Blah Blah Blog

Where does the Time Go? 

Has it been that long?  Someone reminded me of something they saw in our Blog.  What the hell is that?!?  Oh yeah, that thing you're supposed to maintain and update all the time.  I guess we have a good excuse for not updating it, which is actually writing and performing our music.  But that sounds lame, especially when most people go onto FB each day, you should be updating your blag as well, right?  Oh well, I'm updating it already--Sheesh!
So we had a great time filming our second video for Toxic Overload at Berkeley's Adventure Playground, a super dangerous and magical park for kids that we got to invade.  We felt crappy telling the family that wandered into the gate that their kids had to stop playing on the fort and leave because we were shooting a video. I'm sure I saw one of those kids flip us off before that gate slammed behind him.  It was 4/20! and about 85 degrees.  Ken Shelf wore his silver suit, which was probably not a good idea, but he's willing to suffer for beauty like the rest of us bitches.
 

 
 Ha ha!  This is so fun!  We're definitely NOT dying from heatstroke

The directors, Patche$, Joey Spingarn and Hamilton Gordon, had recorded the song at 1/3 speed, so we performed it at a snail's pace, which took about 11 minutes, and they sped this up to match the original audo speed in post production.  This created a really weird and druggy feeling to the end of the video.  After getting all of our shots, we ran around jumping on the play equipment for B-roll.  Let me tell you, this playing crap is hard.  We were huffing and puffing in a quick minute.  Still not sure how kids do this in the hot sun for hours.  Oh I remember, they're fucking YOUNG.  Pascal did the ultimate rock move of screaming down the zip line while holding his guitar, and promptly bit it into the sand at the bottom.  Fortunately this shot did not make it into the video.

The next day was at Burlingame High School(yeah I said it), south of San Francisco.  I'm not going to divulge everything that went on in there but let's just say we needed a shop vac and mops to remove all of the evidence.  Again these three directors had their heads set on a water scene, and they totally pulled it off by rigging up boom stands and garden watering cans.  After spending way too many hours trapped inside the high school(how much espresso and free food can you ply people with anyway?), we all had buckets of water rain down on us.  It felt great.  The oppressed zombie students were awakened, and high voltage ock saved the day.  Tammy Faye eyes were had by all(at least by Dmitra).  The highlight of the day was having the amazing Brian Keith Russell come up from LA and play The Teacher, Principal Hardassian, and The School Nurse.  He was excellent as the various faces of opression, and he busted out these crazy ass googly eyes that he made himself and had The Teacher wear them.

 


Patche$ and Brian Keith Russell plan the shot
 
 We had help from some kooky zombie friends who were willing to be opressed for the day, like Cooper Xeno and Dark Lord Byron (who cameos in The late Projectionist video as the spooky candy counter guy), as well as SF actor David Usner.  


The Dark Lord Byron was actually forced to wear a white shirt and a tie for nearly 8 hours



Actor David Usner: oppressed, medicated and compliant



Cooper drank about 30 espressos that day.  I'm not kidding.



Co-director Joey Spingarn


 
Co-director Hamilton Gordon(also a music producer) and Principal Hardassian.

After 48 hours of madness, it was a wrap.  The three gentlemen below edited through about 10 hours of footage and came up with the finished result, which you can see here.  Nothing to do now but make another one.  And remember, those meds they give to the kids?  They fucking SUCK.

 


Co-directors Joey Spingarn, Hamilton Gordon and Patche$ (www.hellopatches.com)
They went above and beyond the call of duty with all kinds of cool animation, weird time lapse shit and a fucking water scene!
Love love love.

 
 
 
 

Static People in Seattle on June 1st at the High Dive in Fremont--comin home to rock! 





Ah, Seattle--My home town. I left there in 1992 at the height of the grunge explosion to play with a band in SF.
People that I met were completely blown away by my exodus: "Duuude, why did you leave? It's so fuckin COOL there!" Yeah, real cool.  No town that you grow up in is ever cool after you've grown up there.  People from New York might beg to differ.  Plus, and I know this whole sentiment is played out--it Rains. All.  The. DAMN. Time.  I still wonder how we got those hairdos to stand up in that weather.  Oh yeah, Aqua Net.  Do they still make it or has it been banned by the EPA?



 I still love Seattle.  It's gorgeous.  Smack dab in between two mountain ranges with an enormous sleeping volcano, so beautiful and perfect that it looks, well, FAKE.  Like one of those cheap oil paintings sold at those weekend auctions at the Red Lion Inn('Thousands of beautiful prints to choose from--$10, $20, $30 dollars!").  

I also (secretly) like to go to The Experience Music Project , and pore over the contents of the Seattle Scene exhibit.  So many friends are up there in all the bands, so many old posters I used to see on my daily travels.  My whole youth experience seems to be up on those walls.  It's like a huge scrapbook for so many people.  It really was DIY back then.  It was a tight knit community of weirdos.  I remember when we couldn't even be served a cup of coffee because we were freaks.  Not so anymore.  Im glad it opened up, even though I have my share of bitching to do about the urban sprawl and influx of out of towners, and I don't even live there anymore.  Hell--I'm from California now, so I'll be polluting it myself. 

You know your town has changed when you go back home and keep telling people about "the really cool place that used to be here before it was Starbucks."  Sorry Starbucks, you're always gonna get shit.  For example, does anyone remember
Free Mars?  NO--not Cafe Mars, FREE MARS.  it was open from 4pm to 4am and it had a vending machine in the back which only sold--yep, you guessed it--MARS bars.  

Now the place is filled with hipsters, just like SF, so I have to fight that sneer that comes when I walk past the fancy knick knack stores and restaurants and I'm thinking, "Dammit, I was buying comix and records in that store that no longer exists before you were BORN."  *Sigh* -- the angry geek syndrome.  It's a bitter pill to swallow.

Anyway, back to reality.  Our homegirl Miss J9 Fierce along with Diva le Deviant has been putting on Skinny Dip, a monthly extravaganza showcase featuring belly dancers, burlesque, DJs and special musical guests at the very cool High Dive in Fremont.  Static People will be taking the stage at 8pm on Wednesday June 1st.  Our current configuration features bass player Jim Valavanis and KICK ASS drummer Ken Shelf of SF experimental indie darling band  The Dont's.  We just released our new video for The Late Projectionist, and we're really excited to play in Sea-Town.  It's always good to come home, and rock for your peeps.  Hope to see you Seattle types there!
--SP 

It's a Wrap -- Static People shoot video for "The Late Projectionist" 

 

The San Francisco Bay Area boasts a pretty sweet digital arts college: Ex'Pression. It's filled with hungry young filmmakers, animators, sound engineers, and hipster tecchies. Our band was selected along with solo hip hop artist Sandman to have our first video produced by students. We're told that many bands applied and we stood out both musically and image wise(cue tooth sparkle). A few weeks after getting the call we were on our way to the school to meet with the directors and brainstorm. After we agreed on the song and got to know each other a bit, poor Co-Directors Russell DeMaestri and Andrew Bertolucci had a meager 48 hours to come up with concepts, storyboard them and pitch them to us. Oh yeah, and they also had to listen to the song about 600 times. They came up with great ideas and we ended up choosing elements of all of their concepts. It's understandable that some might think the idea of a "student produced" video might be cause for alarm, but these two lads are hungry for filmmaking with a load of vision, and they took on a pretty big concept when they could have easily cobbled something together at the college. Instead they went for a storyline,two locations, a combination of black and white and color, nifty transitional camera shots and heavy editing involving lots of animation. They had their work cut out for them. Not only did they need to shoot our video but also had to assist on the Sandman shoot on either end. They basically kicked ass.

First they came up to Sonoma to scout locations. We drove around checking out various
fields and met with Roger Rhoten of the Sebastiani Theater, a GORGEOUS 78 year old movie house and a local landmark. It's beautiful inside and provided the perfect location for the song "The Late Projectionist". Thankfully Roger agreed to let us use the location on a bit of short notice. We had four hours to make it happen.

The day of the shoot, we met on a sunny morning, the only dry day in a string of nasty
weather for several weeks. After standing around drinking coffee for a while(obligatory), we trudged out in to the field to get all of the B-roll stuff. Chivalry is not dead--Daedalus carried me out there since, of course, I refused to wear appropriate footwear in the muddy field. After much running back and forth though, the shoes were toast. Sacrifices must be made I guess. If you're a girl you'll understand. There's something amazing about the fields in Sonoma at the end of winter, all green and lush for a short month or two before the blazing sun comes and cooks it to that golden brown California color that lasts for the rest of the year. Also on hand were Chris Potter and Corey Redfield, both Ex'Pressions Instructors, and two other students from the other video shoot. Armed with multiple cameras, they weren't afraid to belly crawl in the grass. Our favorite photographer Cathy Stancil came out to document so we have some evidence.

 



It was time to move onto the next location, so we grabbed some tacos and headed to the
Sebastiani. This place is so kick ass. It has a huge red velvet curtain framed by a sweet proscenium and the lobby is filled with cool, geeky stuff. John Lassiter always premieres the new Pixar films at this theater and it also has live music, plays and summer camps. It's the jewel of the town, so we were really happy to be able to shoot there. After wrangling with the sound and realizing that our drummer was going to drown out the playback, they pumped the audio through the house sound system and we were able to start shredding. Videos are weird because it's fake. But if it's loud enough you can get into it. At the end of one take I looked back to see Pascal hopping around like a madman and Daedalus crashing onto the floor. Glitter was flying everywhere. It was a blast.

We also got a special visit from local musician
Dark Lord Byron who moonlighted in the lobby, hovering like a specter of gloom behind the bright and cheery concessions counter. All in all it went surprisingly well. The only bummer is that those guys are now buried up to their necks in footage and we won't see the likes of them for about 6 weeks. Plus they'll probably HATE our song now if they don't already. We'll send out a link to the video once it's done and--we're already thinking about the next one! For more photos from the shoot, go to the Static People photo page. It's a wrap!

 

 

Bowie--a 30 year obsession--and counting 


When I was a pre-teen, I auditioned for and got into the exclusive Karen Kramer Drama Program for Young People. It was run by Stanley and Karen Kramer, a mish mash of Broadway theater type skills training for young actors: scenes, monologues, chorepgraphy, singing. You had to do it all if you wanted to make it. I had no idea who the hell Stanley Kramer was at the time. He just seemed like a cranky older man who frowned a lot and gave off a "you gotta work your tail off to make it in this business--it's a tough world kid, don't quit your dayjob" kinda vibe while barking at someone for a glass of Alka Selzer. I was pissed at him for making me recite the Declaration of Independence under a simple stage light for my monologue while other people got to do wild and funny scenes or cry their eyes out in a psychotic rage.

It wasn't until a few years later that I started watching his films on AMC and was blown away by the realization that I had spent close time with the man who directed Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Defiant Ones, Judgement at Nuremberg, The Wild One, Inherit the Wind, and of course, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T, which I think I saw for the first time in some kind of (ahem)altered state.

But there were plenty of perks. I almost shit my pants when THE FONZ came to lecture us(it's going to be really hard to pretend I'm 24 now), as well as Diahann Carroll and Dom DeLuise. My friend Kirsten Fenswick and I would have huge, dramatic, raging fights in the halls and people would think we were serious. That was the best thing about "KKDPFYP" as we called it--the young actors in the program. We were like a family--quirky, tight knit, lovingly dysfunctional and fueled by big laffs. It was a talented group--bright eyed, with dreams cast towards Hollywood and New York, filled with the promise and excitement of making it. My acting career went pretty well for a time until I realized that no, they were not going to cast me in Annie--there are no brown girls in tthat orphanage, they were in the one on the other side of the tracks. But what does this have to do with Bowie?

Enter one of the young actresses, a striking and androgynous Persian beauty who became an independent filmmaker and now runs popular media site OML. She was wearing a tie and had skinny pants(remember when you could just roll up your sleeves, turn up your collar and look bored/pissed off and that was punk), and that was really cool. She asked me if I was into Bowie. "You mean like the knife?" I asked sheepishly, images of some Davy Crockett fur hat popping into my mind. "No, the singer. He's the best. You HAVE to hear him." She gave me some tape, I don't even remember which one, perhaps "Young Americans". I went home, and was fully blown away by the quality of his voice. It was like a constantly morphing, alien siren song that was at once sweet and melty, then raw and full of Brit twang, then all disco and funky. It was super sexy. Damn. I'd never heard anything like it. Especially since the hard rock dudes were totally dominating the airwaves at that time. I was looking for anything that dirthead Seattle rockers with names like Steve and Rod, who drove Camaros and Mustangs with bleached out Copenhagen snuff rings in their back jeans pockets wouldn't like. Bowie was it.



Then--I saw his TEETH. I'm not going to explain this. Either you know what I'm talking about or you don't. You're either with us or against us. I started bothering my parents to take me to Tower Records(RIP) so I could buy posters and records. Then "Let's Dance" hit and I found myself in the Tacoma Dome with 23,000 other screaming fans on August 11, 1983 for the venue's first major concert: DAVID BOWIE. From then on it was like a drug. I went to New York the spring of the following year for a press junket for the local NBC TV show I used to do movie reviews for and ALL I could think about was going to the Lower East Side to search for obscure Bowie records. My cousin came up from DC to chaperone me and was afraid of EVERYTHING, even the room service at the Plaza Hotel for cryin' out loud, where Touchstone Pictures put up all the press. But she still took me down there, perhaps because I wouldn't SHUT UP about it?? I couldn't believe the number of records he had. I had that panic attack/OCD-eyeglass adjustment thing that nerds have when they start their collections: "Aw man, it's gonna take me forEVER to get ALL of these!" I came home with a stack.

As I went deeper down the rabbit hole, I couldn't believe this man. The looks, the history, the personas and identities created and broken, remade and restyled. The vast universe of sounds, some of which I really didn't like at first, then was amazed at how they slowly washed over me in layers and became my all time favorites. He was a man. He was a woman, He was both. He was a vampire. He was a space alien. He wasThe Elephant Man. He hung out with people like Iggy Pop and Brian Eno, Grace Jones and Freddy Mercury. His early years were marked by bouts of brash fisticuffs, hence his two different colored eyes. He altered the worlds of fashion, identity and rock music. My best friend and I cried as we watched him being buried up to his neck in the sand in "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence." "OMG! He's so sexy even when he's dying with cracked lips and ants all over his head", we marvelled. We felt sorry for him as he turned into a decrepit old man when he no longer rocked Deneuve's world(Bowie AND Bauhaus, so suck it, Twilight). I stayed up late to watch "Christiane F" on Night Flight, and refused to let anyone in my family touch the TV lest I miss the "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth" duet with Bing Crosby(?) That was unexpected. But Bowie always, always, ALWAYS looked cool. I think that's the crux of it. There are but a few people who seem to embody this concept of eternal coolness and he is definitely one of them. Sorry, but Bowie was really bad for the anti-smoking campaign. He made it look too cool. Can't get away from Bowie. Even when I first heard TVOTR, there he was on "Province", melting out of the CD player with the rest of the lads. And to top it all off he married IMAN, the most gorgeous woman on the planet(who also told DeBeers and their bloody diamonds to f** off)for Christ's sake. The ultimate, modern renaissance man, a dangerously dashing chameleon with a seriously fine tuned aesthetic.

 



A few years later I got a bit older and more pissed off, delving into the thriving Seattle hardcore punk and Batcave scene, and some of the posters eventually came down, replaced by tinfoil, electrical tape and black paint, but the yearly Bowie birthday celebration(we eat sushi on January 8th--you had to be there) that vinyl stayed and has become well worn and l oved over the years. My David Bowie records are like the sonic Velveteen Rabbits of my vinyl collection: "He's NOT a toy. He's REAL!" When the boys agreed to record Moonage Daydream, I almost peed my pants. I'd been singing it loudly for more than half my life. We didn't try to make it sound like him--that would be lame. You can't. You just can't. I've heard a bunch of boy bands do it and I actually like The White Stripes("sounds like a weirdo") live version of it best because Jack is just out there and crazed. That's how I felt when I first heard "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars"--I ran around the room like a maniac. I felt like I could lift a car. So this is our small humble offering. It may not be much in the face of the vast universe that is Bowie, but I really mean it. I mean every fucking word.

Hear Static People's rendition of Moonage Daydream

Black History Month--do or Die? Wall Street and American Slavery, Then and Now 

Jean Michel Basquiat "Slave Auction"

 

A Response to the discussion on the importance(or not) of Black History Month

Let me start by quoting Dr. Carter G Woodson, the founder of Negro History Week, who definitely said it right:

"We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice."

I'm
digging this point of view, and I see that Black History month has become a sorry ass, marginalized month that most schools gloss over if at all. This is why for the last three years I have gone into schools to teach it by my sorry ass self. I also champion and support the right to be an American and not defined by race. For example, the term "Black intellectual" bugs the shit out of me because it makes the distinction that most Black folks ain't intellectual so you have to distinguish those who are, like Brother Cornel West. That's WEAK.

 

However, as the saying goes, we can't go forward unless we go back, and I see so much of Black History that is more than ever urgent as hell today. For example, looking at the economic "crisis" coming down from Wall Street(I say "crisis" because that shit could have been prevented if the whole industry wasn't run by criminals and supported by the criminals in Washington who lick their asses):

 

Wall Street is built on slavery: By the mid-1800s, capital investment in slaves was higher than the value of land or any other capital worth. Southern slave labor made New York City the financial capital of the world. Both cotton and enslaved workers treated as “property” were among the first commodities on the stock market.

Cotton trading accounted for the country’s expansive growth for an extended historical period. Profits from the slave trade financed the industrial revolution. The Lehman family members were Alabama cotton brokers. In 1850 they founded Lehman Brothers Investments, acquiring their capital and wealth by investing and trading in cotton. Three sons moved to New York City in 1858, where they later helped to establish the New York Cotton Exchange (1870). In 1781, Wachovia Bank of North Carolina was founded on the profits of the slave trade. Its predecessors, the Bank of Charleston, S.C., and the Bank of North America, made loans to slave “owners” and accepted slaves as collateral. When the owners defaulted on the loans the banks became the new slave owners. The Morgan family of Massachusetts was a major stock broker. JP Morgan brokers became JP Morgan/Chase. Their predecessor banks also made loans to slave owners and accepted 13,000 enslaved Africans as “collateral.” When owners defaulted, the banks acquired their fortunes by becoming the new owners of 1,250 slaves. Chase Bank is owned by the Rockefeller family.

Wall Street and slavery are connected in other ways. Wall Street got its name because of a physical wall built there along the river to protect New York City from invasion. Slave labor built the wall and much of the city. Slave auctions were held at the foot of Wall Street when ships carrying enslaved Africans arrived. Slavery resulted in these capitalistic enterprises becoming profitable and powerful. The foundation of U.S. capitalism was built on slave labor and racism. After the Civil War, the U.S. went from competitive capitalism to imperialism and became a financial empire.

Now the government is bailing out these same companies and the burden again is falling most heavily on the working class, including the descendents of those slaves. Once a thief, always a thief. DAMN! Where's the expose on that history? Should be on CNN--but it ain't. Now that's a problem, make your ancestors roll in their graves to know that the land they died to live free in is still controlled by those bastards that profited off of their misery. They lived, struggled and died for you and me. if you really want to celebrate Black History Month, take that Chase card dripping with blood and tears out of your wallet and cut that shit up NOW. The ONLY power we have left is where we spend our hard earned duckets, and that's the damn truth. Static People out.

Back to the Studio 

Static People are heading back to the studio next week--yay!  A most challenging, rewarding and awesome part of music. 
The fun part is that after we work our asses off we get to sit back and wait for our fancy pants producer to work his magic. 
We'll share the studio once again with Jason and Ye Olde Lazy Arsed Pitbull Darla and hope for the best.  We're putting
down two songs, an original written for a dear friend and a secret cover written by our singer's one and only rock
idol(ok, she has many, but this is the one that started it all).  We'll be sure to post them here when they are baked good
and golden and piping hot from the oven.  Cheers!
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