Posts Tagged ‘Monster’

I get a lot of questions about how to start one’s own website because I am that sort of nerd. This is partially due to the fact that I have owned froggacuda.com for almost 20 years now, and have had a web presence at or around that domain / name / moniker / handle for just as long. As King Fantastic says, “I be go to hell before I fuck my brand up”. I have spent just as long trying to figure out not just what my brand represents, but what I stand for — it’s part of being a human being if you think about it. You have a brand; it is you. You’re unique in this world, and you’re the subject matter expert on you, so you’d better get to work figuring out what that brand is. Maybe you should write a manifesto. I’d just recommend that you do it privately so that you can see how goddamn hard it is to sit down and write a blog post with an audience of 001: you. Because nobody else is really going to care. Ever. Not like you care about it: you expressed yourself. Maybe even like Salt N Pepa.

Status messages, actually, are the new blog. Twitter defined the concept of value in 140 characters or less, and the platform totally suits the sound byte culture of ADHD that is the norm now. I seriously believe that having ADHD is actually an evolutionary advantage, not a “disorder” nor a “deficit”. The beauty of cheating at your blog or your website (they’re interchangeable terms now) is that you can plug your Twitter stream-of-consciousness in as a sidebar (there! module top left!) and it updates your site. That is, if you Twitter more than you blog.

Lady Gaga as Queen of Hearts

Lady Gaga as Queen of Hearts

Here is the fundamental rule for the 21st century: whatever it is you have to say, I’ll be interested if you add value to my life. This is an important concept to catch, because of its corollary rule: Content is King. Certainly, appearance and functionality is Queen, but without valuable content, you can go fuck yourself and your fancy interactive 3D website or application. It does not add any value to my life besides a fleeting and forgotten sense of “that’s sortof cool”. That is Milli Vanilli value — the sort of thing that one-hit-wonders are made of. I’m too sexy for my shirt. I’m on a horse. Where’s the beef?

Poet Philip Larkin

Poet Philip Larkin

Do you know why I write? Because I am fuckin’ good at it. My Mom tells me so. My friends tell me so. My stats, no matter how pathetic, tell me so, because random people are stumbling across my content and commenting on it, and “like” buttoning it, and retweeting it, because by definition, it is original content for free and these entities are finding value in it. One of the most consistently hit posts I have made is a poem imitating Philip Larkin’s “And The Wave Sings Because It Is Moving“. Don’t ask me why, because I have NO IDEA; it’s mediocre poetry for me and that’s ME commenting on my own work. Remember: you are your own subject matter expert. Isn’t that why you got an e-mail address, and a WordPress site, and paid for a domain name, and hosting for the website, and set up your Etsy or CafePress e-commerce, and got a PayPal account and an eBay storefront and a matching Twitter handle; your LinkedIn and Facebook custom URLs are configured to represent that same nickname or persona that you casually developed years ago?

Stats 2011-03-08 at 9.32.08 PM

Stats 2011-03-08 at 9.32.08 PM

So you think you can blog. Well, write something interesting. Post photos that are thoughtful. I want to giggle or WTF or click on your status message and go somewhere I wouldn’t have normally browsed to. Make me LOL, or say WTF, or go “dawww!” Contribute something to me that will make me appreciate you and your unique point of view. Otherwise, STFU; I have a cornucopia of other feeds and stimuli that are working harder to catch my attention. Which has a span of short. I can barely pay it.

Do you know who has a brand? Lady Gaga. I fucking adore her; she is unashamedly her own self-generated brand. She works really, really hard at maintaining that brand, and as a consequence, 40-year-old fans like me are wearing a glow-in-the-dark LGG rubber bracelet on our wrist. OK mine is special: it was given to me by my goddaughter Tyler Rae who commented that although she bought it for me, she didn’t think I’d wear it. I haven’t taken it off yet, not even to shower.  Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta acknowledges that she cannot leave the house without becoming Lady Gaga due to her role in the world at large; this construction is moving and inspiring my godchildren and literally millions of her fans – Little Monsters — worldwide and possibly throughout the galaxy if you’ve seen her latest video for “Born This Way“.  Hahaha! She presents her manifesto!

Lady Gaga + Kermit the Frogg

Lady Gaga + Kermit the Frogg

This is the best example I can make of that ridiculous Supreme Court ruling that a corporation is a person. LGG should incorporate as a single owner ASAP to take advantage of this idiocy that is destroying America as I knew it: she could then hire lobbyists and really get to changing the world. If Arnold can win two terms as ‘Governator” of the most productive state of the union, then Lady Gaga can win the first female presidency. Because she has a brand, knows how to flaunt it, and then leverage the results, both good and bad. She just smacked Target to the curb because of a couple of questionable donations.

Lady Gaga is an over-the-top example because she’s…well, over-the-top. But that does not mean that her example should be lost or dismissed: she is representing herself, her brand, her persona, and — as a matter of fact — I know quite a few people who are actually representing themselves well on the wild blue yonder that is the Interwebz. Here’s a few of them; for other examples, check out any of the Blogroll to your left.

  • My Aunt Flo’s Etsy site, KnowYourFlo, a collections of totally awesome vintage sewing patterns that are one facet of an extraordinary woman
  • Valancy Jane’s CafePress site, Vjanity Faire, which features her signature phrase “hello pigeons” — I’m one of those too; the merit badge is proudly displayed next to my LGG Little Monsters one
  • Kristina Rose proves she’s more than just an “LA Face with an Oakland Booty” on her blog — not that we’re complaining about the latter two, but her street smarts and opinion are just as attractive
  • J.A. Huffman’s venture Surface Furniture, where one man takes visions out of his skull and crafts them in wood and metal and sustainability and dreams
  • J-Moon’s RX Earth consultation creation — he passionately believes we can heal this planet and shift the paradigms now rather than later by being smart about living
  • I also have a couple of other naescent projects up my sleeves that are vaulting on to the stage soon
Table by Surface Furniture

Table by Surface / photo: Jen Jansen Photography

You have no idea, unless you have done it yourself — or attempted to do what it takes to actually run, write, maintain, and promote a simple web address, much less run an entire brand by yourself. It is exhausting, and you can get lost in your perfection and never publish anything. I’ve been there, with a private folder full of ‘drafts’ and too scared that it wasn’t good enough to actually press record — in this case, go ‘live’ and throw some content out there. For an audience of, potentially, one. Everyone wants content, but I imagine that the average person struggles hard when actually trying to produce some. I am serious, this writing that you love takes a lot of love from me: let’s see you do it. I want to come back in a few weeks or months or years and read what I wrote just now and think that, like Eliza Dushku or another one of Josh Whedon’s Dolls, I was my best. What’s in your manifesto?

It is easy to set up a blog nowadays. It gets harder every day to find something worth reading, laughing at, or marveling over. But I think that part of playing things forward is the word-of-mouth status message to alert your peeps that this might be worth checking out. If anyone — even me — takes the extra time to turn it into a blog post, then we should consider this 21st century art. I salute anyone else who is actively participating in the stream of consciousness that is the tsunami of information that is online every second, constantly changing and continually being added to. I just have one request: don’t be afraid to throw some value into the maelstrom: become part of what is being created.

You can blog: now go do it!

Every once in a while I get the opportunity to mention that I was in a band in high school. This usually provokes mild interest because the immediate assumption is that Monster Zero was like that standard high school band that was doing covers of classic rock or Bob Marley or something similar that everyone heard once or twice during their secondary school career while drinking cheap beer out of red keg cups in someone’s backyard. But when I mention details like “we had a full horn section”, “seven to eight members rocking original ska and funk”, and “covered the likes of Fishbone, Bad Manners, The English Beat, and The Specials” — well, that’s usually when eyes go wide and I get full attention. Ska was perfect for Point Loma High School at the end of the 80’s as a decade: rambunctious, feel-good, jump around, hyperkinetic party music balanced out with a healthy dose of dirty, filthy, get-yo-hips-innit funk as a chaser.

MZ was truly a labor of love; we worked hard to cover covers as faithfully as we could and we poured our best efforts into writing originals that would rock a party. I can’t even recall how many hours were spent in the epic soundproof room built in Alex’s basement under the stern but approving eyes of George Kohrt trying to organize, focus, and practice while figuring out marketing, our next gig, and how on earth we might get paid a little bit for loading 1000 lbs of gear into multiple vehicles and showing up to play somewhere on the spur of the moment. What is amazing is that 20 years out, I STILL fuckin’ love these tracks and cherish the memories:

  • Early on we played a gig for some classmate’s birthday party at the Kona Kai Club; we had no lead singer so I had to sing while playing all of the horns and organ on my keyboard — this is the only time that I fronted the band vocally, and the trumpet solo on Ackee 1, 2, 3, is NOT easy to play
  • MZ played a gig at my (then) girlfriend Jamie Peterson’s house while her dad was away; somebody was so inspired that they climbed on to the roof and stage dived into the mosh pit — unlike Coolio he was caught and I don’t think the band missed a beat
  • Monster Zero had some influence in the subsequent phreshness that was Ed’s Cat [citation / link needed], The Unsteady when sister Sian White was fronting that shiznits, and just setting the bar high for PLHS talent in general

I even remember the early days of formulating Monster Zero — big love to Tyler Lusk (drums), Frank the PLHS TA (bass), and the lovely Adrianna (vocals). I have always regretted never being able to pull off Fishbone’s Lyin’ Ass Bitch when we didn’t have Ms Lazzarini as the centerpiece of the band. I have to acknowledge that even though I had a lot to do with convincing people to give this concept ska-funk revue a try, most of the critical effort came from three planets-are-aligning events:

  1. Imploring friend and Arkanoid-crusher (at Brown Bag Deli, no less) Chris McGee to take a shot at fronting the band with his incredible charisma and vocal chops — McGinty has gone on to his own spectacularity with outfits like 008 and Brass, Beats, and Bows
  2. Putting out an ad in the back of the Reader for horn players, from which we encountered the sax-rocking sexual tyrannosaurus known as John Roy — JR went on to continue keeping it real to this day on the San Diego music scene — and introduced us to Steve Pratchner, our trombonist
  3. Getting awesome volunteer support from fans, friends, and classmates; examples include Security by T. Charman and roadie / sound tech / speaker-schlepping-sherpa Chad Gautier

This goes along with my theme of Press Record; it amazes me that we — Galstefus, actually — spent the time to actually record what we were doing at that time, and that I can actually post these recordings 20 years later…and they still sound good and bring back all those memories. Every time a Monster Zero reunion is mentioned, we all get hordes of messages that people would fly in from other continents and bring their SO’s and / or their whole family including their children and requests for “Camel Jack” or “play Party at Ground Zero!” or “I will throw my panties on stage if you sing me Naked Ladies while looking deep into my eyes”. This sort of behavior can be chalked up to cheesy reminiscence of high school and the end of the eighties, but I put a win in the column of love: that’s why I have spent this Saturday rebuilding the Monster Zero tribute page out on my blog.

I’d be interested in hearing any tales that you have to tell about the rise and fall of Monster Zero in 1989-1990 if you have them. Even if you don’t, check out the page, download the tracks, and play them to your family, friends, and progeny so they subconsciously develop a love for ska and funk music, Godzilla movies, learning to play an instrument beyond Rock Band, and insuring that illicit backyard high school keg parties entertained by cover bands continues to be part of the fabric of growing up, wherever you are in the world.

Listening In

Posted: May 1, 2003 in Poetry
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Sometimes I try to identify
The vehicles passing beneath the windows
By the sound their tires make
Through the twin dips of the intersection.
Smooth ride or clanking trailer,
Singing brakes before the stoplight
Or acceleration hum to beat the amber.
Twenty seconds to guess at the conversation taking place
Inside the latest idling monster,
Before the green light sends them away.
A shred of laughter or singing
Leaking from an open window;
The thrum of bass or reggae guitars.
All lives passing on their way elsewhere
Unaware that I try to identify.

Devious Thoughts

Posted: December 4, 2002 in Poetry
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I
Once upon a time
I would run around naked
With my blanket as a cape
Caterwauling before creatures
Only I could see.
I was frightened precisely
Because it was so much fun:
Shrieking and then hiding,
Elaborate intrigues unfolding
From the adult trialogues
Taking place between heart, mind, and soul.
They would discuss me,
My imaginative situations,
And whisper between themselves.
I knew what was coming
When they would fall silent,
Anticipating.

II
I learned devious means
To avoid being eaten each night,
Or on the walk home from school.
I also understood
From the internal trinity
That sometimes it is best
To keep quiet, and tell no one.
Making friends with the monsters –
That was the master stroke.
But I remember why:
They just weren’t as scary anymore
As the reality of classmates.

Fifing the Closets

Posted: May 16, 2002 in Poetry
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Leave the closet doors open
Like a trap to entice monsters
To come out and play.
I live here for the moment,
In this moment
I would crouch and snarfle
Like something from behind
Those creaky sliding doors
But soon I go elsewhere
To find new temporary closets;
These ones are to be bulldozed.
Do not be surprised
To see me fifing by moonlight
Leading silvery shadows of your
Childhood nightmares;
Snouts and antennae and bulbous eyes
Across shoulders of roads
And dew laden fields.
Closets are bottomless, backless
Like the prom dresses that hang there.

Raid

Posted: May 12, 1994 in Poetry
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battling roaches at 3 in the morning
with chemical after chemical.
I’m high on bug spray
and wood putty
(for the enormous holes
around the sink pipes).
There’s a hole in the door frame
big enough to lose a golf ball in —
plenty big enough for the
1 1/2 inch monster roach
that skittered across your foot.

Drive to Suicide

Posted: August 16, 1993 in Poetry
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why do I have to walk around
with the anvil of potential suicide
balanced on my head?

some people ask themselves
why aren’t I normal? or
why aren’t I like the rest of them?
well, this is not normal.
the human being would not have evolved
as far as it has if it had a normal drive to suicide.

I honestly think about it most all of the time
and once in a while
it is more than a shadow;
isometimes the whole damn monster
comes out of the closet
and crouches, towering over me, whispering
about the unseen benefits of suicide.

how many years will I stick around,
waiting for things to get “better”,
always listening with half an ear
to the crack of the closet door?