Michael C. Ruppert – Memoriam.2

“In a campground, when a bear attacks, you don’t have to be the first or fastest camper to get out, but you don’t want to be the last. MCR

MCR CANNON 2

On July 22, 2014, the Verge.com published a post-mortem on whistleblower and uber-activist Mike Ruppert titled, ‘The Unbelievable Life and Death Of Michael C. Ruppert’.

Writer Matt Stroud interviewed associates and friends of Ruppert including Wes Miller, Carolyn Baker, Jack Martin, Jessy Re and Ruppert’s ex-wife from a brief two year marriage of twenty years ago. Hungry for first-hand accounts and quotes from those who knew Ruppert most personally and intimately, Stroud and The Verge chose to quote me using something I supposedly shared with Carolyn Baker during my only conversation with her immediately following Mike’s suicide. From the Verge article:

Doug Lewis, Ruppert’s close friend, Colorado roommate, and bandmate in New White Trash, declined to be interviewed for this story. But Baker told me: “About two weeks before Mike left Colorado to come out to California [in February, 2014], Doug confronted him and said, ‘Mike you’re an alcoholic.’ And Mike grabbed Doug by the collar and slammed him against the wall and cursed him out. A week later, [Ruppert] gave notice that ‘I’m leaving.’”

Six weeks earlier, on June 4, 2014, I was contacted by Stroud who requested an interview. His approach was casual, “…writing a long obituary…just came back from a trip out west…would love to talk with you about Mike…”

When I asked him, he said he didn’t have an angle. Ruppert was a man made of many sharp angles. Not to disparage those who did interview with Stroud, but I declined the invite, not wanting to go fishing.

Until now. relative to my personal and creative relationship with my most excellent and closest friend, bandmate and creative partner Mike Ruppert, my goal, short of an initial tribute, was to keep silent and let the music of the New White Trash do the talking and to push the future forward by producing a third and final NWT album, to be a work of tribute to Mike, his memory and our friendship.  NWT bandmates Kristen Vigard and Andy Kravitz agreed, and we recently set in motion a fundraiser in hopes of raising enough to produce the work.

Considering the circumstance – of being quoted out of context and wed to a storyline wildly out of sync with reality – I’m writing to set the record straight, first with Carolyn Baker and the Verge, then with the story itself.

That Ms. Baker has nothing positive to say about Mike is odd considering how he continually opened doors by promoting her works and personage including inviting her to be guest host on his popular live radio show, the Lifeboat Hour.  His final offering to Carolyn Baker was to insist, in a very last breath and underscored in his suicide note, that she take over as host of the Lifeboat Hour, a position she now fills.

After reading the Verge article I contacted Carolyn Baker to remind her how the conversation we had immediately following Mike’s death was private, personal and confidential, and wondered how any of what I shared with her would end up as an attributed quote. To do so is unethical and disrespectful to Mike Ruppert and to the personal and creative relationship we shared.

I reminded her also that the story she spilled to the reporter for the Verge was false on counts of timeline and how the events portrayed in the article as occurring ‘two weeks before Mike left Colorado…’ actually occurred in February of 2013 – at least a year previous, and under circumstances dynamically different than those described. To use for her retraction, I wanted Carolyn Baker to know how these events of February 2013 did not lead to Mike leaving Colorado, but to a positive change in Mike and in the day to day dynamics of our overall relationship. I suggested to Ms. Baker that a public apology and retraction was in order. To date there has been no response from Ms. Baker other than an email to say how she was unaware our conversation was private.

For the record, what did occur in February of 2014, about two weeks before Mike left Colorado, was a civilized conversation between us where I recounted for him my recent trials and tribulations from being immersed in a situation with a alcoholic sister while taking care of my 92 year mother who was 8 weeks in a San Francisco hospital due to a debilitating accident. That conversation with Mike, in which I recounted the difficulty and dissonance on numerous levels of dealing with an alcoholic, may or may not be considered a reason (among many) for him leaving Colorado. But to state as much, or to insinuate as much as the writer does is wrong and does a disservice to Mike and to our relationship.

Reading the Verge article and attempting to deconstruct the journalistic intent of the writer, It is unseemly how in one paragraph the article acknowledges I declined to be interviewed (quoted) and then follows this by attributing a quote to me without confirming authenticity and without seeking my permission to attach my name to my own “quote”.

On July 27, 2014, I wrote to Verge Editor-in-chief Joshua Topolsky and to the writer Matt Stroud to let them know the quote is false, as is the information it contains.  In my letter I outlined how actions attributed to my person or my word did not take place as described, and by publishing a false and unattributed statement, I alleged how the Verge has published a libel and committed negligence. There has been no response from the Verge to my request for a retraction.

Here is what transpired between Mike and I back in February of 2013 –

Months earlier, in June of 2012, Mike sent me an email from Sebastopol.  He was despondent, said he was paying too much rent, that he had grown weary of the radio show and was looking to make a move and get back to the music.

Colorado would do him good, but I knew Mike needed to convince himself so I sent a series of links to my neighborhood, the great San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, a place I had discovered on my travels twenty-five years earlier.

I pointed out to MIke the raw and epic beauty of the valley. I emailed pictures of the Sangre de Cristo range as seen from my living room windows.  I also sent him links to the rich history of the valley, geographically, geologically and through time as a sacred Native American space – known as the Big Space to those tribes. I made sure he knew about the fine well water here at my ‘el rancho’ and about the hot springs just a mile up the road. I also let him know about the extremely cold winters and windy springs because Mike did not do well in the cold.

And I outlined the plan to be recording Age Of Authority, the second NWT album, by mid-November of 2012.

Mike reacted positively, and on August 20, 2012 with his dog Rags riding shotgun, Mike pulled his loaded Rav4 through the front gates leading from Cosmic Highway 17 to the front door at Red Cloud at the far north end of the San Luis Valley, ten miles north of Moffat, a place similar to what the English would call a ‘wide spot in the road’. We were well beyond the spot and way beyond the wide.

Red Cloud Ranch is 40 acres of quiet solitude, no TV or radio, only the sound of me picking and scratching on my guitar. In the months prior to Mike’s August 2012 arrival, I was feeling a renewal of sorts, I was falling in love all over again with the overtone of sound.

RCR Main House Entrance

RC gates with rainbow

RCR light

post rain.2

Mike settled in to the master suite at Red Cloud and was on air that next Sunday live-broadcasting the Lifeboat Hour from Southern Colorado. Mike Ruppert was back in his groove and no one was more pleased than me.

Mike and I first met in late February 2008 at a dog park in Venice, Ca, We initially bonded because of our dogs. Squishy, my rough and tumble brick of a dude; and Rags, Mike’s happy-go-lucky mutt full of slobber. But the two became fast and best friends, a precursor of what was in store for me and Mike.

dogs couple

When our conversation came around to music, and I gave him a copy of a recent project, Mike was overwhelming in his praise; he dug the bare and rough edges and heard the message thread of social commentary throughout the material.

One thing led to another, and soon Mike was invited to my place, the Venice Arts Club located in the heart of Venice.

I realized much about Mike his first night at the VAC. He was impacted by the scene, emotionally, outwardly, and in every way he was thankful and grateful for the invite. He had been lonely and in need of a scene and of company and conversation from people of all ages, including my two teenage daughters and a steady gaggle of friends. MIke hung his hat that night at the VAC, and that night a childlike quality emerged from him, like a genie escaping the prison of his bottle.  There could be no doubt how Mike was in the mix to stay.

Mike and Rags became household figures. Mike was ever courteous, always a gentleman, always brought food items for the grill and wine for the evening. He would wash dishes when they needed, clean up a wine spill, whatever, he just got busy doing what had to be done.

Mike was floored with how we could record a guitar or vocal track in the middle of the room with a dozen party people within reaching distance of the mic. Occasionally we’d ask for quiet, but we weren’t after quiet, we were after vibe. And we got it in spades. To quote Andy Kravitz, ”we like ambient and background noise with our music.” So yes, the sound of tinkling ice cubes and clinking glasses can be heard on numerous recordings put out by the VAC, including the NWT releases.

That next morning Mike rang me – woke me up – wanting to know at which dog park to meet that afternoon. And so this became our regular thing, that we would check in with each other and figure out where to meet. That same afternoon he turned over a signed copy of Crossing The Rubicon.  Until then I didn’t know his past, only knew he was good to his dog, he liked music and that he grew up in Venice.

So he spilled the beans – former LAPD cop, whistle blower, author, personality, the works. Impressive achievements but most of all he came across as solid of character, impeccably sincere and honest, forthright, funny, and dry with a down-twist of ironic humor.

There was a shameless quality to MIke. Relative to the music, it allowed him to ‘step up to the mic’, and to ‘dare to suck’. Almost immediately he was itching for the opportunity to take on a musical role.  He explained how, when he was out of high school and living in Venice, he would occasionally sing covers with a local bar band.

When Mike first did step up to the mic, it was with a swagger and a richness of voice, and we figured this was someone we could work with.

Andy and I had been plotting a next project and were toying with the term ‘New White Trash’ because it represented what was current in  2008/2009 America relative to the financial collapse and meltdown.

We explained to Mike the concept of the New White Trash and how there was a ‘manifesto’ being written relative to the music and the message. Mike insisted I send it to him. He sent it back with added content, polished and ready for publication, hence the foundation of the NWT would always and forever include a cornerstone bearing Mike Ruppert’s name.

Cross and Phil De Void

Other good things were happening for Mike. In early 2009, Mike called me one morning and insisted I be at a certain dog park that afternoon. “I’ll be there with a filmmaker,” he said, “with a camera and crew. There will be a sound guy.” That was Mike when he was on a mission. Facts came first.  Then second. Even third.  “He’s someone interested in doing a documentary about me and I want you to check him out.”  Mike knew and appreciated my own history in Los Angeles and in the film business.

Later that afternoon Squishy and I walked to the park and met Mike with filmmaker Chris Smith who went on to write and direct the documentary, Collapse.

There was a lot of Hollywood in Mike, a shade of flair, even a dash of savoir-faire, and occasionally a juggle of joie-de-vivre. He had graduated Venice High School, Class of 1969.  Venice is Hollywood, Hollywood is Venice, even back then.  The movie Grease was filmed at Venice High School. Give the man some perspective.  This wasn’t Kansas.

MCR KID

By all accounts he was beyond a model student. He was setting a precedent, he had a obligation to some higher calling, some fixed star called justice. Mike operated with a sense of purpose and a strong turn of mind – always a direction.

MCR HS GRAD

There are important, crucial and essential elements to consider when assessing someone as dynamic as Mike Ruppert. Here are two excerpts from Mike’s self-penned biography:

”I was taken by a desire to follow in the family tradition and place myself in harm’s way for a good cause – a rite of passage and an initiation.”

MCR COP.1MCR COP.2

MCR HS GRAD PARENTS

MCR HS GRAD MOTHER

…and…

“Buried within mainstream news sources were precious nuggets of information that if located, understood and pursued, could reveal the actual intent and direction of government actions, as opposed the glossy, slick and sterile patina of government and media spin.”

As our friendship deepened, Mike shared with me his struggles with depression, anxiety, alcohol and a not altogether pretty picture of an emotionally fragmented family history. Mike could be impatient with the world, as if time was against him. You could be whip-smart, but if you didn’t see what Mike saw coming then in his mind you were a fool. Mike did not suffer fools.

The recording of the New White Trash debut album, Doublewide, began mid-2009 and continued into 2010. It had grown to include 37 songs. Eventually, I cut back on the party scene to focus on mixing the material.  Mike began experiencing difficulties, withdrawals from a diminished party and music scene and was growing impatient with wanting to hear finished songs.

His impatience boiled over into demands for specific songs to play on the Lifeboat Hour. I was all for the exposure but not until the material was ready for public consumption. So I told him to chill out and wait for the material to be processed. I had to remind him I was the driver and unless he was willing to risk the life of the project, don’t bother the driver. He understood and backed off and our relationship resumed a seamless and respectful course. Doublewide was released January 11, 2011.

Whereas Doublewide was recorded in the laid back and bohemian atmosphere of an open-air studio in Venice, recording Age Of Authority was a whole other trip.

We were sequestered in Colorado at Red Cloud Ranch, at 8000 feet and twenty-two miles from the nearest town. Mid-winter daytime temps hovered at zero and the nights dipping down to minus 25 degrees. And then some.

By early November, 2012 Mike had made himself a staple figure in Crestone, a local town full of spiritualists, cowboys, musicians, hippies, freaks, basically an eclectic mix, a real slice of multi-flavor Americana pie. Mike’s appointed mission in Crestone was to make contact with musicians and other fun people to tap into. One evening in late-November, soon after we had set up the studio, Mike rang and said he was returning with some new friends.  One of those friends was Jessy Re, a thirty-something banjo playing woman with a sweet and shy voice. Over time, her and Mike evolved their friendship and their relationship became more intimate.

Mike was a soul man, he could sing and he could dance. He moved like John Belushi, would get overheated in the same way, and would make sure he had your attention. It was not only Mike’s desire to be at the center of any situation, but a force of inertia, a gravitational pull that put him there and gave him the essential qualities of a frontman.

By mid November the days were short and the weather cold with snow.  I had worked out the music for two dozen songs and we began recording basic tracks. Mike, an ever keen observer and listener, had become familiar with the material and kept ongoing lyric notes. Occasionally he would shout out, “what song is that?” I would shout back a song number, e.g. #4, or #24, etc.

mike kitchen

Mike with dogs couch

Kristen Vigard, another New White Trash member, had moved to Taos from Los Angeles after we had completed and released Doublewide. Soon she and her husband Bryan and daughter Emily Rose began making the 2+ hour drive north from Taos beginning mid-Nov and staying for long weekends then throughout the holiday season and on for weeks through the 2013 new year.

Another NWT collaborator, the artist James Mathers, stopped off at Red Cloud late October 2012 with his girlfriend Lea Petmezas.  On their third morning, Lea let us know how her and James and her four kids would be moving to the valley, just down the road from us, on the county road to Crestone.

You don’t know who someone is until you see them under pressure.  You also don’t know who someone is until you live with them.

Kristen Vigard and I have been friends for 33 years and have been making music together for almost as long. Few can match Kristen’s vibrancy and creative output. Her history is formidable – the original Annie on Broadway, Morgan Richards on the Guiding Light, singing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and as a solo recording artist. Kristen brings a unedited and unfiltered creativity. There have been numerous wild rides with Kristen.

In the pressure of the cooker we put ourselves in, blowups were inevitable, par for the course. Soon after the 2013 new year, Kristen and Mike got into it briefly over creative differences but it was over almost as soon as it began and we maintained our resolve and attention to the material.

By mid-February, 2013, recording was complete and so a shift of gears was taking place. The drinking, smoking and partying needed to cease and it became necessary for me to dive deep into the mixes, something that required a more focused, sober and less social approach.

Mike, being Mike, wanted the party to continue.  He was never shy about conveying his relationship with alcohol, or about his long history in AA, or how he turned from AA. But by mid-February his intake had escalated, largely due to the come-down one experiences at the end of a highly charged creative period, especially when there is no where to go, and nothing to immediately replace the high one gets from making music.

So I called l him on it, reminded him that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. Mike didn’t appreciate the assessment and we got into it in a fairly in-your-face kind of way. There was some general bashing about and I reminded him how this was my house and if he didn’t like the rules then he would need to leave. Simple.

A half hour later the situation had calmed, we gave each other a hug and that was that. To his credit, Mike took responsibility for the situation and immediately curtailed his drinking. We put it behind and life went on between us, smoother and better than before and for another year until he took his leave late February of 2014, eighteen months to the day from when he arrived.

Indeed the most positive, dynamic and endearing aspect of our personal relationship was a foundation built on Mike being at a place in his life where he was willing to surrender to the music, and the making of the music. It proves the man to be someone who was adaptable, rational and able to recognize his place in the mix, any mix, music or otherwise.

IMG_0423Wade CrossWade Cross3

Mike Ruppert was a  gentleman, a thinker, an intuitive, an Aquarian, a leader, a doer, a sayer, a man of movement, a generous man of deep passion and conviction. He was a trailblazer and an incorruptible agent for the truth. He was an evolution of being and a fool for r&b, soul and rock and roll.

Mike Ruppert wore his heart on the sleeve of his conviction – that there are two sides to every story but only one truth, and that the truth of our tangled reality is found through the looking glass.  Time and again he peered in, wandered through, took notes and returned with resolve.

Mike Ruppert made a name for himself exposing aspects of investigative truth to do with large scale crime and constitutional injustice and coverup. I toast Mike Ruppert for being such a portal through which the tides of truth whipped and the winds of justice howled. He arrived into this life with a sense of purpose, a destiny of soul. I’m sure he left with the same.

Finally, in character, action and deed, Mike Ruppert was a heroic figure, an errant knight messenger who in the face of all adversity had been delivering messages and is now to be considered on his way home.

The author –

dl author pic


MUSIC OF THE POST-PARADIGM – The New White Trash and the Age Of Authority

AGE OF AUTHORITY from the NEW WHITE TRASH arrives 07.07.13

New White Trash - Age Of Authority

New White Trash – Age Of Authority


AGE OF AUTHORITY – The New White Trash and ‘Music of the Post-Paradigm’, Volume II

Rough mixes of selected songs from AGE OF AUTHORITY have been playing for the past eight weeks on the LIFEBOAT HOUR, a weekly one-hour radio show hosted by MICHAEL C. RUPPERT on the Progressive Radio Network.  Ruppert, former cop turned whistleblower, author of Crossing The Rubicon who was also featured in the documentary, Collapse, calls his show, “a nightclub at the end of the world”. The NEW WHITE TRASH is in heavy rotation, and for good reason.  Ruppert, along with Venice, CA music producer and Venice Arts Club host Doug E. Lewis, formed the NWT in 2009, soon after they met over dogs at a local Venice dog park. According to Ruppert, “our dogs bonded and so did we”. Meeting Lewis allowed Ruppert to return to his roots as a singer and fulfill his dream of making music.

The result of their collaboration was released January 11, 2011. Recorded at VENICE ARTS CLUB, the album DOUBLEWIDE, a 37 song 2 CD set features a host of Venice locals including multi-instrumentalist and musical activist Wade DeVoid, former Broadway and Soap star, Kristen Vigard, artist and Warhol protege James Mathers, drummer/programmer Andy Kravitz, guitarist Michael Jost, former Shadowfax bass player Phil Maggini, among others.

Next up for the NWT is AGE OF AUTHORITY, due out July 7, 2013. Recorded over the 2012-13 winter at Lewis’ new facility – RED CLOUD RANCH AND RECORDING STUDIO – located in Moffat, CO, at the base of the Sangre De Cristo range in Southern Colorado, Age Of Authority is 18 new compositions from a this time smaller ensemble of players, including Ruppert, Lewis, DeVoid, Mathers, Vigard and with bass guitar contributions from former Frank Zappa bass player, Arthur Barrow.

Says Lewis, “Out here in Southern Colorado though we’re pretty much on the lone prairie, our goal was to make music in a ‘Venice Arts Club’ kind of way, meaning to involve the locals, to find whomever was into making  music and had a desire to sing or play to come on down and step up to the mic. So we found some amazing talent in the town of Crestone, located about twenty miles from my place…just down the road.  Turns out Lea Petmezas, who we met through James Mathers, is a gifted singer, as is Jessica Holopeter.  We enlisted JeseRe Pulver on flute and also ‘Diamond’ Dave Steele, who contributed some acoustic guitar tracks.”

Kristen Vigard, who  now calls Taos, NM, home and has been making music with Lewis for twenty years, spent the better part of the three month recording process driving back and forth from Taos through sometimes wicked winter weather, explains that, “…it was totally worth it.  Anytime I have an opportunity to record with Dougie, I’ll take it.  We’ve been doing this a long time together, him and I. He knows how to make a record and have fun doing it.”

Ruppert agrees, and adds, “making this album was endearing but also enduring because, unlike being in Venice at the VAC with the back doors open and the fire pit flaming and lots of people milling and chilling, out at Red Cloud in Colorado we had a much more isolated and harsh environment – extreme cold made it difficult to remain outside for longer than a few minutes, so it was the group of us spending most of our time inside focused on the tunes. But what a great process it is to work on songs, writing lyrics and rehearsing parts…I love it!”

As a theme, Age Of Authority is a coherent followup to Doublewide. Lewis and Ruppert established early on, by way of manifesto, a musical activism built on social commentary combined with equal part exploration of heart, told primarily through a series of cautionary tales…love, loss, joy, sorrow.

Pre-release copies of Age Of Authority are available for review to music bloggers and music zines. Please contact: BillyBollocks@mac.com

Thanks for tuning in.

NWT Age of A Cover

NEW WHITE TRASH – Age Of Authority

MIchael C. Ruppert and Doug E. Lewis

MIchael C. Ruppert and Doug E. Lewis

Music producer Doug E. Lewis

Music producer Doug E. Lewis

Michael C. Ruppert still from the film, Collapse

KV smile

Kristen Vigard

James Mathers

James Mathers

Doug E. Lewis

Doug E. Lewis

Lea P

Colorado artist Lea Petmezas

Age Of Authority - Long Cold Winter

Age Of Authority – Long Cold Winter

Age Of Authority - Dirty Love

Age Of Authority – Dirty LoveAge Of Authority - Heart On My Sleeve

Age Of Authority – Heart On My Sleeve
Age Of Authority - Foreign Soldiers

Age Of Authority – Foreign Soldiers

NWT logo sticker


‘House Of The Rising Sun’ Revisited – ‘New Orleans’ by the Fell Music Project.

A version of HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN, titled NEW ORLEANS, by the FELL MUSIC PROJECT, produced by Frank Zappa alumni Arthur Barrow at Lotek Studios in Venice, CA.

 

 

VAC GRAPHIC BUTTON


AVALANCHE & EARTHQUAKE – Michael C. Ruppert and the New White Trash

As theme songs go, AVALANCHE & EARTHQUAKE by the NEW WHITE TRASH is a good choice. Produced by Doug E. Lewis, A&E is the theme song for the LIFEBOAT HOUR, broadcast Sunday evening at 9p Eastern over the Progressive Radio Network.  

Hosted by former cop turned whistleblower turned journalist/activist turned radio and film person Michael C. Ruppert, a theme of the Lifeboat Hour is ‘a nightclub at the end of the world’.  

Ruppert loves music and he loves the New White Trash, the Venice, CA music project he founded in 2009 with veteran Venice musician and producer Doug E Lewis, multi-instrumetalist Wade DeVoid, drummer Andy Kravitz, singer Kristen Vigard, guitarist Michael Jost, multi-media artist James Mathers, and others.

The outcome was DOUBLEWIDE, the debut album from the NWT, released January 11, 2011 as a 37-song, 2 CD set. Avalanche & Earthquake, from disc one, features two dogs, Rags Ruppert and Squishy Lewis. Ruppert explains how he sees the video as a sort of tribute, in that, “Dougie Lewis and I met through our dogs, at a dog park in Venice, CA. If it wasn’t for the dogs, I can’t imagine how I would have ever had the opportunity to fulfill a deeply personal dream to play and record music.”

NWT musician and songwriter Wade DeVoid explains how Avalanche & Earthquake is an underlying theme of the band and its music, “We call our brand of song, ‘music of the post-paradigm’, it’s a sensibility shared amongst all of us, that we’re in it to play well-crafted songs which (often) combine elements of social commentary and music activism. Equally though, our songs are about matters of love and heart, leaps and losses, cautionary tales, in essence”

NOTE: The NWT is releasing their second album, THE INNER REACH on July 7, 2013. Selected tracks from The Inner Reach are currently being premiered week to week on the Lifeboat Hour.

Check out the video for A&E or listen to the song here.

 Image

Image


GUNTER VILE ‘Poetry Is Ruins’ – Music For Imaginary Film

gunter vile.music for.2

Check out POETRY IS RUINS, a recent release from Los Angeles recording artist Gunter Vile who refers to this collection as ‘music for imaginary film’.

Produced and recorded by Doug E. Lewis @ Venice Arts Club, Venice, CA.


NEW WHITE TRASH and the Music Of The Post-Paradigm, Volume II – The Inner Reach

NWT The Inner Reach Cover alt

NWT.inner reach complex

NWT logo sticker

 

NOTE: The working title/name of the second release from the New White Trash has been changed from The Inner Reach to AGE OF AUTHORITY.  See newer posts for more information. (Updated May 27, 2013)

Since releasing DOUBLEWIDE on January 11, 2011, the members of the New White Trash went their separate ways.

Released on January 11 of 2011, DOUBLEWIDE, the 37 song, double CD release from the Venice, CA music project known as the New White Trash continues to attract listeners in large part to it’s continuous airplay on THE LIFEBOAT HOUR, a one-hour weekly radio show broadcast over the Progressive Radio Network and hosted by ‘uber-activist, former cop turned whistleblower turned journalist and radio/film person of interest, Michael C. Ruppert. Other members of the NWT include Kristen Vigard, known for her background singing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and also for her early career on Broadway as the original Annie then later as soap star Morgan Richards on the Guiding Light. Multi-instrumentalist Wade DeVoid adds the multi-instrument music magic.

According to Venice music producer, Doug E. Lewis, who produced Doublewide at the Venice Arts Club, there were no plans to make another NWT record. Here’s how he tells it…

“What happened is that back in April of 2010, after the recording of Doublewide had finished, Mike (Ruppert) moved from Venice to Sebastapol. Around that same time Kristen moved from LA with her daughter Emily to Taos, NM for work, schools, etc. Wade had film and music work in Europe so he was gone. Then over the summer of 2011, I got the itch to get out of LA so I retreated to my ‘ranch’ property in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, a place I call Red Cloud Ranch & Recording Studio. Then in July I got a call from Wade who, before leaving LA, recorded with me a dozen bass tracks for possible future material. And so he calls to say he’s been working with the material and thought how a second NWT album would be a good idea. I had been in touch with Kristen, of course, who being in Taos was only 4 hours south of me. A few days later Mike called to say he’d been researching my area here in the San Luis Valley and decided a move was in the making, which he made a couple of months later. That’s basically how it happened. Wade showed up and we did what we do, which is basically live together and make a record. Ups, downs, highs and lows, it/they all go into the music.

“We began recording November 22nd, 2012 and finished recording February 22, 2013. Since then I’ve gone ahead and added some instrumentation, background vocals, etc. Then I took an ear break of about a month and have been mixing the tracks. A handful have been mixed by Bob Rice, who has also added some instrumentation. Also we’ve been fortunate to have the great and amazing Arthur Barrow (Zappa) play bass on several of the tracks.

“The title for this body of work, THE INNER REACH, came fairly early as a line out of the song of the same name. I’d been kicking around the lyrics for decades, and had even tried recording the song once before but was never happy with it. Originally the lyrics were named ‘Harlem Holiday’ but all that changed, as songs tend to do. This new material is very much in keeping with the NWT vibe and theme – music of the post-paradigm – and also with the NWT manifesto, which Mike and I drew up to address the urgency for a robust and vocal social commentary and music activism.

“I’m really pleased with the vibe of this record. With the dust settled, we have 22 tracks of which 16-17 will make up the album. Musically and lyrically, Inner Reach picks up where Doublewide left off; it’s two years on and it feels that, while humanity may be striving and yearning for ever higher levels of consciousness and awareness, an argument can be made that we have more fully entered the ‘age of authority’. So much of the material on The Inner Reach deals with this post-paradigm shift away from the ‘age of enlightenment’ towards an uneasy, dishonest age of authority. It’s the never-ending slippery slope as described in the NWT manifesto.

“But The Inner Reach also deals with what I call the ‘two sides of one heart’ – Love, War and the politics of both. That line, two sides of one heart’ is from Drifted, one of the new songs on this album sung by Kristen with Mike singing background and also the bridge which goes, “Curse this bloody place I watched/My sail turn to dust/My rudder turn to rust/My compass spin and stop/At a point where I could not.

“I see and hear The Inner Reach as an engaging body of work and typical of a shared sensibility between myself, Mike, Kristen and Wade. There are other contributors also , and we have been fortunate to find amazing talent in the nearby hipster town of Crestone. Jessica Holopeter contributed amazing background vocals, as did Lea Petmezas and JeseRa Pulver, who also played flute. Also Dave Steele on guitar. We were also really fortunate to have another NWT founding member, James Mathers, make an appearance and contribute lyrics to the song, Mad Forgetter.

“As a producer, this kind of music making, what I call ‘community music making’, is central to my creative process. Providing an opportunity for people to contribute, irregardless of their musical stature, pro, amateur or otherwise, is really at the heart of it for me. It basically a situation where what applies most is ‘leave your ego at the door and step up to the mic’. It’s not for everybody, this particular type of process, but it does yield creative results while providing a platform for people to feel a part of.

Currently, the songs from The Inner Reach are being premiered on The Lifeboat Hour. The album is due for official release on July 7, 2013, at which time, like Doublewide, a physical package and a sponsorship package will be available.


The Troubadour

THE TROUBADOUR
JIM NASH

The first time I entered the Troubadour was in 1969. I had been on the road with a group of musicians from Memphis and Muscle Shoals that nobody ever heard of, including Wayne Perkins, Marlin Greene, his wife Jeanie Greene and Benda Paterson. The group was dubbed The Alabama State Troupers and we had just finished barnstorming the Bay Area.

The biggest highlight was meeting the legendary Tom Donahue who had created free form radio at KSAN in San Francisco. I had a stolen airline ticket and a stolen Camaro that Ken Shaffer from Douglass Records had obtained for me.

John Stewart and Buffy Ford were on stage in the concert room to a sparse crowd. In the back bar was Bonnie Raitt, Gary George, Allan Rinde, Gary Stromberg and a few others I had met. I set up a Monday meeting with Rinde who was working A&R for Columbia and another with Dino over at Shelter.

Publicist Bob Gibson, dressed to the nines in a white suit, white shoes, a black shirt and accompanied by two beautiful black women showed up and proceeded to lay out lines of cocaine on a back table. In a far corner, Chris Van Ness from the L A Free Press stood alone, glaring at the party.

In the morning, hung over and still stoned, I vowed to return to Los Angeles but I was working for a music publisher and was an editor back in New York. I also had my trophy wife and was producing a slew of records.

Nine months later, I returned to Los Angeles, and came back to the Troubadour. I was no longer working for a music publisher, two bands had fired me, and I was no longer the music editor of a major men’s magazine. I was living at the Gilbert Hotel, a flea bag on Wilcox Avenue in downtown Hollywood, selling promotional records to music stores at two bucks a hit, but this was before the Internet, so as far as anybody knew, I was still king of the hill.

Los Angeles was a new start, and I was immediately on the A list of every publicist in town. I learned how to survive on the free tabs and the buffet lines at the press parties. I was living with a Jack Mormon from Las Vegas and she would pick up temp typing jobs; it didn’t take long before I picked up a job as a sound mixer for a smaller label in Hollywood.

We got around by thumbing rides along Sunset Boulevard, and I took a bus back to Las Vegas to pick up an old Mercury with a busted radiator. That car died in Palmdale, and then there was a sixty-two Olds with a blown head gasket. We finally settled on an old Impala station wagon that chugged, but it was reliable, and we had transportation from the Gilbert to the Troubadour.

Monday night at the Troubadour was talent night, and the flies would crowd on to the wall. People I knew from the past like Don Henley and Richard Bowden from the Stone Ponies, Norman Greenbaum who had written Spirit In The Sky. Bruce Johnson from The Beach Boys, Gene Clark and Chris Hillman from The Byrds, Becky Hobbs from Oklahoma. Lots of others. Some knew me from my writing days in New York, others knew me as a sound engineer. I was immediately accepted, no questions asked.

The Troubadour was a sort of sanctuary. There was Gazarri/s and The Whiskey up on Sunset with all of the groupies and wanna be rock stars. There was the Ash Grove for the acoustic folkies down on Melrose, but the serious business happened at The Troubadour.

Doug Westin owned the club and he ran it like a fiefdom. Every record label wanted to showcase an act at the Troubadour, and Doug was already out of control. He was usually coked out of his mind and had the fetish for young studs he would keep at his bungalow in West Hollywood.

Ultimately, a group led by Elmer Valentine renovated a former Strip Club on Sunset down the street from the Whiskey into the plush Roxy, with the Rainbow Bar next door. There was a sort of conspiracy to get rid of Westin and his monopoly on talent, and ultimately, The Troubadour fell on hard times.

Yet, for four years, it was my home away from home. On Monday nights I would religiously show up, sipping my beer at the end of the bar. On Tuesday I was always on the guest list for whoever was playing, and if I wasn’t, I could sneak in from the back bar to the men’s room and then disappear up into the upper balcony and watch the show.

The regular crowd kept on shifting. Tom Waits, Chuck E Weiss, Hudson Marquez, Ricki Lee Jones became regulars. The cocaine evolved into Quaaludes. Tim Hardin began hanging around. Tuesday shows were in direct competition with the Roxy, but Monday was still the night for the new talent and showcases, and Sunday was the night to bid an act adios.

You never knew who would show up at The Troubadour. Or what would happen. Annie Potts once threw a wine bottle through the window at me. Phil Oches stared at me in a corner one Monday evening, saying little and puffing on a cigarette, The next week, he would commit suicide by drowning in a bath tub in Rockaway Queens.

The Roxy, Starwood and Whiskey were where the rockers would go. The Troubadour was our private little club. In a quiet corner Irv Azoff put Glenn Frey and Don Henley together to form The Eagles. Asylum Records was created on doilies and paper napkins at the back bar of The Troubadour.
The rednecks from Topanga would storm in on Monday nights, looking to beat the crap out of all of the Beach hippies from Manhattan, Hermosa, Torrance and points South. Lowell George and Paul Barerre had put together Little Feat and the Beach Boys and Byrds were the sworn enemies of the Topanga Cowboys Monday nights would usually end with mini riots on Santa Monica Boulevard, between The Troubadour and the Hughes Market across the street. The karate school next door would usually wind up with a smashed front window.

Westwood One Radio was created in the back bar of The Troubadour. Film deals were developed in drunken stupors that were fine tuned at Virgi’s coffee shop in Beachwood Canyon the next morning, or in the Wonderland ghetto the next evening.

I found new lovers and abandoned old ones in the back bar of The Troubadour. I got fired and hired from record labels. An escaped murderer from McAllister, Oklahoma assaulted me and knocked out my front teeth. I was bleeding and people kept on telling me to call the police or at least EMS. Flora Purin, who had just been released from Terminal Island, mothered me and in that broken Brazilian/ English accent told me “No Police”. The escaped felon was busted several days later. I am still missing those teeth.

I got pissed off at Chris Van Ness one evening and kicked in the doors of his Honda. I shot some asshole Cuban from New Orleans in the butt, and was prone on carrying a loaded 45 and 38 to settle arguments by placing the weapons on the table.

A performance by Roger Miller was usurped as a whole slew of us including Bob Dylan, , Robbie Robertson, Scarlet Rivera and David Blue among others stormed the stage for the roving Night of the Hurricane to raise money for Rubin Carter. Miller was pissed off and probably drunk., He screamed out for his tour drummer to “get off the stage with that Jew Communist Bastard (Dylan)”. Somebody screamed out a “fuck you” to Miller and the crowd applauded.

The back bar regulars could be crude. One evening, Linda Ronstadt, who was a bruised and battered woman walked in; she had gained some weight and was about to move back to Arizona, A group began laughing “Miss Piggy” at Linda and she ran out of the bar in tears. One of the hecklers was Gary B. White. Had it not been for Linda cutting Gary’s song, Long Long Time, he might still the maintenance man at Polish National Hall in Greenwich Village, instead of living in a house in San Marino.

The Troubadour had a cast of characters including Kim Fowley, a mad hustler who was always putting together projects. Gaunt and near seven feet tall, with bleached blonde hair, he had been kicked out of West Point and the Beach Boys, but he was always hustling a new deal like the all girl Runaways and the Hollywood Stars.

Van Dyke Parks was a musical genius from Malibu who had a cigarette pack filled with butts. Jackson Browne was always in a corner, concentrating on poetic conjunction. He rarely spoke. Occasionally muttered and then would quietly leave. There was a small crowd around Jackson, other non-intrusive musicians who stayed apart.

Of course there was Waits and Weiss. They were loud and smoked unfiltered Camels. Waits might have come from San Diego but everything about him seemed to be a New Orleans attitude.

There was a small motel across Doheney from the Hughes Market, directly diagonal form The Troub. A lot of musicians would hunker down there for a night, or stay at The Tropicana further East on Santa Monica. In fact, several of them, including Waits were semi-permanent residents of The Tropicana,

There was a waitress there with dyed black hair from rural Kentucky. Every week she would take her daughter to the talent contest at The Palomino in North Hollywood, and every week, she would ask the hip songwriters at Duke’s, The Tropicana restaurant, if they had a song for the mother/ daughter duo.

Naomi and Wynona Judd made it to Nashville, Chuck E Weiss might have laughed at the hillbillies, but they’ve got ranches down in Franklin Tennessee, along with platinum records and Chuck is still playing a stripper bar on the Sunset Strip. Oh Yeah, the other daughter, Ashley might well be the next senator from Kentucky.

In the late seventies disco came in, and live music seemed to disappear. Elmer, Lou Adler and others kept The Roxy going, with what few acts were able to tour. Headbanger music and a new era was taking over at The Starwood, and the kind of musician that would go to the Troubadour was on the wane.

A drunken Alex Harvey cold cocked me one evening, knocking me down the back stairs, He has been apologizing for the past thirty odd years..

One of the last shows at The Troubadour was Ronnie Barron. The Hollywood Stars opened. Dr. John and Rick Vito joined Ronnie on stage. A few weeks later, a final kind of farewell with people like Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, David Blue . It looked like Nashville was happening and songwriters were still able to make publishing deals. There were still record labels along Music Row. It was not the same world. Beyond that, there was a new order taking place and people were getting sober, The bars were being replaced with alcoholics anonymous meetings.

New Wave was coming and with that new clubs like The 88 in West Los Angeles and Madam Wong’s in Chinatown. A group of Iranians pulled the plug on Westin and took over The Troubadour. Now it was headbangers and hard rock acts like White Animal and Guns and Roses. Peroxide blondes with shirts open to the naval, pretending to be Black Sabbath.

The music was over. I moved back to Texas; Austin was happening with film and a new scene. I began writing screenplays and would hop the red eye to Burbank, pitch and then come back to my double wide in rural Oak Hill.

Eventually, I wound up in Nashville, but not doing music. I began coming up with concepts for documentaries and would pitch them. Around the time of Garth and Shania, Nashville music began to suck and I stopped listening. Brooks and Dunn and the new dance steps just were not my idea of what was creative…so I did what was the next best thing, I wrote.

The last time I stuck my head in the Troubadour was around 2002, ten years ago. It seemed depressing to look down the back bar, so I moved on.
I’ve heard that there are new owners and it is back to showcasing good music again, but it would never be the same.

Maybe because we all got sober, clear headed and decided that there was a world beyond Sunday and Monday at The Troubadour. Somebody mentioned that The Bluebird in Nashville was like The Troubadour in its hey-day. But then I realized that person was from New Jersey and had never been in The Troubadour.

There was the joy when one of us got a deal, got the hit record, and then the period of mourning when the deal would go South. The Troubadour was special, because we were a bunch of characters who would never be welcomed anywhere else, but we all found a home at the far edge of Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood..

There was Steve Martin with the arrow, the Smothers Brothers, Doug Dillard and Harry B Stanton clustered around. The best line about the Troubadour was probably made by Kris Kristofferson to Stanton in Cisco Pike. Stanton asks Kris how Donnie Fritts (another regular) was doing, and Kris remarks “he’s driving a cab in Hollywood.”

Long live the memory.


DANCING WITH CANCER (part 4) – Grateful For This

This is Part 4 of the series, Dancing With Cancer. Here is Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. More here and here.

On December 20th, 2002, I arrived back in Los Angeles from a 6 week work trip in central Europe. That next morning I woke up with a pulsing pain that reached from my right kidney down to my groin.  There was something about it, this pain, something about how deep it felt in my body and the resonance of it, the way it carried through my system. This was something new, something untold. It didn’t have a beginning or an end, it had a pulsing quality to it and felt ‘eroding’. The pain persisted throughout the holidays, then soon after the new year I had a first visit to the doctor.

Over the next 4 weeks the news went from ‘nothing’ to ‘maybe something but not major’ to ‘something there but no worries’ to ‘you need to see an oncologist’. I was introduced to oncologist Carol Nishikubo at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica, CA, a kind and caring woman who took her time with me, answered my questions, ordered more tests and when she realized how my condition was beyond the scope of her abilities to diagnosis and treat, referred me to the next and higher level of the medical gods.

Around the end of the first week in February, 2003, I found myself at UCLA Medical, in the office of Fred Eilber, chief surgeon of the oncology department. What I remember most about meeting Fred for the first time was his handshake, it was firm and solid, and I liked the way he looked me in the eye – there was a moment of recognition between us, something that said, ‘I know you and you know me’. Fred took the envelope of x-rays I had brought with me and left the room.  He returned five minutes later, brought the lights down a bit and gave me the news, flat out and straight up. He said it was serious, a leiomyosarcoma in my inferior vena cava, that I had 6 months max to live and how was Tuesday of next week to operate?

Right then a lot of things hit me at once, but most of all I knew how Fred’s frank delivery was reserved for someone like me, someone who he knew could take the news in this way.  I was a tough guy and he knew it. I was smart and I was a fighter and he knew that also. When I said to Fred, “Ok, I understand…let me think about”, Fred reached out and placed his hand squarely on my shoulder, gave a firm squeeze and said, “Doug, you don’t have time to think about it.  If I could I’d operate tomorrow, that’s how serious this is.”

From somewhere in the small cubicle of Fred’s office, there in the bowels of UCLA oncology, the wind begin to howl in my ears and over my skin, it ran through me, hot like a fire in my veins and forced me to recognize the size and scope of the moment and in an odd and determined kind of way it reminded me how I’d been here before, at this door swinging between two worlds, sitting square in the face of something larger than myself. Life is big and wide and deep. You either do or you don’t, you will or you won’t, you either make it or break it. At once I saw the depth of it all, how far I would be falling, how steep I would have to climb, how long the road of return would be.

On the drive home, back to Venice from UCLA, I thought most of all about my daughters, Malia Luna and Bailey Rye, who at the time were 12 and 11 years old.  What to say…how to assure them…

Turns out, when you’re a father, there is no choice but to be a hero; you set your sights high, aimed squarely on the mountain top of recovery and return, and make your way there through the fog and the pain and the cold and the night. You may lose sight but that’s ok, you keep going, one step forward, then another.  You fall and get dusted, then you crawl until you pick yourself up and wheel a turn against every grain of pain to get there, back where you began to begin again, back to a place of breath and love and light and air. This is how life is.

A year later, having found myself teetering on the edge of recovery’s road, my daughter Bailey came home from school and gave me a printout of this essay she wrote for a class at school. Her words lifted me like hot air in a big balloon and I wept, realizing how great this gift of life is and how magical it is we even breathe at all, and how God IS Love, and Grace and Beauty, all at once.

By Bailey Rye:

Like most children, I have been influenced by both my parents, and I admire them both tremendously, but in this case I want to talk about my father and how he overcame his difficulties.

Last year, my father was told he had maybe six months to live. They said he had terminal cancer, and even after they had removed his kidney, he would still die. It was a really rare cancer, and not many people have had it, but the ones that had, have not survived. It was a really awful surgery, and he went through a lot of pain, but through all of this, my father seemed really confident, and that everything would be all right. Instead of us telling him it was going to be okay, he was the one who was telling us. He told my sister and I that he knew he was going to get through it no matter what the doctors said, and something about the way he said it, made me believe him. And not just because I wanted to, it was because there was something in him that made me feel confident and safe. And he made me feel as though he might know more than the doctors did.

It turned out he did know more than they did, at least in terms of himself. Luckily for us, my father isn’t dead. Far from it. He is now completely free of cancer, and has a free bill of heath. Even when everything was against him, my father stayed positive and determined. He remained certain of his own recovery. I am sure my father was frightened sometimes, but that didn’t did not stop him from doing everything he could to get well, and looking into as many ways as he could to get rid of the cancer. He never gave up, he never lost hope, and he believed things would turn out right in the end, and they did. These are the qualities I admire in my father. I hope he has influenced me. I hope by being around him through this terrible illness, that his heroic spirit has rubbed off on me, because that is what my dad is, he is a hero to me.

Thanks for tuning in…
Doug Lewis
April 20, 2012

Malia Luna, Doug Lewis, Bailey Rye
Image by Cara Tompkins 

Bailey Rye


DOCUMENT THIS! – Cara Tompkins and the VAC

Photographer and visual artist Cara Tompkins documents all aspects of life at the Venice Arts Club.  Her images bring the scene to life and serve as reminders of what was, what is and what will always be, historically speaking, when it comes to remembrance, recognition and the telling of the tale and the involvement of who, what and when.

Cara’s recent career move to Vancouver has left a hole in our collective heart, but her talent and work with the VAC will live on. Cara not only documented the many people, events and happenings that poured through the VAC, she is responsible for the cool graphics, logo’s and packaging that make up so many of the recent VAC projects including the NEW WHITE TRASH, VAC MUSIC, GUNTER VILE, THE CHEETERS, and ALDEN MARIN MUSIC.

And in the spirit of true creativity, Cara refused to be limited by her visual talent; as a founding member of the New White Trash (with Wade De Void, Michael Ruppert, Kristen Vigard, Malia Luna, James Mathers and Andy Kravitz), when it came time to step up to the mic, Cara stepped up to the mic and let herself flow into the music leaving her mark on such songs as Train To Paris, One Good Reason, and Lu Lu Lemons among many. Have a look and listen to Lu Lu Lemons, dedicated to Cara Tompkins, and check out her work at Extraordinary World Creations.

NEW WHITE TRASH – LU LU LEMONS
dedicated to Cara Tompkins

 

CARA TOMPKINS

VAC IMAGES by CARA TOMPKINS
Wade De Void

Malia Luna & Bailey Rye

Alden Marin

Mike Ruppert & Wade De Void of the New White Trash

Acoustic Backyard at the VAC


AVALANCHE AND EARTHQUAKE – Michael Ruppert and the Lifeboat Hour

The LIFEBOAT HOUR, hosted by Michael Ruppert, is now one of the top rated shows on internet radio. Broadcast over the Progressive Radio Network, the Lifeboat Hour can be heard live Sunday evenings at 9pm Eastern. The subtext for the Lifeboat Hour is ‘A Nightclub At The End Of The World’, a theme Ruppert developed due to his love of fresh, relevant music. As many listeners know, Ruppert is a founding member of the New White Trash (NWT), a music project from Venice, CA.  Other members include Wade De Void, Kristen Vigard, Andy Kravitz, Cara Tompkins, Malia Luna, Michael Jost, Robit Hairman, Phil Maggini. DOUBLEWIDE, the 37 song, double CD debut release from the NWT chronicles the slide of the former American middle-class down a steep and slippery slope to the ‘new white trash’, a place impartial to race, religion, creed or color. Since its release on January 11, 2011, Doublewide, dubbed ‘music of the post-paradigm’, has sold thousands of copies (independently of any record company) to listeners and fans around the globe.

For the show airing, Sunday, April 15 2012, Ruppert chose to play AVALANCHE AND EARTHQUAKE, a song from disc 1 of Doublewide. A&E is also Ruppert’s theme song for the show and is heard each week at the top of the show, as an introduction to the hour. The video for Avalanche & Earthquake features two of the Venice Arts Club mascots, the dogs Rags and Squishy at play in the VAC studio.  Enjoy Avalanche & Earthquake.  NOTE: the version of the song as it is heard on the video is a slightly different version than what appears on the final release. Doublewide is available here.  Thanks for tuning in!

NEW WHITE TRASH – Avalanche & Earthquake

NWT co-founder Mike Ruppert in the VAC Studio. Image/Cara Tompkins

NWT founders Mike Ruppert and Wade De Void. Image/Cara Tompkins

NWT/VAC Mascots RAGS and SQUISHY. Image/Cara Tompkins

NEW WHITE TRASH


DANCING WITH CANCER (part 3): The Kindness of Strangers – Mel Gibson at the VAC

This is part 3 in an ongoing series titled Dancing With Cancer. Here is Part 1 and Part 2. The introduction to this series and to this blog is available here.

It was mid-December, 2009 when Mel Gibson and his then girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva knocked on the door of the Venice Arts Club in Venice, CA. Mel had heard about the VAC through Michael Ruppert, a regular at the VAC and a founding member of the New White Trash, one of several music projects produced by the VAC. Being a Sunday evening, it was a slow night, with perhaps only a half-dozen people in the studio. I answered the door, greeted Mel and Oxana then ushered them through the studio and into the backyard where a fire was blazing in the outdoor firepit.

I can tell much about people according to how they react to the VAC dogs, especially to Squishy, a pit bull with a poker face.  It’s typical of Squishy to wait until the other dogs have made their introductions before coming around and introducing himself.  His big mug can be intimidating, and on more than one occasion someone visiting the VAC has refused to enter, simply because of catching sight of Squishy.  This was not the case with Mel, who, upon spotting Squishy, let out a big chuckle and made his way over and introduced himself to the Squish.

It was a great start to a fun evening, all of us sitting around the fire, telling stories, playing music. Oksana explained how she was looking to re-mix a track off of her recently released album, Beautiful Heartache, and would the VAC be interested in the project?  In getting to know Mel, it turned out we had both lived in the same area of Sydney (Paddington) at the same time back in the late 70’s.  I mentioned Zelda the ‘cat lady’ and he knew exactly who I was speaking of.  Small world. Mel took a genuine interest in the years I spent fishing on the Great Barrier Reef, turned out his love of Australia was equal to mine.

Somehow Mel and I got on to speaking about my bouts with cancer.  When I told him I had twice been given 6 months to live and had pulled through on both occasions, he let out a low whistle, put his arm on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and just kind of nodded his head.  And that was that, no more was said about it.

A short while later Venice guitar god Michael Jost showed up, unpacked his axe and played for all of us.  Fortunately, mix-guru Andy Kravitz was in the house, at the board, and was able to capture the moment.  From that, CAMPFIRE SONG was born and now appears on Volume 6 of the VAC MUSIC PROJECT. Mel makes a cameo appearance at the end of the song with some words of praise for Jost’s playing. Around about midnight, Mel and Oksana said their goodbyes and drove off. And so ended another evening at the VAC.

The next morning around 10am my phone rang from a number I didn’t recognize. I answered and said hello.
“Doug, it’s Mel.  Thanks for last night. How are you?”
“Mel? Fine, how’s everything?”  My mind was racing; having figured that he or Oksana had left something behind I walked outside to check the grounds for anything stray or out of place. “What’s up?” I asked.
“Doug, I want you to come up to my house, there’s some people I want you to meet.” Mel asked if I could make it the next day. I said yes, he gave me the address and said see you then.

I spent the rest of that day thinking, WTF? My first thought was that I had mentioned to him about an Australian writer he had never heard of and that he wanted more info.  So the next day, armed with that writers book, I drove up to Malibu and found his house.  Mel greeted me at the front door, gave me a bear hug and invited me in. He then introduced me to his family, who were there for the holidays, including his kids, his sister and  his father.  Mel then ushered me into another room where a team of health care practitioners were waiting to discuss my health/cancer concerns and offer advice and information on various forms of treatment.  After a while, Mel stuck his head in and asked me if I was hungry.  I said sure. He went into his kitchen and proceeded to make me a sandwich which he brought on a tray with an iced tea!

This went on for several days, each day I would meet with experts in the field of health and healing, all of whom had insightful information  about treating cancer and maintaining my health. And each day Mel would offer me whatever it was I wanted in the way of food and drink.

In the end I realized there was no motive to Mel Gibson’s generosity, he was simply doing what he was able for someone in need of what he had to offer through what he could arrange.  His cause for concern followed by his acts of kindness were genuine and touching and real.  I am sorry to hear about his ongoing troubles.  The Mel Gibson I know has a heart as big as a house and a warm and generous spirit geared towards sharing light and love.

Doug Lewis
April 16, 2012

CAMPFIRE SONG – Venice Arts Club Music Project

VAC BACKYARD  Image by Cara Tompkins

MICHAEL JOST at VAC  Image by Cara Tompkins

SQUISHY!

SQUISHY.2  Image by Cara Tompkins

DOUG LEWIS  Image by Malia Luna

 DL AND SQUISHY  Image by Cara Tompkins


DANCING WITH CANCER (part 2) – “You Must Do The Thing You Cannot Do”

As described in the ABOUT section of this blog, in 2006 I was confronted with what felt like, at the time, insurmountable odds relative to my survival. Cancer (Cancy Wancy) had again come-a-calling and brought with it a diagnosis similar to the one received back in 2003 – 6 months,  max. (Dancing With Cancer, Part 1 is here).

Some things you write down, a word, a clue, a quote, a statement, and like a raft on a sea you cling to those words, that idea, in much the same way a shipwrecked sailor clings to a point of light on a darkened horizon, as a way forward and a direction home through the fog of long night. I remember always a conversation I had thirty years ago with my friend, the jewelry designer, Esmeralda Gordon.  We were chatting about one thing or another, philosophically speaking, when Ez said to me, “you know, Mr. Dougie, it’s not about survival, it’s about development.  Another friend, Mark Bautzer, chimed in, “that’s right, baby, it’s all about evolution.”

This thought, this idea of survival vs development, or evolution, has served me in such a way as to provide distinction and clarification through times of personal trouble and uncertainty. It has allowed me to move forward into unguarded territory and to surrender myself to the situation at hand, to commit to the effort and embrace the experience of developing an expanded set of tools, a way of thinking, a path of proceeding past the edge of the darkness and beyond the seen into a realm of accepting what unknown lies ahead.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt

FOUR, the final album of the FELL MUSIC PROJECT,  is a diary of my second turn on the dance floor with Cancy Wancy.  The final song on FOUR, titled XYZ, relates directly to the above enlightened quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. For me, issues of  survival and development are related not only to an acceptance of my personal situation but to meaningful aspects of personal growth. I would not wish my journey on anyone, nor would I trade it for anything.  Living and dying several times in this one lifetime has provided a unique and extrasensory perspective. Thanks for tuning in.

Doug Lewis
041412

FELL MUSIC – XYZ

XYZ

Been running on the high
Temperature side
Breaking out in wet chills and hot sweats
Skin burns silver, red – too hot to touch
Doctor comes in, light goes down says
You may have a year – What was that sound

When the night falls
You just have to look it in the eye
Like you’re staring down the barrel of a gun
Staring at the sun
And it’s buring you away

Headed through a nigh turn
Driving home, I’m alone and thinking
Trails of taillights snake and burn
Some freeway flashers blinking
Everybody lies – it’s true
But when there’s no one left to lie to
No one left to fool, no one left but you

What’s that sound
When the night falls 

You just have to take it for a ride
Down the center of the other side
Down the center of the middle
And it’s blowing you away

I need someone warm to stay with me
With a kind heart, the gentle touch of someone sweet
I’m alright, I know where the light is
I know the cost, I won’t get lost
I need someone warm to stay with me

What was that sound
You just have to make another start
Somewhere from the center of your heart
Like you’re staring down the barrel of a gun
And it’s blowing you away

DOUG LEWIS

FELL MUSIC


MAYBE LOVE IS MORE FUN – Jamie Cohen and the Venice Arts Club

MAYBE LOVE IS MORE FUN is a lighthearted song from the VENICE ARTS CLUB MUSIC PROJECT.  It is song 1 on volume 1 of the 8 volume set and features JAMIE COHEN, KRISTEN VIGARD and MALIA LUNA. The refrain is, ‘gonna align the stars for you’…

Maybe it’s true, we’re all doing time
Minute by minute, please tell me your sign

All the weather finally got its act together
According to plan – you and I are feeling fine
A new moon, our only witness

Maybe love is more fun

Remember when we were good together
We were tethered to the sun
A nova, your casanova
You are my only one

Maybe love is more fun
Take it from me
(Like lemon with your tea – gonna squeeze the day for you)
Maybe love is more fun 

MAYBE LOVE IS MORE FUN – Venice Arts Club Music Project

JAMIE COHEN

KRISTEN VIGARD

MALIA LUNA

PRODUCED BY VAC


HELLO LIFE – Kristen Vigard and the New White Trash

The song HELLO LIFE is from DOUBLEWIDE, the 37 song, 2-CD release from the NEW WHITE TRASH. The music of the NWT can be heard each week on Michael C. Ruppert’s LIFEBOAT HOUR broadcast every Sunday evening at 9p Eastern on the Progressive Radio Network.

Hello Life features NWT member Kristen Vigard on vocals.  Kristen is also a founding member of the Venice Arts Club. Check out the video for Hello Life

HELLO LIFE – NEW WHITE TRASH

NEW WHITE TRASH – DOUBLEWIDE

NEW WHITE TRASH – MUSIC OF THE POST PARADIGM

PRODUCED BY VAC


PARALYZE ME – Mainstream Media and the Tower of Babel

TOWER OF BABEL, an installation by Iranian artist GORAN HASSANPOUR is an apt companion piece to PARALYZE ME, a social-commentary song from Volume 3 of Venice Arts Club Music. Born in Kurdistan, Iran in 1977, Hassanpour now lives and works in Goteborg, Sweden. Paralyze Me, produced by VAC founder Doug Lewis, also features VAC regular Malia Luna.

Paralyze Me

More of the same here – TV man is acting strange
Prime time in the evening, the host is screaming
His propaganda reeling, stacked up to the ceiling
Paralyze me – don’t paralyze me

Headline commentator – she scratches like a cat in heat
Her glass eye gleaming for the camera
Her plastic parts heaving to feed the daily beast
Paralyze me – don’t paralyze me 

PARALYZE ME, Venice Arts Club Music Project

 

 TOWER OF BABEL, installation by Goran Hassanpour

Produced by VAC


GOT YOUR GUN YET? – American Rage In The Age Of Trayvon Martin

In 1981, there was 1 concealed weapon permit in Seminole County FL, where Trayvon Martin was killed. Today, there are 16,167. GOT YOUR GUN YET, from Volume 3 of the VAC Music Project, portrays an American landscape riddled with violence, fear laid bare in the shank and barrel of a broken democracy.

Got your gun yet
Cocked and ready
You’re gonna use it next chance you get
When you need to prove it like all the rest
AK-47 deaths today in the good ‘ol USA

Caught the fear yet
Is fear the gun
Chamber of your mind-set
You’re gonna use it when you need to prove it
Like all the rest
Got your gun yet
AK-47 deaths today in the good ‘ol USA

VAC MUSIC PROJECT – ‘Got Your Gun Yet?’

PRODUCED BY VENICE ARTS CLUB

Graphic Illustration by MR. FISH

THE GUNSHINE STATE



FORGET THE HATE – A Vietnam Veteran Comes Out Singing

On my FB page this morning was a link to FORGET THE HATE, a song and video by Vietnam Veteran, Tom Mooney.  I listened and felt the short hairs rise. If you follow the VAC then you know how music and song with a focus on social commentary is a way of life around here.  VAC projects like the New White Trash (with uber-activist, Michael C. Ruppert), Fell Music, The Cheeters and the VAC Music Project all interject themselves with interpretative commentary relative to issues of social justice, equal rights and the essential elements of image-rich truth-telling.

TOM MOONEY earned the title of American Hero for his service as an Army soldier in Vietnam. Hesh Rephun at RAGING ARTIST details Mooney’s Vietnam experience and how the album containing ‘Forget The Hate’ came to be called, #10 GI. According to Mooney, “When my son, who’s a Marine, came home safe, I knew it was time to make this album. I’ve been writing this song for over 40 years.”

I’ve known Tom Mooney for 15 of those 40 years. His career in the commercial production/ad business is legendary. So is his charm and his whip-smart persona.  Our paths have crossed frequently, having worked together on international film projects from Los Angeles and New York to Paris and Prague. A minute into our very first meeting those many years ago, Tom said to me, without asking, “You’re a musician…”  I said I was, and he then told me about his early exploits in music, playing drums and guitar up and down the east coast.

That’s one reason why hearing Forget The Hate this morning left me feeling almost giddy. Mooney’s passion, his playing and singing, drives this song into territorial high ground, a place reserved for those who have seen and now have no choice but to speak out about what they have witnessed and what they know to be true. Listening and watching Forget The Hate is an enlightening experience. The energy in Forget The Hate is exactly what I would expect from Tom Mooney – fast, furious, unsinkable. This song, this music, this Tom Mooney is the real deal.

Read the full Raging Artist article by Hesh Rephun here. 100% of the profits from the single will go to support our troops and veterans.  Info will be posted on Tom Mooney’s Forget The Hate Facebook page. Right on Tom Mooney – You ROCK!

Doug Lewis
April 5, 2012

TOM MOONEY – ‘Forget The Hate’ – Song on Bandcamp

TOM MOONEY – ‘Forget The Hate’ / Video onYou Tube

TOM MOONEY


THE LIFEBOAT HOUR – Michael C. Ruppert and the Post-Paradigm Era

Venice Arts Club member and New White Trash founding member Michael C. Ruppert hosts the LIFEBOAT HOUR tonight at 9pm Eastern over Progressive Radio Network (PRN). Voted most popular show on PRN, Mike’s guest tonight is Derrick Jensen. Tuning in is strongly advised.


FAKE ENLIGHTENMENT – James Mathers and the VAC Music Project

*****

Venice Arts Club member JAMES MATHERS and VAC founder DOUG LEWIS collaborated on FAKE ENLIGHTENMENT with video/graphics editor CIA MAC. 66 illustrations for Fake Enlightenment were created by Mathers during the production and recording of the companion song. Fake Enlightenment appears on Volume 1 (of 8 volumes) of the Venice Arts Club Music project.  Album art for VAC v.1 by Jamie Cohen. Video below the lyrical fold.

Higher senses, other worlds
Hidden dimensions, flying squirrels
What are the qualities of the expanded state
And who said enlightenment is so fricking great

Fake Enlightenment, now only 6.66
Fake enlightenment

Who’s a slave, and who is free
And who don’t lose their crystal key
What’s your means or what’s your method
Hold your breath until you turn blue

How close can you get to the real fake thing
How close can you get to the real fake thing
Before it’s all too true

Throughout all time radiant beings have come
To show us how it’s done
Sometimes we kill them but that’s ok
Another one is born a hundred times a day

Who said enlightenment is so fricking great
Who said enlightenment is so fricking great

You may already be a winner…

FAKE ENLIGHTENMENT – VIDEO

JAMES MATHERS IN IRELAND – Conceived and cast bell for Maria Guinness

FAKE ENLIGHTENMENT – James Mathers storyboard images, oil chalk on black resolution paper

VENICE ARTS CLUB MUSIC PROJECT – Volume 1

PRODUCED BY VAC


ALDEN ART – This Modern Life: Poetry and Image of Alden Marin

Venice Arts Club member ALDEN MARIN is a Los Angeles based artist – a poet, painter and musician who uses ‘remnants found’ to create his art. Marin is a weaver of ideas and tactical substance to form an artistic chronology of his day to day. His music provides enlightened depth to his dimension.
******
THIS MODERN LIFE
You can say
what you want
about my fickle nature
indecisiveness
and uncertainty
about arrival dates
and departure times–
modes of payment,
credit lines;
whether to go with
day’s initial greyness–
or eventual sunshine;
Being enthralled
by birdsong outside
or irritated, in turns
by the same voices–
Hard to concentrate
in this modern life
with so much transpiring
on screens, phones
wireless devices
modes of communication
seen & unseen–owned
or in the frame
of acquisition mode–
everything ringing
with respective needs
And as many opinions
trying to register beliefs…
You can say what you want
about my actions and moods
and it’s probably true, but
I may or may not
agree with you.
ALDEN MARIN – Asparagus
ALDEN MARIN MUSIC – Fade To Blue

CRUDLAND – Jamie Cohen Art and Fixture

CRUDLAND is a manifesto booklet created by Venice CA artist  JAMIE COHEN (1953-2008). In a series of stark collages, Cohen tells the story of a world gone mad with signage, branding, innuendo and immersion into a culture of advertising and excess.  The Crudland manifesto could be understood as Cohen’s ground of being in that all his later work in sculpture, painting, drawing, writing and song could be traced back to Crudland. The theme of Crudland also served as inspiration for the first release from the FELL MUSIC project, appropriately titled, Crudland.  In 1997, Cohen and Fell Music founder Doug Lewis collaborated with L.A. photographer Patricia De La Rosa on a series of photography portraits using the original Cohen sculpture series as the basis for what would become album art for the Fell Music/Crudland project. It is possible that the original Crudland manifesto booklet still exists.  What we do have are the original images taken by De La Rossa of the Jamie Cohen sculpture series known as Crudland.

JAMIE COHEN – Ball with Hat

JAMIE COHEN – Clown

JAMIE COHEN – Bulleted Heart

JAMIE COHEN – Finger This

JAMIE COHEN – Under Lock and Key

JAMIE COHEN – Dogscape

JAMIE COHEN – Colossus of Crudland

JAMIE COHEN – Crudland Man

JAMIE COHEN

DOUG LEWIS, JAMIE COHEN

FELL MUSIC COLLECTION


AMERICAN LITE – Music of the Post-Paradigm

From FELL MUSIC, Volume One. Recorded at Lotek Studios, Venice CA. The saga of AMERICAN LITE is perfectly illustrated by this piece of wall-art.  Scroll down for video.

AMERICAN LITE

Ready or not, here we go
On demand, the future’s here
On the money, we’re right on track
Are you ready for years of fear

God, Country, War, Money
Burn down the barn to kill off the rat
Accident, incident, another loose coincidence
Throw out the baby to save the bath

Like it or not, all aboard
Men in suits meet the sailor’s whore
There’s a lizard with a slithering tongue
His friend the snake is from the uppermost rung

They’re salivating, waiting in line
For their turn with the whore divine
Torch burning bright, she pays the rent
The blinds are drawn for money well spent

Good news, it’s fair to say
Future’s here where the road gives way
In the fog a sign illuminates
Red light flashing in the night

Return your seatback to the upright position
Fasten your belt for the head on collision
Go ahead and scream but please don’t make a sound
This Friday fish dinner looks like bloody ground round

Grab some bread and run for cover cries a warning
Could be a nasty change coming like a hurricane
Captain and the First Mate staring out across the wake
Of an angry sea
Passengers are getting worried, looking out beyond the break
Not sure what they see

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

FELL MUSIC – American Lite

FELL MUSIC COLLECTION
 

GOTH GIRL – Jamie Cohen and The Cheeters

GOTH GIRL is from LIES IN HIGH FIDELITY, Volume 1 of THE CHEETERS (Dietrich Von Bone, Klaus Kertz, Gunter Vile).

Goth girl sports a new tattoo
Black ink from a painful tool
That girl chain drinks through her high-jinx
It’s the only thing that funk can do
Plays her upright bass in a parking space
While your car is broken into
And your heart is broken in two

What the funk does it matter

Goth girl jokes but it’s no laughing matter
Turns you on then turns on you

What the funk does it matter

  THE CHEETERS – Lies In High Fidelity

 GOTH GIRL

 THE CHEETERS – Klaus Kertz, Gunter Vile, Dietrich Von Bone


LIES IN HIGH FIDELITY – “Only The Dead Have Seen The End Of War”

“Only the dead have seen the end of war,” a quote from George Santayana, reflects the message of LIES IN HIGH FIDELITY, a song from THE CHEETERS debut album of the same name. The Cheeters are Gunter Vile, Dietrich Von Bone (aka Jamie Cohen), and Andy Kravitz (Klaus Kurtz).

Another day been broken
Asylum doors are open
Everybody’s gone, the lunatics have all moved on
Their plan is up and running, sell the 2nd coming
Mirror, smoke and ashes
Sell it to the masses
Lies in high fidelity
Being broadcast on your TV

You can smell it in the air
Taste it everywhere
Crimes have been committed
War for them is big money business
Their plan is up and running
Sell the 2nd coming
Mirror, smoke and ashes
Sell it to the masses
Lies in high fidelity
Being broadcast on your TV