“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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 –
The death of uber-activist Michael C. Ruppert on April 13, 2014 sent shockwaves through numerous communities including his most intimate circle – friends and bandmates who make up the NEW WHITE TRASH, of which Ruppert was a founding member. Founded in 2009 as a music project launched in Venice, CA with fellow musicians Kristen Vigard, Andy Kravitz and Doug Lewis, the New White Trash recorded and released two albums, DOUBLEWIDE in 2011 and AGE OF AUTHORITY in 2013. At the time of Ruppert’s passing, the band was writing songs and preparing to record a third and final album titled BEYOND THE RUBICON.
The NWT is pushing ahead with plans for Beyond The Rubicon, to include previously unreleased material featuring Ruppert from the Doublewide and Age Of Authority sessions in combination with new songs in the works. In order to fund the project, the band has turned to STARTJOIN, a funding platform launched by MAX KEISER. According to NWT member Doug Lewis, “we chose StartJoin because Mike and Max were friends – Mike had appeared on Max’s show, THE KEISER REPORT on numerous occasions, also because StartJoin accepts crypto-currenices, a form of payment of which Mike was a fan, and in line with Mike’s notable adage, that ‘until you change the way money works, you change nothing’.”
Those friends and fans interested in pushing this project forward can do so here, at the StartJoin project site for Beyond The Rubicon.
Thanks for tuning in.
In mid-2009, Mike Ruppert began recording with the NEW WHITE TRASH (NWT), a music project launched at the VENICE ARTS CLUB (VAC) in Venice, CA. For Ruppert, playing and recording music was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. In 2007, Ruppert returned to the Venice/Culver City area and reestablished himself in the neighborhood of his youth, a place where decades earlier Ruppert had graduated from Venice High School then went on to become a LAPD cop. In early 2008, Ruppert met VAC founder DOUG LEWIS at a Venice dog park, the two became close friends and it wasn’t long before Ruppert had found a home at the VAC and with the NWT, a project originally conceived by Lewis and his long-time musical collaborator, multi-platinium producer ANDY KRAVITZ. Broadway/TV actress and songstress Kristen Vigard would round out the core NWT group.
Early on, Lewis and Ruppert wrote out a NWT manifesto designed to articulate the music of the NWT. And in this video, viewers can watch a relaxed Mike Ruppert wax eloquent about his involvement with the NWT and ABOUT the importance of music in his life.
The debut album from New White Trash was DOUBLEWIDE , a 37 song double CD released January of 2011. Notable songs featuring Mike Ruppert include, AVALANCHE & EARTHQUAKE, RUNNING ON RUMOR, WEIRD KIND OF SENSE, GIRL’S GOT, THIS DAY IS DONE and BACKROAD.
Next from the NWT came AGE OF AUTHORITY, a 18 song CD released July 7, 2013. Notable songs featuring Ruppert include, LONG COLD WINTER, FOREIGN SOLDIERS, SUN OF YOUR LOVE, INNER REACH, DRIFTED, and FREE FROM.
When Ruppert passed away on April 13, 2014, plans were in place for a third and final NWT album. BEYOND THE RUBICON would complete the trilogy. The New White Trash have decided to go ahead with the production, recording and release of Beyond The Rubicon, a music project now dedicated to friend and bandmate Mike Ruppert. A campaign on STARTJOIN (www.StartJoin.com/btr) has been created as a platform for friends and fans of Mike Ruppert to fully fund the project. Additionally, the first song of Beyond The Rubicon titled, WHO I ONCE WAS, featuring Mike Ruppert on vocals, has been mixed and is now available on the NWT Bandcamp site. Who I Once Was is available as a free download, though listeners are encouraged to pay what they can – a little or a lot. All revenue from this song will go towards the production of Beyond The Rubicon.
Another opportunity for friends, fans and listeners to move this project forward is to purchase an electronic download or Sponsor Edition of Doublewide and/or Age Of Authority. Leave a short message indicating that your payment should go towards Beyond The Rubicon. Anyone doing so will in return receive a gratis copy – via electronic download – of Beyond The Rubicon before its official release.
Thanks for tuning in.
BEYOND THE RUBICON
WHO I ONCE WAS
MIKE RUPPERT – ‘RUNNING WITH THE NEW WHITE TRASH’
NEW WHITE TRASH
American Celebration – July 4, 2014
Click image to play video
Interview with Michael C. Ruppert and Mark Baer for SmartChannel.tv. From early 2009, conducted at Venice Arts Club in Venice, CA. Click image to watch video.
After considering the future of the New White Trash relative to the passing of bandmate and friend MICHAEL C. RUPPERT, we are moving forward with plans to record and release a third and final NWT album titled BEYOND THE RUBICON (BTR) to include unreleased material featuring Ruppert from the DOUBLEWIDE and AGE OF AUTHORITY sessions, as well as new songs written while Mike was housing with bandmate DOUG LEWIS at Red Cloud Ranch in southern Colorado. Our focus, as always, will be on releasing material relative to the original NWT manifesto – matters of head and heart, war and peace, love, longing, and social commentary/protest torn from the pages of tomorrow’s news.
Beyond The Rubicon will complete the trilogy begun in 2009 at the Venice Arts Club in Venice, California. Along with Lewis, original NWT band members Kristen Vigard and Andy ‘AK’ Kravitz will be deep in the mix. In order to fund the project, our intention is a word of mouth campaign geared towards raising enough funds to appropriately record, produce, mix and master this final NWT album, dedicated to the life, work and memory of Mike Ruppert. Outside funding will be essential – we cannot begin this project without you lovely people – fans of Ruppert and the NWT. Our fund-raising strategy will be made public once we’ve settled on a course of action, either through a Kickstarter style campaign or by releasing one song on the NWT Bandcamp site and asking for double and triple digit payments for that one song to go towards BTR.
In the meantime, those inclined to immediately begin to move this project forward can purchase an electronic download of Doublewide and/or Age Of Authority. Leave a short message indicating that your payment should go towards BTR. Anyone doing so will in return receive a gratis copy – via electronic download – of Beyond The Rubicon before its official release.
BEYOND THE RUBICON
MCR & Doug Lewis
Andy ‘AK’ Kravitz
In September of 2012, shortly after Mike arrived here at Red Cloud Ranch in the great San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, and before we got busy recording Age Of Authority, we were visited by two men who pulled in along the long drive leading from Highway 17. The older, the driver, said he and his son were looking at property and did I know anything about the property in the distance, how to drive there, what it was like, etc.
I’m looking at these guys, thinking to myself, no way is this younger guy the son of the older. Meanwhile, Mike had come out of the house and made his way over. He stood behind me and to the side. Of course he was packing. Without introduction, he called out, “So, you guys government men?’
It was a tactic, a quick jab. And it worked. Caught off guard, the younger looked at the older who hesitated, fractionally speaking, and it became obvious how they were, in fact, government men.
Their recovery attempt was hilarious. The older said, “No, no, were longshoremen, we’ve come down from Denver.”
After a beat, I said, “You’re a long way from shore, men.” Mike chuckled behind me. The older added, “But we’re from Oakland.”
It was too late. They were had.
Mike chimed in with a broad sweep of his arm, indicating the vast lone prairie surrounding us, “This used to be an ocean, once. And Dougie used to be a longshoreman. Isn’t that right, D?”
As they retreated, Mike muttered, “Government men”, and walked away.
* * *
Mike Ruppert was a soul man. He could sing and he could dance. Of late, the vision I have of Mike Ruppert is one of him knocking on heaven’s door. After a brief disclosure, the doors open and in he goes.
I take great pleasure knowing how Mike reached those gates before Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, or any of that host of unholy others. Upon their arrival, I imagine Mike’s conversation with the Gods of High Noon going something like this…
The Gods to Mike: “Dick and Don are here. And they want to come in. It’s your call, how do you want to handle this?
Mike, who has already stood up, snubbed out his cigarette, and is headed down the gangplank to meet the ‘little men’, looks back with a wry smile and says, “Let’s see if they can dance.”
My advise to Dick, Don, George and the rest of that ill-conceived ilk is this – If you’re thinking of heading heaven’s way, and knocking on those doors, think twice. You’re going to have to get through Mike Ruppert to get there. And you’re going to have show him you can dance. Good luck with that.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED OCTOBER 5, 2013
“This is dangerous music…in many ways. But Doug Lewis has always been a subtly subversive artist. So AGE OF AUTHORITY, the latest release by musician/producer Lewis and NEW WHITE TRASH, should not come as a surprise to lucky listeners who have enjoyed his previous political/philosophical/surrealistic musical journeys (especially the tour de force “Crudland” and “Tell The Time”). Those just getting into Lewis will discover a pleasingly quirky collection that shows calculated disregard for sonic tropes and clubland clichés. On Age Of Authority, Lewis pairs his truly insightful writing and lyrics with those of bandmates Kristen Vigard and Michael C. Ruppert to explore the moral ramifications of the disenfranchised masses struggling to survive in the new world order. It’s not exactly a message being trumpeted by mainstream media…and for good reason — in the Age Of Authority, we are ALL New White Trash.” – Michael Lynn-E Entertainment/True Hollywood Story.
A discussion with Doug Lewis:
VAC: This is the second album from New White Trash, with much the same ‘cast’. How did it come about?
LEWIS: After completing DOUBLEWIDE, the first NWT album, I moved the studio from Venice (CA) to the north end of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. Kristen and Mike Ruppert had moved out of Los Angeles a year before me, Kristen to Taos, NM, and Mike to Sebastopol. In August of 2012, Mike made the move to my place in CO, which was a year after I had established a base. Another NWT contributor, James Mathers, paid a visit with Lea Petmezas in Oct of 2012 and when Lea decided to move out here, James made the move as well. During the spring/summer/fall of 2012, I had worked out some songs on the guitar along with some bass lines and so making an album was a great way to spend the winter of 2012/13.
VAC: The music and vibe of Age Of Authority feels like a continuation of Doublewide, thematically anyway.
LEWIS: The big picture hardly changes – love and war, heart and head, these are the themes of the real world and of our music, so our songs are either wry love letters or views on events torn from the news of the day.
VAC: The tagline for the New White Trash is ‘music of the post-paradigm’; do you consider this a genre?
LEWIS: It’s more of a personal brand, in that, collectively, we encourage the music to move in ‘meaningful directions’, one of which, for us, is social commentary/criticism, another is the draw of our experiences in the form of – usually and ultimately – cautionary tales. The ‘post-paradigm’ reference came out of Mike and I drawing up a raison d’être to offer insight into the NWT in name and in musical direction.
VAC: Your bandmate Mike Ruppert is fond of quoting you – “You can’t write a protest song on a full stomach.” How does that relate to your work throughout the years?
LEWIS: The music of the New White Trash is the outcome of a shared and outspoken sensibility between Kristen, Mike, myself and others. We are all on the same side of the cultural fence, so to speak. And we share an appreciation for the process and the sacrifice it takes to make an art project and create a body of work like an album. Also, we’ve all been doing this a while and in our various different way – Mike with his activism, Kristen has been writing, recording and performing music her entire life, and me, Age of Authority is my 22nd album as a musician/producer. I’ve only ever made music with a cultural lean and a political pov. And I’ve only ever made music with those mining the same ground. Anything else, at this late stage of the game, feels pointless.
VAC: Over the course of making all this music, all these songs spread out over twenty-two albums, how has the process on songwriting changed for you, personally speaking.
LEWIS: For me, the most profound change to the process happened in 1995 when I amputated the ring finger on my left hand. My guitar playing, post the loss of that finger, continues to evolve in ways of physical dexterity and personal style. Chopping off a finger then expecting to resume playing the guitar is not something I would recommend as a career choice, but for me, over time, I have no regrets. Otherwise, playing guitar, writing melodies and lyrics, crafting a song is a task like any other; you commit to the effort and embrace the experience of tuning in, musically and creatively speaking. It’s about inhabiting a world and also enjoying the creative process as a form of meditation/work. Over the years I have become particularly fond of treating the recording process as a community event, open door/open room style.
VAC: Being a guitar player with an amputated finger places you in an exclusive club…
LEWIS: Like I said, not something I would recommend.
VAC: What next for you and the New White Trash?
LEWIS: Looking forward to creating the third of the NWT trilogy, and hope to begin recording by mid-November (2013), although I’ve just received word that my 91 year old mother, who lives in San Francisco, needs some care, so I’m headed there now. We’ll see.
AGE OF AUTHORITY from the NEW WHITE TRASH arrives 07.07.13
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.
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 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.
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.
MELTDOWN – Music of the Post-Paradigm with the New White Trash
The LIFEBOAT HOUR, hosted by MICHAEL RUPPERT and broadcast over the PROGRESSIVE RADIO NETWORK, is ranked as one of the top five internet radio shows. It’s no secret the mainstream media is losing stream; listener share is dropping fast as the 99% seek new and proven alternative sources of news, information and entertainment. Ruppert, who is also a founding member of the Venice, CA based music project known as the NEW WHITE TRASH, refers to the Lifeboat Hour as ‘a nightclub at the end of the world’, in that a healthy mix of music is included alongside those enlightened guests whose research, views, and opinions are now the mainstream.
Ruppert launches each week of the Lifeboat Hour with AVALANCHE & EARTHQUAKE, his theme song, one of 37 originals found on DOUBLEWIDE, the debut release from the New White Trash. For the show airing April 22, 2012, the song of the week was SACRED SOUND by the amazing Diane Patterson, from the album World Awake, available through her website. Ruppert also queued up MELTDOWN from Doublewide, a song whose lyrics illustrate the fall 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.
This from the NWT manifesto: The New White Trash demographic is the outcome of the former middle class being folded in with the working poor and, for good measure, the unemployed and uninsured. The NWT defines and represents a majority of people whose common bond includes and exists beyond the demographics of age, race, location, education. The people of the NWT are the new ‘have-not’s’, and by its nature and size, this vast swath of population (99%) is now squarely at odds with the 1% who own, operate and dispense our corporate universe, big pharma, big food, big oil, big defense and big government included. ‘By the people for the people’ is receding.
The Post-Paradigm Era describes the vacuum left by the sudden disappearance of the former American middle class. It is in this vacuum we now find ourselves, tumbling in turmoil as home losses mount, bank balances shrink, and shelters are jammed with the likes of you and I. The good old days are done and dusted. That party is over. The coming chaos of the post-paradigm era will lead to a radical and immediate rethinking and remaking of America or it will lead us to complete devastation.
As Woody Guthrie filled a musical vacuum by acknowledging the pain and the suffering of the Great Depression, the New White Trash fills a bigger and more insidious vacuum left by a rampant, programmed consumerism that serves only corporations and their shareholders.
This is a new breed of American music in which the message is clear: You’re f**ked. But now what?
NWT portrays a post-paradigm, ‘less beautiful’ America, brought to life through music, media, theatre and message – those of, love,need and a desire for social justice. ‘Drop it down’, ‘don’t dig too deep’, ‘we charge extra for this’, ‘take these’, ‘we can’t escape from’, ‘meltdown’, all are the language of the NWT. And for good reason.
You only wish you could take the money and run
Cash it all in for some fun in the sun
But the bailout came and left you blind
Now the taxman’s comin for your behind
The New White Trash is your new face
Fallen from the middle and you’re facing a hard race
Sock it to me baby, and you can’t win
Got more goin out than you got coming in
Everything you know is looking like a lie
You only want to work and not one bite
Now you’re selling something
For cash on the side
You’re the New White Trash and you can’t hide
The New White Trash is your new line
Ain’t no doubt about it, you’re losing big time
When everything was good, it all turned bad
You’re the New White Trash and you’ve been had
All the news is fresh from the TV set
You’re the New White Trash, that’s what you’ll get
Being played like a fish made to jump
You’re the New White Trash
And it’s coming round to nothing for you
And you’re sunk
MELTDOWN – THE NEW WHITE TRASH
NEW WHITE TRASH – Music of the Post-Paradigm
We got children killing children
It’s all on DVD
We got the fear to haunt you like nothing else you’ll see
We got you where we want you – watching your TV
The Homeland will protect you – praise God that’s what you need
Tell God that’s what you need
It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal
It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal
We got you bearing crosses – marching in crusade
We got true believers who will take it to the grave
We got you praising Jesus, waiting for the day
The crowds have come to gather – to idolize and pray
To throw the dollars our way
It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal
It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal
Another child dead today, another day of siege
Another new disaster, another grave to grieve
A young girl on her way home in the oily rays of dusk
Mistaken for the many enemies of us
Perhaps she knew too much
We need a full confession – it’s torture for the truth
We want to know what he said, and what she said to you
Meet your liberator – the arbiter of good
It’s time to heed the calling, we really think you should
It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal
It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal
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
VAC IMAGES by CARA TOMPKINS
Wade De Void
Malia Luna & Bailey Rye
Mike Ruppert & Wade De Void of the New White Trash
Acoustic Backyard at the VAC
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
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 – NEW WHITE TRASH
NEW WHITE TRASH – DOUBLEWIDE
NEW WHITE TRASH – MUSIC OF THE POST PARADIGM
PRODUCED BY VAC
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.
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