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May 14th, 2019, Jaz Coleman was at Berlin NYC for an intimate spoken word event. Coleman is the un-dogmatic vocalist for the band Killing Joke. The influential Post-Punk group was on their 40th anniversary world tour. Playing at venues across America was part of the itinerary, which included two sold out gigs at the following NYC venues; Le Poisson Rouge located in Manhattan and Brooklyn’s St. Vitus. Along the way, Jaz Coleman squeezed in a few spoken word events in Los Angeles, San Diego and New York City. Here we’ll discuss the NYC gig.

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I first discovered Killing Joke when I was maybe around 15 years old. Heard strains of their single Love Like Blood from some radio program broadcast on WNEW-FM. It was a show featuring British alternative acts. Which is how I also discovered The Smiths. Love Like Blood led to me getting the Nighttime album on vinyl.

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Prior going any further, I’m going to confess something. A few years after getting Nighttime, I saw Killing Joke live at CBGB’s. This was during the late ’80s. (Exact date: August 13, 1989) By then the group had already established themselves as legendary. So as a rude teenager, I walked to the bar. Unexpectedly I found myself standing right next to none other than Jaz Coleman himself. He was relaxing at the bar prior to the concert. Jaz was naturally friendly. This timing was way off for me, for around this time I was in my obnoxious late teen phase. So what do I do? I was completely rude to Jaz, then walked away. The middle age adult in me is looking back and shaking her head. I wasn’t being clever. I was being a jerk. Nonetheless, Killing Joke put on an amazing show. As the band played, a woman sporting light brown curly hair began talking to me. She asked me if I was observing Jaz’s facial expressions during the band’s performance. “He’s so intense” she cooed.

A friend who had gone with me to the CBGB’s gig became an impromptu fanboy after that night. Got obsessed with Killing Joke. Overnight the entire Killing Joke back catalog was a part of his record collection. According to memory, he mentioned that Jaz Coleman was doing some spoken word performance at the 13th Street Playhouse. I didn’t go to the Q&A titled “The Necessity of Struggle“, which Jaz was doing along with Martin Atkins. Most likely because I was a broke obnoxious teenager. So my friend goes the following Monday.  I ask him for his feedback. He dropped a few tidbits here and there, but his review could be summed up in one word.

“Intense.”

As my friend continued on his Killing Joke fandom, I slowly began to regret my rudeness towards Coleman. Fast forward decades later. After discovering Killing Joke back when I was 15 during the Nighttime era, I rediscovered them upon my return to NYC during the mid-2000s. This was also around the time I was knee deep in studying ceremonial and chaos magick. My CD of Pandemonium, which I originally brought during the ’90s, was in constant rotation again. It wasn’t until I started Googling the band that Jaz, along with other members were also interested in the Occult. My suspicions were confirmed. Suddenly it made sense.

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Jumping to the years 2018 and 2019. Once again I pick up on Killing Joke. My Spotify list had Killing Joke in rotation. As luck would have it, Killing Joke was touring. Perfect timing, cause finally I had the funds to go and see them live once more. I brought my ticket to the Le Poisson Rouge show, despite St. Vitus being closer to where I currently reside. This didn’t matter, for it all worked out in the end. Last minute I decided to go to the Jaz Coleman spoken word event at Berlin NYC. This time the lecture was titled “Off On A Tangent.” After all these aeons, maybe now I can see what my teenage friend was raving about.

Arriving solo at Berlin NYC, it should be noted that this time, I left my rude attitude at home. As my attitude was locked up in box, I assured it that it will be brought back when clocking in for work. Just give me two days once I’m back in the mundane.

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Prior to Jaz Coleman, front man for the legendary Post-Punk band Killing Joke taking the stage. May 14th, 2019 during Coleman’s “Off On A Tangent” spoken word event in NYC. At the venue Berlin NYC.

Berlin NYC was small, intimate, and extremely hot. The temperature felt like a fricken’ sauna. Met some nice UK fans who traveled to NYC exclusively for the Killing Joke gigs. The hardcore Killing Joke fans are known as “Gatherers.” There was one particular fan I friended on Facebook – he followed the entire U.S. tour. The audience mostly consisted of these devotees.

Now, Berlin NYC is located on Avenue A near Houston. Deep in the heart of the East Village/Lower East Side. It’s 2019, so the area has been heavily gentrified. Despite a tiny closet masquerading at a studio apartment going for $3000 per month, it’s still the East Village. Therefore thanks to the help of a few audience members, it almost became a free for all. I’ll get to that later in the post.

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Jaz Coleman, front man for the legendary Post-Punk band Killing Joke. May 14th, 2019 during Coleman’s “Off On A Tangent” spoken word event in NYC. At the venue Berlin NYC.

 

As luck would have it, an extremely kind gentleman offered his seat to me. I had the best view the whole night. Turns out the woman I sat next to was a friend, a petite blond woman who I met a few years ago through another mutual friend. She was with her male friend, a tall blond man with a thick Yugoslavian accent who she recently got re-antiquated with. Her friend takes one look at me, and offers to buy me a beer. Jaz Coleman quietly takes his seat on the stage. He starts by looking straight into the gathered, and thus set the tone for the night.

Jaz states his intention. He says he was going to open the floor to the audience, allowing him to ask anything they want. That included not just Killing Joke but his interest in the Occult, his personal life, what have you. He taps the red stool next to his table. All you had to do was sit on stage next to him on the “hot seat.” But first, he requested that everyone in the audience to get up from their seats, walk around and introduce themselves to each other. I froze. It felt like I was in either a class or some self-help workshop…or both. For all we know, this could’ve been a casual working in process, and Jaz was starting up the ritual. The friend sitting next to me wasn’t too fond of this idea. She adamantly shook her saying “Nooooooooo…” Yeah, I wasn’t too thrilled either. After she was done disputing his request, I look up from my seat. There’s Jaz Coleman standing right in front of me. He says hello, introducing himself, and asks for our names as he extends his hand. I shake his hand calmly, but inside I felt like a deer caught in headlights. Don’t get me wrong. That itself was amazing, but I was still taken slightly aback.

Jaz takes his seat on the stage once again. Let the show begin.

 

Some brave souls get upon the hot seat. Jaz listens intently. He gives the inquirers as much as time they need to express themselves. Everything is going smoothly at first.

My friend’s friend, the blond dude with the Yugoslavian accent slowly builds up. He begins to interrupt. The guy didn’t mean to be rambunctious, but the drinks were starting to have an effect. I didn’t catch this guy’s name. You would think I would’ve. Considering he brought me a drink. Hell, we clinked our pint glasses together in a few toasts. But I didn’t, for I already was getting consumed in the event itself. Jaz had to scold him a few times.

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Jaz Coleman, lead vocalist for the band Killing Joke and classical composer answers questions from audience members May 14th, 2019 during his “Off On A Tangent” spoken word event in NYC. At the venue Berlin NYC.

So Jaz asks who is next for the hot seat. The tall blond guy volunteers himself.

“Are you going to behave?” Jaz demands.

“Yes! Yes! I have a question…”

So Jaz allows him access to the red hot seat. The guy, starts by telling Jaz about his jacket. That this jacket is from a certain era, etc.

Jaz has this puzzled look; “What’s the question?”

The blond guy responds; “Nothing. I just wanted to show you my jacket…”

Jaz: “Get off the stage!”

The audience breaks into laughter. This impulsive comic relief leads to intermission, as Jaz decides to have some “tea and biscuits.”

 

After the break, Jaz explains to the audience that he is a recovering alcoholic. Eventually he decided it was wise to quit drinking, otherwise the alternative would’ve meant death. He recalls one incident where him and another band member got into a severe fist fight, to the point where blood could be seen on the walls. Jaz didn’t use channels like Alcoholic Anonymous. His claim was he used sheer willpower to combat drinking. He still enjoys the social aspect of going down to the pub however – but he will not order anything alcoholic. Jaz emphasized on the other alternative…death.

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Jaz then pleaded for anyone who has struggled with alcoholism to speak to him. He was willing to help anyone who’s been in a similar plight. He points to the tall blond guy from earlier. “I had a talk with him during the break…”

The hot seat opens up again. More volunteers step up. As for me, I couldn’t think of anything to ask. For once, my mind was a complete blank slate. Don’t think I would’ve managed to get up on stage if I tried. Perhaps this was good. I was more content being a spectator.

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Yet the free for all had already began. A tall, slim young woman with a gorgeous face approaches the stage. She begins by stating her parents were occultists, and that she had a rather unconventional childhood. Afterward that, she completely lost me. She rambled on for some time. I get it. She was completely lost in her feelings. While I don’t mean to disrespect her in any way, she just went on and on. What was her point? To Jaz’s credit, he showed an incredible amount of patience. More kudos, he was actually listening. Where as I gave up on her after five minutes. This was followed by another pretty lady, but I tuned out what she was talking about as well. Give Jaz some applause. He has patience of a saint. Must be the Pisces in him.

Speaking of astrology. Jaz mentions sometime during the night that if you are ever curious about your death, check into the 8th house of your astrology chart. Astrology was something I was never an expert on, (tarot and other tools were more my forte) but I have my chart stored somewhere online. The next day, I did exactly that. Took a look at my own astrology chart. Turns out, Jaz is right. The 8th house of your astrology chart points to love, sex, and death.

Jaz dropped some additional wisdom, such as desire vs. love. He says that in order for something to come into fruition, you have to love it, but not desire it. Again, here he has a point. If you want something to manifest, it cannot be on desire alone. Desire leads to obsession, but do you truly love what you’re trying to obtain? My interpretation regarding desire vs. love is this. Desire is to obtain something, like power, or possession. Love on the other hand, is something that’s sincere and unconditional. No strings attached, no ulterior motives. You do something because you love to do it, without demands. Desire only brings misery. It’s an illusion. Desire means we are only fooling ourselves. We desire to feel important. So you take out a car loan to get that car that makes you look good.  That car will take twenty years to pay off, as the bank makes interest. Meanwhile, you know you really can’t afford that car. So you’re enslaved. It’s a trap. Now we need cellphones in today’s world. So we pay the cellphone bill. But do we really need that Audi? I would be happy if I just owned any working car, period. Another example. I knew someone who collected watches. The watches were stored inside a dresser, never to be seen. Seriously though, how many watches does one need? I don’t even wear a watch myself – I just use the clock on my smartphone screen. Sometimes less is more. The more material items one collects, or the more someone desires, the more it becomes obvious that there’s an empty void desperately needed to be filled. Desire backfires. Thus love becomes the real magick.

You’re not here to read about my tangents. Back to that night. Jaz mentions some other bits of advice, but eventually the Q&A comes to a close. Before the event ends, Jaz wants to play a classical piece that he composed himself. For those who don’t know, Jaz Coleman is also an accomplished classical music composer. Which explains why some Killing Joke songs sound rather epic.  Again, this makes sense. As he plays a classical track, you can see the expression on his face. He’s completely immersed with each note.  Meanwhile my petite blond friend starts chewing my ear off in defense of her friend. She says he’s a good guy, he has a good heart, etc. I’m trying to go back and forth between watching Jaz Coleman and listening to my friend.

I think Jaz did have some sort of effect on her tall male friend, which I will get to in my next Killing Joke post. It’ll be mentioned in my Killing Joke concert review, which took place the next night.

It’s getting late, but Jaz Coleman offers to meet anyone in the next room, located in the back of the venue. I politely but quickly bid farewell to my friend, rushing to the back.

As I’m waiting on line, my patience was starting to crack. It’s been a long, busy month for me. Crankiness was starting to appear. I don’t know how I managed to contain myself. I grumbled a few times while on line. Guess it must be the Aries in me.

This all changed as soon when it was my turn. I swear, as soon as I took a few steps into the back room and said “hello”, Jaz extended his arms and proceeded to give me a warm hug. That was totally unexpected. I retained my composure on the outside, but inside I was giddy. Now here’s the part where I do something I normally NEVER do. Please allow my vulnerability as I start swooning here.

After the hug, I closely look straight into his eyes. I told my interest in the occult as he smiled. “I’ve been listening to you since I was 15” I said, “but I’m sure you’ve been told that before…”

“No” as he shook his head, “Don’t say that.” Putting on a mock accent, he continued: “I want to thank you for putting food in my belly!” That was cute. At that point the wicked witch in me melted. Words? What words, I lost them. I stammered again that I was a fan for a while, but quickly checked myself. Excusing myself, I said I was going, but I will be at the concert. “I’ll look for you tomorrow night” he chimed, as I sped out the exit. Cause inside by this point, I was dying.

Go on, have a chuckle at my expense. It’s all good. It took me two weeks to process this. A delayed reaction of sorts. I will say for the record, as Jaz hugged me, it was not inappropriately. It was a genuine hug, no matter how unexpected. What really got to me what the realization that today, the human touch has become a luxury. As human beings we are afraid to hug each other as a friendly gesture. Perhaps we have lost the meaning of showing kindness. It’s perfectly okay to text each other until nightfall. There’s  adventures in “sexting”, etc. God forbid though, to have a true conversation face to face. We have become jaded creatures, for every other person is an opportunist. That is distressing, and I’m digressing. But I’ll tell you this. By perchance Jaz Coleman decides to form some sort of spiritual collective or cult. It could be either in New Zealand or South America. I just might hit up travelocity.com. I jest, I jest….or am I? I caught that raised eyebrow. Therefore I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

If you’ve come this far, I thank thee. I’ve rambled on like that girl on stage. Cause it’s easy to type mindlessly on a laptop keyboard. On my cell is photo of me with Jaz Coleman. He offered to take “selfies” with anyone who requested. It’s not one of my best photos. In fact, I look exhausted. It’s been an exhausting month. But perhaps I made up for being such a jerk to him back when I was in my late teens. Echoing the others, I’d say the whole night was intense.

 

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There’s been so much global strife lately. The U.S. isn’t faring any better. In the mist of all the upheaval, we learned that a certain cat named Tardar Sauce recently passed away. Better known to everyone as “Grumpy Cat“, the cat was only seven years old.

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Grumpy Cat confronts Alf. Drawn by Michele Witchipoo. 2018. Originally posted on Sketch Lottery (Now defunct website).

Around 2011 or 2012, the internet started exploding with celebrity animals, particularly cats. From the humble beginnings of memes posted on site like Reddit, the LOLcat phenomenon grew. The original Holy Trinity of internet cats were Colonial Meow, Grumpy Cat, and Lil Bub. Now only Lil Bub remains.

I met Tardar Sauce back in summer 2014. It was a book signing at Barnes & Noble, the Union Square location in Manhattan, NYC. There was an opportunity to meet this infamous Grumpy Cat, in town to promote her latest book The Grumpy Guide to Life: Observations from Grumpy Cat.” 

When I arrived at the bookstore to secure my position on line, there was a mother and son team. The duo were the first fans in line, wearing matching Grumpy Cat shirts. A few elder crazy cat ladies showed up. As the crowd developed, Grumpy’s fan base were from all backgrounds and ages. Despite her disgruntled disposition, Tardar Sauce made a national impact.

The strangest part was not the press, nor the hype. When Grumpy Cat arrived to the signing, half the crowd started screaming as if it was Beatlemania.

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Posing with Grumpy Cat. August 2014.

Grumpy branched out into mass merchandising. Besides books, there was beverages, clothing, calendars, even a comic. At the time of her death, Grumpy had stamped her well marketed paw on perfume and Sketcher footwear.

 

Here’s my Grumpy Cat portrait, done back in 2012.

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Grumpy Cat painting. Materials: Gouache, pen. Dec. 2012. Painting by Michele Witchipoo.

Today’s ‘Caturday’ post is dedicated to Grumpy Cat.

Rest in peace Grumpy. (April 4, 2012 – May 14, 2019)

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All you geek rejoice! This upcoming Saturday, May 4th means two things. We not only have the annual Free Comic Book Day, but also Star Wars Day.

Although technically the very first Star Wars installment premiered on May 25th, 1977, it hasn’t stopped dedicated Star Wars fans to choose May 4th as its commemorative day. “May the fourth be with you” as it is told.

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As of this blog post, Ben and me were discussing actor Peter Mayhew. He’s the British 7 feet tall three inches actor who portrayed Chewbacca, one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe. His family broke the news via Twitter about Mayhew’s recent passing.

Chatting about the world’s most famous Wookie, I relayed my own Chewbacca story. It’s both amusing, yet sad with a slight sprinkle of Hollywood Babylon.

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Chewbacca realizes Han Solo needs help for his gambling addiction. Originally drawn in 2014 for Sketch Lottery, by Michele Witchipoo.

It was the year 2007. The setting was at the second annual New York Comic Con. I was walking around the Javitis Center with another friend, Mario. We found ourselves upstairs in the autograph section. Our purpose was to locate the three top winners of the SyFy Channel program “Who Wants To Be A Superhero.” As someone who usually despises reality shows, “Superhero” was one of the rare exceptions. So as Mario and me sought out Major Victory, Fat Momma and Feedback, we glanced over at the other celebrities. There was actress Hayden Panettiere from the then-popular show Heroes. Her signing price was, at the time, $100. That was considered a lot for autographs back then. Since 2007, pop culture autographs have become more lucrative. Charging $100 and up is now standard for actors like Mark Hamill, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Jason Momoa. Anyhow, before all the A-list actors jumped onto the John Handcock racket, autograph signings were formerly reserved for washed-up celebrities.

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This is where Gary Coleman comes in.

If you grew up during the late ’70s and early ’80s, then surely you must remember the American TV sitcom “Different Strokes.” Gary Coleman was the breakout star. Unfortunately, once the network canceled the comedy, Coleman’s career was never the same. When Coleman’s star fell, it fell pretty bad. The actor tried everything. I even remember Coleman pretty much grasping for straws when he tried to become a rapper. It was a very short-lived venture. My accidental discovery happened during my late teens. Having yet another insomniac moment. Couldn’t sleep, so I turned on the television. Since I lived in the NYC outer borough of Queens, we were stuck without cable. No MTV, no HBO, no nothing. Which meant there was nothing to watch but filler. Local station programming consisted of forgotten ’60s syndicated shows, Time/Life info-commercials, ads for the Jessica Hahn party line, and rejected talk shows. The latter is where Gary Coleman wound up with his rap act.

Below are two videos to prove I’m not making this up:

(Below is an example what I had, living in Queens, NYC late ’80s/early ’90s. Late night TV. Sans cable. We got stuck with this bullshit.)

It got worse as time went on. Turns out Gary Coleman was broke because his own foster parents and former manager stole most of his money. Despite a judge ruling in Coleman’s favor later on, the only work he could secure was as a security guard. His fate seemed to be resigned to supermarket tabloid articles along with the occasional self-deprecating appearances. His health problems didn’t fare any better. Coleman suffered from congenital kidney disease causing nephritis (an autoimmune destruction of the kidney). This stunted his growth from an early age. Up until his death he required daily dialysis. This was additionally compounded by his anger management problems.

So back to 2007. We’re at the second annual New York Comic Con. Mario quickly turns to me, stammering “Ohmigod, don’t turn around!”

Me: “Why?”

Mario: “That’s Gary Coleman! I can’t look at him! Don’t look at him! I’m going to laugh…”

After we both snicker, I look over Mario’s shoulder. Sure enough, there was Gary Coleman, sitting in a booth. He was hawking autographs. The actor was trying to put on a friendly face, but nobody was lining up for his signature.

Suddenly commotion ensues. A whole crowd of rabid Star Wars cosplayers and fans rush past us. It wasn’t a stampede, yet as they sped, we swore we felt out hair blow back. Our spot was soon crowded with these fanatics, overcome with glee. They surround a very tall man as if he was a demi-god.

“Who’s that?” Mario asked someone.

“That’s the guy who played Chewbacca” was the response.

Various Stormtroopers practically dance around this man as if they were Ewoks from Return of The Jedi. More people approach this impromptu homecoming. It casts a dark shadow upon Gary Coleman’s booth. In their rejoicing, the Star Wars fans inadvertently eclipse Coleman. It was as if Coleman didn’t even exist. This was a comic book convention after all. Upstaging wasn’t Peter Mayhew’s intention. This didn’t matter to Coleman. The man of 4ft and 8 inches looked visibility upset. Mario and I silently watched as Coleman chomp down on his hot dog, garnished with a painful mixture of anger and sadness.

Mario shares his observation: “Wow. He bit into that hot dog with such bitterness…” 

After watching the Star Wars fans worship the original Chewbacca for another few minutes, we walked off to find the winners of “Who Wants To Be A Superhero.” Left behind was the clashing juxtaposition of Chewbacca and Arnold Jackson. Ironically, those two characters were symbols of my ’70s childhood.

We all know about what became of the Star Wars franchise after 2007. In fact, I saw Last Jedi twice during its theatrical release. Last Jedi has become my personal favorite next to the original trilogy. Rouge One was also fantastic. Just recently I caught Han Solo on Netflix. Star Wars has outgrown and will outlive George Lucas. Regardless of how Disney currently handles the Star Wars property, it’s become part of the American storytelling mythos. It’s just like the retelling of ancient folktales from various cultures, such as Norse, Celtic, Greek, Egyptian, Japanese, Indian, English, African, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Pre-Christian/Pagan, etc. Only substitute them with various stories from the Star Wars universe, along with classic Marvel and DC characters.

After NYCC 2007, I heard another personal Gary Coleman antidote. It from my other friend Bejay. So I mention seeing Coleman at the comic con. Bejay tells me that he met the actor once. It was during Bejay’s time as a party promoter. Gary Coleman complimented Bejay on his Club Kid platforms. Unlike Mario, Bejay expressed more compassion for Coleman: “I felt sorry for him…”  Gary Coleman passed away in 2010. On April 30th 2019, Peter Mayhew, aka, the original Chewbacca also passes away. He was 74.

On May 2nd, 2019, I talk to Ben about the time I saw Chewbacca and Gary Coleman at NYCC 2007.

Me: “…so that’s my Chewbacca story. It’s both funny and sad…”

Ben, as he refers to Gary Coleman while having a horrified expression upon his face: “…That’s kinda depressing!”

May the fourth be with you.

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Chewbacca. Drawn with a portable Pentel ink brush, other with other art pens. Michele Witchipoo. May 2019.

 

 

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A few months back, my friend informed me about some documentary about Wax Trax Records. For those who don’t know, Wax Trax Records was both a record store and label based in Chicago, Illinois. Before Grunge took over the U.S. during the ’90s, there was the Post-Punk strains of Industrial music.

The Industrial music genre dates back to the ’70s, pioneered along the way by bands like Throbbing Gristle. (Which I was fortunate enough to catch their reunion tour back in 2009, over at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple.) There’s different sub-genres of Industrial Music, which branches out to Noise and Experimental. Associated acts range from Skinny Puppy, Coil, Psychic TV, Chris & Cosey, Test Department, Einstürzende Neubauten, Clock DVA, Fad Gadget, Nurse With Wound, Foetus, Swans, etc., etc., to more Avant-Garde stuff like Merzbow and Current 93. If you want sheer noise, you can always do Whitehouse. If your goal is to piss off your neighbors, there’s always ‘Christianity Is Stupid’ by Negativeland. By the mid-’90s, Industrial hit the mainstream with acts such as Nine Inch Nails.

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Prior to bands like Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein and others, there was Wax Trax. Wax Trax hit its peak during the late ’80s and early ’90s, prior to Grunge as previously noted, and before Rave culture hit the States. Wax Trax became very popular among the Alternative music set. This led to Wax Trax nights across the country. There were tours focusing on the Wax Trax label. Back when I was a teen, I remember seeing one Wax Trax event with a band called Front Line Assembly. One of my own Wax Trax favorites was Front 242.

Fast forward to 2010. By then, both the founders of Wax Trax label had passed away due to AIDS. Julia Nash, daughter of co-founder Jim Nash discovers the label’s inventory was kept in storage in an Arkansas barn. After Jim Nash’s death, his partner in both personal and business moved back to his hometown, taking the overstock with him. When Dannie Flesher passed away, Julia Nash took it upon herself to keep the Wax Trax legacy going. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, The Industrial Accident film was released in 2017, and the soundtrack in 2018.

Thus leads to my own personal events. My friend Christine had been telling me about the upcoming film showing for months. Eventually she got me hyped up to see the documentary. Nostalgia kicked in. Couldn’t help but reminisce about the days when the label “Alternative” actually meant something. Now, I owed a few favors to Christine. After all, she hooked me up with tickets to see Television and Front 242 (first time I saw then was way back in 1988 or ’89…second time was in 2017) within the past two years. She’s done other things as well. Let’s just say she’s an awesome pal. Christine was going to be in another state during Record Day. She asked me if I could pick up the exclusive Record Day release, being sold at places like Rough Trade NYC.

First things first. Lately I’ve been attending a local Queens writing workshop. It’s something I’ve fallen in love with as of late. It’s facilitated by an amazing woman. She reminded me about F. Scott Fitzgerald while introducing me to Marcel Proust. A local paper even wrote an article about the writing class. I’m in the article photo, even though I look fat. Eh. What can you do. Actually, don’t answer that.

My immediate goal was to attend the writing class, then go down to Rough Trade. It’s been a while since I’ve been in touch with vinyl culture. Within the past ten years, vinyl has been having a cult-like resurgence. I hadn’t had a turntable since 1997. Which meant I’ve been completely out of touch with record collecting culture. Access to my own huge collection of valuable vinyl was blocked, thanks to my father. Basically lost my whole entire record collection. The only vinyl I managed to rescue are my 45’s. There’s a few rarities among the 45s, like a Poison Girls single. That’s another story altogether, but I won’t dwell on that.

As I’m sitting in the writing class, I get this nagging feeling that my ass should be heading to Rough Trade ASAP. But I’m an old fart now; I’m no longer that 17 year old who once ripped down a large Skinny Puppy concert ad near NYU. The wheat paste was barely dried on the back when I tore it down a late Manhattan night. It was for the sole purpose of decorating my teenage bedroom walls back in Queens. Then there was that promise that I would get the Record Day exclusive for Christine, who’s done so much for me. As soon as I was pondering all of this, Christine texts me. Guilt kicks in. Need to learn how to be cold blooded. So I pull an ultimate douchebag move to all my writing workshop peers. Claiming it was an emergency, I pack up my junk, and walk out of class. In my haste I even left my Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee behind. Well, it was an emergency.

As luck would have it, the bus heading towards Williamsburg took like, forever. Despite that a Lyft would’ve brought me there in max, fifteen to twenty minutes depending on traffic. Finally arrive at Rough Trade, jumping at the end of the line like Mark Spitz. A few people standing on the line give me harsh eye daggers. Like they want to cut a bitch.

“Is this the end of the line?” I inquire.

Nope. A Rough Trade employee informed gently that I was not at the end of the line. In fact, the line for Record Day exclusives continued…across the street…down the block…almost at the very end of the block.

Oops.

In my embarrassed Lucille Ball moment, I excused myself. That wasn’t good enough. Slinking away, I felt the judgmental glare of the others. I knew they were silently, but yet viciously accusing me of cutting the line. When I slithered to the end of the snake trail, another employee with a megaphone approaches. He’s holding a paper. The paper contains a list of all the Record Day 2019 exclusives, now exclusively sold out. He reads the list through the megaphone.

The Wax Trax soundtrack, particularly the Record Day exclusive, was one of the first to sell out. Then came all the others. Captain Beefheart exclusive was sold out. Hmmm. I would’ve gotten Captain Beefheart. Motorhead exclusive, sold out. Would’ve brought that one as well. Madonna exclusives, sold out. Hard pass on Madonna. What else? Duran Duran exclusive sold out. Hey! I still love Duran Duran. If I was still collecting vinyl, I definitely would’ve brought that one. The sold out exclusive list was long. When it was announced that even Mutant Ninja Turtles Record Day exclusive was sold out, it was time to jump ship. Yes. Even music by fictional fighting turtles was sold out.

Even if most of the Record Day exclusives seem to be reissues, it was still discerning. On one hand, it was good to see hard copy media still selling. On the other hand, not getting the Wax Trax exclusive really meant one thing, which I have yet to explain. You see, that Wax Trax Record Day exclusive had a valuable item attached. It was a much coveted item. The Record Day Wax Trax soundtrack exclusive contained two tickets. They were VIP tickets to the Wax Trax documentary screening and the Q&A that followed.  Plus a free concert by Cold Cave and Ministry who was doing strictly a late ’80s/early ’90s set, connected to the Wax Trax era. Now who wouldn’t want that? That’s what my friend Christine really wanted. That’s what I was hyped up about. Those VIP tickets.

All hope was abandoned. The consolation prize was going home to finally catch up on some much needed sleep. It was an unusually hot Spring afternoon. Global warming wasn’t kind to me, as I stood overdressed on the gentrified pavement. As I was walking towards the L subway, I hear someone call my name. Turning around, it was my friend Michael. Michael was someone I had met two years ago at a Gary Numan concert. We followed each other on Facebook. Michael and me begin a conversation. He was on his way back to Rough Trade, to get his Bauhaus Record Day exclusive signed by David J. David J’s signing wasn’t scheduled until five p.m. It’s been a long week for me, so I suggest we should sit down somewhere to continue the conversation. Michael informs me that he also had purchased the Record Day exclusives for Duran Duran, and the Wax Trax soundtrack.

We locate an OG bar, one without the stench of pretentious hipsters. It wasn’t a dive bar per say. Instead it was a well maintained watering hole, one that had been opened for decades. Only the tap was updated, featuring some IPAs, and of course, Williamsburg’s own Brooklyn Beer. Michael asked me about my birthday, which had recently passed. There were other subjects discussed. I buy him a drink because we have one thing in common. Our all time favorite band is Siouxsie and The Banshees.

As I’m fetching our drinks from the bar counter, Michael pulls a Hail Mary.

“Happy birthday” he says, giving me one half of the VIP tickets that came with the Wax Trax Record Day exclusive.

I was in shock. Asked him if he was sure, and he was. I profusely thanked him. Michael then heads over to Rough Trade for the David J signing. In pleasant disbelief, I head over to the L train. Of course I texted Christine about what happened. My assumption was she was going to be a bit miffed. Fortunately she was completely cool about the entire situation.

Monday comes around. It’s the day of the film showing, the Q&A, and the concert. I’m more psyched than ever before. Suddenly I’m 17 all over again. There was plans to meet up with Michael before heading over to the venue, which was I head over to the venue, Music Hall of Williamsburg. Gut instinct kicks in again. So I decide to hit up Williamsburg earlier than usual. Sure enough. By the time I arrive, the lines are long. There’s two lines. One for VIP tickets, one for general admission.

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Two lines waiting to enter Music Hall of Williamsburg for the Wax Trax event, featuring the film, Q&A and concert. Two lines. One for VIP, which came with the Record Day soundtrack exclusive, and one for general admission. April 2019.

They let the VIPs enter the venue first. I was lucky enough to get a seat for the film showing, last seat on the left, first row. It was the only seat left. The rest was standing room only. A DJ was spinning classic Wax Trax era tunes as everyone waited for the documentary to begin. Others decide to go downstairs to the bar.

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VIP ticket which came with the Record Day exclusive of Industrial Accident:The Story of Wax Trax soundtrack.

The documentary itself was quite good. It was a candid, first person look into the rise and fall of Wax Trax records. During the viewing, I got caught off guard by being a bit emotional. One thing about this film, it helped bring legitimacy to a underground phenomenon. Wax Trax and relative labels like 4AD, Play It Again Sam (later to be distributed by Wax Trax), Caroline Records, along with others, was a viable part of music during that era. The film could’ve left David Grohl out, though.

Most of the Wax Trax acts were mentioned, such as Thrill Kill Kult, Laibach, Revolting Cocks, KMFDM, Pailhead, Legendary Pink Dots (who were on Play It Again Sam) and of course, Ministry. How can one forget Ministry. Al Jourgensen and his crew played a massive part in the history of Wax Trax records. Ministry also reconstructed themselves from being a dance New Wave synth band, to the endeavor of the Twitch period, to the Industrial Metal hybrid they later became more known for. ‘Uncle Al’, as Jourgensen is now affectionately known by fans, had his fingers in many pies. As a multi-instrumentalist, he spread himself around with numerous side projects. Besides Revolting Cocks, he was involved with Lard, Acid Horse, and 1000 Homo DJs.

After the film was the Q&A.

The panel, moderated by Andy Wombell, a former employee for Wax Trax records, featured Julia Nash, her mother and former wife of Jim Nash, Jean Payne, Chris Connelly from Revolting Cocks and other bands, and Frankie Nardiello, aka Groovie from Thrill Kill Kult.

Alright, you want to hear about the concert. It was Cold Cave, then the main headliners, Ministry. Strange for me, this was my third time seeing Cold Cave live. Second time seeing Cold Cave within months. First time catching Cold Cave live in 2009, opening for NON.

Back in February or March, I saw Cold Cave live over at Brooklyn Steel. Psychic TV was supposed to open for Cold Cave, but Genesis P-Orridge hasn’t been in good health lately. Psychic TV had to cancel their slot last minute.

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Cold Cave did an upbeat set. Not to be rude, but I was waiting for Ministry.

Ministry did not disappoint. Uncle Al was never,ever going to do anything before The Land of Rape and Honey era. Not anything from ‘With Sympathy’, not anything from ‘Twitch’. Probably will never touch material from those two releases for the rest of his life.

What albums he did perform: ‘The Land of Rape and Honey’, ‘Psalm 69: The Way To Succeed & The Way To Suck Eggs’, and ‘The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste’.

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Chris Connelly was brought on stage, performing No Devotion, a Revolting Cocks song.

The timing could’ve been more perfect. There’s a line in the song that goes “burn the temple…” Meanwhile, there was news about the fire at France’s famous Notre Dame cathedral. Afterwards they did a song from 1000 Homo DJs. Doing a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Supernaut’.

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Overall it was a fantastic night. Christine managed to get to the show via general admission, Michael showed up later, it all worked out. Didn’t hang with either one though. I ended up being close to the front row, sans ear plugs. Not being prepared, my ears were ringing for two days after the concert. To recover, I had to forgo listening to music on my headphones during the rest of my weekly commute. Not 17 years old anymore.

 

During the Ministry set, some 40 years olds decided to mosh for old time’s sake. Why was I not surprised. One old fart decided to stage dive. I’m thinking “dude, how old are you?” His body almost landed on top of me. As I quickly stepped back, his body slammed onto the floor. Nobody caught him. Guess crowd surfing wasn’t in the cards. Me and another woman who was around my age, yelled “asshole” at him, but he didn’t hear. The music was too loud. He got up, shook himself off,  heading back into the audience. The woman who jeered along with me started to complain about another woman. It was a younger lady, tattooed all over with pink hair, going nuts to the songs. Yet by the end of the Ministry set, both ladies ended up becoming friends. As I was leaving, the two generations of women exchanged Facebook info. If anything unites people, it’s music. There was good vibes all around that night. Such a brilliant event. Which was capped off with an acoustic version of ‘Everyday Is Halloween.’ If only everyday was like this.

http://www.brooklynvegan.com/ministry-played-an-all-80s90s-set-in-brooklyn-to-celebrate-wax-trax-pics-video-setlist/

My concert high continued all throughout the next day. Eventually it came crashing down Tuesday evening, while riding the R train back to Queens. Some crazy homeless man threatened to climb into everyone’s bedroom windows with the intent to kill. His reasoning was to avenge himself for not receiving any spare change on the subway.  Welcome back to reality, kiddo.

Additional Links:

https://cherryberry321.wordpress.com/

https://www.indymetalvault.com/2017/12/01/a-beginners-guide-to-wax-trax-records/

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-new-documentary-industrial-accident-portrays-chicagos-wax-trax-records-as-a-romance-etched-in-vinyl/Content?oid=49381095

https://theknow.denverpost.com/2018/11/07/wax-trax-denver-history/200444/

https://kimsloans.wordpress.com/colorado-local/local-vinyl/wax-trax-records/

https://www.revolvermag.com/music/ministry-nin-10-things-we-learned-wax-trax-doc-industrial-accident#6-ministryfront-242-side-project-revolting-cocks-signature-sound-was-born-happy-accident

https://www.oregonmusicnews.com/wax-trax-reel-music36

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-ballad-of-jim-and-dannie/Content?oid=888822

https://www.treblezine.com/industrial-accident-wax-trax-records-fearlessness-folly/

https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2019/04/25/live-film-review-industrial-accident-the-story-of-wax-trax-records/

https://consequenceofsound.net/2019/04/live-review-ministry-wax-trax-brooklyn/

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A few weeks ago, I finally had the chance to check out the Hilma af Klint exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. This was also my first time ever visiting the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, famously known for being designed by architect, artist and educator Frank Lloyd Wright.

It was a subway ad that caught my eye. Such an curiosity hasn’t happened since discovering Salvador Dali in my adolescence, and later Hieronymus Bosch in my late teens. Since I’m talking about artists, might as well throw William Blake, Austin Osman Spare, Brion Gysin and Marjorie Cameron into the mix.

During my teens after school, there was a chance sighting of Andy Warhol walking around the east 50’s area of Manhattan. He was wearing an extremely costly leather jacket, while carrying a shopping bag from some boutique. A few months later, Warhol passed away.

Back to Klint. I picked early Saturday evening as the day to attend. Particularly due to Saturdays being “pay-what-you-wish” admission at the Guggenheim. Especially when rent is too damn high in NYC.

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Circling around the spiral building, the attendee saw the evolution of Klint‘s work. Her early interests dealt with mathematics and botany. Klint became a respected artist. After graduating art school, she became know for doing portraiture and landscapes. The abstract compositions developed after 1880. After her sister’s death, she got involved with Spiritism. This coincided with the growing movement of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophy and her enthusiasm regarding Christian Rosenkreuz. Along the way, Klint met Rudolf Steiner. With Anna Cassel, she joined a group of female artists called ‘The Five.’ The Five (de Fem) conducted paranormal and spiritistic séances.

Enough talk. Here’s photos of the exhibit. The paintings, notebooks, sketches and such contain much symbolism. The exhibit itself ended April 23rd, 2019.

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In between checking out Klint’s art, there was also another exhibit featuring Robert Mapplethrope. Took a quick peek through that section. However, time was limited so I scurried back to the Klint floors. Figured it’ll give me another excuse to drop by the Guggenheim again.

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Back to checking out the final sections of Klint. There was also cases of documented work. Even the library had cases of Klint.

 

 

 

 

The Hilma af Klint exhibition was the most popular in the museum’s 60 year history.

Other links:

https://www.galeriemagazine.com/romanov-rockefeller-emerald/

https://hyperallergic.com/496326/hilma-af-klint-breaks-records-at-the-guggenheim-museum/

http://www.artnews.com/2019/04/18/guggenheims-hilma-af-klint-survey-is-most-popular-show-in-its-history/

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-swedish-mystic-hilma-af-klint-invented-abstract-art

https://www.modernamuseet.se/stockholm/en/exhibitions/hilma-af-klint-2/about-the-artist/

https://www.hilmaafklint.se/hilma-af-klint-foundation/

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Last week I was scrolling through Facebook. A few mentions of that Netflix film “The Dirt” popped up in my feed. I wasn’t that big of a Motley Crue fan. Only like the first two albums. Afterwards, they kinda sucked. You know, same old tired rock formula. Maybe the lackluster was due to ditching the satanic imagery and makeup. During that time I switched to Post Punk, Goth and Punk. It was so uncool to be caught listening to Motley Crue. Even the metalheads I knew listened to early Metallica, Venom, Anthrax, etc. Motley Crue wasn’t even in the equation.

Anyway, might as well make use of my Netflix subscription. I checked out the film. They managed to squeeze an hour’s worth of Dirt. It had the feel of a made for TV movie, only more T&A and without Perry King. I expected the round-the-clock gratuitous groupie sex. What blew me away was Nikki Sixx’s $1000 a day heroin habit. Hey – that’s most of the rent for my apartment! Second, he lived to tell about it. While the band did kinda come across as sexist, narcissistic clowns, one gathers it was the norm. It’s probably the norm now, with rappers, even with crappy boy bands. At least Crue didn’t pull an R. Kelly.

The Dirt was still a guilty pleasure. Perhaps I’ll get the Crue bio after all. During the early 2000s, I used to walk into this local Barnes and Noble out in Long Island, read parts of the book, then purchase another title.

Without further ado, here’s the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week. I picked Nikki Sixx because I can’t get the junkie price tag out of my head.

Confession: I owned a copy of Shout At The Devil on vinyl right before or during freshman year of high school. During a trip to Philadelphia, an ex gifted me the album on CD. Which I received some flak. Hey. The CD was a present.

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Psycho Bunny does Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue. Based on the comic written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo on WitchesBrewPress. March/April 2019.

Too Fast For Love – Social Media Links:

Facebook: pages for Psycho Bunny and for Michele Witchipoo – WitchesBrewPress.

 Twitter: One account for me, and one for Psycho Bunny.

Tumblr: World Ov Witchipoo

Instagram: there’s WitchipooArt.

 

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So once again Psycho Bunny is drunk and complaining. You would think he’d like St. Patrick’s Day. Nope. He considers it “amateur drinking day.”

Introducing the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week:

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Psycho Bunny considers St. Patrick’s Day to be Amateur Drinking Day. Based on the comic written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo. On WitchesBrewPress. March 2019. 

Personally I’m still not fond of the holiday. Don’t hate it as much as I used to, but still find many things wrong. There was no snakes in Ireland. St. Patrick ‘driving the snakes away’ is just simply a metaphor for converting people into Christian beliefs. Despite my half English ancestry, which can be traced back to Ireland and Scotland, I never connected with the holiday. Maybe it was due to people acting like drunken fools in the street. Don’t let my cynicism stop you. If you want to partake, that’s fine. This year, I learned about some of the ingredients of Irish soda bread. It goes along great with whiskey butter. Definitely not for amateurs.

However. Despite what I just stated above, I actually do have a lucky St. Paddy story.

The year was either 1987 or 1988. During the mid to late 80s, I was a Siouxsie Sioux clone. Everyday I would leave the house with huge teased black hair, after applying enough Aqua Net to penetrate the ozone layer. My makeup was a carbon copy of her style. However, because I was in the U.S. and not the U.K., people didn’t know what to make of me. The Goth subculture did not hit the mainstream as of yet. We’re talking before all the Tim Burton films were released. So most of the time I was called “Elvira” or simply “freak.”

That particular St. Paddy’s Day, I was walking down 2nd Avenue in the East Village. As I was heading towards 14th street, I passed an Irish bar. The bar entrance was wide open. Middle aged working class men were getting their drink on.  Commuters lived in either New Jersey or Long Island, but partied terribly in NYC. The type that would piss in your backyard, then head to their respectable suburban homes as if nothing happened.  As soon as they saw me, all the drunk working class men shouted insults towards me.

Walking by, I ignored the men. Still, by this point I was in a pissy mood. Out of nowhere, some young long haired guy jumps in front of me. He reeked of desperation.Not noticing how annoyed I already was, he opens a shoe box.

“Straight from London. Brand new…”

I took a peek. They were brand new creepers. They were smooth black leather, with a little more extra height on the platform soles. The silver design had zipper eye teeth, long thin spikes coming out in 3-D, and studded crosses in the middle. Not even Trash and Vaudeville sold these. They were gorgeous. They also looked majorly expensive.

Looking back at him, I said I only have either ten or twenty bucks. Showed him the money. He threw the shoes at me, snatched my money and ran. Guy obviously must’ve either stole this pair, needed money for drugs, or both. As he fled down the street I couldn’t believe it. The pair was a size too big but I loved them anyway. It was guaranteed nobody else had these shoes. Never saw another pair like them since. Wore them until they wore out.

That’s my lucky St. Patrick’s Day story.

Feeling lucky yourself? Check out these social media links…

Facebook: pages for Psycho Bunny and for Michele Witchipoo – WitchesBrewPress.

 Twitter: One account for me, and one for Psycho Bunny.

Tumblr: World Ov Witchipoo

Instagram: there’s WitchipooArt.

 

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