my response after attending the vigil against racist hate

I went to a peaceful gathering last night at Fresno State in solidarity of the oppressed and wounded in Charlottesville and afterward I had many thoughts go through my mind. 

My initial reaction was that it was incredibly refreshing to see so many people gather in response to what is happening all around us. It was uplifting to see the people and hear the stories that were in response to the racist hate that has surfaced recently. I was glad that I went to share this moment with several community acquaintances that share the same conviction as I toward racial equality and more specifically an anti-oppressive perspective.

I then considered my own place in all of this. It wasn’t particularly easy to spend time analyzing my own response to my own privilege and what I can do to help make a difference. How do I relate? Should I relate? How have I contributed to the problem? How do I take a stand? How can I make a difference? How will I react when this happens again? Will my kids be proud with the side of history that I chose to stand?

As I now stand, I am part of a biracial marriage with children that could very easily become victims of racial oppression based on the fact that they are part Mexican. It gives me cause to consider this topic with a heavy heart. As a white male I have lived a life with certain amounts of privilege, and that privilege will probably spill over to my children and lessen their experiences with oppression. Or, if we consider the pessimistic reality of things their mixture of ethnicities could cause a more difficult experience if the rise of nationalism and ethnicism grows so much that it creates a bigger divide than it already has.

At my core, my most passionate convictions are those that involve racial equality. It’s not enough to say “it is not us” or to continue with the mindset of colorblindness. To say either one of those common copouts as an excuse to ignore the root cause is simply adding to the systemic racist nature of our culture. White America has a long history of dominance. We explore and conquer. We rise and lead. We have labeled others as inferior or unworthy so that we could obtain the desired prize at the end of the day. We are not necessarily guilty by association of those before us but to ignore the generalization for the sake of removing yourself from blame is irresponsible and, frankly, immoral. 

Additionally, to say that there are many sides to this violence in response to racial tensions is the literal Rubik’s cube equivalent to solving only the white side and being outraged when the “solved” side is temporarily disturbed to help the other colors.

As I attempt to channel my thoughts I realize that what we are seeing now is not an erosion of white values, it is not adopting a white-apologist narrative, but it is simply a gesture of kindness in order for all sides to be treated equal. The inconvenience that a white person might feel in response to a person of color wanting to be seen as an equal is nothing compared to what any of these ethnicities have endured in their recent past experiences in this country. It is imperative that we are able to empathize this and consider the experiences of others beyond the comfort of our own privilege.

Consider those beyond the walls of your home. Consider those on the other side of town or on the other side of the country. We as white people must be willing to remove ourselves from any selfish desire to relate to these events as a victim and simply stop. Stop and listen to those that actually are. Listen to those that have a history of oppression to support the claim. Stop talking and listen. Stop condemning peaceful protests during the national anthem by people of color. Start admitting that condoning violent demonstrations in the name of racist nationalism as free speech is wrong.

To my white friends and family that believe all lives matter, maybe we should start treating all lives as equal first before we start victimizing our own dominance as the oppressed.

13 essential say anything songs

I am traditionally terrible at keeping with tradition. I am often confused as I lose myself being absentminded. I am overtly opinionated but currently despise discussing politics. I am afraid of change but want something so desperately that isn’t what I already have.

I have not perfected the process that drives my simple desire to turn a cause into an effect, which is basically a pretentious way of saying “I’m lazy”.

But that isn’t the point. None of that is. The point here is to give you another specific example of how I have used music to escape my own personal flaws as a human.

Who I have become today has only become who you know now because of who I was yesterday, and wanting to become a better me during any future’s tomorrow is cause for my explanation of faults.

The only predicted effect that may come out in the end would be my continued testament of good faith in sharing what I think are essential music.

prologue – el fin

I haven’t explored any band who were blatantly emo, and for good reason. There’s a certain phrase that comes to mind as I typed that: “all good things must come to an end”. Apparently this is when I enter my own sacrament of penance as I confess that I’ve listened to (and often enjoyed) emo bands with overly pretentious song titles.

Recently I’ve found reason to seek out songs having lyrics depicting life circumstance seeming more traumatic than my own. Angry emo seemed fitting. There’s quite a few really really bad bands that are so bad they even claim severance to the category of music in which fans have annointed them with.

Emo.

*Is there an emo band called Don’t Call Me Emo yet?*

I am closer to 40 than I am now to 30, so admitting to listening to this genre of music is modestly humiliating. Nonetheless, I resist to resist.

Songs are an escape. Songs are an expression. Songs are a way to uplift and to put down. No matter the intent to the expression or desire to compare, self-depreciating lyrics can be therapeutic. One of my favorite emo bands, Say Anything, has lyrics that deal with any perceived take on self-destruction that you could imagine. Hearing words spoken and sung alongside overt melodies and terrible but brilliant song structure enhances the experience as you follow the singer tell about his journey from mental breakdown and addiction to love and happiness.

Ironically, though, the better songs are the ones that were written while inebriated or committed to asylum.

Without anymore drawn out explanation, here are my favorite Say Anything songs from a band that often helped me manage my own self-destructive thoughts.

Cheers 🍻 

13 | peace out

anarchy, my dear

12 | colorblind

all my friends are enemies:  early rarities 

11 | sorry, dudes. my bad.

in defense of the genre

10 | total revenge

…is a real boy

9 | every man has a molly

…is a real boy

8 | baby girl, i’m a blur

in defense of the genre

7 | crush’d 

say anything

6 | by tonight

all my friends are enemies:  early rarities

5 | hate everyone 

 say anything

4 | died a jew 

in defense of the genre

3 | the church channel

in defense of the genre

2 | do better

say anything

1 | admit it!!!

…is a real boy

13 essential linkin park songs 

You didn’t have to be a superfan to be devastated by the news from last week when Chester Bennington took his own life.  You didn’t have to own every Linkin Park album to be moved to tears after you hear Castle of Glass on the radio soon after the news broke either.  You didn’t need to own any of their shirts or to have gone to any of their concerts. You needn’t justify your feelings at all.

All you really had to be was a fan of modern music.

I am a closet fan of many radio bands from the last decade and a half, and to be a closet fan means to like a band for the singles that you hear on the radio. The bands that I claim to be a closet fan include, but is not limited to as follows:  Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, System of a Down, Sum 41, & Linkin Park.  These bands have songs on the radio that when I hear while driving both of my feet start moving and I start testing the boundaries of the speed limit. Every emotion from the inside out can be found expressed in a song played on the radio somewhere. It doesn’t matter if the song is part of pop radio, college radio, obscure indie, or even local talent because emotions will always transcend boundaries.

Linkin Park claimed the corner of angst and despair.

A few months ago Soundgarden lost their singer to depression when Chris Cornell took his own life. A singer who was a leading voice of grunge now gone. Soundgarden was a band that I was not a superfan of or a closet fan of either, but it did cause my heart to be heavy that day.

This time, last week when depression took the life of another singer who helped define but a different genre of music, my heart sank again. A singer who was a leading voice of rap-rock now gone.

As cheesy as rap-rock actually is, Chester was arguably the one that did it the best. An entire generation of adolescents has lost the man behind the screaming vocals and soft melodies that got them through their childhood, and that is the most jarring piece of this entire tragedy.

I wasn’t an adolescent when Linkin Park was at their peak, but I did (and do) appreciate songs with lyrics that have true and difficult lyrics that battle honest emotions.

It is terribly unjust recognizing the fact that we don’t fully appreciate the talent or presence of an artist until they are gone. This is especially true if that artist is not of our preferred taste in music.

I went back and listened to most of the Linkin Park songs that I remembered after this tragedy. Mainly as an act of remembrance, but also to appreciate what is now gone. While doing so I compiled another list to contribute to my collection of essentials.

It may be a challenge to understand how depression works, but if it can claim the lives of Robin Williams, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington then I’d say that it is definitely a real thing worth addressing before it becomes too late. Seek help if you explore feelings of depression significantly more than any other feeling. Talk to someone.

In rememberance:

Here are my favorite 13 Linkin Park songs.

Rest In Peace Chester

13 | papercut

hybrid theory


12 | sharp edges
one more light

 

11 | bleed it out

minutes to midnight

 

10 | faint

meteora 

 

9 | numb

meteora 

 

8 | battle symphony

one more light

 

7 | castle of glass

living things

 

6 | my december

hybrid theory


5 | heavy

one more light

 

4 | shadow of the day

minutes to midnight

 

3 | given up

minutes to midnight

 

2 | crawling

hybrid theory

 

1 | what i’ve done

minutes to midnight

13 essential alkaline trio songs 

Let us not forget that before anyone got radio-famous they always traveled a certain path to get there.

Long before radio knew Matt Skiba as the new member of Blink (and probably before Mark Hoppus did too, because we all know that Travis is the cool one who heard of him first *eyeroll*), Skiba was in Alkaline Trio.

I somewhat sense a reoccurring theme here. I keep going back to Blink-related lists of songs even when they are not songs by Blink.

Get over it. I’ve stating more than a few times already that the theme here is “I do this for me”. So read. Don’t read. Tell me I’m wrong or tell me that I am more right now than when I erroneously didn’t include The Underdog on my Spoon list. If for nothing else simply scroll to the bottom and travel back to the late 90s & early 2000s with me aided by my Spotify playlist of essential Alkaline Trio.

Still reading? Ok, cool. As I mentioned earlier, Skiba took the path to radio-fame. He ditched a band that helped define my post-adolescent listening ears and helped ruin another band that defined it also. Both were better left alone. Both were better off in their respectable prepubescent selves, and so it goes that no longer is my accident prone behavior the lone reason to prove that maturity does not always lead to perfection.

What are we left with then? How does Skiba manage to get up every morning and look at himself in the mirror? Why is he wearing his ball cap backwards now? What does he mutter under his breath to himself to justify the clown show he currently helps front?

Why is he even worth mentioning when discussing pivotal punkrock?

Answer:

Goddamnit!

Maybe I’ll Catch Fire

From Here To Infirmary

Good Mourning

Crimson

(Not so much Agony & Irony and My Shame Is True, but This Addiction was ok.)

Matt Skiba defined a unique subgenre of punkrock with Alkaline Trio that wasn’t goth and wasn’t pop but you could be justified by calling it either. He fronted the band that made it ok for punk kids not that in to goth to be ok with goth kids not that in to punk. He wore make up before the kids on the radio did. Sure, he probably should credit his predecessors in their similar attempts to do the same, because without them there’d arguably be no Alk3 (and no AFI?).

Matt  Skiba should probably start addressing some thank you notes to The Misfits.

The following are songs from Alkaline Trio that I look at as modern foundations of punkrock from before Matt Skiba went radio pop with Blink.

Cheers 🍻 

13 | piss & vinegar

this addiction

12 | nose over tail

goddamnit!

11 | this addiction

this addiction

10 | queen of pain

split album w/ Hot Water Music

9 | i’m dying tomorrow

from here to infirmary 

8 | fuck you aurora

maybe i’ll catch fire

7 | tuck me in

maybe i’ll catch fire

6 | bleeder

the alkaline trio

5 | armageddon

from here to infirmary

4 | maybe i’ll catch fire

maybe i’ll catch fire

3 | mr. chainsaw

from here to infirmary

2 | radio

maybe i’ll catch fire

1 | private eye

from here to infirmary 

13 essential kurt vile songs

The price of honesty is vulnerability sometimes followed by the necessity to overcompensate. And if you are unsure what I mean by that than you missed the last list of essential’s that I brought to discussion last week.  Read More

13 essential DeLonge songs

At the risk of sounding fanboy, juvenile, and in some ways – repetitive (refer to previous post here), I thought it’d be therapeutic to dive in to the music of Tom DeLonge. Read More

13 essential blink 182 songs 

Humor me while I revel in nostalgia for a few moments. (Well – nostalgia outlined with bitter resentment for change.) Read More

13 essential spoon songs

“What should we call us?”
“I don’t know…Spoon?”

That’s how I envision the conversation going when Britt Daniel tried to decide what to call his rock band with the rest of the guys. Read More

13 essential third eye blind songs 

In the spring of 1997 I was a pimply 16 year old kid driving around town in a 1977 Chevy Nova with an engine and audio system upgrade. Driving around town, I would listen to whatever was on New Rock 104.1 as I sought after my place of destination.

That was twenty years ago. That is a long time past. A lot has happened between then and now, many fazes and hairstyle changes have happened that I would just assume not elaborate on. Read More

13 essential thursday songs

When I was in my 20s all of the kids were listening to emo and I could never understand why. Then the double kick drum preceded the scream-along-able choruses as I found my fist in the air and my lungs in 5th gear. Something called “screamo” happened and bands like Thursday were to blame. Read More