning highschool cafeteria popular people. Nothing to do with rocknroll, or who had the actual star power. Just ugly rich people dominating with money. I can honestly tell you I lost media jobs for refusing to pretend to like the really shitty, half-hearted, mediocre, rich kid bands. That’s when I started wising up. It was no accident, that no high-quality, “we mean it man”, rocknroll was being signed, or played on the airwaves, anymore. This was planned, not coincidental. This was power, stealing turf, this was social programming and social control. Out with the underground subversives and weirdoes and inventors and sincere talents, in with the 90210 private school Strokes types. THIS is right when you started noticing all the once thrilling nightclubs and artsy old neighborhoods steadily being taken over by yuppies, normies, squares, straights, mainstream mall people, dorks and secretaries, quoting “The Simpsons”, imitating “Friends”, sports monkeys with gold watches and too much cologne, who wanted a piece of the lucrative nineties “Spin” magazine “Alternative” pie. It was hard to cope with the heavy-booted elbowing out, of our own underground paradise and no longer having free access to institutions and venues and record stores and radio shows, the very garage punk culture we had all helped to create. Older punks like Tim Yohannon of “Maximum Rocknroll” were rightfully suspicious of eager beaver, people pleaser, ready to play ball, pop/punks who showed up with corporate sponsors and skateboard energy drink festival endorsements. The medium sized music mags folded or were co-opted by the goons in conference rooms, playlists shrunk to the same six shitass post grunge and capitalist rap and boy band bullshit. The executive class were silencing voices, shutting down platforms and venues and framing the narrative. They were stealing the underground infrastructure, out from underneath our dirty Creepers. Indie labels went bankrupt when they could no longer get any airplay or featured in little music magazines, or were bought out by the majors. Dickhead locals who never really cared for music, did they, only booked their rich friend’s bands on Saturday nights. Record stores closed. Cops were busting basement shows. Closing down little speakeasy performance spaces. Bands like Hello Disaster and Beat Angels and Material Issue and Four Horsemen were efficiently ignored directly into oblivion. Hip-hop and punk rock were no longer the Black CNN, or voice of the unscrubbed working class, but dead formulas and gimmicks to be exploited by Green Day and Nirvana rip-offs-Avril Lavigne and Nickelback. I was stunned when even super talented rocknroll bands like Beasts Of Bourbon and Thee Hypnotics and Manic Street Preachers could not crack the jiveass American mediocrity mass-market. I suppose bigtime rock stardom was already a thing of the past, as the corporate masters of brainwash nation were already changing MTV, from a place where one could see black and white artists who looked different from your militarized, baseball capped, white bread, country club, golf shirted, Tom Cruise worker bee wonder boys-one used to see flamboyant and androgynous bands like the Cure, the Cult, Love & Rockets, the Alarm, Grandmaster flash & The Furious Five, Wall Of Voodoo, Alien Sex Fiend, Rick James, George Clinton, Public Image Ltd., Prince, Bowie, even Lords Of The New Church, but by the nineties, it was already being strictly reprogrammed with capitalist rappers pushing designer product, and bullshit lifestyle shows glorifying crew cutted rich people and their fancy belongings and many divorces and elective surgeries. Tommy Lee on MTV Cribs, yo. To many, the last grand punk gesture was something like Cobain’s brains splattered on a generation’s Doc Martins, or when Johnny Lydon started making his butter commercials, but for me, it was when skinny Jarvis Cocker awkwardly shook his spastic, bony ass at Michael Jackson-daring to ridicule the self proclaimed King of MK Pop, the ultimate personification of sparkling American excess and egomaniacal talent descending into deranged, darkening, Disneyfried drug-dementia, maybe depravity.
It’s crazy, looking back, every major music superstar of the eighties seems to have died in their big palace under mysterious circumstances from drugs, after bucking the system, and somebody got all that money. All I wanna say is they don’t even care about their moneymaking superstars. Joe Strummer, Michael Jackson, Prince, George Michael-every major artist who feuded with the big corporate record companies in the eighties is dead and gone. I’m told Taylor Swift is the Official Ambassador Of NYC.
I saw it happen, almost overnight. The rebellious resistors had to go back to work at Subway, or as dishwashers and dry-wallers, in Iowa and Idaho, so rich, status quo inheritors and cocaine predator frat boys and deadeyed fuckdolls could monopolize the microphones. “Alternative” music-scenes were being flooded with suburban jocks and preppie mall kids-what we used to call “bridge and tunnel” crowds, bullying suburban sons of business owners, the entitled daughters of entertainment lawyers. My heroes had been mostly a bunch of scrappy, blue collar renegades from low income housing projects and shit, the nu school punques were sons and daughters of model/actresses and vile fat cats, with their own publicists and managers and dance coaches and trainers and stylists and gym memberships. Somehow, sad eyed cash cow, Cobain had attracted all these Evan Dando, Julliana Hatfield, Gavin Rossdale, Beck, Albert Hammond Jr., and Julian Casablancas types into wanting to make music about their own sensitive feelings of insecurity, all these showbiz royals and Ken-dolls with flat abs and Ivy League richies got unconditionally praised by recently graduated, overpaid, giddy, NYU media hacks, like they had overcome some big challenge, and invented something new. They kept telling us that some rich kid with adoring stage parents named, Beyonce, was a “survivor”. Beck was supposedly, “a loser” with a hardknocks homeless story of woe, with no mention of his family’s wealth or status. Thurston Moore became The Only Opinion That Mattered for five or ten tedious years, but he taught the university goers about Bad Brains and James Chance. I was never a fan of glossy media pinups- Kurt Cobain, Jon Spencer, or Jack White; but at least, those three shared an abiding sense of nobelesse oblige, in that they all went out of their way to share their spotlights with more authentic artists, who came before them and who, otherwise, never would have been discovered, they all felt a begrudging responsibility to the weird punks, hardcore rogues, old blues dudes, and hillbilly oddballs who inspired them. They gave back to the underground community, whereas, those asskissing weasels, finks, big men on campus, and corporate punks who followed all made believe they were the originators of these archaic art forms and deviant subgenres.
A meanness appeared, a competitive, exclusive, brunching, trust funded, greed is good, winner’s circle, Wall Street, office professional, elitist vibe took hold of our nation, Post 9/11. Even book readers were suckered by Dick Cheney into blaming Muslims for the crimes of the global elites. Big Fear took over the country and people started accepting airport molestations and warrantless wiretaps as the new normal. As more and more of the great visionary architects, and designers, and photographers and writers and film makers of punk steadily continued dying off, all the remaining horrible rich people started cramming punk into airport concept restaurants, museum installations, embarrassing movies, and high dollar tourist trap bars. It became a hot sauce branding tool, a Swiffer commercial for consumerist milfs, nothing more. Our lad, Jeff Ward, a wild boy straight outta Burroughs, experienced some unspeakably hardcore shit along the way, but I don’t wanna spoil the book for you, it’s gripping stuff-believe me, you will probably take it with you everywhere and read passages aloud to your loved ones, when you get your own copy, but he eventually, naturally, gravitated to some of the wounded warrior, veteran NYC punk survivors and formed a band, NY JUNK, with ex members of East Side stalwarts, THE DRAGONS and Bomp! Records recording artists, the B-Girls, and together, they pretty much carry the torch for pre commercialized, pre gentrification, pre hardcore, pre internet, pre Starbucks, organic, streetwise rocknroll. From the first generation old school. They are one of the few lingering rocknroll bands worth listening to. I like them and Sweet Things, Dr. Boogie, and Joey Pinter, and that’s about it, right now. I just can’t relate to any of that assembly line fake-pop shit in the corporate media. At all. All bullshit. Just wretched. All surface, no feeling. All that song doctor top forty shit like Rihanna and Nikki Minaj and Drake and Keith Urban and Bruno Mars and Ariana Grande and shit with the inspirational calendar bullshit lyrics and the formation dancing pillaged from Janet Jackson videos from 25 years ago, ya know, it’s all just puerile shite. Absolute nonsense.
Where did all these useless assholes come from? As Joey Pinter asks, “who the fuck are these motherfuckers?” Fake news, fake music, fake food, fake reunions, fake, fake, fake. For years, I heard the phrase, “controlled opposition” kicked around, but I never really understood it, until I saw Rachel Maddow go from being a progressive firebrand on Air America to becoming an overpaid partisan teleprompter reader on MSNBC. I was just lucid enough to witness the steady slide into infotainment misinformation with the radio and tv, since ’96 when Clinton gave the airwaves to six companies. I talk to my peers about media consolidation even though I see their eyes glaze over because they all wanna get back to their I-Phone chat with some other mall-minded adult about Lil Wayne or Beyoncé…it’s weird how even grownups have embraced the bogus music culture. American print music-media is dead, except for Jack Rabid’s venerable “Big Takeover”, ya know, and like, that corny Rob Sheffield guy from the nineties still applauds and obediently sensationalizes every shitty tv show and garbage culture lap-dancer that’s manufactured by consolidated media creeps these past fifteen or twenty years, while authentic Rolling Stone writer, Michael Hastings, embarrassed some generals and died in a flaming car wreck, they threw the book at Chelsea Manning (six years for exposing war crimes-google: “collateral murder” video) and Barrett Brown and John Kiriakou and all the righteous whistle blowers on the side of justice and mercy, the Clash, and the angels. All of ’em were being severely punished by Obama’s injustice department for doing the right thing. Anyone talking off script was promptly ridiculed and vanquished from the big cable networks, remaining media classers openly shilled for warpigs and police state inhumanity. Information leaker, Aaron Schwartz supposedly committed suicide, even his former employer, Alan Grayson, wept. Meanwhile, the talking heads on tv all said the same gung-ho fictitious shit about “pre-emptive” dirty wars for empire and tried to somehow justify the Wall Street bailouts and racist police state. Julian Assange was silenced, his access to the intenet severed by some kind of American strong arming, his mentor died suddenly, and our former comrade, documentary film maker, Michael Moore, went on a loony crusade for bankster owned war queen, Hillary, going so far as to describe her as someone who lives by “Christian” values, even as her campaign rigged the primary against Bernie Sanders(!!!) and dodged supporters of the Original People who are still fighting the evil black snake oil company’s corporate mercenary military in North Dakota in the snow and ice, and his own hometown of Flint, Michigan, still has poisoned waters. Man, it is a bummer about Michael Moore. It’s a knife in the back. These sold out Dems like Corey Booker and Diane Feinstein and John Podesta and Nancy Pelosi are not friends to the everyday people. It’s like you lose your mind once you get a big mansion. Like with billionaires, U2. Michael Moore used to talk about “Weapons Of Mass Distraction”, and now, while Hillary and Obama red-scare and practice provocative brinksmanship war games with Russia in Syria, and back Nazis in the Ukraine, he, himself, has joined the sucky soldout ranks of richass media classers, Bono and Rachel Maddow, as a high-paid tool of distraction and misdirection, himself. I’m pretty sad about it. No wonder it is so hard to communicate even simple truths to lifelong associates who watch TV, they just can’t hear us through all the static and hiss of propaganda and “trending topics”: Trump! Miley! Palin! Bird Flu! Madcow! Y2k! Kardashians! Pokeon, Go! Killer Clowns! Shoebombers! Ice Bucket Challenge! Anthrax Alerts! Kanye West! Pee-Pee Jokes! Caitlyn! Meanwhile, we are all so obsessed with ruggedly handsome, shirtless men with cross-bows on cable shows about zombies, we don’t even realize we’ve become a nation of zombies, praising Michelle Obama for appearing on late night tv Car Karaoke. Good Night And Good Luck. This country is sadly fucked. We live in fictitious times. Man, I used to find Sarah Silverman’s raunchy roommate shtick absolutely adorable-she was mostly famous for being beautiful while saying “pussy” in every other sentence as charmingly as anybody ever did, but seeing her cheerlead for war criminals in pants-suits…makes me as sad as Kathleen Hannah creating Valley Girl cheers for Wall Street hawk, Wal Mart Hillary. I remember when Bono was anti-war and wrote hippie peace anthems. Where were all the big bucks Oscar winning actors when Snowden showed them they were being spied on? When they found out the Peace Prez had a kill-list? Where were all the loudmouthed rebels when Obama was bombing Doctors Without Borders hospitals? Where were all the punks? What the fuck happened to the Delta House I used to know? Say what you want about Morrissey, he rocks way, way harder in his fifties than he ever did in his twenties and he ain’t appearing in commercials for McDonalds.
When NYC was still the place you could go to be discovered, Jeff Ward and his slinky thieves crash landed there in rocket boots and scarves right before the Great Purge of libertines and poor people, to make way for Giuliani’s hedge fund families and shadowy security state executive classers. When Gunfire Dance first came to America, the trail of tears mass exodus to Brooklyn had just begun. It was an asset in those days to be different, to have a singer who sounded like no one else, to have a style of your own. The cool fanzines of the day championed them with real gusto and they soon had a passionate audience of kids who traded compilation tapes in the mail who were all crestfallen when that group broke up. Jeff Ward soldiered on and made extraordinary, inventive, psychedelic and experimental music mostly by himself as Electrajet, and fans of old T Rex and Syd Barrett flocked to his shows and traded cd burns of his new sounds. There was a lively exchange of tapes and letters in the mail between all the NY Dolls collecting punk kids, pre-internet. We all loved Gunfire Dance. You could always discern some of their primary influences, sure-but the thing that made Jeff Ward and his friends, “The Gunfires”, special is how they really did not sound like anybody, but themselves. All four of those cats were absolute stars, in my eyes, anyway! Birchy, the bassplayer, went on to join the mighty GODFATHERS! Those uptown kids-the “hipsters” they celebritize, nowadays, all sound the same. Like mousepad programs. Like music lessons. Like Slurpee Machine muzak. The Kids From Fame All Sound The Same. It used to be you looked for the new voices–the Jim Thirwells or Von Lmos, the Moondogs and Richard Kerns. The Lux Interiors and Poison Ivys. The Jean Michel Basquiats, the Tony Parsons and Julie Burchills, the Mick Mercers and Nick Kents, right? Now, it’s an American Idol world where all the celebritybots look and sound exactly alike. Jacob Satorious is the New Justin Bieber is the New Jonas Brothers is the New Justin Timberlake is the New Donnie Wahlburg, etc., etc. Jeff Ward arrived in Lower Manhattan when Keith Haring drawings could still be seen and Nina Hagen was still considered a star, and Lady Bunny and Leg Lung, Lydia Lunch, the Kostabi brothers and Nick Zedd. Being a hipster meant you liked old jazz records and read a lot and probably shot dope. Now, being a hipster just means you are an unattractive rich kid but have a shit ton of money and probably a ukulele and get to idle away all your time being shrill and condescending to workers in high end restaurants. Those last hours of old-timey NYC decadence and coolness and character when Johnny and Stiv and Lou and Jim Carroll and the Ramones and Quinton Crisp were alive, when Jack & Cokes were always a buck at the Holiday…When you set up two microphones-one for the singer, and one for the band, and sent the resulting cassettes to other punk kids in the mail. When you and five friends could pool resources, rent a room, get a couple kegs of beer, charge five bucks at the door, and shazzam-you were in show-biz. Slap on some dash, paint your logo on a bedsheet, set off some fireworks, black out a tooth. Or just do it on the corner, in your feathers and spurs. That’s entertainment. Me and my crew used to busk all the time, anywhere, everywhere-old Dogs D’amour covers, Gun Club, and Deadboys and CCR, mostly. Ha. That shit will always be holy and sacred to me. The See/Hear fanzine store. Stapling copies of our home made zines together in the middle of the night. Being interviewed on the radio. No budget cable access tv shows. It’s all gone, now-we tried L.A., but arrived too late to make it happen, Cap’n…Jeff’s book, “Carry On Dreaming” will kickstart all your own treasured memories about travelling cross country in shitty vans and stealing quarts of oil and taking gas station speed to stay awake, and visiting weird hotels and shit. Of finally arriving in old Tinseltown with a redheaded stripper at the wheel and driving past all those palm trees one recalls from movies, as “L.A. Woman” blasts on the stereo. Hollywood was rough when I got there. It was somethin’ else, livin in L.A. without wheels and drowning in all those herds of indistinguishable Pretty Boy Floyd fluff metal posers who were suddenly all scrambling to find camo shorts and floppy hats and flannel shirts and combat boots in a hopeless attempt to revive their hopeless musical aspirations, this time, as moody grunge dudes with tribal tattoos. I realized, right around that time, that to make it in sellout West Coast, big time black death, corporate wank hair-metal, show business, it’s probably not always even enough to have a pushy showbiz uncle who pays for your studio time and removes obstacles and sets you up for free in the hipster neighborhood. It’s not enough to have a high pitched screechy voice like everybody who was chasing the Guns N Roses gravy train. You need a determined woman who wants you to become famous. Like Iggy said in “I Need More”. Sure, it can be your mom, but ideally, it’s one, or four women, willing to dedicate themselves to giving you things, and to fix your hair and take your picture and demand that mean old prick bar owners book your band on the weekend, or hire you to get drunk and play old heavy metal sound files at happy hour for surly, old rich people in impossibly expensive Silverlake, Californ-i-a. If you got that determined woman who wants you to be famous, and still get along with your first band, or you are “in the business” with a producer and a formulaic ballad with a fresh beat written by a song doctor relative, you are probably just going to bed right now, after another long night of getting your picture taken with Spencer and Heidi, or Snookie and the Situation, or some big boobed television wives and the friendly replacement members of old bands who are always the most outgoing and accessible, and carrying home V.I.P. goodie bags overstuffed with skin care products and shit, and once you’ve made the get shit free club, it’s like a cult, everybody is demanded to be nice to you, but you gotta get your picture taken with Matt Sorum and K-Fed. If you got a girlfriend who didn’t grow up in the D.I.Y. “Our Gang” days of old punk rock, and listens to auto-tuned commercial radio shit in the car, and watches those awful tv shows, where manufactured has-been celebrities tell Broadway note belting young hopefuls how they aren’t qualified to become the next Pink, or Lil Wayne, or Justin Bieber, well, she probably just knows your old school cassette tape demo sounds like depressing old people music, you’re a little pitchy, dog, and you ain’t hittin’ the note like Katy Perry, “raa-aaa-aaa-aaa-rooaaarrr”, and so she knows you ain’t goin’ nowhere ever again, except maybe the kitchen, to retrieve more glazed Donut flavored Doritos and Ghost Pepper Pumpkin Spiced Beer to dump down your anguished gullet in a desperate attempt to self medicate yourself from the pain of Adam fuckin’ Levine looking for the next fake falsetto singin’ white boy who does a passable, “good soul in my feet” Michael Jackson imitation, along with the rest of the nation of doomed, fat, tv watchers who think Miley Cyrus is a “rocker” since she’s decided she likes throwing the Dave Grohl devil horns, while wearing six thousand dollar leather pants and showing her tummy off to creepy old rocker dudes, aw man, and we all have to pretend these monsters “made it” with their “talent”, and not with their rich parent’s money. Liv Tyler’s on the cover of some magazine, says her secret is optimism. “The Power of Optimism”, like anybody believes optimism is where Liv Tyler gets her power from. Tyler Sr. even shills for Burger King. Perry’s a Republican. Fuck. My neck hurts. I’ve been a care provider to sick loved ones and disabled loved ones for years now, so when I do leave the house, as a pedestrian, it’s usually to buy medicine or food, and I mostly only encounter homeless people getting rained on, who are understandably angry about all the sharp rocks and prison bars that crony capitalist profiteer pals of city hall keeps installing beneath underpasses, and no trespassing signs on every building with an awning, and I understand why they never believe me, when I usually have to tell them I have no money, ’cause I got a leather hat…Then, I get back on-line, and it’s all those L.A. spraytanned showbiz kids again with the goodie bags and selfies with replacement members of famous old bands, and the determined women who want them to become famous, on the red carpet, with Jimmy Somebody, who hosts a late night tv show on the Sunset Strip, demanding that strangers do things for Johnny Goldenboy Accordion Player, or One Syllable ingénue, as if, we, the people, owe them something, and that sends me back to the fucking tv someone else is watching where they are still rooting for Miley Cyrus’ team on this season of “the Voice”, and all these born into wealth people pretend they are all fucking Otis Redding. All that contrived product-pop that I-Phone people insist I pretend to like if I wanna be a paid participant in media really feels like rat poison to me. I get physically ill. With some disgust, I retreat to the bathroom, where there are stacks of corporate magazines, forcing the same bogus narrative upon me, usually something about Trump or the Kardashians, ugh, I try to take a nap and my thoughts are a spiral of what ifs and shoulda-coulda-didn’t. I found myself listening to that mushy, menopausal Rod Stewart song with the bagpipes, “When We Were The New Boys”, and start thinking about my own teenage gang of reprobates and plastic trousered scoundrels who loved Jeff Ward’s old group and similarly lived and almost died for rocknroll, and you know, sometimes, I find myself yearning to reunite with some of them and do it all again, before we are smoke. I got ahold of one of ’em and he chewed me out about a new wave girl I slept with in 1984. You know, when I was fourteen. So I won’t be troubling him again. The irony is he’s the Born Again evangelical. Forgive me, brother. Should I go back to church? Should I buy some diet pills? Should I try another haircut? Another amends-list? Should I even bother to call old bandmates who always reject me? Should I apply for another pizza job and hope to meet some likeminded middle aged punk scoundrels who wanna start a fat dad weekend band? Back online, friends of faux friends’ friends’ friends and people who never really liked you in the long regretted past, are knocking on the door and now, they want something from you, too. Compliments, mostly. Do you like me with my new boobs and rare t shirt from the trendy store on Melrose Avenue? Do you like me with the friendly replacement member of Guns N Roses? Here I am, being given something free by the replacement member of Bang Tango, or Keel. Tomorrow, I’ll be getting stuff for free at some bar you can’t afford to go to in West Hollywood. Come on down and give me stuff for free. It’s lonely when our former peers look at us like we are on LSD all the time, or have ODD, or something, mostly just because we are skeptical of pro-war big media propaganda stories and we are still living in squalor and because we aren’t motivated by winning, or name tags, or owning cars, or being on the guest-list, and consistently object to drones and rape culture gropings, fascism, hospital bombings, torture, and endless war and dismiss the notion that any of that fascist rape and murder shit can honestly be called centrist, or liberal, because the super rich trot some woman or person of color out to appease us with another insincere, but soothingly vague speech. Do I sound weary and jaded? Distrustful? Over it? If only. I never got past any of it. I’m still back there, with my Alarm hair and lizard skin cowboy boots, reading rock mags and dreaming of escaping food service and mopping up, after all the lucky people from good homes are finished stuffing themselves with money and lobster, coke and popularity. I was always running away, seeking authenticity, art with soul, liberty, bohemia….Maybe France. Did you get old? I did. Not in my head, so much, in my head, I’m still back there in the past, somewhere with stacks of old tvs and silver spray-painted skeleton stencils looking at my Stray Cats 45’s and taping up old pictures torn from Creem magazine and Naked Eyes or Thompson Twins are probably on the radio and I’m thinking about some girl I wrote all the good songs about and trying to dress like Pete Burns from Dead Or Alive, or Billy Fuckin’ Idol, or Suggs from Madness, or Andrew Eltrich from Sisters Of Mercy. Now, I am totally not inclined to go out, or get involved, or try to be somebody, or do anything. The rat race holds no appeal to me, and neither does the garbage muzak scene popularity contest, or the high school social jockeying. Deadboys “Won’t Look Back” was true then, and truer, now. Bummed out Jeff Magnum ain’t gonna be invited to this year’s Deadboys reunion, bummed out that Joey Pinter ain’t been invited to play on the new Waldos record, bummed out Adny Shernoff ain’t writing and performing with the Dictators, bummed out Izzy Stradlin says the other Guns N Roses guys just didn’t wanna split the loot. Someone recently said Amerikkka is just an oil company with an army, nowadays. All that ever trickled down from Reaganomics was a meanness. That’s how it goes. This is mean streets.
….When I visit Baskin Robbins and “sample” five or six of their 31 flavors, they don’t change the name of the franchise, I don’t get to sign my autograph and call it art. So why would I obey the constant applause signs that command me to clap for all the rick kid karaoke “artists”, these legions of young models and showbiz nephews, who only “sampled” a cuppla sonic flavors and puke it back over the controlled media airwaves, or social media and call that art? I really have no coherent grasp on how this droid-pop qualifies as original music or art, but that’s what the Southern Rock older dudes used to say about my synth bands back in ’83, I think I’ve just lost the energetic belligerence of youth, ya know I spent enough years in bars with all those liars and status seeking social climbers, everything was always another fast walk to the corner, a hustle here and a hustle there, handshakes and handjobs and push, push, push, but who has the energy for all that, now? Maybe I just never found the right drug dealers, but man, I’m on an entirely different rhythm, another frequency at this point, I don’t like the loud braggarts and gossiping, reality show, stripper starlets in my face with the vodka breath and cigarette stench. I got nothin’ for them. If you don’t love me by now, getting a Selfie Taken With Steve Conte probably ain’t gonna change that, much. The Cult are offering special fan club meet and greets where you can shake their hands at soundcheck for $400. Same with Guns N Roses-only you don’t get to meet them. Or see sound check. You get to buy hundred dollar t shirts and eat some Thai chicken buffet. Stay punk, Duff. I’m so bored with fake reunions with substitute yes-men and classic members being slagged off cause some marquee name is feeling popular. I still like unpopular people, unpopular ideas, unpopular music. Still can’t stand Diddy or Gaga, or Kanye and their fake rap. Makes it hard to get jobs at little record stores anymore, ’cause I still wanna tell the kids about Bo Diddley and Kevin Junior, Rowland S. Howard, and the Bounty Hunters. I was on a long walk in the cold today, thinking about all the old punks I used to know in Indiana and shit and how they all drive big white SUV’s nowadays, they say they are changing the dark side of the force from within, or whatever, and I know the money feels good and their lives they like it well, with the jock hardcore bands, and the macho man caves and plastic bagged collections and all that, but instead of the anarchy symbol they all used to paint on their leather jackets, that some still have tattooed to their necks, they should wear the letter “H” in a big circle, because they weren’t really sincere about anarchy, or mutual aid, or voluntaryism, as much as they really only ever believed in HIERARCHY, as in, “Got Mine, Jack”, “You’re On Your Own”, “The Catholic School In-Laws Do Not Approve”, “We can Only Collaborate Or Socialize With People Who Make More Money Than We Do.” Rich folks are always so afraid you’ll bum smokes, even long after you quit smoking. Shit, I used to smoke three packs a day, now only one or two under heavy stress a couple times a year and still wheeze like a harmonica at night. I think McDonna fucked shit up by glamorizing blind ambition and materialism. All my old, blonde haired girlfriends with the torn lace and rosaries surrendered to big purple houses with privacy fences and security company secret codes. They eat meat, but still feel guilty when they hear the Smiths. The high school friends don’t want to see you at their Annual Catholic School Christmas Jagermeister Hoo-Haws unless you have achieved remote control garage door status. You gotta have a truck and a garage, and a garage door opener. The flyover states used to grow food and manufacture automobiles and clothing. Now, all they grow is prison populations and tumors all they manufacture are soldiers and cops. Judges and coaches and drone operators and prison guards. And now, you can’t even run away to NYC, or Hollywood, or even join the circus, anymore. Ya know? That’s sad. Some of us aged glitter brats and post punk/goth kids who did not get killed by trains or cops or drugs graduated into activism. That shit is a lot like bullshit grunge era “music seens” and middle school. A rebel, a critical thinker, is someone who instinctively, habitually, always questions the bully mono-culture dominant narrative. A radical is someone who is so true to their beliefs they are willing to suffer for them, sacrifice, and go without, to stay true to their idealism-it’s called having integrity. A zealot is someone who is so entitled and true to their beliefs that they are willing to make YOU suffer, sacrifice, and go without, so they can have their get-off power trip moment. A Demagogue is a personality who sought power and has become so popular that they feel entitled to PUNISH all those who don’t concede to their demands, adopt their new glossary, and emulate their cult rules. Everybody is an expert in college towns. On every imaginable topic. Experts are every motherfuckin’ where. I don’t even have any energy left for those fake liberal, P.C. activist, middle management, scolding-committee people. They want me to do their lawn work for free as an unpaid volunteer in their lush, Eden like gardens because of my alleged privilege they learned about from a bearded dude in tweed in the ivory towers of their high salaried safe space academia and they are gonna teach me all about it. There’s very little in the way of communal solidarity in those circles, either. They are worried about themselves and their own preferences and stature and sensitivities and triggers while homeless folks are dying outside in the ice storms. Organizers are always rich, punishing, honkyfied NVC college property owners who like to hear themselves give orders-in soothing NPR tones, they always just wanna hand you the mop. The rat race hierarchy “same as the old boss” boss bullshit even infected progressive and socialist circles. “Check your privilege, homelesss dude!” “I’M SO SENSITIVE”, they scream. I can’t work with people who believe in the pyramid schemes and trust the lapdog-media on tv, who feel entitled to boss me around because they got their Ceramics degree at Feelings School in the Pacific Northwest, or whatever. No fun, mah babe.
….Used ta work at a piss stench seedy bar where all the bouncers were gang related and they’d competitively swap tough guy stories with the dirty cops about how bad their childhoods were, how their dads were dead and gone, how the mamas and long lines of faceless step-dads all beat them with belts and sticks, how abused they were in juvenile detention, and “look how great we turned out”. Astonishes me that violent, unhappy people from lifetimes of ugly abuse are always super confident they are the shining example successful winners of this rat race because they weaseled themselves some kinda nametag, or married up, or got the front office at the telemarketing place. “Look how great we turned out!” they all say that to me, like daring me to mention their crazy impulse to pull their firearm out whenever they get at all emotional, the unpredictable violent tendencies, the habitual but often needless dishonesty, jail time, addictions, years of therapy, multiple medications, the fact that they all breakdown sobbing after two beers, they trace all that wonderful title-having back to being neglected or beaten as kids and look at all their glorious achievements and glamorous lives of wiping their asses with others, chasing social status. They all wanna be cops, district supervisors, inspectors, internet study hall monitors, jotting down “opportunities for (your) growth”, like figure skating judges, critics, narcs, empowered. Like Jennifer Anniston and Gwyneth Paltrow, because they are worth it! Divorces, a long trail of discarded, damaged people, who never measured up to their fashion magazine assigned idea of Brad Pitt masculinity, or sister’s husband’s income, yo-yo diets, subscribing to disposable religions like high-end brainwash-magazines, chasing, chasing, chasing exotic vacations, fancy vehicles, “have it all” queendoms. Biggest truck, loudest gun, biggest tv brainwash-screen, most channels, longest sundeck, biggest hottub, best standup comedy punch lines at recovery meetings. Richest husband, biggest fake surgical enhancements, tiniest waists, and finally….a HIP HOP album! Cause all the honkiest-ass honkies wanna be techno-beat gangsta MC’s, too! “Look how great we turned out!”
I…. wish I was more immune to the Amerikkkan Ruse programming, myself. I see how we are all here dying, one by one, together, while we insist on remaining apart. We’re all just marching slowly towards our own sad conclusions. You, hosing down that bigass camping R/V that hasn’t moved from the property in ten years, maybe Windexing the old sports trophies, making the car go vroom vroom through cross walk right turns always stubbornly imperiling non drivers on your aggressive way to Hooters or Home Depot. Me, here, with my Marky Ramone wig and Converse and way too small Sisters Of Mercy t shirt, sucking-in my gut as I pass the teenage girls carrying the Biology books, forever grasping for the long absent-eighties, like those old Elvis imitators in the fifties clothes you see at car shows, really unnerved about losing my legendary high score status on Zaxxon over at Aladdin’s Castle in the strip mall. Generations of scummy deadbeats and spiked denim vested delinquents of all ages rightly venerated my badass standing at the Aladdin’s Castle until some new upstart came ’round with a pair of pink sunglasses and a sullen sneer. Now, nobody seems to remember all those bitchen flyer designs, smartass fanzines, wild nights and crazy, sweaty shows, nutty road trips and really melodic, heartfelt, punk rock songs we wrote. All we are is soon to be discarded collections of scratchy vinyl and yellowed comic books and XXL heavy metal t shirts dropped off at thrift stores by boyfriends of relatives who never really liked us. An excuse for popular people to act-out, sleep with our exes, do some relapse dope for three or four days, like they ever even knew us. Gulp, gulp, gulp. Our realest and truest best friends will never figure out where we were buried. Diamond dust in the wind, forgotten, but not gone. Happy Trails to Hollywood. Au revoir, NYC. I’ll always love ya , rocknroll. “Carry On Dreaming” is a majestic travelogue, a boisterous and uplifting jaunt through a semi-mythical America that still almost existed, not so long ago….Cliff Notes of seldom told historical events and obscure music, you can hear the soundtrack thundering through your head…Ward’s holy testimony will remind you of who you used to be, make you wanna forgive old injuries and insults and be less petty, it’ll make you wanna ignore Johnny Thunders and Charles Bukowski’s “don’t try” advice…it’ll make you wanna try some more. Hip teachers should make their classes study this book. Cool parents should gift it to their teenage kids. It’s that good. Jeff Ward is one of the few real standout, underground artists from my era with integrity and a surplus of real talent who I always wanted to see succeed by his own terms in music and literature and life and love. Maybe he has.
Get all his books and records.