Sometime last year, I was contacted by a Brit who was supposedly stating up a vinyl label and who supposedly wanted to release an album by BDSR. I say “supposedly” twice because my immediate reaction was “Yeh, right. What kinda scam is this?” I’d long wanted – and expected to someday – to put out some sounds on the obsolete, long-player format, but I figured that was still way off in some distant hypothetical sometime. I responded with an air of civility and interest, but with no serious expectation that anything would ever come of it.
Well, the months passed with occasional communication betwixt myself and the Brit, whose label was named after a Zoroastrian spirit, until he released his first actual album by some other band and sent me a copy, at which point I started to think this thing might be legit. I started making efforts toward putting together something that I could send in.
Those who are familiar with BDSR might have some difficulty believing that that was harder said than done, considering the rate at which we’ve recorded and released material. But this was for actual vinyl, not download or cd – putting out cd’s was pretty impressive at first, but we’ve done it enough now that the bloom is off that lily. For our first lp, something more than fuzzy guitar scribbles over drum loops seemed necessary; something like fuzzy guitar scribbles over actual drums, which created some little difficulty as far as the actual process of recording drums since what I normally use for recording is a single mic rammed into a laptop, which is why I resort to using a lot of drum loops – that and drum loops are easier to work with than drummers.
I’m not going to go into the details of the many failed recording sessions because that would surely lead to name-calling and bitterness, but there were several failed recording sessions and I must admit that I share in some of the responsibility there because I did not provide the degree of leadership that was apparently needed. In one session, I did jam a single mic into my laptop and record the whole shitshow – we forgot to lock the door of the restaurant and a hobo walked in during the session and tried to bum money and/or beer, I’m not making that up – so after the whole thing was done, when I realized that nothing usable had made it into the multi-track files, I pulled out the best sections of that crappy mono recording, overdubbed the living Jesus out of it and sent it to the guy at the label, who loved it and passed it on the plant to press the vinyl. However, there are apparently limits on what you can do with vinyl and the amount of feedback scree and distorted banjo that I smeared all over the place proved too much so the label guy asked if I could edit a little and I said “no” because I was happy with what I’d done and didn’t want to compromise the integrity of it or some goddam thing. I’m now wondering if I shouldn’t have just chopped it up. But I didn’t. And the label guy was all like “Oi, mate! That’s bloody well chipper! I’ll issue this as a bonus cassette with the first however many lp’s! Blimey! Hey-nonny-nonny!”, which I was really happy about, but that still left me with nothing for the actual vinyl.
So, I shifted the personnel who will be on the vinyl, drafted a Lutheran choir singer and set up more recording sessions which didn’t come off as desired or expected for various reasons and then the drummer started making noises about a friend who had the proper equipment to record drums and how much he’d like to have that guy do the recording so the drums would sound good and I was all for that because I just wanted to get the thing done by that point. It had been months since the label guy first contacted me and I was feeling the pressure of being way behind my own expectations. Usually, I deliver the goods and somebody else is the cause of the delays, a thing I take some pride in. And while I wasn’t exactly the cause of the many, many false starts and failed attempts, I am the bandleader, I guess, which is a thing I didn’t set out to be, but became somehow. So, it is down to me to send the label guy something he can put on vinyl.
The whole process has caused me to think a bit deeplier about how I go about recording. In the past, BDSR tracks have generally been mostly improv, though there have been songs with riffs, lyrics and whatnot. The M.O. has been to throw sounds out and hope they get to the ears that can hear, which has sorta worked – obviously we’ve released a lotta shit. I came up with a handful of riffs, chose a cover and penned some original lyrics, got together with the drummer and gave him the basic sketches, though I didn’t bother with all the different tunings, which doesn’t matter to drummers anyway. The plan, as of this writing, is to get together – the drummer, the guy with the equipment and me; the Lutheran dropped out – one night next week and lay down the tracks. It’ll all be recorded live to digital and should be all first-take. The spirit of improv will remain. Whether that actually happens or the whole thing falls through again…
The whole point of this is not that recording an album is a pain in the ass. I could’ve rented a studio – there’re a few here in town – and paid somebody to twiddle the knobs and push the faders. That was always an option. However, BDSR is DIY and that’s how it should remain. I’ll certainly offer the guy some money for the use of his equipment and know-how, but the idea of paying some audio technology major too much money to roll his eyes when I turn on the second distortion pedal rankles. We are not after smooth, studio-crafted pabulum. The album will not be an appeal to new fans at the expense of BDSR’s signature sound. I’ve been considering shelling out for a different sound program, one that allows multiple ins, which would make it possible for me to set up many mics and get a decent drum sound, but I haven’t yet. That’s gotta happen though.
Shit. I just walked into committing myself to setting up my own portable studio with multi-track capability. Now I have to follow through on that.
But that wasn’t the whole point either. The whole point was and is that BDSR isn’t my project, though as I said, I am the “bandleader”. See, I’m just the vehicle. I received the inspiration and agreed to see it through, but I am not in charge. That belongs to the Ineffable in the form of the Deity whom I worship and whom shall remain unnamed here because I consider that to be personal. It is not up to me to determine when the lp will get recorded, though it is down to me to try to get the drummer to show up at a specific time and to remember what tuning goes with what riff. I just do the footwork.
So, anyway. It’ll get done, I’m sure. The album will come out someday. And if you prebuy it, I’ll make sure you get one of the copies that come with a bonus cassette. Hit me for details.
Addendum: I meant to post this but then a week went by. At this writing, we’ve done the recording. The producer has the tracks and is doing whatever producers do. There were a few false starts, but everything happened in one take. We did one song twice – the two will get spliced together. There was one song that I just couldn’t get right, certainly because it involved me singing words I wrote. After the other people left, I threw the vocal onto my laptop in one take, then overdubbed the guitar.
So anyhoo – the Absolute wanted it to work out and it did. And I will still guarantee copies with the bonus cassette to fools who buy it before release. Hit me up.
In the spring of ’07, I heard somebody use the phrase “the big drum in the sky religion” to mean, basically, “some weird religion”. I immediately wrote the phrase down, knowing that it would be the name of my next band.
I’d been in a few bands at that point, all of them improvisational and heavily influenced by punk, heavy psychedelic, free jazz and noise. They were all fun, but all had ended when the bass player moved away or my girlfriend dumped me. I decided that The Big Drum In The Sky Religion would be myself and whoever I could get to join in at any given moment, thus freeing myself from dependence on any particular other people; that BDSR, as it became abbreviated, would follow Albert Ayler’s example of being free to improve or play riffs and melodies as wonted; and that I would use BDSR to bring together my two main interests – freaky, abrasive, feedbackety music and the world’s vast treasure trove of myth and religion. (At the beginning, I was still somewhat influenced by radical, anarchist politics, as evidenced by the title of BDSR’s first cd – Humanity Won’t Be Happy (Until The Last Bureaucrat Is Hung With The Guts Of The Last Capitalist. I grew out of that.)
Having no set line-up, no reliable vehicle and no desire to travel around playing in basements, I focused on local shows and recording, building a largish list of contacts through what was then considered social media, namely Myspace. I knew that the key to finding an audience would be longevity. Many, many bands get started. Few survive their first year. Those that last and continue to be active will inevitably find their niche. I looked at a few bands who I respected and liked – some of whom I still respect and like, but not all – and saw that they were around for a decade before I heard of them and they all toured extensively. It seemed perfectly reasonable then that it would be at least a decade before people like me heard about BDSR.
So, BDSR played a bunch of local shows with various line-ups for a few years. There were few, if any, people in the audience who actually wanted to hear us – or me, since I sometimes showed up alone. I kept thinking that if I just kept showing up, people would catch on.
That is a huge factor in BDSR – just keep showing up, just keep doing it. There have been times when I felt crushed by the apathy of the local scene. No one cares about this, why do I keep doing this? The thing that kept me plugging along was my belief in the righteousness of it. See, I am a person of faith. My interest in myth and religion comes from my experience of the Divine Mystery. I do believe in something that can be called “God” and I am absolutely certain that when one lives in accord with God’s will, things will happen. Life will get better. The Universe will provide opportunities. BDSR has always been an evangelical unit and I’ve always known that I was doing the will of my Higher Power. In my down times, I just had to remember that if I kept on doing the work, a way would open up.
And there were many victories. I put out the first few cd’s from home, burning them on my laptop. Eventually, somebody who had a label was willing to burn cd’s on their laptop and do the distro, which was amazing. I well remember how good it felt that somebody other than me thought BDSR was worth the price of twenty cdr’s. The fact that it became commonplace for BDSR to release stuff through labels hasn’t diminished my appreciation for those people who put our stuff out, but it isn’t as big a deal as it once was. I enjoy putting individual tracks and cd-length projects up on the BDSR Bandcamp, but at this point I could find a label to release most anything if I wanted.
But the local scene never really warmed up. We hammered away at it for a good seven years, lugging the gear to play for two people in dank basements and providing patrons at local bars an opportunity to go outside and smoke. I set up shows with really amazing touring bands who nobody came to see. And then one night, after a show, I decided “fuck this noise”. It was no longer fun or interesting to show up and play so there were no BDSR shows for about a year and nobody seemed to mind, least of all me. Eventually, I started to want to play so I threw some inquiries around to places we’d done shows outside of Harrisonburg and got some good gigs which were not exactly SRO, but there were people and they seemed to enjoy what we did. At this point, I’m looking forward to a few shows this summer in Charlottesville, Fredericksburg and DC and I hope to never play between metal bands in that basement on Old South High Street again. I wasted no little time wondering why the locals don’t like BDSR and then I accepted it. We do well in other areas, especially when we play in art spaces with other freaky, performance art noisicians, so that’s what we’re gonna do. Not saying BDSR will never perform within the city limits of Harrisonburg, VA, again, but there would have to be cash on the table or some other compelling factor.
Last December, I got an email from some git in UK who wanted to release a BDSR album. Like on vinyl. My first thought was “yeah, right, I bet you also wanna sell me a time-share and you can introduce me to single, horny MILF’s in my area”. I responded to the guy, skeptically, but politely, and he seems to be legit. And again, despite my suspicions and utter disbelief that this could actually be happening, I just did what I was supposed to do. I set up a session with a guy I know who is starting a studio in Richmond to do the recording. When that fell through, I set up a session at a space in Harrisonburg, drove over to the drummer’s house and trucked him and his gear to the space. The four-track recordings turned out to be unusable, but I had also recorded the whole session with a single mic, for no reason other than it seemed like the thing to do at the time and that came out somewhat decent. I had been planning on overdubbing the live material, so I had the skeleton of the thing and just had to put some flesh on it. When it was done, I sent the wav files to Jolly Ol’ England half expecting the guy to have vanished or to hate the material.
At this writing, the files have gone to the press and we’re just waiting for the test pressings to be shipped back. The label guy is gonna do the cover art and there’ll be BDSR vinyl on the market in time for whatever winter solstice holiday you celebrate. Unless it turns out to be a scam, which I still think might be the case because that would, at least, make some kinda sense. I mean, deep down inside I know that I am a mentally-ill, alcoholic fuck-up who can barely hang onto a minimum wage job and certainly can’t keep a driver’s license. I’m the kinda guy who crushes up Percosets, Xanex and meth in an ashtray and snorts lines. I used to drink mouthwash and vanilla extract. Left to my own devices, I’d be sleeping in a box under a bridge, at best. The only reason I’m alive and well, clean and sober, properly medicated and relatively sane, licensed to drive and part-owner of a local business is I committed myself to a spiritual life. Seriously, that’s it. The SSRI’s are certainly necessary, but meds can only take you so far. The secret to my success is my utilization of myth and religion and I avow and affirm that that is exactly what myth and religion are for. All of us are born with the possibility of bringing some unique, wonderful reality into being, if we are willing to do the work. Most people won’t ever try. The only reason I was willing to adopt a spiritual way of life was I realized that I was going to die of an overdose or suicide in the immediate future if I didn’t do something and somebody suggested I try spirituality.
I never would’ve guessed that I’d someday own the first restaurant that refused to serve me alcohol because I was too drunk, that I’d be the father of a wonderful, intelligent and terrifically sweet little grrrl or that somebody would want to release an LP of my sloppy, fuzzy music.
Bizarre. Strange ways, indeed.
But it does seem to be the case, so I’m waiting for the test pressing and there are cd’s about to drop and we might have an improv vocalist at the next show. Things are happening and most of them are pretty good. I keep showing up, keep on doing the work and the Divine Mystery, the Source and Sustainer of All, keeps on opening doors in places where I didn’t even think doors existed.
I thought it would be at least ten years before BDSR got to the level where somebody like me would hear about us and possibly be interested. I don’t know if that’ll happen – we’re into year nine right now – but I don’t care anymore. That kind of thinking mattered at the beginning – it gave me a reason to dig in and keep plugging along. Now I don’t need that. BDSR has become part of how I live, like showing up for work or not buying Night Train at the gas station. Its normal and I like it, so it doesn’t matter if we get cool gigs opening for awesome bands or some ‘zine reviews a release and loves it. That stuff is fun, of course, but it isn’t necessary. Doing the work is really the important
The 4th volume of our on-going eco-feminist compilation series has been released on our Bandcamp, where you can download it for free. We seem to be incapable of not having too much going on at any moment so, after knocking around a few religio-hirsutio puns, we settled on the following for the full title: My Goddess Has A Crazy Bush 5: Hair Piety. That’s right – we’re titling an ostensibly “feminist” project with a silly pun that makes use of a slang term for the female genitalia which many females find offensive and which just about anybody would agree is impolite. And we’re mixing that up with “the quality of being religious or reverent”. What the fuck? Of what could we be thinking?
Let’s take a moment to examine the underlying assumptions, always a profitable thing to do: the prevailing notion among the current crop of active feminists is that no one, least of all a person possessing a Y chromosome, should ever use any word or phrase which refers directly to the lady parts and which is anything other than clinical because the use of such words and phrases exhibits or implies derogation of the owners of said lady parts. This is poppycock, or if you prefer, poppycunt. Words only have meaning within a context. Mark Twain’s use of the dreaded N-word in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was deliberate and necessary to convey Twain’s message that no matter how intelligent, moral and capable Jim was, the society he lived in would never view him as fully human because said society was incapable or unwilling to see past the color of his skin. Jim would always be a “nigger” because the white people around him were racists. Twain was putting the burden of racism where it should be – on the people who promote, sustain and profit from it, not on the victims.
The context in which “Hair Piety” occurs is an on-going series of compilations with the stated goal of promoting the idea that both women and nature, two entities long associated in the world’s vast treasure trove of mythology, are deserving of respect and honor. Neither is unclean, cursed or imperfect. Neither needs to be corrected, controlled or tamed. We hold that women’s bodies and natural processes are right and good and proper exactly as created. Of course we recognize that some interference with the ways of nature is perfectly acceptable. Cultivating fields is a fine thing and certainly some trees must be cut for paper and firewood. And we have no problem with women shaving their cooters or wearing make-up if they so desire. We don’t want to impose a different form of control (and this not about some sort of hairy pussy fetish). But right now, for a woman to simply allow her body to sprout hair wherever it wants to is considered shameful, dirty and wrong by a significant portion of adults in America and that is just fucking stupid. It’s one thing to impose the shaving of legs as a cultural norm – legs are frequently visible in the normal course of things – but to promote in women a sense of shame about their private parts, to encourage the idea that having hair where hair grows on adults is disgusting and/or ugly, is blatant misogyny. That beards on men have become trendy simply underlines the obvious double-standard.
The BD in the SR overtly and loudly promotes the world’s religious traditions as metaphors which help people find and enjoy their best quality of life. We hold that religion should always serve the people, a view we share with Jesus Christ, the Buddha and other luminaries. We base all our positions on concepts taken from reputable religious sources. We also do our very best to embody the playful, crude and possibly bone-headed element frequently called the “Trickster”. Our method of operation always employs puns, double entendre and vulgarity. This, we think, is necessary to point out the hypocrisy in many “religious” traditions. F’r instance, the idea that women are inferior to men is an idiocy promoted by the monotheistic traditions of the Middle East, to wit: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These religious traditions have very much good to offer and we are happy to learn from them and support them when they are right, but when it comes to women, they’re fucking wrong. We understand how they came to their erroneous conclusions and we have no desire to excuse, re-write or apologize for past mistakes. What we’re interested in is moving forward, keeping the good and dumping the bad. (This is true for the silly ideas these traditions have about queers too.)
Nature is of the Divine. Women are of nature and, according to the view of antiquity, closer to the Source than men. The attempts by men to control exploit and dominate both women and nature, justified by religious traditions, happened within a context, a world-view. No sensible person can believe that the world-view of the distant past is true today. No one with their head not in their ass can believe that a magic man on a cloud is going to get pissed off and rain disaster on humanity if two fags get married or a woman walks around with her head uncovered. Everyone can benefit by treating myth as a way of seeing the world through a different lens, a lens constructed over centuries and tested by countless individuals.
Religion unifies, heals and lifts up. When anyone, the religious right in USA or ISIS, uses religion to divide, destroy and oppress, they’re lying and we, the religious, must oppose them.
We therefore state and aver that it is right and good and next to Godliness for women to let their cunts be all hairy and funky. (We’re not out of step with the Sikh faith in this matter, though they don’t generally get as nasty as we do.) A woman having a furry burger is a private rebellion against the status quo, an unseen reminder that she is in charge of her body and, though she may have to make certain concessions for work or whate’er, she has not relinquished complete control of her sacred space to the secular powers.
And what’s so fucking wrong with coarse language? How is it demeaning to women when we take a phrase that has been long used by men and stand it on its head? We didn’t coin “bearded clam” so we see no contradiction in stating that same should in fact be bearded, if their owners so desire. The fallacy that it is wrong to refer to body parts in slang terms comes to us from the same monotheistic traditions mentioned above, by way of Queen Elizibeth I, and serves only the purposes of misogynists and hypocrites. Taking their language and using it for our own ends shows up the lies and usurps their power. Let them have their “vaginas”; we’re better served by “cunts”.
It is our nature to present our ideas boldly and with emphasis. We recognize that we can come across as obnoxious and domineering. This is preferable to us than the weak, lily-livered approach taken by so many of our fellow travelers. Progressive liberals tend to present as deferential and afraid to take aggressive positions. Fuck that. We’re living in wartime. There are forces arrayed against us which would destroy the environment and have half of the human population relegated to second-class status, shaved, bleached and submissive. They have billions of dollars, advertising machines and the tacit, if not overt, support of government. We have no faith that politically-correct, milquetoast liberals are going to affect any change at all, because they never have. It’s going to take grenades and flame-throwers to save what’s good in the world (metaphorically speaking, though that may not last). So we shout our tenets with the words that will hit hardest.
If you agree with us in principle, but dislike our choice of words, we hope the principles will win out. Forgive us our foul-mouths and crass esthetics and join us on the front lines.
May God bless you and keep you. See you on the ramparts
The speaker at church this last Sunday was talking about moral evolution – the idea that morality is an adaptation that made some groups of early humans more likely to survive and pass on their genetic material than others, which makes right good sense. You got a group of hunter-gatherers stealing from each other, fucking each others’ wives and murdering each other, they’re less likely to make it than another group that respects each others’ personal property, relationships and right to life. Some degree of what we now call decency makes people more likely to live long enough to produce offspring and every religion on God’s green Earth prohibits the same basic bad behaviors: don’t do murder; don’t steal; don’t engage in sexual behaviors that are going to cause problems; observe familial obligations. Most religions add a few specific things to that list. The Biblical Ten Commandments throw in some bits about worshiping no other gods (the Judeo-Christian tradition is technically not monotheistic – Yahweh isn’t the only god, just the only one His people are allowed to worship). The Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddha says don’t eat meat or get drunk. There are others and there are reasons for them which are determined or influenced by the context in which the moral code was created. The basic prohibitions are universal.
I should note here that that part about not doing murder means you shouldn’t murder people of your own group. And “murder” is what it’s about. There’s no early moral code that prohibits killing in general because that’s just fucking crazy. If somebody comes at you with a sword or sharp stick, you’re going to kill them. Murder is generally looked down on, but only among your own people are you forbidden from doing it. Moses murdered a guy, but that guy wasn’t a Jew. I don’t know if Sitting Bull ever murdered a Crow or white devil, but it wouldn’t have been a particularly bad thing to his people if he had, just not as glorious as killing them in open combat, which he did a hell of a lot of. And good for him. I’m a pacifist in the same way Sitting Bull was a pacifist – you don’t fuck with me or mine and there won’t be a problem.
As I may’ve said before in this space, the basic moral code of any society is not unlike the basic rules at any elementary school – don’t hit; don’t take other kids’ stuff, raise your hand if ya gotta pee. They’re good rules. They create order, which is necessary if you’re gonna learn the wee’uns their readin’, writin’ and numbers. But I don’t send my rotten kid to school so she can be forbidden from chewing gum for six hours a day. I send her there to learn the things she’s going to need to know to be able to thrive in the world she’s going to live in. People who get all hung up on the Ten Commandments are flat-out missing the point. People have to be somewhat secure in their persons, property and relationships in order to be able to learn the shit that really matters.
Now, about that sex thing. The Semites, and many others, made marriage the ground on which sex was to occur. That’s one way of preventing the hassles that happen when people go around fucking everybody and getting pissed off ‘cause I wanted to fuck her and you were in the way and then they start killing each other. If everybody is monogamous, then you don’t have those troubles and everybody knows who’s responsible for feeding what kids. There are other perfectly good ways of avoiding those problems, which I may go into some other time. Monogamy works – it prevents some issues that could be socially disruptive. Fine.
Forbidding homosexuality is also a fairly common practice, though it seldom makes it into the top ten list. Heterosexuality leads to procreation and it’s more common. Those two factors made our moral forbears conclude that heterosexuality was “natural” and/or “right” as opposed to homosexuality. We now know that homosexual sex happens in many species and we now value sex for more than just procreation. We are therefore now able to say “well, forbidding homosexuality was fine for those early peoples, but we know better now”. Same goes for most other forbidden sex acts. You wanna have bloody sex? Hey, so do I. Of course, it certainly makes sense to keep the “safe, sane, consensual” standard, which isn’t in the Bible but we’re a tad more civilized so let’s have it.
And if you’re a practicing Jew, don’t worship any other gods than Yahweh. If you’s a Buddhist, stay off the booze. I expect you Sikh men to have turbans on. As I’m none of the above, I’m exempt, though I am off the booze for other reasons.
So I agree with the guy at church that morality is a trait that was/is naturally selected for. It should be obvious that I see no conflict between religion and evolution and that I attend a church which feels the same way, which is the Unitarian-Universalist, if you’re curious. Yes, they’re a bunch of white, milquetoast liberals and I’m sure I’ve snorted more meth than the entire rest of the congregation put together, but they’re decent enough people.
Branching out a bit, I’m also fairly confident that we’re devolving morally as we speak. Not because queers can get married. My wee grrrl has been to a few same-sex weddings in her short span and I’m fine with that. I mean, we’re rapidly losing respect for life and for sexual relationships, though we continue to be pretty adamantly in favor of keeping what we got and getting more. Decadent sex, violence and antisocial behavior are Oscar-winning entertainments, which is pretty fooked up. From where I sit, it’s looking like the end of the Roman Empire. Shit, one of the leading contenders in the current election cycle looks a lot like Caligula to me, though Malcolm McDowell had better hair. I know everybody acts like every election is the make/break and hand-wringing about the deterioration of the social order is the pastime of the old and infirm, but it sure looks like some ugly shit waits around the bend, or slouches toward Bethlehem. We’ll see.
In the meanwhile, keep both feet on the wheel and try not covet your neighbor’s ass.
Every so often, I feel some sort of need or desire to affirm the pure sincerity with which The Big Drum In The Sky Religion treats the religions and myths of this, the best of all plausible worlds: we are totally sincere, at least this Espresso Shaman, the founder and soul constant, the official grunt and spokesperson is absolutely and steadfastly sincere. The other fucks can speak for themselves, though not for BDSR. There is no, not a bit, of irony in our celebration of religion and/or myth. We don’t do irony. Fuck a bunch of irony. I am so fucking sick of hipsters being ironical.
Anyway, though, all the religions and myths are true as metaphor. If you take them as literal truth, you will find yourself attempting to believe things that no rational person could possibly believe in light of all that we’ve learned about the world and the universe and that’s been true for centuries. And I’m not just talking about Judeo-Christianity – the Norse cosmology is pretty far out and the Hindus think the Universe came out of an egg, though they don’t specify what type of bird or reptile laid it, as far as I know. Point being, you can’t take that shit literally.
Conversely, if you read it a metaphor, then it all makes perfect fucking sense. If any myth doesn’t make sense when you read it as a metaphor, then you need to meditate on it for a while until it does make sense which they all do. Granted, it does take some practice to learn to read myth as metaphor, especially when you were raised up on the idea that some myths, specifically the ones we believe, are facts whilst others, i.e. the ones they believe, are lies. Nonetheless, I learned to do it and I’m functionally illiterate, so anybody else can do it, too. Below are some things that one might be helpful to know:
- You are the main character. In any myth, of any age or tradition, always identify with the main character. All myths are stories about the inner workings of all individuals regardless of age, race, gender or what-have-you, so they’re always about you. Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by the Devil? You’re Jesus. Arjuna on the battlefield at Kuru? You’re Arjuna. Thor dressing as a giantess to retrieve Mjollnir? You’re Thor. And so on, no matter what myth you’re reading. It is slightly more complicated for women, as so many of the main characters of myth are male, but in my experience, women are used to having to identify with male characters, so it shouldn’t add much of a burden. It’s also true that none of us are or should be entirely male or female - or rather, none of us are entirely yin or yang, all of us being a more-or-less equal mixture of the two – and the “male” main characters of myths really stand for the yang/active aspect of any individual, so any female can identify with Arjuna in her active roles, which won’t be totally accurate since women have other, mysterious shit going on, but will serve the function.
- You are all the other characters. Just as you are you in your dreams and you are also all the other characters, so are you the main character and all the other characters in myth or they are some aspect of you. So when you are Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, you are also the Devil who says “Cause these stones to be made bread”, which is another way of saying “Instead of pursuing the goal you have taken on, sell out and make money” and, if you’re smart, you’re also Jesus saying “Man does not live by bread alone, but by the word of God”, which is another way of saying “I ain’t in it for the money, asshole”. Unless you are in it for the money, in which case you might as well stop reading now and fuck off.
- All myths have the same underlying story – how to live a good, meaningful life. That is a fact. No matter what the myth seems to be about, the message under the surface is always the same thing: identify the thing that truly matters to you, establish a goal and pursue that goal no matter what. Anything that diverts you from pursuing that one goal is a trap laid by the Devil to prevent you from pursuing the goal. The most common trap is money, because it’s the easiest. Jesus’ goal was to die on the cross to redeem humanity from sin. Arjuna’s goal was to reclaim his throne from the usurper. Thor’s goal was, in the story mentioned, to get Mjollnir back from the giant who stole it, but that was merely a short-term goal which was necessary for his long-term goal which was to use Mjollnir to fight the giants and monsters in the final battle at Ragnarok, a battle in which he was to die, as were all the Gods and all the giants and all the monsters and all the people except two, but it doesn’t matter that his goal was ultimately destined for failure because that never matters. Whether you ever attain the goal is irrelevant. Actually, if you’ve set yourself a goal that is attainable, you’re thinking too small. Any goal less than the complete transformation of the world is nickel-dime shit and not worthy of consideration.
You might not know what your goal should be. That’s fine. Just pick something that seems like it might be your goal or something that seems like it could feed into your goal or just pick something. Parcival didn’t start off with the Grail. He left his mother’s little house in the woods because he saw some knights and thought it would be cool to be a knight. His mother died of heartbreak, but that’s fine since she was just an impediment and she wasn’t really his mother since we’re talking about myth. She was just a representation of the childish part of him which longed for security and comfort. Leaving her dead in the road, Parcival left to become a knight which was a necessary step toward his real goal, which he couldn’t’ve known about before he became a knight at Arthur’s court, which was the Holy Grail. See how that works? So whatever you start with, provided you start sincerely and with conviction, you’ll find yourself finding out along the way what your true goal is and it won’t be money. It can’t be stressed often enough that money is never going to be the goal. If you happen to get some money, that’s fine, but it is never the goal.
- Animals are the body. Somewhere along the line, Parcival really fucks up and is informed by a messenger of God that he will never, ever, ever find the Holy Grail because he fucked up so bad. Parcival decides to continue looking anyway, because looking for the Holy Grail is his goal and therefore the only thing worth doing whether he can ever achieve it or not. He doesn’t know what direction he should go so he lets the reins go slack and lets the horse choose the path. This kind of thing happens a lot in myths. Somebody follows a dog deep into the woods or is lured from the road by a whip-or-will or is convinced by a snake to taste the forbidden fruit. This always means that they are following the wisdom of the body. You have to remember that the brain just thinks it’s in charge. The body also has desires and needs and sometimes the body is smarter. (I recently fell while climbing a rock-face on a mountain. My body twisted in air in a way my mind couldn’t have made happen, which caused me to have a bruised foot rather than a broken leg.) Sometimes, you’re better off just letting the body decide.
The holiest animal, by the way, is the snake, because it sheds it’s skin as the moon sheds it’s shadow, which is a symbol of casting off mortality; because it’s vital life force is not diverted by limbs; and because it is in constant contact with Earth which is the source of our being. Snake trumps all other animals.
- Women = nature; men = society. That’s really why men have all the chores in myths. Men/society has to be active. Women/nature doesn’t have to do anything because it just happens. Again, metaphor. Not actual women and men, who have to sometimes be active and sometimes not.
- Nothing interesting happens when you follow the rules. Not that you always want interesting things to happen. Most of the time, following the rules is a good idea and will help you get along better with your neighbors, which is why the rules are always laid out clearly in the first chapter of the holy writ. Generally they’re good rules and will prevent squabbles. However, when it’s time for adventure, the rules have to go. If the wise people say “Don’t go north”, you go north. If God says “Don’t eat the fruit”, eat the fucking fruit. If your father says “Don’t fly too high”, you fly too high and if the wax holding your wings together melts and you fall in the ocean and die, well, that happens.
Knowing when and in what way to break the rules can be dicey. The guide should be whether the rules are helping you achieve your goal or not. Jesus was asked about keeping the Sabbath and he said “Was the Sabbath made for man or man for the Sabbath?” a rhetorical question that meant “don’t bother me with the rules. I’m after my goal”.
- Paradoxes are the mile markers on the holy road. When you encounter a mutually exclusive pair of truths, treasure the moment. You are a temporal and finite being attempting to have a relationship with that which is eternal and infinite. You will never understand it. That’s fine.
- Experience matters more than understanding. Religions and myths are maps to sacred places, how-to guides for finding that which really matters. In themselves, they matter about as much as a menu matters to one who is starving. Do you want to read the Kama Sutra or do you want to fuck? I’ll tell ya, the Kama Sutra ain’t that interesting. Whatever religion you pursue, whatever myth you read, whatever path up the mountain you follow, the thing that matters more than anything else is the experience.
Been a while since I did anything here. That’s got a bit to do with being busy with various other aspects of life in the Zone of Middle Dimensions and a bit other with the fact that I just ain’t a writer. I’m functionally literate, but not much enamored of putting word-beads on strings, especially when there are actual beads to sew to the cape, bones to bleach and an unread Norse saga on the shelf. That on top of the regular daily chores – working my normal job, childrearing, keeping the little red truck street legal and running, hanging out with my various spiritual communities, staring off into space and errata. There’s been a flurry of recording action in the past few months which has created a glut of material that I’m now trying to find outlets for.
The kids at HysM? are finishing up a BDSR/Garage Olimpo! split cassette which will be dropping any day now. They’ve also just agreed to put out a cd’s worth of excreta we threw at them titled The Hero With A Thousand Faeces which is somewhat of a departure from the standard BDSR formula in that all the songs are short – fifty seconds to three minutes or so. There’s over forty tracks on that one, which meant a lot of time sitting around struggling to come up with stupid puns for titles. I offered to do a photo shoot for the cover art which means I’ll be standing around in the woods mostly naked in the cold tomorrow, but suffering for art and spiritual development is part of the job.
Merciful Shaft Records is a Virginia-based label we recently joined up with. Somebody in that organization is involved with Programmed Cell Death, a band that appeared on one of the crazy bush comps. MSR will be putting out The Big Drum In The Sky Religion Will Rearrange Your Faith either as a download or cd or both, probably both – I should find out. Sometime next year, I suppose.
We are talking with a lad in the UK about vinyl. Specifically, the possibility that his label, Vohu Mana, will be taking on the task of releasing the first BDSR long-playing, obsolete record. Being enshrined on vinyl is something we’ve figured would eventually happened. It will be a big, shiny feather for the medicine hat and might cause some kerfuffle since many people seem to consider the album format evidence of actually mattering. So, we’re pretty stoked about it. The potential title of that is The Perineum Philosophy.
There’s a couple other things in the can – a recently finished chunk titled The Common-Law Marriage Of Heaven And Hell, which will find some sort of home someday – and an older thing, Fear Of A Sacred Planet, which has been gathering dust for no good reason. I hereby decree that Sacred Planet will be available for consumption by Xmas.
The My Goddess Has A Crazy Bush series continues. Next out will be #4, Don’t Shave Me, Lucifer, which will have a few new participants and a few who’ve been in on these things before. We’re still looking for musicians to contribute to Mad Pride Goeth Before A Fall, the offshoot comp which is limited to participants who have or have had mental illness(es). The limitation placed on that one means putting together a reasonable collection will take longer, but we believe in it strongly enough to keep slogging. And we’ve got some really good stuff for it.
Shows! Hopefully, our intrepid drummer boy, Drummer Boy, will figure out where we’re playing at his birthday party next week and tell the rest of us so we can show up. In December, we’re hosting W1LD T0RVS and Spreaders at Harrisonburg’s Little Grill on the 18th and trekking over to Charlottesville on the 19th to drop sonic bombs at the Tea Bazaar with same. This will be our first show in C’ville in years and we expect to make ourselves unwelcome in a different way than before.
Sometimes, this here Espresso Shaman gets a vague feeling that some kinda change is coming. I have that lately, like BDSR is due for a slight tweaking of the dials, a revamp, if you will, or a new approach to old wineskins. Our evolution as a band tends to happen in fits and spurts and we’ve been doing something for a while which may be about to get different somehow. I really don’t know what’s in the wind or if it’ll be discernible when it occurs, but something seems imminent or eminent or some such.
I’ll be out at the Hollar House for another winter. This year, I have folks who will happily eat slightly battered venison, so I’ll be stopping to pick up deer. Vegetarian me, I’ll be giving away the meat and keeping the hides and bones so there will be more parts to process. Visual art seems to be more interesting for me in the colder months so I’ll doubtless be scribbling on paper. BDSR’s Ambassador to the Third World, Ms. Italian Ice, is back in North America for a while so there will be hiking and crafting and recording her nasally New York voice, reciting sutras and psalms in Swahili or Mandarin. The Spotted Opossum is bigger and bolder than ever before. She wants to be a gymnast and ballerina and princess all at once and all the time. And of course, she wants to go sledding and play in the fire.
All is well in the world. Get in touch if ya wanna.
So, ya know how shaman’s are always decked out in ridiculous get-ups, festooned with beads, bangles, bones, bells and other assorted ephemera? Have ya ever wondered what’s up with that?
Well, first off, let’s backtrack a bit and recognize that shamanism occurs all over God’s green Earth, from Waikawa, New Zealand, to Canada’s Igloolik Island. Shamanism has occurred everywhere and continues to flourish all over. A shaman is a specialist in spirit travel and healing and shamans are usually found within the context of animism, though they sometime’s show up in other spiritual environments, usually as holdovers from those cultures’ earlier animism. The fact that all cultures, everywhere, began with animism is why animism is widely recognized as the original religious form. Whether later develops such as monotheism and holy wars are considered refinements or perversions depends on one’s perspective.
Shamans tend to similar activities, quirks and styles all over the globe. Obviously, they differ in detail – Mongolian shamans don’t decorate their medicine hats with bird-of-paradise feathers – but the general picture is the same. And everywhere ya go, shamans are sporting capes, masks and boots bespangled with skulls, claws, shells, shiny bits of metal and various other odds’n’ends. This here writer, me, Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman, is no exception.
Somewhere, in some book that I opened because it had the word “shamanism” in the title, but didn’t finish because it was one of those new age, how-to books for suburban neo-pagans who want to learn to spirit travel, I found the word “powerphernalia” to describe the get-ups shamans wear when they’re shamanizing. It’s a fine enough word. I’ll use it.
Powerphernalia is the shaman’s outfit and whatever gew-gaws s/he has attached to it. The objects dangling, rattling and banging about display the shaman’s fashion sense and add to the shaman’s powers. Each object is chosen by the shaman and added to the costume for specific, if only barely understood reasons. Every shaman’s outfit is unique. An object may have a story attached; may be associated with a particular event; may represent a particular type of power.
My own shamanic ensemble – the veiled medicine and beaded cape, mostly, but also the furry chaps, red fishnets and some other crap – is a work in progress. The gimcracks and doo-dads affixed to my outfit are of various pedigrees, from bones I found in the woods to beads I bought at the store. There are ribbons, washers, costume jewelry, military insignia, brass bells, religious icons and a veritable shitload of other random shit. Some of it might have some inherent power which is added to my cache, making me better able to cast out evil spirits and do that spastic shredding thing I do above the 12th fret, but most of it just crap I found, but even that is not without power. The majority of the power invested in my own garb is there because I have imbued the garments with my time and energy. More important than any specific thingie attached to any specific piece of my gear is the intention of the shaman. It is the deliberate action and care which the shaman works into the medicine hat or what-have-you that gives it it’s import.
As I write this, I am in a motel room in Cherry Grove, SC. The Atlantic Ocean is right out the window. I’m here with family – my daughter, the Spotted Opossum, who has a bit of a tummy ache, as well as some other people who I’m related to but don’t like as much. All week, I’ve been taking the wee grrrl into the waves where she’s been shrieking that really high-pitched shriek she shrieks when she’s more excited than scared, erecting edifices of sand – the Spotted Opossum is a natural-born mound-builder who hasn’t fully figured out why buildings built on and/or out of sand are structurally unsound especially when assailed by a rising tide – and tolerating the presence of my kinfolk. They suck. Not in any special, interesting sort of way. They suck in a boring, small-town, Anabaptist way.
And I’ve been gathering shells. Most of the shells on this stretch of Atlantic coastline are smashed to bits and shards by the time they get to the beach, except for the coquinas, which are small and very plentiful, which in turn makes them worthless to the hordes of Americans on vacation who wander past them all day looking for intact mauve-mouth drills, which they ain’t gonna find. The shells I’ve been picking up are nothing special, but they are somewhat charismatic to me, if no one else, and the spirits of the sea have very thoughtfully bored tiny holes in many of them, which will make sewing them to my cape a lot easier. Shells, in general, represent the watery powers of the ocean/unconscious mind and I am especially drawn to the insignificant, overlooked, unwanted and worthless, so these little mussels are just right for me. I’ve got a few hundred and will double that by the time we’re done here. They’ll look great on my cape.
Time, energy and deliberate attention are what make things special. The hours spent with needle and thread sewing little bits of errata to a polyester sheet and a furry old man hat found in a thriftstore that later went under are all it took to transform them into a shaman’s cape and medicine hat. Most of my powerphernalia is from the mountains of central Virginia, because I am. Shells from a beach that is on the top ten list of beaches in the USA where one might hope to be attacked by a shark will add some variety.
And that’s all there is to that.
“That Old Time Religion” is a great, old, traditional hymn. We love it. There’s a version of it on the BDSR Bandcamp, as “That Old Time Distortion”, which you can download for free. From an objective position, however, “That Old Time Religion” is slightly flawed as a hymn because it isn’t about the glory or mercy of the Almighty, or how nice it’s going to be when we get to Heaven, or about the awful price Jesus paid on Calvary to redeem us all from sin. It’s about how much better things used to be, which is kind of an odd subject for a hymn. “I don’t want to develop new insights or even have a direct, personal experience of the Divine”, is what “That Old Time Religion” seems to be saying. “I don’t wanna grow up.”
Those familiar with The Power Of Myth, (and if you aren’t, we highly recommend you become so, STAT), may recall Smokin’ Joe Campbell’s rendition of “That Old Time Religion” which contained the lyrics
Let us worship Aphrodite
She’s beautiful but flighty
She doesn’t wear a nightie
She’s good enough for me
The point of Campbell’s version is that there are a lot of “old time” religions, many predating Christianity, a point worth making, but not what we’re on about right now.
The gyst of the traditional version of “That Old Time Religion” is that modern society is all complicated and weird and we should return to a simpler, more righteous form of life centered around the little brown church in the vale, or some other humble meeting place, almost certainly in a rural setting, where God-fearing people congregate to sing praises to the one, true and only God, who sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for the sins of mankind which mankind was deceived into committing by the woman that God made for man who was tempted by the serpent who was actually an angel who fell from Heaven and so on. We don’t know when, exactly, this better form of religion was current, but it’s reasonable to place it somewhere in the vicinity of 1850-1950. That’s a wide margin and totally a guess. The song seems to fit in that area, in a sleepy, yet hard working, Southern community, where blacks know their place, gays don’t exist and women spend a significant portion of their time baking pies and quilting.
If you’ve been listening to conservative talk radio lately, you’ve heard a lot of right-wing assholes yammering on about we should all get back to “our” Christian values. Things were, apparently, better for everybody, back when everybody behaved the way they were supposed to, before people stopped going to church every Sunday and things got all weird.
That’s a load of bullshit, obviously – there never was a time when everybody was a simple, God-fearin’ Christian, not even in the rural South. There have always been people doing things the Bible says they oughtn’t, and the God-fearin’ Christians of the rural South are the people who got together in the evenings and formed chapters of the Ku Klux Klan. Not all of ‘em, of course, but the KKK is a self-proclaimed Christian organization, so it’s not a totally incorrect statement. Women, Hispanics and the LGBT’s have made major advances in recent years and may someday be able to enjoy the full cornucopia of basic human rights guaranteed to all Americans, maybe, despite the valiant efforts of God-fearin’ Christians. The Big Drum In The Sky Religion fully endorses and celebrates the achievements made by all marginalized peoples in their quest for equality.
It is certainly true, however, that Christianity provided a framework in which people lived. Blacks, gays and women knew where they fit into the system. There were established limits for everybody. The situation might’ve been pretty shitty, but it was clear. You knew who you were. You knew what was expected of you. Breaking down the old systems was/is necessary to create a more equitable and just world, but it leaves us with broken systems or none at all. That’s where we are right now – in a transitional period between the end of the old and the rise of the new. That’s why we live in such interesting times. There is no secure, established paradigm right now. Society has fragmented into countless splinter groups, each one it’s one cult(ure), none of them invested in the larger society. Even Christianity is fragmented into dozens of factions, each opposed to the minute details of the others. The scaffolding that used to hold up our society has been ripped down and now there’s nothing.
Which is fine. The old scaffolding, mainly Christianity, was good for a while. It kept things going. But it was also grossly unjust and – worse – unwilling to change. Christianity is a religion of the Book and because the Book cannot change, Christianity cannot change. They could, of course, treat the whole Book like metaphor and have no trouble, but they’ve chosen not to do that, which is why they’ve been on the ropes for five-hundred years. In the most recent hundred years or so, such massive shifts have occurred, both in the realms of social justice and our knowledge about the universe, that there’s no way any reasonable person can believe what the Bible says. Pope Francis has done his Church a lot of good by simply stating that he believes what science shows and we should all try to be a bit more compassionate and loving, which is what Jesus said. Whether he can pull the Church out of the ditch remains to be seen, but this Espresso Shaman hopes he can.
Times change. Societies change. If a religion refuses to keep up, that religion will get left behind. Hindus don’t have these problems, because they acknowledge that their myths are metaphors. They don’t claim that there is an actual god with blue skin and six arms, who keeps the universe going by dancing. Consequently, Hinduism, which is the oldest practiced religion, isn’t obsolete. It changes with the times. Actually, Hinduism is even more interesting now because so much of what the yogis have been saying for thousands of years has been shown to be true by quantum physics.
Lead, follow or get outta the fuckin’ way. Christianity won’t disappear – there are still Jains in various places, somehow. But some new form of having a relationship with the Divine will appear. Possibly – though very improbably – Christians will finally fess up to the fact that it ain’t fact; it’s metaphor. If you read the Bible as fact, it makes no sense whatsoever; read as metaphor, it’s exactly right. Check out Genesis 1 and 2, KJV. The creation story there is impossible to reconcile with anything we know about reality, though they did pretty much get the order of things right – universe, Earth, plants, animals in the water and on land, humans. Read it as metaphor, as a symbolic story less about the origin of the planet and life on it, more about the lived experience of individuals, and it makes perfect sense.
My daughter, the Spotted Opossum, was born a perfectly innocent, little Eve, completely ignorant of the harsh nature of life and totally unaware of sexuality. Now, at six, she’s still pretty innocent. She likes girls and doesn’t like boys, though she tolerates me pretty well. She is becoming aware that the world doesn’t exist to please her, but she still gets upset when it doesn’t. As she grows, she will, inevitably and naturally, leave her privileged and pure childhood state behind. In Genesis, this is a fall. Many other cultures recognize that something is lost when childhood ends, but they perceive it as an elevation in status, not a tragic fall from grace. That’s how I see it too. I take the serpent, symbol of the eternal processes of nature, at his word – eat of the fruit and ye will become as God is, fully conscious, self-directed and creative.
The grrrl understands metaphor. She brought me a book at the local kids’ museum one day, a creationist version of Genesis 2 for kids. She wanted me to read it to her, so I did, leaving out a couple of completely ridiculous passages, like the one about how there were dinosaurs in Eden.
“Is that right, Daddy? Did God make the world in a week?”
I explained that it was just a story, a way of talking about how the world came into existence. Really, we know that the world was formed over a period of millions of years and it took millions more for plants to come about and then millions more for fish and so on. She understands that. She displays no cognitive dissonance when it comes to stories that don’t match up with observed reality. Stories are stories, which doesn’t mean they aren’t meaningful. They are meaningful. Stories can and do offer very good lessons about life, even if – especially when – they aren’t rooted in reality as we perceive it.
So, the moral of this is – it’s a fucking metaphor, for Christ’s sake. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism, Shinto, all the various sundry tales told by tribal elders on reservations or hiding in jungles, they’re all metaphors. That doesn’t mean they’re just fantasy, by the way. A metaphor must be a metaphor for something – there has to be a thing being referenced or a metaphor ain’t one. There are mysterious forces at work and play which are beyond our grasp. Ask any quantum physicist if you don’t believe me. These forces have some impact on our lives, though I do admit that I’m not relying on them 100% to fix my transmission.
Metaphors be with you.
Hey, howdy. How’s things? We’re all doing pretty decent here at BDSR HQ. Stuff is always going on and that’s how we like it.
Our recentest release is Turning Trickster, available on the download and cd formats from the good folks at Have you said Midi?( https://hysm.bandcamp.com/album/turning-trickster-hysm-112). We generally don’t release stuff we’re unhappy with – though we do sometimes look back on earlier releases and wonder what we were thinking when we did that – but Trickster is one of those that stands out as an especially inspired project, one that conveys more clearly what BDSR is about, which in this particular case is the archetype of the Trickster, personification of creative chaos.
Oh wait, after I wrote that paragraph, I was going to say that we had something coming out from Ingrown Records soon and I checked their Bandcamp and discovered that it’s out now, which means that Sweetheart Of The Ashvamedha is our recentest release and can be found here - https://ingrown.bandcamp.com/album/sweetheart-of-the-ashvamedha. That’ll also be available as a cd and you can get both of the above from us or from the respective labels, whichever seems easier.
There are cassettes in the works from HysM? and Ingrown. The one from HysM? will be a split with our old friends Garage Olimpo! and Ingrown is handling a tape that has BDSR on both sides. No definite word on when those will be out.
We got a cassette in the mail recently, from Deep White Sound, http://deepwhitesound.com/, a tape of a sound project BDSR contributed to. We’ve got a few things available through Deep White. While you’re there, you might as well check out some of the other artists/bands.
Artetetra - http://artetetracollective.tumblr.com/ - has a behemoth titled Twin Infinities (Feel God About Your Body) that they’ve been sitting on while they wander around the former Axis countries, lolly-gagging, spacing out and generally being silly. Feel free to pester them to get the fucker out before Greece collapses and sucks the entire Euro Zone into the bowels of Mother Earth.
Speaking of whom, we continue to solicit participants in the My Goddess Has A Crazy Bush compilation series. The third installment – All Natural – will be released at some point. We have several tracks for that one – including a good handful by folks we’ve not worked with before. The point of the Crazy Bush series is to highlight the metaphorical relationship between women and the Earth and to promote the radical notion that both are both are sacred in their natural state. We also try to put together good compilations – diverse collections of music. All Natural is shaping up pretty nicely. (We still need tracks, so feel free to contribute.)
There’s another Crazy Bush comp in the works – Mad Pride Goeth Before A Fall. That one continues the environmental theme, but adds a twist – mental illness. Participation is limited to artists/musicians who have or have had some kind of mental illness and who are willing to go public about it. See, we, the insane, are the most marginalized motherfuckers on God’s green Earth and sometimes we want to do something just for us and our crazy compatriots. We’d really like to take over completely, but right now we don’t have the numbers and the voices in our heads are encouraging us to wait. Until the time comes for the uprising, we’re killing time. The pool of possible contributors is smaller for Mad Pride is limited, so it’ll take longer to put it together. But there are a few tracks in and they’re pretty awesome.
Somebody is making noises about releasing BDSR on vinyl. Possibly next year. We’re in the early stages of talking about it and the label is just getting fired up, doesn’t have a website yet, so we can’t promote them, but we will when they get the thing up. Putting something out on vinyl would certainly be a feather in the medicine hat.
After taking a year off from shows to do other shit, we’re returning to the stage in a month. 31 July, we’ll be performing at the Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center in Silver Springs, MD, with VV/LD T0RVS, Pas Musique and Chuck Johnson. That show was organized by the people at Sonic Circuits - http://dc-soniccircuits.org/ - and we’re thrilled to be part of it.
This is as good a place as any to announce that we’ve lost all interest whatsoever in performing in our hometown, Harrisonburg, VA. The local scene has never been all that interested and we see no reason to beat that particular dead horse any longer. We would be willing to play in H’burg if there was a guarantee of $666, but barring that, we’re looking for shows outside of H’burg, so if you’ve got a room wired for electricity, hit us up. We like art centers, damp basements, hidden grottoes and desecrated churches best.
In other news, the Spotted Opossum is looking forward to first grade. The truck is leaking transmission fluid. The Supreme Court took a step toward allowing basic human rights to gays, lesbians &c in the United States, but also gave corporations the green light on dumping mercury, lead and other known toxins into the environment and gave the thumbs-up to prisons executing people using potentially painful drugs. The blackberries are dripping off the vines and the wineberries are about to pop out. God is in Her Heaven and all is right.
There’s probably something else.
- A number of years ago, a friend turned me on to Spacemen 3. My first impression was that they were on a lot of drugs. Then I realized they were singing about Jesus, which I thought was a joke. After a dozen or so songs, I realized they were sincere, which made me love them that much more. Massive drug abuse and metaphysical devotion go together like cornbread and beans. And the Spacemen know how to drive a fuzzbox.
- I had a conversation with Ira Kaplan once, when I was eighteen, during the course of which I asked him for his thoughts on distortion pedals. Mr. Kaplan advised me to get a Rat. I took his advice and purchased a Rat distortion pedal, which proved to be perfectly adequate, though not spectacular. I don’t know what happened to that pedal. I assume I sold it for drug money.
I find it amazing that the guitar-destroying, feedbacking maniac whose opinion I sought regarding distortion pedals devolved into the gutless, twee pantywaist he is now.
- I have a young, female friend who I regularly refer to as “my taxidermist”. I am, of course, capable of doing my own tanning and such, but I have numerous demands on my time and she really enjoys working on the various specimens I take to her, mostly roadkill. I pay her with doe skulls, which are very easy for me to obtain and which she sells via the internet to people who want animal skulls but who are too lazy or stupid to go out to the country and find a place where poachers dump their carcasses after cutting out the loins.
I’ve known her for several years. For most of that time, she seemed to be kinda drifting, in the beery way that people in their twenties often do, just sorta stumbling through life with no real drive or direction. Then, she got into roller derby which gave her some motivation and purpose. More recently, she discovered her love of working with dead animals. She isn’t licensed to practice taxidermy, but she’s working on that and getting practical experience on anything she can get hold of – mice, rabbits, raccoons, deer. I took her a fox t’other day, which she’s going to pelt for me. She showed me her basement workspace. She’s got skulls in various stages – bear, coyote, the biggest buck ever taken in Rockingham County.
It’s wonderful to see someone find their thing, their passion. Especially when it benefits me so directly.
- I know this guy. He’s a big galoot, lotta tattoos, shaved head, red laces in his Docs. I didn’t say we were friends. We were talking recently, about spiritual matters. I was not at all surprised when he mentioned his interest in Odin, Thor and the rest of the Norse pantheon. I can understand why racists are so into Norse mythology – it’s pretty fuckin’ badass and the Vikings were pretty fuckin’ white. It’s too bad though – means that the rest of us have to avoid getting tattoos of Mjollnir. Also, the swastika is an ancient and wonderful symbol which has been usurped by Nazi assholes, although the Buddhists and Hindus continue to use it. Actually, we should all start using swastikas and valknuts to decorate our bodies and homes. Fuck Nazis. They shouldn’t get anything.
- There is, somewhere on the internet, a review of My Goddess Has A Crazy Bush, the first in the “Crazy Bush” compilation series. It is a generally positive review. The only track the reviewer didn’t like was BDSR’s “Prayer To Humankind (Medicine Story)” which consisted of a looped sample from Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” under this Espresso Shaman reading “Prayer To Humankind” by Medicine Story. It is the simplest, most direct track BDSR has ever done and is 100% sincere. The reviewer said it was like “Beck reading New Age Scientology”, or something like that. I don’t recall his exact words. I didn’t address it because the review of the comp was positive, but I would like to state here, for the record, that if anyone calls BDSR “New Age” or suggests that I am in any way like Beck to my face, I will stomp a mudhole in their ass.
- It’s a well-known fact that I am a devotee of distortion. There is no logic or rational underlying my love of fuzz – it’s purely emotional, visceral, perhaps animal, sometimes physical. That’s the case with the guitar on certain tracks, by Zambian psych outfit WITCH. I experience the lead in “Home Town”, for example, in about the same way I experience nipple stimulation – so overwhelmingly pleasurable that my body recoils from it.
- There are a number of BDSR tracks that have the word “brown” in the title – “Brown Sabbath”, “Brown Wadada”, “Sweet Brown Angel ‘N Heavy Syrup”. That comes from my nom de guerre, Brown Hat, but also from brown as the color of dirt, trees, many animals and general earthiness. Brown is also the color of shit – the phrase “brown hat” can refer to the poo that is on the head of a penis when it is removed from an asshole – which dovetails with the BDSR tenet that all natural things are sacred, even poo.
(This is as good a place as any to state that we of The Big Drum In The Sky Religion hold and affirm that the Absolute, Infinite and Eternal, Ineffable and Inconceivable, Divine Mystery which created, supports, infuses and is the entirety of all that is and more, is not offended or harmed by, nor is in any way concerned about, whether or not somebody fucks somebody in the ass. It really doesn’t matter that much. Have at it. Obviously, we as mere humans are stoutly in favor of all the standard consenting adults, not scaring the horses kinda jazz, but otherwise, do it in the ass all you want. There is, by the way, no good reason to brag about it, post pics to the internet or start a porno-grind band dedicated to it and we really wish you wouldn’t because all that does is reinforce the dominant paradigm and encourage people to pay any attention whatsoever to porno-grind, which is a completely useless and puerile form of expression. It may seem that this Espresso Shaman, by assuming the nom de guerre “Brown Hat”, is bragging about it, but that is not the case. The name “Brown Hat” properly derives from the fact that said individual frequently wears a somewhat battered, broad-brimmed, leather hat which is brown. It is true that we are amused by the fact that the phrase “brown hat” also refers to the poo that may be on a dick after ass-fucking, but that’s incidental and kinda punk in a way.)
As any artist knows, colors are frequently shown on a color wheel. The colors that are opposite each other on the wheel – red/green, yellow/purple &c – when mixed together always make brown. So brown can also stand for the mixture, or integration, of opposites – male/female, good/evil, yin/yang.
And it hearkens back to a minor epiphany I had as a teenage dishwasher in one of my many restaurant jobs. A server set down a bunch of coffee cups, each one partially full and each one containing a different ratio of coffee to milk, ranging from off-white to black, which in the case of coffee is actually very dark brown. When I looked at the coffee in the cups, I saw the full range of skin colors from albino to Ivory Coast. Obviously, Asians and Native Americans were not represented in the coffee/milk, but my brain automatically included them. I knew before then that all people are of the same substance regardless of their hue, but that illustration slammed it home. Coffee is, as you may know by now, a sacrament of The Big Drum In The Sky Religion, which had not yet been conceived when I was a teenage dishwasher, but which nevertheless existed in potentiality, so having the races of humanity vividly portrayed in the tones of this divine substance was a real eye-opener. All human beings are some shade of brown.
Great quotes by me:
“Knowing isn’t half the battle. Killing half your enemies is half the battle.”
“’Pessimism’ is what idiots call realism.”
“Coffee is proof that God loves us and wants us to be awake.”
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.