Archive by Author

Gary Commentucci of Working Disorder wears a funny black hat in Starbucks

24 Dec

You know, this was supposed to be a feature piece on a show Working Disorder was booked for at The Chance in Poughkeepsie but because of poor event planning and promotion skills on the venue’s part, that didn’t happen. I don’t need to tell you that venues aren’t about the music anymore. That was a hairy night, to say the least. I apparently made their lives very difficult.

Working Disorder however, is still all about the music. The band consists of Gary Commentucci, Jordan Moore and Mike Gramazio and is based in Rockland County, NY, a suburb of New York City. Gary and I chatted about their music at Starbucks in a relatively harried interview the morning of Christmas Eve.

the dudes

the dudes

Juliana: So when’s the next show you have planned?

Gary: We’re focusing more on giving people stuff to listen to so they know that they like us in the first place. It’s all gonna be free unless they want to pay for it, which is pretty cool. That’s already how music is because of torrenting. Music should be free, unless you want to pay for it. For movies you get to watch the trailer, right? And like, if you look at a painting, you’ll be like “okay that’s nice but I don’t wanna buy that,” it’s not like they just tell you the name of the painting and you just guess. I feel like torrenting is good, kind of. You get to listen to the music but it’s not for any fixed period of time, and then keep it.

J: Are you guys on the Pirate Bay?

G: No, we’re not nearly famous enough for that. But that’s the point I’m making, you get to stream the music for free any time but you don’t own the file, it’s kind of a pain in the ass, you can still listen to it if you want but it helps everyone if you buy it. I think that’s why a lot of bands get a lot of flack when people say they like the old albums better, because they’ve heard the old albums already and know that they like them. When a band comes out with a new album, nobody knows anything.

J: You’ve mentioned that you don’t like punk. Why not?

G: I don’t care about punk rock. I think punk rock is not a thing, and it’s really only punk rock when you don’t give a shit about what iTunes says you are or what some guy who works at Hot Topic who thinks he has all the street cred in the world because he saw Against Me! like six years ago, like fuck you, I don’t care, yeah he’s a girl now, he was a boy, congratulations, you know that, how are your gauges, I don’t care. People don’t understand how selfish I am. When I make music it’s for me to listen to. If you like it, I don’t care. We don’t sit in Mike’s basement and go, “man I hope the world really appreciates this” I go, “man I wish Mike and Jordan weren’t here so I could beat off to this.” That’s why I also wouldn’t mind playing in front of an audience of two people. I’m playing because it’s fun. I never understood that. People are wrapped up in the idea of being a celebrity.

J: That sounds pretty punk rock to me; the idea of you beating off in Mike’s basement.

Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. He’s got a pretty cool basement.

J: So now the serious questions. What bands influence you?

G: I guarantee there won’t be any serious answers. I like the Flatliners; maybe they’ll see this. I had a fire drill with the Flatliners once; isn’t that so punk? Somebody was smoking in the back and an alarm went off and the Flatliners had to go offstage. To quote Jordan, “we’re having a flatlining fucking fire drill fuck right now.” I had to document it, it was too ridiculous not to. Then I was talking to the Flatliners for a little bit. I really like them. They’re really good.

J: Are they the only band you listen to?

G: Yeah

J: Oh come on

G: Like nine times out of ten I listen to the Flatliners. I also like the Menzingers. I’ve been listening to Starbomb constantly; that’s Game Grumps. The Metal Gear Solid 3 soundtrack constantly, like constantly. The homosexual overtones are so huge. We just saw NOFX, they’re really good. Bad Religion put out a Christmas album, Greg Graffin’s hair is all gray now. We’re gonna put out an EP called Grandpa Graffin, or the Sandman, maybe, it’s very tentative, we have like two or three songs in the works all about Greg Graffin and how we’re obsessed with him. None of this is true.

J: Well that sucks.

G: I mean we have songs about Greg Graffin but I don’t know if we’ll release them. Greg Graffin is awesome, he gets all the biddies, he wears grandpa jeans.

Back to your old question, whatever’s on right now is good (referring to the jazz that’s on in Starbucks). I don’t listen to that much independent music. It’s never that good. That’s probably how people feel about our music. But every so often a band will reach out to us and it’ll be really good.

J: Like which bands?

G: Oh god let me see, I have a list. Jersey Drive, The Jasons, Suburban Drag, that’s it.

J: What about this whole list?

G: Eh, fuck those guys. Whatever, I don’t even know who they are.

J: Are you gonna be doing any more radio appearances like you did with TBFM?

G: We’re gonna be with them a lot this year, Eddi likes our stuff and he wants us to send it to him. We made it to number 57 on best songs of 2013 according to Eddi, even though he only played the top 50. It wasn’t just independent bands either. It was pretty awesome to be on the same list as Bad Religion, NOFX, AFI. I love those bands. I love Eddi.

(I tried to find a link to the list but apparently it doesn’t exist. Gary thinks he just played them in order on air. I’m sorry.)

J: What song was it?

G: In The City. It was the last song off our EP.

J: Anyway didn’t Jordan have to learn bass like last minute?

G: Yeah he’s only been playing bass for like five and a half months. He has a strong music background but he’d never played a string instrument before. The day that Ryan left our band, I don’t wanna talk about that so much, but like, the day we knew we needed a bassist, I was like “does anyone wanna play bass? LOL.” He was like “I don’t know but I’ll give it a shot.” I hang out with Jordan 24/7 so instead of playing Tiddlywinks and watching Wes Anderson movies, we can play bass instead. And so I remember very distinctly I went out and bought a bass the next day and we borrowed the amp from our friend Jeremy, I brought it over to Jordan’s house, put on the Ramones and went “this is how you play the bass” and we played to the Ramones because it was really easy. We played Blitzkrieg Bop I think, it doesn’t matter, all the songs are the same. Don’t put that in, the fans will kill me. Jordan’s awesome.

J: Too late

G: People treat the Ramones like the Beatles. The Beatles shouldn’t even be treated like the Beatles.

J: Well I gotta bounce soon, so any closing remarks?

G: EEEEeeeee… that’s like a door closing.

Umm, stay in school, eat your vegetables, um, rock your body, if you’re 12 and under PM me on Yahoo Chat and ask your parents if it’s okay to use your computer. Bo Burnham’s really cool, shoutout to Bo Burnham. His new special, What? It’s on iTunes, it’s on Netflix, it’s on Youtube, watch it. It’s a really good introspective on what it’s like to be a performer, or an artist. I identify with it a lot, not that I consider myself an artist.

Check Working Disorder out on ReverbNation, and give them a like on Facebook.

 

 

Let’s Stop Pretending “Silver Linings Playbook” Did Anything for Mental Illness Advocacy

12 Sep

I’m probably a little late to this party, but bear with me; I much prefer TV to movies. I only recently watched “Silver Linings Playbook” despite several recommendations from friends. Even my parents liked it. It isn’t fundamentally a bad film. It kept me interested for the most part, but this isn’t a film review, so bear with me.

silver linings playbook

There’s faux-handwritten text on the cover. That’s how you know it’s edgy.

Now, as someone formally diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression, I know firsthand that sometimes the only way to deal with bad things in your life is to laugh at them. I’m not opposed to injecting stories of mental crises with a healthy dose of humor. Elizabeth Wurtzel pulls this off perfectly in her memoir, “Prozac Nation” and Winona Ryder plays Susanna Kaysen in “Girl, Interrupted” flawlessly. I related so well to them. They had no qualms with getting into the nuts and bolts of crushing depression and frustration. I get that sentiment, really. It doesn’t seem much fun when you run out of your medication (which I affectionately have dubbed my “crazy pills”) and end up somewhere between blind rage and foggy existential crisis for a couple of days, but hey, everyone has their coping mechanism of choice. Mental illnesses are fucking terrible. I could get super melodramatic and talk about how they ruin my relationships, my work, my personality, etc, but at the end of the day, I find things to laugh about. C’est la vie, you know?

But “Silver Linings Playbook” made me feel like shit.

Neither Bradley Cooper nor Jennifer Lawrence have any personal experience with mental illness. Director David O. Russell has said that his son and his friend deal with bipolar. They may have someone in their life with a mental illness, but you don’t really know depression until you know depression. Being sad is one thing, being incapacitated by your own mind is another thing entirely.  Cooper’s character Pat meets Lawrence’s character Tiffany, reeling from the loss of her husband (and dealing with it by slutting around – how original for a female lead, no?) and they just magically rom-com it up to live crazily ever after. Pat takes his medication and he miraculously stops showing his outward symptoms. Some dancing and football betting happens, and the movie ends with Pat and Tiffany snuggled up on the couch, all smiles. Pat finds his “silver lining” and you’re left thinking that perhaps he’s blissfully free of his bipolar disorder, Tiffany is over her husband’s death, and you can probably imagine a sequel where they have beautiful children and all that shit.

slp2

In all fairness, she was quite attractive in this flick.

Why did this movie make me feel like shit you ask? It reinforces the idea that psychopharma is some magical cure-all. Sure, my Zoloft helps me in every aspect of my life, but I don’t magically become a functioning person just from taking it. Mental illness treatment takes effort. Not everyone who has bipolar, or any mental illness for that matter, snaps and becomes violent. “Silver Linings Playbook” also reinforces this concept; Pat checks into a hospital after beating the man his wife was having an affair with. With the debate on gun control moving in such a direction that stigmatizes those with a history of psychiatric issues, this is no bueno. Relationships are hard to begin with, so when both parties have some type of mental disorder, shit gets bad. Not rom-com bad like SLP would have us believe either. Watching your partner lose their shit, or losing your own shit and knowing that they can’t help you is completely devastating. I realize that everyone’s experience is different, but come on, no relationship is like a movie. Not to mention that mental illnesses are genetic; Pat and Tiffany’s hypothetical sitcom family probably wouldn’t be quite so idyllic in real life. Not to mention that the movie did little to normalize mental illnesses, the characters’ issues become their character, not the other way around. The first thing these two talk about is the various psychopharma they’ve taken, for god’s sake. I almost felt like I had been doing mental illness wrong with the way that Pat and Tiffany seemed to magically get it together when they met, until I reminded myself that this is just a movie.

Cooper and Lawrence have both made some comments about mental illness advocacy since making the film, which is nice, but mental illnesses are still heavily stigmatized and no movie is going to change that anytime soon. Looking for the silver lining in every situation is solid advice for anyone, regardless of their mental state, but I don’t take lightly to mental illnesses being taken lightly.

10 Reasons Why You Need to Watch Orange is the New Black

23 Aug

Without giving away too much of the major plot points, here is why you’re missing out if you haven’t checked out the first season of the newest Netflix production:

1. LAURA PREPON

laura prepon onb

In the literal first scene of the show, you’re immediately brought into Eric Foreman’s wet dream. Laura Prepon plays a tall, brunette queer chick who runs drugs. If that doesn’t get you hooked, you’re beyond hope. Also, Netflix is extremely lenient with censorship, which makes it a fantastic platform for this.

 

2. FOR REAL QUEER REPRESENTATION

kinsey scale onb

Are you sick of queer characters on TV constantly being made into the same tired stereotypes? Piper and Alex’s relationship is just as intricate and complicated as any straight one in any other show. Piper brings up the Kinsey scale, which, while I’m not the biggest fan of that as a determination of sexuality, indicates that the show’s writers at least don’t view straight and gay as black and white. All the lesbian activity in prison may be dramatized, but at least it feels real.

 

3. FOR REAL REPRESENTATION OF EVERYONE

orange is the new black

Seriously, they cover all of the bases. Intersectionality, yo. It’s great to see a female cast of characters that you can tell apart.

 

4. TRANS PEOPLE ON TV

laverne cox

I don’t wanna spoil too much, but actor Laverne Cox and her character Sophia are fucking fantastic. It’s super rare that a trans* character has such depth and humanity on a TV show and hopefully this will set a precedent.

 

5. OPEN DIALOGUE ABOUT PRISON

poussey wrong turn

If you live in the United States especially, you’ve probably heard loads about the prison-industrial complex, mandatory minimum sentences, nonviolent drug offenders, people rotting in jail on the taxpayer’s dime, and it can all sound distant and abstract if you’ve never been to prison. While obviously a lot of aspects of this show are dramatized, the fact that many people in prison are decent ones who have made mistakes that the state determines worthy of taking away their humanity remains true. Creating sympathetic characters who have been incarcerated is a nice reminder that prisoners are people too.

 

6. WHITE PEOPLE BE LIKE

 

7. YOU GET TO FIND OUT THE CONTEXT FOR THIS

barbeque sauce tits jpg

In all fairness, Taystee doesn’t provide much context either. But it does make for a good story.

 

8. DAYA WILL MAKE YOU CRY

daya reading

Trust me on this. I really just wanna give her a hug.

 

9. OPEN DIALOGUE ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE

pornstache hate my guts

All the bureaucratic bullshit that goes on in prisons means that a prison employee’s word is usually taken over a prisoner. You’ll want to barf at how icky Pornstache is, but hopefully it’ll make you think about how sexual abuse is treated in the mainstream.

 

10. JUST WATCH IT OKAY?

Seriously, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be extra careful about which drug-running lesbians you get involved with.

Tears Dry on Their Own – Amy Winehouse

7 Aug

 

Ugh, what is there to say about her that hasn’t been said? This lady was a fucking gun with her voice. RIP, girl.

Oregon Legislature Passes New Student Financing Plan

7 Aug

Hey readers! I’ve gotten an influx of assignments from The Collegiate Blog and Fiverr (which I refer to as Freelancing 101), and this can only be a good thing, but unfortunately my Rustlerettes (can I call you guys that?) have had a shortage of original content. Here is my latest Collegiate post, and over here is my boyfriend Cory’s response to it over at Wumbonomics.

My inbox is open to assignments, pitches, and user submitted content, as always! I really do want to buy this domain at some point and I’d like a reason to keep this blog going.

The University of Michigan Makes Strides for Undocumented Students

26 Jul

More Collegiate stuff!

I didn’t really bother including this in the article, but I should probably point out that policies that make life easier for undocumented immigrants in the US have the potential to begin alleviating the drug war. Simply put, lots of people in Mexico really have no financial options upon deportation except to join violent cartels. Making the US a better place for immigrants will hopefully reduce the amount of people involved in the drug war and provide a safe haven for those targeted by drug cartels. Also, students who choose to bring their American education back to Mexico can hopefully work to improve the infrastructure down there. Making education accessible has the potential to do wonders for many.

Plus, no borders no nations, and all that anarcho-crap! \m/

 

Are Grading Systems Not Subjective Enough?

25 Jul

I promised I’d show y’all my content from The Collegiate, you can read my latest op-ed here.

Four Solid Reasons Animals are Better than People

20 Jul

I think it’s a pretty well-known fact that animals kick ass. Yesterday I watched a documentary on animal friendships that really solidified the notion that animals are far superior to people in a bunch of ways. Recent studies have shown what I’ve been called crazy for saying: that animals can indeed show compassion and form bonds of friendship with each other. Don’t worry, I’m not going PETA on you guys, but I don’t think animals get the credit they deserve.

1. Animals Don’t Discriminate

We live in a world where a goat will gladly help his blind horse friend, a cheetah and a dog can be best friends, and a deer will come out from the woods every day to see his dog buddy, yet, there are still white people who won’t be friends with black people, straight people who won’t be friends with queer ones, and what have you. Come on, humans, get it together.

horse and goat

Picture links to the other odd animal couples. Prepare to aww.

2. Animals Probably Know Everything

Can you imagine what animals would say if they could talk? House pets get a front-row seat to family and relationship conflicts and could probably provide some profound third party advice if given the chance. Wild animals get to see parts of the rainforest, desert, ocean, and maybe even environments that no humans have ever even thought of venturing into. They also communicate with each other, sometimes more effectively than humans can. Ever seen the way ants build their anthills? Imagine if cities were nearly as well-planned and efficient.

anthill

Not to mention as clean.

3. Animals Don’t Have Big Governments

While this isn’t entirely true, what I mean is that the leaders of most animal packs are biologically destined to be so, and do not gain power through money and corruption. While it may not be fair by human standards that the biggest in the pack gets to be the leader, this is what has worked for the majority of species for billions of years. Animals go with the anarchic nature of the environment; while they often work in tandem with each other, they work as a part of nature rather than try to conquer it, and each other, as humans do.

republidemocrat

GMOs are getting pretty out of control.

4. Animals Follow their Instinct

Although most animals are capable of compassion and understanding, for the most part, they follow their survival instinct and end up being way more productive in reaching their goals, which are much simpler than human ones. Animals may reach disagreements, but at the end of the day, they do what they do to survive. You don’t see animals doing recklessly stupid things to jeopardize their survival like shooting heroin, jumping out of planes, or eating McDonald’s.

beefy skateboarding

We can all learn from Beefy’s skateboarding safety.

So there you have it, the next time you enjoy your status as the “dominant” species, remember that the majority of animals have their lives way more figured out than you ever will. Feel free to leave more reasons animals are superior to humans in the comments!

Anyway,

Readers! I know that there’s been a shortage of new content here, I’ve been writing some pieces for The Collegiate and taking care of some gigs on Fiverr as of late, so I decided to have some fun. I’ll post my serious pieces when they’re published and there’ll be more angry political type stuff soon enough.

True Norwegian Black Metal

17 Jul

 

When Ben Anderson (Vice filmmaker – This is What Winning Looks Like) did his AMA a month or two ago, one piece of advice he gave me when I asked what he had to say to people looking into international journalism was to highlight interesting characters. This documentary is a prime example of Vice documentary makers’ (documentarians? is there a word for that?) ability to do just that. Plus, I don’t think you can get any more Vice than the b-roll of the serene shots of rural Norway with the metal music in the background, or the concluding shot. Stuff like this is what really makes me want to make documentaries. I’ve always assumed over the top black metal was cheesy and uninspired, and I’m pretty sure concerts smell bad enough without sheep carcasses onstage, but this definitely held my interest.

Also, if you’re familiar with Greg Graffin’s Anarchy Evolution, it may occur to you that a lot of what Gaahl says about god and nature parallels things that Graffin has to say. Who knew that Bad Religion had so much in common with a Norwegian black metal band?

Video

Reel Big Fish covering Unity by Operation Ivy

15 Jul

Speaks for itself.