News | Rachel Logic (Uncommon Logic, First Offense, Dropgun): R.I.P. 1979-2016

On Monday, February 29th, 2016, active member of the Akron punk rock scene, LGBTQ* activist, and loyal friend to many Rachel Bishop (AKA Rachel Logic) was involved in a fatal car accident. During her life, she made a huge impact on nearly everyone who knew her, and was an inspiration to so many due to her bravery, honesty, sense of humor, and big heart.

When I met Rachel, everyone knew her by a different name. At the time, she was the bassist of the band Dropgun, who my band at the time, Dead City Dealers, had played a number of shows with. Though the two of us had never talked at any great length at that time, Dropgun had become one of my favorite punk bands in the area.

Then one day, in the Fall of 2009, I got a long, detailed MySpace message from a woman with the screen name "Rachel Dreadful", explaining that she was this person I had known the last couple of years, that she was transgender, she was going through transitioning, and wondered if I would like to do an interview with her for Artless Nonculture (2.0), in order to fully come out to the regional punk rock community, as well as to help answer everyone's questions, "all in one shot." After taking a minute to let this news sink in, I was eager to help.

Over the years, Rachel became sort of an "FAQ" for transgender issues, not just for me, but to many of the people in her life. Not that that's all she was, mind you; Rachel had a huge amount of knowledge on geek culture and punk music, as well. She had a sharp, sarcastic wit, and a warm, caring personality. She was also very humble, and would probably not care much for any tribute such as this one.

When my girlfriend of 6 years passed away suddenly, back in 2014, Rachel Bishop was one of the first people to reach out to me, offering support in any way she could. Keep in mind, before this we were not close; there was a lot of mutual fondness and respect there, definitely, and we would bullshit on Facebook, but I would say we were more fond acquaintances rather than good friendsAnd around the one-year anniversary of this loss of a loved one, Rachel actually took the time to drive to Cleveland from Akron to spend the afternoon with me.  When I sent her a message thanking her afterwards, all she said was, "We all gotta take care of each other."

Over the last 2 years, we would periodically check in on each other via social media (me, struggling with depression and other issues related to the death of my partner, and her with her own moods and health issues. This would typically be in response to one of us seeing a Facebook post from the other).

We would always invite each other to come and hang out in each of our respective cities (we were only a county apart, after all), but something would always get in the way—typically money or car troubles. I really wish we had spent more time together now, because I truly believe we would have become good friends had we lived just a little closer to each other, or had fewer financial issues. Unfortunately, time gets away from all of us, and you never know when it's gonna be your last chance. I just feel really lucky that I got to know her at all while she was here.

As a tribute, I'd like to republish the 2009 interview I conducted with her while she was transitioning. Maybe her story can help someone else who's going through a similar situation, or help quell any confusion about the entire subject for someone who just doesn't "get it."

Interview with Rachel of DROPGUN
by Sam Sinister.

ANC: Please state your name, and what you do in which band.

RD: My name is Rachel, and I play bass in DROPGUN and maybe You Have Ten Seconds to Unfuck Yourself, if we ever play again.

Now for anyone who is confused, you're not a new member to either band, correct?

No, I am not. I've been in DROPGUN for three years. My legal name is John, that's the name I was given at birth. I'm a transsexual, and Rachel is the name I go by, and will legally be my name soon.

That answers my next question then... the legally changing your name thing.

I'm reading your mind.

Wanna explain the difference between a transsexual and a transvestite?

Well, the term transgender is a blanket term, covering transvestites/cross-dressers, genderqueers, and transsexuals... and others. They all have one thing in common: They mess with gender. 

A transvestite is a person who lives as their birth gender, but get some sorta kick outta cross-dressing. [The term "transvestite" has fallen out of usage in most circles within the trans community, as it is now seen as being archaic and, to some, offensive— much in the same way that "colored" and "negro" are within the black community today. -Ed.] 

Transsexuals are people whose bodies developed differently than their brain.

Now, this is a new term to me... What is genderqueer, and is that different from homosexual?

Yeah, it's just people who screw with gender to the point that they completely break the binary laws of male and female. Gender and sexuality are not related.

So, how far along are you into the transition? Are you taking hormones?

Yeah, I've been doing that for a year-and-a-half or so. I've got a therapist. It's been interesting, first trying to hide the changes, like wearing a coat on stage while sweating. Second, not hiding the changes, like when my friends look at my chest. It's funny. I take two pills every day, and one shot in the leg every week. So it's a routine, but it's worth it.

At least you have a sense of humor about it. What's the reaction been like so far from your friends/band? Your family?

The band has been pretty rad. Everyone reacted in their own way, but all positive. My friends have been great; I haven't had a terrible reaction yet. I'm not saying people 100% get me, or accept me, but it's been fine so far. There's so much gender-bending in rock, I think I can get away with it a little more than, say, an accountant. (laughs)

How long before you're done with the hormone treatments, or do you never stop with them?

I'll always be taking estrogen, but I won't have to block my testosterone once I lose some of the male equipment.

When will that be?

When I raise the money. Insurance normally won't cover trans health issues in the USA, so the brunt of the bill is on me and my family. It's not uncommon for trans people to drop 40k during transition. A lot go bankrupt, blow through savings, and sell everything that's not crucial to life. If I had the cash I'd be done by now. If I hadn't of sold my soul to the devil for rock n' roll I'd be cashing that in.

(Laughs) This is gonna be an in-depth and complicated interview...

Maybe you'll win an award.

(Laughs) Doubtful.

Well, if it makes you feel better, the Cavs are up by 27!

Not a basketball fan (laughs), sorry... or any sports for that matter.

If you live in Akron you gotta like the Cavs, it's the rules.

So, when did you first realize that you were... uh, for lack of a better word, different?

From the time I was able to notice the difference between boys and girls. I knew if I tried to hang with the girls I'd get messed with, so I hung out with the guys and envied the girls from afar. It was weird when everyone was growing up, I didn't understand why I was becoming more boyish.

Well, then later in life, I'm sure it's easier to hang out with mixed company, though...

Sure, and I didn't hate being a guy, it just wasn't the perfect fit. When I was growing up, I latched on to punk rock, because at least then I could control why I was an outcast. I know other trans people latch on to things like sci-fi, and comics, and stuff like that. In fact, there was a band called Label the Traitor that were huge when one of their members came out as a trans person. So I know there has to be more of us out there. If I could reach out to just one punk still in the closet, then they'd reach out to one, and so on. That's one reason that I'm open with being trans, and not trying to go stealth.

One of the early New York punk frontmen, Wayne County, later became Jayne County...

That's right! Very early on, too. How punk rock is that?

I guess very... I mean, if punk is being "real" and saying, "Fuck you, this is me and you can deal with it or get out of my way," then I'd say you're pretty damn punk rock.

Bobby Steele of the Undead is friends with Jayne and he's shared a few stories online (laughs).

Okay so, you mentioned that sexuality and gender are completely unrelated. What exactly is your sexual orientation? I mean, since "gay" and "straight" are usually determined by whatever gender you happen to be...

Well, as a guy I'm straight, and as a girl I'm lesbian. It's a weird line to cross. That's an issue some gay people have with trans people. Some don't like the switching ability.

Would you be lesbian right now, or would that happen once the transition is complete?

I think of myself as a lesbian right now, plus it makes sex hotter (laughs).

You're married, right?

June 1st, 2010 is the big day. It's a Tuesday, because nothing is ever normal with me.

How did she take it? Was this something she's been aware of all along, or did you sorta spring it on her?

She was amazing, it doesn't hurt that she's bi. All of her family has been really nice about it too. I will marry her as a guy, however, as there is no gay marriage in Ohio (yet).

Ah, that brings up an interesting point. Once you're married, and then you "officially" become a woman, can they sort of revoke the marriage? In a legal sense, I mean?

In Ohio, where I live, I can't change my gender on my birth certificate, so my marriage will not be voided. It's really sad, some people lose their marriage after years together.

Sounds complicated.

No kidding.

But you'll have a new social security number once you legally change your name, right?

(Very long pause) ...I think you win a prize for stumping me. I have no idea.

Yes! Free DROPGUN t-shirt?


I'm serious.

Well, first we gotta make 'em.

Oh, okay.

We're a lazy band.

Umm... MP3's emailed to me that aren't on Devil Music?

It's all up on MySpace right now, even that Groovie Ghoulies cover we did.

Yeah, you can't download off MySpace anymore.

MySpace pisses me off more and more everyday, but I'm hooked.

I have "Alone" and "Black Whip". I downloaded those before all the changes to the player took effect...

I can't wait to get this album out, it's going to shock people a little. We have five or so songs being worked on right now. It's a real change from where the band started.

How so?

DROPGUN started off as a cover band, mostly Oi! and hardcore stuff. Then came Shittin' n' Gettin', and that was very rock and very punk with hard yelling vocals, and then Devil Music added a ton of guitar solos and calmed down a bit. The new one has a hint of surf in it, but in a rock n' roll kinda way. Sounds like nose bleeds and hooker spit.

Surf is rock 'n roll!


And I don't think Devil Music was very tame, by the way... Pretty hard rockin' stuff.

Yeah, those guys really made that one work.

What kinds of covers did you guys play in the beginning?

Well, I wasn't in the band then, but it was a lot of early punk, hardcore, and Oi!. On any given night you could have heard anything from "Crucified" to "Borstal Breakout". Now we stick to the Dead Boys, and more rock n' rollish punk.

Electric Frankenstein, New Bomb Turks, stuff like that...

Yeah, but no covers of bands who are still around. Unless it's a special kinda deal, like the Misfits for Halloween...

Well, if you play the Glenn-era stuff, that band definitely isn't still around!

Yeah, no kidding. I did go see Danzig when he brought Doyle with him to do a classic Misfits set, it was amazing.

Anything else in the works for DROPGUN besides the album?

Nope, we're just doing that right now. Billy and Paul have been writing songs left and right. We just gotta get 'em recorded and fire 'em at ya.

Any last words for our 3 or 4 readers?

Yes. If you are questioning your gender or sexuality, contact your local PFLAG. Educate yourself. Also -Rock N' Roll.

- 4/26/2009 09:02:00 PM

Reviews | Brutality and Bloodshed for All: The Rockabilly vibe of GG Allin and the Murder Junkies

By Mondo Carnage

When someone mentions GG Allin, or even the Murder Junkies, one does not think of the distinct musical sound they have. Most people think of GG and the band's antics, such as GG rolling in his own feces, urinating on the audience, fist fighting with the audience, and beating himself to a bloody pulp; or the band's naked drummer, Dino, who is also known for some strange behavior as well (As a matter of fact, I remember a story that the editor of this magazine told me, about how his own band played a show with the Murder Junkies on the bill. Pretty much, the venue owner's wife was scolding Dino for trying to get naked, so he shoved a drum stick up his ass and threw it at a wall, where it stuck due to the feces covering the drumstick).

However, this article is not about all that. It's about the sound structure of The Murder Junkies' debut album, Brutality and Bloodshed for All.

Since this month's issue was originally supposed to be about punk rock's connection to '60s garage rock and '50s rockabilly and rock 'n roll, I figured I'd use this album as prime example. Ignoring GG's lyrics and vocals (which are great in their own right, but do not show the rockabilly influence of the music), we're going to look at Bill Weber's guitar work.

On this album, right of the bat you're treated to the blasphemous song “Highest Power” which has some weird rockabilly guitar work during the verse. Same goes with the second song, “Kill Thy Father, Rape Thy Mother”, again with a weird '50s rock sound. The next song, "Anal Cunt", however, takes from a '70s and '80s hard rock sound, but then comes the song "Raw, Brutal, Rough, and Bloody", which has a very crude '60s garage rock structure to the main riff.

Then come the straight up punk songs, “Shoot, Knife, Strangle, Beat and Crucify” and “I Kill Everything I Fuck”. Although being almost purely typical punk songs, they have some stereotypical riffs and solos that have been used in rock 'n roll since the '50s, especially during the chorus and solo of "I Kill...".

After that, a similar formula of rockabilly riffs continue with “Shove That Warrant Up Your Ass”, and then even more riffs and fills that send a tribute to the rock 'n roll of the '50s with “My Sadistic Killing Spree”. Then, back to the typical-punk-sounding “I'll Slice Yer Fucking Throat”, and the heavy metal-sounding “Terror in America”.

Then the song “Fuck Off, We Murder” comes on, and the solo is straight out of '50s rock 'n roll, and it's totally awesome and ends in just total punk rock rage. After that, in a similar rockabilly/punk rock mishmash, we have the songs “Take Aim and Fire” ,“Bastard Son of a Loaded Gun”, and “Legalize Murder”. Finally, we have the album's title song, which pretty much sums up the sound of the overall album: a weird combo of punk, rockabilly, death metal, and pure carnage. A musical masterpiece.

Columns | Cellar Dwellers of the Underground, an Introduction.

by Mike Original

One thing that could describe me  (don’t worry, I won’t make this seem like some sort of weird personal ad) is that I am, in many ways, nostalgic. When I talk to people I usually refer to some old movie, a cartoon, the unfortunately dead Swedish comedian Micke Dubois, or a heavy metal record from the glorious days of the '80s. I got all my old Garbage Pail Kids stickers in a drawer at home, and was excited like a kid at Christmas when I bought the book a month ago with the GPK stickers art in it. Unfortunately, it didn’t include that gum that the old sticker bags did, that lost its taste before it touched your teeth. I buy DVDs with old cartoons I watched when I grew up, and sit there smiling and feeling a warm familiar feeling wash over me every time. I think I might have cried a little when I got the Incredible Hulk cartoon on DVD. Loads of stuff like this has found its way into my movie collection.

There are a lot of things that throw me back in time to when I was a kid; it’s both a good and bad feeling, I guess. Nostalgia does that to you, but hopefully you have more fond memories than bad ones.

I sometimes think that people these days won’t have the same emotional attachment to things when they grow older because everything is so accessible. A whole collection by an artist, a complete TV-series, or all the movies by a certain actor is a click away, 24/7. People don’t slow down and really enjoy anymore, or get the thrill of really looking for something, at least that’s the feeling I get (damn I felt old writing that, but it’s true). I collect records and movies, and I feel I got a connection to almost every one of those things, and I love the feeling I get when I finally get my hands on something I’ve looked for a long time. There's an H100s 7” on red vinyl that haunted me for years, but I got it now and it feels goooood.

People often consider it a weird thing, and even "fanatical," that I got several different copies of the same record or bought all different versions of Night Of The Living Dead, for example. I still haven’t felt that same feeling for a movie I’ve downloaded, an mp3 record, or a Spotify link. I download things, but I, like many others, tend to rush through the downloads and I don’t let it stick to me like when I get a physical record or movie in my hand.

I can pinpoint some bands down to the day I first heard them, and can talk for hours about some of the movies. Like Star Wars. Every time I watch the originals (episodes 1-3 can suck it), I think about how my whole family sat around the TV back in, like, '84 or something like that. My life changed there, I fell in love with movies and haven’t looked back since. I watch and talk about movies everyday, and I write reviews on two different homepages online. The fanatical interest in movies, and the urge to collect movies was born right there, with the kid version of me sitting on the floor watching Star Wars: A New Hope with my family. A year or so later, my mom and dad bought me an Alice Cooper record, and in '86 my grandfather bought me the Somewhere In Time album by Iron Maiden. These events profoundly changed me forever and helped shape who I was and still am. I don’t trust people who can’t name a life-changing record, book, or movie.

Alongside these things, I also grew up reading comics. I was never really into books all that much growing up. I like pictures, so comics were right up my alley. Tintin, Asterix, Lucky LukeMasters Of The Universe, the Swedish comic Bamse, MAD magazine, Don Martin, and the like was well-read and also served as inspiration for my drawings. I learned the basics of drawing using these comics, and they kept feeding my wild imagination, and still do to this day.

When working on my own comic, I try to include some elements of those old comics that helped me a lot when I was growing up. Getting closer and closer to turning 40 (I got a few years left, luckily), people tend to think I’m childish reading comics, watching cartoons, and drawing these silly pictures. I have no problem with that, because in my world, being childish isn’t all that bad. My parents always encouraged me in my strange pursuits and still do to this day, so I guess the people closest to me saw my interests and nostalgia as something positive.

Like I said in the beginning, nostalgia can also have a darker side, and there's been many a time I’ve been shedding a tear or two over the fact that times change and the years go by, and working with my comic has brought me to those dark places many times. With this column, I hope to dive head first into the brighter side of nostalgia with movies, music, and just ranting on about things. I might end up on the darker ends from time to time as well, because as a person I tend to focus on that too much and I struggle with depression.

Being nostalgic is also about thinking back and trying to relive happier days. Watching a movie you saw as a kid can take you back, and by keeping those interests, acting silly, drawing, reading comics, and not actually caring one bit what “a person your age” should be doing, I think you will be a happier person. Even when I’m at my lowest I can always pat myself on the back and hear that little kid with the crooked teeth tell me that he’s kind of proud of me for still, even at a grown up age, comfortably fat, baldheaded, and a "mad at the world" kinda guy, being into comics, eagerly learning stuff about movies, getting all excited about buying records and movies, and still drawing or painting something everyday.

This first entry to my column may have gotten sidetracked, but since it will deal a lot with nostalgic movies and things from the '80s, it might still hold together with my original intent for this column. Hope I haven’t scared anyone away... I can ensure you I will get sillier and the texts will be more fun most of the time. Got some fun subjects to sink my teeth into planned for the future.

Until next time, thanks for reading. True Originals forever!

“The creative adult is the child who survived.”—Ursula K. Le Guin

News | Parma Mayoral Candidate Warns About Refugee Threat

by D.X. Ferris, Nick Wolff, and the Associated Press [sic]

Parma politician Nick Wolff warned about a looming Cleveland-area crisis in a speech during March’s mayoral primaries.

“I want to talk about a serious issue,” said Wolff. “Refugees.”

Wolff delivered the speech at the bar in Parma Heights’ Yorktown Lanes bowling alley. After a manager interrupted and threw him out, he later posted the text on Facebook.

Wolff is one of 38 locals running for mayor of Parma following the premature passing of James “Jim” Konya. Wolff warned of an imminent invasion by colorful outlanders.

January 16, Lakewood dive bar, the Spitfire Saloon, closed. For nearly a decade, the tavern had provided hospitable shelter, live music, and cheap Pabst products for area punks.

“When the Spitfire a closed its doors,” said Wolff, “I was scrolling through posts by a bunch of mohawkio’ed, 30-somethings crammed into a corner, throwing PBR, and having a good time. And I was hit with a disturbing thought: ‘Where will they go?’”

Wolff, a 37-year-old internet radio talk-show host, is the capo de regime of the political party N.W.O Wolffpack. Previously, the longtime community activist organized the short-lived Musicians' Local 00 union.

“For the last nine years, the Spitfire had been like a roach motel, collecting all the undesirables and miscreants in a sticky paste of PBR, puke, and punk rock,” said Wolff. “It was the plug that kept the sewage out of the Cleveland area's fine establishments.”

Wolff’s punk-rock cred includes musical group the Eviction Party, Pride of Ohio, the Lottery League project Can’t Won’t Mustn’t, and his self-titled band, which wrote a swell song about the socio-politically oriented HBO series The Wire.

“An alarming number of these refugees are headed to a bar near you,” warned Wolff. “It could be the Foundry. It could be the Happy Dog. It could even be your favorite neighborhood dive. Now That's Class is already bursting with even worse people.”

Wolff’s words did not fall on deaf ears. The Facebook version of the rant attracted nearly 50 likes.

“Before you welcome these refugees, remember,” warned Wolff’s Facebook friend Donald Trump. “They may LOOK alternative, but many of them have radical conservative agendas. I say we impose a moratorium on new punk-rockers until we can find out what's really going on.”

Wolff’s incendiary rhetoric provoked more heated responses.

“I suspect that many of these self-declared ‘anarchists’ are really law-abiding citizens,” read one reply. “Hearings must be held.”

The frontman argued that his artistic success and temperament made him far better suited to judge people than the other candidates, who he called “politically correct social-media keyboard warriors.”

“Great, you have a lip ring,” said Wolff. “But it doesn’t matter how you wear your hair. It’s what’s inside your head.”

Wolff later returned to the bowling alley and delivered a monologue to a crowd of karaoke-night regulars. He took the microphone purportedly to sing “Don’t Stop Believing”, but instead delivered a monologue as the track played in the background. Wolff proposed a strict screening test to weed out people who are internally plain.

“They may be jaundiced, and they may be wearing tattered denim jackets adorned with dozens of patches,” said Wolff. “But many of them have rejected traditional values, only to adopt a new orthodoxy of restrictive dress codes and moral prescriptions.”

The N.W.O. Wolffpack’s primary platform is the controversial Spitfire Refugee Program. The initiative would grant drink discounts and preferential service to “true punks” while instituting high cover charges for “fashion-oriented poseurs” who enjoy pop-punk, attend the Warped Tour and crowd Social Distortion concerts.

Wolff also continued to criticize the collective Cleveland punk scene, citing poorly attended Eviction Party shows and a recent Face Value reunion that only drew a small crowd. He questioned West Side punks’ espoused beliefs in contrast to their spending habits.

"I say they prove that they're punk," stated Wolff. "How are they proving it? Many of these eccentric characters might even be Christian."

The growing “Keep Parma Punk” movement advocates a test for unfamiliar pierced faces when they appear at local watering holes. The Wolffpack’s “Triple A” statement of values promotes “action, attitude, and authenticity.”

“If they’re so punk-rock, are they willing to spit on a Bible?” said Wolff. “Will they break a window? Maybe these so-called punk-rock girls will kiss another woman in exchange for a free shot of J├Ąger. And maybe the men will speak up in favor of gay rights. But will they participate in a truly deviant sexual act? I say they put their money — and their mouths, and their votes — where their mouth is. People of Parma, you have a right to know who you’re drinking with.”

Columns | What is Your Conceptual Continuity?

by James Turner

Fucking do not and will not ever understand this love for insincere bands that are only there as a "so-bad-it's-good" joke for anything more than a personal thing amongst (and for) friends.

It's not that I don't get behind stuff that was intentionally humorous when it comes to performing acts, but for fuck's sake, it's not a new idea and people have done it before—

Only those people also happened to leave us with music people still actually enjoy, without having to hide behind the forced detachment of "irony," or the pretentiousness of being "avant-garde"!

Although they, too, were praised by the pretentious, mainstream rock had Frank Zappa and Devo (although they were just incorporating humor into amazing music, not just having a laugh), hardcore had Nig Heist, post-punk had the Butthole Surfers, alt-rock had They Might Be Giants...

The difference was, we were also still left with music you could get behind, and not have to challenge yourself to enjoy just to keep up with the people around you; music that was memorable, and enjoyed for many years later, not just laughed at (not with) by anyone who wasn't in on the joke.

Hearing modern acts that produce this stuff, for me, feels like trying to breathe oatmeal, to the point where nearly any form of sincere music feels like the relief of an emergency tracheotomy. What's so difficult about "taking the piss" and giving something back of non-fleeting value?

The opposite of this is what's known as "outsider music": stuff that is arguably terrible or genius, depending on your viewpoint, but is nearly completely self-unaware. It's not manufactured irony, it's sincere, no matter how horrible it may (or may not) be.

If you're unfamiliar, refer to Wild Man Fischer, the manic-depressive schizophrenic (I believe that's his actual diagnosis), produced by Frank Zappa:

This other shit I'm talking about? Think of the mock-jazzy intro part to "Bitchin' Camaro" by the Dead Milkmen.

Now, imagine someone got the idea that that should be an entire band-concept, or an album's worth of material.

Anyway, bring your scorn if you're feeling butthurt at all about what I said, but I'll warn you: It will be a headed-nowhere conversation. I prefer to be challenged, and either feel stronger about my position or open to seeing a new perspective that I couldn't consider without the help of another.

Columns | Night of the Living Dead: Human Nature at Its Truest.

by Mike Original

The swinging '60s. 

What comes to mind when you think about the 1960s? Is it the social changes that happened all over the world, or is it the rise of the hippies? 

Maybe it’s all the groovy tunes, maaan or is it the first trip to the moon (if you believe in that, that is)? 

Whenever someone starts talking about revolutionary things and the '60s, only one thing comes to mind for me, and that is Night Of The Living Dead by George A. Romero. 

To talk about revolution and not mention that movie is a crime, in my book. It changed the face of horror for all time to come, basically. I always enjoy seeing something that so profoundly changed the path of something, whether it is a record, a book, or—in this case—a movie. Sure, there were movies with zombies before NOTLD, but never had they been so scary, and Romero added to the creature what we know as a zombie today, the flesh eating, mindless hunk of dead flesh walking around. 

What Hitchcock had done for the thriller genre with Psycho in 1960, Romero did for horror in 1968, and both movies are such genre-defining films. I remember seeing NOTLD in my early teens for the first time, and I liked it. I rewatched it many times, and the more I saw it the more depth I saw in it, things that I hadn’t noticed the first time around. 

The politics behind the movie that I didn’t notice when I was younger became more clear as I grew older, and nowadays I can rave for hours about how, in it’s own way, it mirrored what was happening in the world, and how it (in some warped way) showed the human mind when faced with danger and extreme situations. I watch NOTLD several times a year, and I never grow tired of it. It gets to me every time. 

One of the many amazing things with the movie is the D.I.Y-spirit that flows through every minute and every second of it. Hearing Romero talk about how he and his friends gathered up some money to make this little horror movie, how they shot the movie by the house, no running water so they had to take baths in a little stream out back, and have their friends play parts in the movie is extremely inspiring and is also something that shows in the movie, how dedicated to this they were, and how genuine it feels. Guerrilla film-making, he calls it, and it changed the movie world by being such an uncompromising movie. 

The movie also looks amazing, has a good score, and the violence… oh the violence. It’s raw, mean, and, at the same time, so mechanical. It is unnerving, and I think the Romero-style zombies are a pretty scary thought if they somehow came true. 

It’s just so perfect in all its ruthlessness. Zombies don’t care, and they symbolize us as humans as we just stroll along, brain dead, not caring as long as we just eat away at the world. Like the doctor in Dawn Of The Dead said, they are "pure, motorized instinct." 

One of the things that didn’t occur to me when I was younger is the fact that it’s an African-American who plays the lead role, and how much of an upset this was back in the day. It was pretty much unheard of before NOTLD, and what is so beautiful is that Romero picked Duane Jones because he was a nice guy, a good actor, and, most importantly, not a lesser human being in any way, which many people at the time grew up thinking. Unfortunately, Duane Jones suffered greatly from the racism in society, and Karl Hardman (who plays Harry Cooper in the movie) says Jones received a rotten deal in life due to the racial tensions of the time. Romero went against societies “rule” of the day, and he did it in the best way possible: by showing that in circumstances like the one depicted, you will meet people from all walks of life, of all skin colours, genders, sexualities, and everything else. 

The movie is about group dynamics, and peoples inability to set aside differences—even under an extremely dangerous threat knocking on your door. Romero is a master at making horror where the “monster” isn’t necessarily the most dangerous threat against you, it's other people you should really worry about. I’ve heard people say, when they talk about The Walking Dead, that the biggest threat is at most times other people, and that is pure Romero right there. 

Whenever I hear an interview with Romero, it strikes me how humble he is. The man defined a genre, and basically created a new movie-monster, one which has survived and once again made its way back, sinking its teeth into all those "fast zombies," and throwing them clear to make way for that slow-moving horde of the dead. He created this, and is in no way bragging about it, he’s just happy that people likes his movies. 

Everything comes back to NOTLDall zombie movies are related to it. Not only is it is the first one, it's also the most important one. I own a copy of each version of it, and I can watch it over and over again. 

I know most people value the music and the politics of the 1960’s as the biggest achievement of that decade, but to me Night Of The Living Dead and George Romero will always be the top of the line. It shows human nature at its truest, and it’s not a pretty sight. But damn, does it make a good movie.

Thank you, George. You are the master.

Mike is a True Original. He hails from Sweden and has a formidable collection of comics, movies, records, and key chains. His favorite things to cram into his face are tacos, pie, and vegetarian sushi, and his favorite beverages are Pepsi Max, Lilt, and Julmust. When he's not watching movies, drawing, or writing, you might catch him jamming to DEVO, Integrity, and Funeral Mist. And if that wasn't enough info already, he also enjoys hockey, junk culture and art. Shit!

Columns | JONNY BIPOLAR: 3 of the Strangest Bands I Listen to... And You Should Too!

by Jonny Bipolar


Punk. Metal. Country. Psychedelia. Noise. Electronica.

They all meet in a hole-in-a-wall bar in the middle of nowhere. They shit talk the bartender, smack the waitresses' asses, drink Jack and Cokes all night, probably doing various drugs. The cops get called and they end up in a holding cell overnight.

That is The Butthole Surfers.

The first time I ever heard of them was on the program 120 Minutes, and the song was "Who Was In My Room Last Night?" (From the album Independent Worm Saloon). It was a blistering mess of heavy metal and punk rock (well, what I knew of punk rock in 1993). My friend had a few cassettes of them (yes, I'm 34 and know the joys of cassette tapes), and I was hooked.

Weird samples, noise collages, tape loops, two drummers, breaking the traditional sound structure. I was locked in and a fan since. They were bizarre, but once you thought you had them figured out, they threw you another curve ball.

Many people only know of them from the 1996 hit "Pepper", but they were much more than that. This Texan band was a crazy cacophony of chaotic sound and worth really checking out.

Recommended albums:
Independent Worm Saloon (1993, Capitol Records) | Locust Abortion Technician (1987, Touch & Go)

Extended listening:
"The Hurdy Gurdy Man" | "Dust Devil" | "Goofy's Concern" | "I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas"


What, punk rock doesn't have to consist only of guitar? It seemed like a crazy concept when I first heard of this band in 1998, but this band not only turned a form of music on its heels, it shattered preconceived notions of what was still left uncovered.

"They were a band that sounded the way you always wanted The Prodigy to sound," is what one NME writer said. Instead of four chords and snotty lyrics, ATR came crashing through with synthesizers, computers, samplers, and other electronic delights and ushered in some of the most pissed off and politics lyrics I'd ever heard, with a sonic backdrop like a mosh pit-fueled crime scene.

Song like "No Remorse (I Wanna Die)", "By Any Means Necessary", "Destroy 2000 Years of Culture", "Activate", "Start the Riot", and "Deutschland (Has Gotta Die!)" turned punk rock into the frenzied, unpretty, angry mess it needed to me.

'Digital Hardcore' was for the new millennium, and these Krauts (Alec Empire, Carl Crack, Hanin Elias, and Nico Endo) made me excited about punk again, when everything had become bland and safe. They didn't give a fuck about playing it safe, and helped a generation change the way they looked at the scene.

Albums to check out:
Burn, Berlin, Burn (Compilation 1996, Grand Royal) | 60 Second Wipeout (1999, Digital Hardcore Recordings)

Extended listening:
"Start the Riot" | "Sick to Death" | "Destroy 2000 Years of Culture" | "P.R.E.S.S."


Get ready to get your brain split. And fucked. And microwaved. And ran over by a semi-truck.
That's Japan's Boredoms. Noise punk without any rules. That's really all you can say.

They made me realize you could hit record on a tape player and play anything. It was an art form and there are some people who will dig it. Not everybody, but somebody. That's been my philosophy with every band I've been in.

Primal drumming, weird song structures, sound effects, sampling, screaming/babbling/yelped vocals making you question most music forms. I love them and the chaos they bring.

Check them out if you want to be confused, mesmerized, pissed off, and lost all at the same time.

Albums to check out:
Soul Discharge (1989, Original Selfish) | Pop Tatari (1992, Reprise)

Extended listening:
"Sun Gun Run" | "Mama Brain" | "Bo Go" | "Tomato Synthesizer"

Jonny Bipolar lives in New Castle, Pennsylvania, USA, and is exactly as described on the tin.


I'm anxious. 

Not about anything in particular, mind you. I'm just an anxious person. 

As my food arrives, I realize that to any fly on the wall, I probably seem like a health nut. I'm not—far from it, in fact—but the egg whites, turkey bacon, and wheat pancakes sounded good to me for some reason. I'm sure from a distance, it all just looks like the same old slop any way. Not that it matters, either way. 

On the short drive over here, I decided to flip through the radio stations. You know, just for some perspective. My old standby, WCSB, was playing polka (which I normally enjoy in small doses, but I wasn't quite "feelin' it" right now), and all the other stations were, unsurprisingly, unhelpful. Crappy modern pop music, even worse "rock" (what's the difference?), today's top "country" (I repeat), a Van Halen song (sadly the best thing so far, so I leave it)...


The opening guitar lead and kick! snare! pattern of "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)", one of Elton John's only real rockers, a bootboy/sharpie classic from way back, a time when someone outside of a particular subculture could write songs about and for that subculture, and still be somewhat respected by the members of it. Back when styles, and subcultures, and genres were pieced together from elements of pre-existing ones, a byproduct of diverse tastes and influences, amalgamated abominations, curated by influential scenesters, musicians, fans, and journalists; only given a name once something so loosely defined became solid... too big and widespread to be contained, it now needed a rallying cry. A catchy marketing term. Or both.­

Maybe I'm reading into this too much. But I don't think so.

Punk used to be one of these things (and to a degree, to me at least, it still is). The bastard child of glam rock, novelty songs, '60s pop, what we now call "garage" rock, and an anti-hippie/anti-disco/anti-prog sentiment, among many other small strains of many other things, "punk rock" was a relatively unknown term, employed by a very small group of rock writers and fans, which was applied to bands and artists ranging from The Sonics to Alice Cooper. I doubt any of these groups liked the term very much, either.


Remember back when you could sit in a family restaurant for hours on end, no one fucking bothered you, and you could smoke an entire pack of cigarettes with the rest of society's dregs? Now I'm relegated to the magazine section of the public fucking library. The quiet is nerve-wracking, and I still can't chain-smoke. But regardless, it's free, and I get to save bandwidth on my internet at home. Isn't adult life fun?

I told my friend Laurie I was writing an editorial, and she asked what it was going to be about. I said, "The state of music today, relevance of punk rock, specifically garage punk/first wave revival... mission statement, etc." She said that punk is more relevant than ever, and also:

"Music is pre-packaged, contrived garbage & people are sheep. Youth today have more to be angry about than ever. They have far less opportunity than their parents did--the world is garbage. They're just too busy playing on their phones to notice."

Honestly, I think the world is probably in the best shape it's ever been in, and there's nothing wrong with technology in and of itself [he said as he pounded feverishly on the keys of his laptop], but people, on the whole, definitely don't seem to be getting any smarter; At the very least, they're generally as complacent, stubborn, close minded, backward, anti-intellectual, superstitious, and boring as they ever were... a bunch of followers, lacking any critical thinking skills. People who make their minds up about everything based on who said the dumbest thing the loudest or most confidently. Some are even still stuck in this notion of "traditional values" and other outdated archaic bullshit, like strict gender roles/rules, and maintaining the "status quo".

Tradition is kinda like collecting a bunch of OCD rituals and passing them down through generations of scared, stupid assholes.

Punk might have been a reaction against hippies (partially), but that doesn't mean it was ever meant to be enjoyed by ultra-conservative, authoritarian twats. I mean, what kind of "normal," wholesome, career-path driven douche is going to ever really "get" the songs of the Ramones? You could argue that Johnny Ramone was a staunch Republican, but he was far from being a normal dude. He was into collecting rock 'n roll and junk culture memorabilia. He loved horror movies, and glam bands, and Yoohoo, and had long hair. He was obsessed with Charles Manson. He wore the same on-stage uniform of a t-shirt, sneakers, and torn blue jeans while he was off-stage.

But maybe my friend is right. Even the (very few) young punks I've met around here are only into excessively fast street punk, or old-style hardcore bands, or all that garbage crusties seem to love, like powerviolence. These fucks wouldn't give the time of day to a Ramones record, let alone something as influential on the entire genre as, say, rockabilly. 

Hell, I even know some older people who were around in the early '80s, and even they think rock and roll is shit.

It's enough to make you wanna beat someone over the head with a copy of Please Kill Me.