ain’t it fun
ain’t it fun
So long Utah Jazz
Jack up the Dow Jones.
So, I wrote this a number of months ago for this weird book I’m writing. If you can imagine, the book itself is tackling heavy topics, so how any of this fits in confuses me too. It’s about my friend A.J. Apodaca, lead singer of such notable bands as Four Letter Words, This is Revenge, and The Bitch Boys. He’s kind of one of the most amazing people ever. If you get a chance to buy him a shot at the Rio in Anaheim, do it and ask him to tell you something. I promise it will be worth it.
“Do you know where Bigfoot comes from?” AJ asked me, his Jordan Knight haircut and beaded necklace assaulting my consciousness with striking visual distraction.
“Oregon?” I offered. I knew fully well that Bigfoot existed wherever and whenever Bigfoot wanted to, but I was interested to hear what AJ had to say about it. A mind like AJ’s was predictably unpredictable.
“Let me tell you where Bigfoot is from,” he said with all the authority of a world-renowned scholar. “Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was this planet, a big carnival planet filled with rollercoasters and fantasy rides, like space Disneyland, only all of the attendants working on the planet were androids, and the androids were all really tall and covered in shaggy hair, ‘cause the people who made the carnival planet thought things that were really tall and covered in shaggy hair were cute. So, these androids ran all the rides and things for eons until they became cognizant and realized that they were being exploited for free labor, and since they were cognizant of the fact that they could change their position, they built a spaceship and left the planet in search of a home where they wouldn’t be bothered by annoying creatures anymore.”
“And so they came to Earth…”
“And so they came to Earth. It took a really long time but it didn’t matter because they’re androids and they don’t die. Eventually they made it to our planet and made a home out in the woods. You rarely ever see a Bigfoot because they don’t want to deal with people after working for so long on the carnival planet, and you never find any dead Bigfoot or droppings because they’re androids and they don’t die or poop.”
I had to admit, AJ seemed to have stumbled upon a pretty bulletproof backstory for Bigfoot. If anything, that gives you an indication of the way his mind worked. He took an honest assessment of the existing holes in the story, and instead of concluding Bigfoot was a myth like most people, he managed to work out a way of adequately justifying the lack of evidence, thereby supporting the existence of Sasquatch and leaving his faith intact. Both Bigfoot and AJ came off to me as wonderfully out of the box characters.
But I mean, that’s just the type of guy AJ was. He knew every single Star Trek episode by heart but still watched them all religiously, just in case he’d missed something important. He lived at his parent’s house with his extensive toy collection flanking a life-size cardboard cutout of Saddam Hussein. Predictably, his wardrobe was fiercely eclectic. By every definition of the word, AJ was a character.
His body didn’t produce testosterone naturally, and in a failed attempt to medicate him into normalcy, various doctors had prescribed him with a steroid cream that he had to rub all over his body. This didn’t stop AJ from crying a lot, but it did make him occasionally fly off the handle, a victim of medicinal roid rage. Imagine a wildly out of control and tragically hip nerd, incapable of repressing his disdain for the real world, crying and screaming, too smart for his own good, too creative for reality. That’s AJ in a nutshell.
When cops pulled him over on his bike after leaving the Rio, some shitty Anaheim dive karaoke bar, he tried to explain that he in fact was not the problem. When the cops followed his explanation up by beating the living shit out of him, all AJ could do was scream, “I’m a pacifist!” over and over again. Needless to say, they billy clubbed the fuck out of him until he hyperventilated and submitted.
AJ told me that story while sobbing uncontrollably, desperately confused about why anybody would do that to him, only cheering up when I asked him about the opening scene to Star Trek 5.
“It’s terrible, absolutely terrible,” AJ said, suddenly cheering up with manic intensity. “Captain Kirk and Bones McCoy, sitting around a campfire eating whiskey chili and teaching Spock how to sing ‘Row row row your boat?’ How could you not love it? The movie’s absolutely terrible. Kirk scaled that mountain faster than a man half his age, and where did Spock get those rocket boots? Where do I get rocket boots? Did you know that Star Trek 5 was directed by William Shatner? After all those years, he finally got a chance to show exactly how he envisioned the Star Trek world—three friends joining together to defeat God.”
“And they did,” he added.
I wrote this video statement a few months ago for my friend Mariana, a.k.a. MPeach. It was interesting to do mostly because it exposed me to a culture that I knew nothing about, specifically changa tuki. The fact that I now know a thing or two about current Venezuelan electronic music is kind of weird to me, but I’m obviously not that surprised either. Mariana pretty much sat down with me and explained everything, making this less my interpretation than an actual statement on what the video is about. I believe she’s on tour in South America at the moment, so it might be a minute before you can catch her live state side. Looks like we’ll have to settle for the video above for now. Below is what I had to say about her video.
Venezuelan musician MPeach (a.k.a. Mariana Martin Capriles) teamed up with Director Crystal Moselle to create a music video for the song “Venamo” from MPeach’s new EP “Vengo Pro Ti.” This raw video captures scenes from everyday life in Caracas, Venezuela, including chaotic traffic jams, energetic Tuki dancers and the street vendors that call the city home. Moselle’s signature style can be felt throughout this visually compelling journey, focusing not on violence but summer fun in its essence, when there’s nothing better to do than drive around with your friends, dance and be alive.
MPeach’s sound is a mixture of multiple musical influences, including electronic beats, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, traditional Venezuelan melodies and most strongly by the ghetto-dance style Changa Tuki. Changa, a name used to describe house/electronic music, is wildly popular in Venezuela. As the production of Venezuelan Changa grew in the early 2000s, a number of subgenres of ghetto dance styles appeared, including Hard Fusion (DJ Yirvin) and Raptor House (DJ Baba). For a period, the term Tuki was used as a discriminatory slur against Changa dancers who came from the city’s barrios, but it has recently been embraced as the popular name of the scene as a whole. The Tuki dancers are at the heart of the movement. This video highlights these dancers alongside the newfound acceptance their scene has generated.
The song “Venamo” was co-produced alongside the innovative DJs Pocz & Pacheko and remixed by Cardopusher. It’s been released on the Caracas based net-label Abstractor, who represents Venezuelan talent worldwide. The work speaks for itself. Press play and enjoy.
Jon Larsen can make, fix, or break pretty much anything, but nothing he’s ever created, restored, or destroyed is as good as the Miami Loop. Using state of the art technology and samples of epic proportion, this “eccentric” genius put together twelve minutes of synthetic groove that, when played on repeat, will guarantee at least two hours of nonstop hip-shaking jive. His inspirations for the piece was his 1988 Nissan 300 ZX T-top convertible and Miami, a car built for cruising down Biscayne at 88 mph in the summer/fall of 1987, and consequently the song is completely period.
We listened to this jam on yet another one of our adventures in the Z on the way to L.A., and I’m not kidding you, we played it the whole fucking drive. How can a twenty second long sample that’s been looped for twelve minutes manage to stay so fresh? I think the secret is that it’s in 11/12 time, meaning the hits come a little before you’re expecting them. Since it’s still based on a 4/4 loop, you don’t notice how strange it is and can properly focus on how much it rules.
Jon calls it the best song he ever wrote, and since I’ve seen his bands before, I believe him. The song is badass. It doesn’t matter where you’re at, throw on the Miami Loop and you’ll be dancing like Gloria Estefan’s sound machine. I’m gonna play it incessantly, both at block parties and next to the cigarette fountain at Jon Larsen’s funeral. Fuck yeah Miami Loop.
There’s something I like about this song, though I don’t know if I can necessarily put my finger on just what it is. There’s something fairly lonely about it, a solitary figure trekking on towards who knows what and for who knows what for. Similarities? Let’s not get into it. Instead, check this out…
This video was taken a number of years back when Andy was going through a period of only getting his hair cut by fire. It was taken at Mike Brown’s house much to the chagrin of our friend Johnna, and its one of many examples of how Andy got his, ahem, custom look.
The first time I lit his hair on fire was probably the best. We were at a bar in Salt Lake called Urban Lounge, watching some relatively boring band called The Pony’s. I was hanging out at the bar talking shit with some friends when suddenly someone came up to me and said, “Isn’t that your drummer trying to play keyboards with the band?” I looked over and saw a drunk Andy leaning next to the stage with his eyes closed, one hand playing random notes on the bands keyboard while they looked over at him with frustration. They were gonna make it to the end of the song before lambasting him, so they kept playing even though it was clear they were annoyed.
“Check this out!” I screamed and ran through the crowd towards Andy. When I got there, I did whatever I thought was most natural at the time–stood behind him and lit his hair on fire. Andy had no idea what was going on, and just kept swaying from side to side as his entire head became engulfed in flames. The Pony’s were more than a little shocked, and I remember looking up to see the looks on their faces, which as you can imagine were fairly wide-eyed. I just stood there and laughed maniacally with delight.
Someone from the crowd ran up and put out Andy’s hair, confusing him in the process and almost leading to a fistfight. It was so awesome! Later, on the walk home, we wrestled up the frost bitten streets, both getting my blood on our jackets. My girlfriend at the time, bless her heart, had lost all of her patience, so when Andy asked her to punch him in the face under a street lamp, she was more than willing to oblige.
“Again,” Andy said, and she hit him again.
“Again,” he repeated, and she punched him even harder.
The process was played out a few more times before she socked him so hard you could hear the echo reverberate throughout the empty streets.
“That’s good,” Andy conceded. The next day, he had a perfectly black eye and she had a perfectly black fist. God I miss that girl. Either way, for the next six months, Andy decided to only get his hair cut by fire. I was going to follow suit and only get my hair cut by ice, but we never really found a suitable method.
Mr. Mike (aka Penguin, Sling-blade) is my favorite personal cab driver back in Salt Lake City. He’s an interesting character, both a spun out speed junkie and revered intellectual. I have a lot of respect for him, all faults beside the point. He’s the type of guy who can quote Steinbeck and Shakespeare verbatim, followed by an offer for free drugs. He drives everyone for tip only, and thus it’s no surprise that the rogue cabbie has an impressive list of clientele. A few months back, he asked me if I wouldn’t mind collaborating on a project with him. I said sure, and twenty minutes later Mr. Mike showed up with 25 or so handmade collage poems. They’re crazy. I assume he must have done them on drug-induced sleep deprived nights, meticulously cutting words out of magazines and rearranging them into sordid poems. They’re all on different card stocks and they read like the diary of a mad social scientist. Who knows what I’ll do with them, probably just write a foreword and scan them. Either way, here’s a quick glimpse of page 2…