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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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…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.

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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.

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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 –

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Beyond The Rubicon – StartJoin Hosts Fund Drive For Mike Ruppert Tribute Album

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.

NWT.MCR.BTR

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Michael C. Ruppert – Interview – Running With The New White Trash

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.

 

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Mike Ruppert – Running With The New White Trash


FELL MUSIC – Days World

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FELL MUSIC – Big Bird Over Baghdad

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FELL MUSIC – War Eternal

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Michael C. Ruppert and the New White Trash – ‘Beyond The Rubicon’

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.

RIP MCR

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Music of the Post-Paradigm – The New White Trash and the Age Of Authority

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.

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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

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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.

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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’ – Foreign Soldiers

MICHAEL C. RUPPERT may be best known for his featured role in the documentary film, Collapse, of which Robert Ebert had this to say, “I don’t know when I’ve seen a thriller more frightening. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen. “Collapse” is even entertaining, in a macabre sense. I think you owe it to yourself to see it.”

As a young cop Ruppert blew the whistle on the LAPD and CIA when he discovered a drug smuggling connection between the two. He went on to write the seminal, Crossing the Rubicon, the Decline of the American Empire in the Age of Oil and is currently the host of a popular one-hour radio show called the LIFEBOAT HOUR, broadcast live on the PROGRESSIVE RADIO NETWORK Sunday evenings at 9p Eastern. 

One theme of the Lifeboat Hour, coined by Ruppert, is ‘a nightclub at the end of the world. Tune in any Sunday and you’ll here the show roar to life with the song, Avalanche & Earthquake, from DOUBLEWIDE, the January, 2011 37 song, 2-CD release from the Venice, CA music project known as the NEW WHITE TRASH

Since mid-March, Ruppert has been premiering new material from the band’s upcoming second album titled, THE INNER REACH, scheduled for release on July 7, 2013. And while he is fond of pronouncing his love for the New White Trash, who refer to their brand of song as ‘music of the post-paradigm’, he’s also only too happy to let everyone know that he the guy singing the lead vocal on Avalanche & Earthquake because he’s a member of the band.

Growing up in the 1960’s in Venice, CA, Ruppert had a love for and dabbled in rock & roll, singing covers with local beach bar bands.  Years later, in early 2008, he met veteran Venice musician/music producer and Venice Arts Club founder Doug E. Lewis while at a local dog park (their dogs are featured in the video for Avalanche & Earthquake).  With Lewis’ encouragement, Ruppert gradually immersed himself in the writing and making of music as a founding member of the New White Trash, an idea concocted by Lewis and Ruppert in the spirit of their shared sensibility, that the music would take, by default, a course of social commentary and music activism. A manifesto was drawn up, other members signed on, the house filled up and the stories and chords of Doublewide unfolded from there.

“I couldn’t be happier”, says Ruppert. “Music is one of the great things in my life, and the opportunity to make this kind of music – to learn how to make this kind of music from guys like Dougie and Wade DeVoid (NWT multi-instrumentalist), to be a part of this process with them and with Kristen Vigard, James Mathers, Michael Jost, Lea Petmezas, we’re a family, a tribe of people who create together.”

With funds saved from the sale and distribution of Doublewide, the NWT reconvened in November of 2012, determined to make a followup album.  The crew moved itself to Moffat, Colorado, a small dot of a town in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, known for hot springs, high mountain ranges and the big views. Lewis’ converted farm house became the studio, and for three months the group lived together, ate together, played together.

The Inner Reach features 17 original songs, and picks up where the final line of the final song on Doublewide left off, “It all happened so fast, I don’t know what to make of it.”

Things are happening fast, it seems.  Much is to be questioned, as it seems demockery is in full swing.  Check out FOREIGN SOLDIERS, from the New White Trash and their upcoming album, The Inner Reach.

 

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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.


MELTDOWN – Music of the Post-Paradigm with the New White Trash

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.

Meltdown/lyrics excerpt:

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

THE LIFEBOAT HOUR with MICHAEL RUPPERT
 

DOUBLEWIDE – NEW WHITE TRASH

NEW WHITE TRASH – Music of the Post-Paradigm


PBS DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: “Collapse” – Are We Doomed?

via Doc Soup: “Collapse” – Are We Doomed? | Doc Soup | POV Blog | PBS.


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