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  • Brümeister 10:30 pm on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #KarlOfAustria, , #Prost!,   

    The Shame Of A Poet 

    The Shame of a Poet

     

    What it feels like to ask for crowd funding.

    What it feels like to ask for crowd funding.

    Self perception is a beast. Taming this beast is life long task. Our creative lives can often be the last line of defense from the beast going mad, frothing at the mouth and taking a bite out of us.

    The purpose of collaboration is to do something that you could not otherwise do on your own. As someone who believes (somehow, still) that he is a poet I have to admit I can’t do this alone. My words have not meant enough to afford me the luxury of creating something the way I see fit. This is my shame. Of course it isn’t my only shame but I see that it is the reason we are stuck. Of course I am not alone in this fight to create something. My brothers NTSC and Spade ONE are with me as are KC and Mike as well as Bill Stace who is recording these sessions. But we have another goal in mind beyond merely recording a well produced record — we’d like people to hear us this time.

     

    Why now?

    It's a big party!

    It’s a big party!

    Admittedly, I pushed for us to have The Great War done this fall. So much is happening in our city, our state, our nation and our world that sitting idly by waiting was not an option for me. And holding back on our statement meant more would happen to change our minds and indeed during recording more HAS happened. Yet to sit and wait to see how history will play out means you will sit and wait for all eternity and that time is something we needed to realize we do not have.

     

    Why Should Anyone Help?

     

    Emperor stops to talk with the people.

    Emperor stops to talk with the people.

    Before going live on our crowd sourcing effort I asked for a lot of feedback and have even received some during it from friends who I trust and respect to tell me the truth of their perception. One point of contention I heard from a few people was that we are begging for money here for something that is not inherently valuable. I’m paraphrasing a bit and enjambing a few conversations but the basic idea is that we are asking for money to fund a vanity project. I counter that idea with the fact that we aren’t asking for free money, if anything we are selling a one time subscription. You can buy an album on the shelf or you can pay for it before it comes out and in doing so help fund its creation. There are reward tiers set up for people that donate. Think of it as Christmas shopping for the woke nerd/ hip hop head in your life that is looking for something a little different this year.

     

    But yes. I do feel a certain shame for not being rich by now and able to fund my own project. That is a symptom of capitalism.

     

    Another criticism I have heard since we started was that people don’t like the idea of Polka Hip Hop. Well that is what we are. We’re not a strict Hip Hop act and we definitely aren’t just a Polka band. The idea that we should just call ourselves one or the other for the sake of mass appeal is something you’d say if you didn’t really like our music in the first place. Why are you here?

     

    What is it about World War One? Why November Criminals? The Great War?

    TANKS A LOT!!!

    TANKS A LOT!!!

    Ok Ok Ok calm down. It has been established that this nation (USA 2016) is run by Oligarchs. A handful of elites are in charge of vetting who our leaders will be in order to maintain the current level of wealth distribution. It’s what has come to replace monarchy. The Great War was the event that rewrote the power structure in Europe as pointed out by NTSC. The original November Criminals were the people that decided to sign a treaty ending that war because for some reason when powerful people have a conflict it’s the rest of humanity that suffers. They were all assassinated over time by those that named them. They were men and women that wanted to see a better life for everyone in peace. They saw that peace was necessary for that better life to begin. Their enemies were focused on their own bitterness.

    The Great War is coming but this time The November Criminals are alive. Therefore things will be different. Hint: Just like we are not the only band named November Criminals we are not the only advocates for peaceful solutions. State Violence is a looming threat, open revolt is on the tongues of many and nothing seems clear but the poets, the polka rappers, and the people who would help them create… they have arrived just in time. Even if all we aim to do is remind people how to have enjoy differences.

    Written on Oct. 21st 2016 During The Feast of the Blessed Karl of Austria.

     

    COME SEE US LIVE AT NOMAD WORLD PUB OCTOBER 27th at 9PM

    ******FREE******

     
  • NTSC 4:05 pm on October 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    What does The Great War mean to me, NTSC? 

    As you may or may not know, we have started a campaign to help fund the creation and distribution of our second full-length album, The Great War. I wanted to take a moment to talk about what this album means to me, and invite my brothers the Brümeister and SpadeOne to do the same.

    The Great War—also known as World War I—marked a major turning point in the history of the world. It killed, literally, some of the oldest monarchies and empires under which the world has ever suffered. It redrafted the imaginary boundary lines of the Earth and redefined what horror truly was. Little did we know those horrors were only a prologue to what would follow.

    The album we’re currently making is named after that horrible conflict for a lot of reasons. For one, we as a band are just fascinated by WWI. The unrest caused in Imperial Russia led directly to the revolution which would topple the Romanov Tsars. The empires of the Ottomans and Austria-Hungary split apart at the seams, giving birth to new nations and reviving old ones. It was a major victory against the sovereignty of monarchs and oligarchs, but the sentiment was not to last long.

    Welcome back to the stage: Poland!

    Welcome back to the stage: Poland!

    Beyond our interest in WWI as an important turning point for the world, the theme of that conflict resonates with me very personally.

    I like to use the acronym POOP when I talk about this kind of thing. It stands for “Power Over Other People.”

    I don’t want POOP.

    I don’t deserve to wield POOP.

    Anyone who does want POOP, or thinks they somehow deserve it, is by their very nature a dangerous person. Yet we glorify, champion, support and endorse POOP-heads all the time. We have been doing it for centuries now. The Great War began with a loud and visceral attack against the very concept of POOP.

    PHOTO: REUTERS

    Gavrilo Princip statue, Sarajevo – PHOTO: REUTERS

     

    The young anarchist Gavrilo Princip fired the shot that would end the life of Franz Ferdinand and  set in motion the terrible gears that wound up the world’s war machine. That was not his intention, but that was the result. He had intended to set a fire beneath the butts of other revolutionaries and anarcho-syndicalists like himself. He had intended to show that the rulers of men, the wielders of power, were mortal and fallible. Nobody deserves to hold power over another human being. POOP is bad. We are not wild animals that need breaking, training or caging. The natural inclination of all humans is cooperative. We fight back only when we are controlled, and that is what spurred the events of June 28th, 1914.

    These Fucking Assholes

    Then there’s these fucking assholes. That flag look familiar to anyone?

    Especially in this election cycle, with fascist and nationalist parties winning more and more seats in governments across the world, the lessons of The Great War ring like a cacophony of bells in my head. We can’t let this happen again. We need to learn from history. In my mind, The Great War is going on right now. It’s happening again. It is in our hands to fight against nationalism, fascism, escapism, anti-humanism and all forms of POOP.

    That’s what this album represents to me. It’s a weird thing to want to convey in a polka hip hop album, I know. We’re a weird band to want to talk about these issues. We have no visibility. We have no notoriety. We have no power.

    We have an accordion and three mics and that’s about it. We can’t help ourselves though. When given the chance, we’re going to write about what’s on our minds. In the first album that was pirates and beer and fun and friends.

    This time, it’s The Great War.

     
  • NTSC 1:51 pm on September 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    I for one am not surprised 

    Recently it came out that the sugar industry has been manipulating data for decades to protect its financial interests to the detriment of the population’s health. This sparked the usual outrage, editorials, think pieces etc. etc.

    Dr. Cristin Kearns

    Dr. Cristin Kearns shed light on the sugar industry’s illegal actvities

    I don’t understand why people continue to react with such anger and surprise. Mainly surprise.

    This is how the system works. The structure of power and money creates an environment, a naturally selective ecology wherein it is and always will be more beneficial to cheat than to “play fair.”

    Consider a theoretical savanna. There is a semi-intelligent species of primate that gathers berries from the ground. Because there is a limited number of berries, the tribe has created a rule that simply states “Individuals may only collect and eat 150 berries a day.” So, some of the primates keep to the rule and only collect and consume 150 berries a day. Some even collect less to try and make up for those who can’t collect more.

    However, there are two other kinds of primates in this little theoretical savanna. They’re the cheaters. One cheater looks at the rule and learns how to twist it. They only eat 150 berries a day, but they collect way more than that, as many as they can possibly carry. Other primates may complain and gnash their teeth, but technically they’re following the rule, which clearly states “Individuals may only collect and eat 150 berries a day.” So for all intents and purposes they’re not actually cheating, but in reality they are definitely skewing the amount of berries the whole tribe can have.

    The second kind of cheater just ignores the rule altogether. They collect and eat way more than 150 berries a day. If left unchecked by their peers, they’ll eat all the berries. They’ll also have a completely natural advantage over their peers, since they will be better nourished, their young will have a better chance of succeeding and they may even gain positions of power over the other members of their little tribe because they have so many berries.

    So, it’s a dumb and overly simplistic illustration, but it proves the point. Cheating will always be the best way to succeed in a system of rules and laws. Oftentimes that cheating will lead to power and influence and the ability to change the rules of the game in the cheater’s favor.

    Let me clarify, the cheaters aren’t immoral. They’re not evil. They’re working in a system that has proven to benefit their actions. They are acting intelligently. I’m not saying that cheaters like Enron and the sugar growers should be applauded. I’m saying their motivation isn’t a big surprise.

    Lead in the water, illegal dumping, poaching, the devastation of the rain forests, spoiling of the Earth’s natural resources, are all caused by the system we’ve put in place as a species.

    Mayor asshole Dayne Walling

    Former Flint Mayor and gaping asshole, Dayne Walling CREDIT: AP PHOTO/PAUL SANCYA

    The answer isn’t more rules. The answer isn’t to kill or punish the cheaters. The answer is to fix the system. How do we do that?

    Well, the fact of the matter is this system has been grown and shaped and perfected for thousands of years. So long as power benefited a select few who understood how to wield it, they shaped the world and the economic ecology of it to suit them and their offspring. It’s been the manifestation of financial natural selection. Darwin would be proud.

    Darwin would be proud </sarcasm>

    “Good job assholes.” -Darwin

    To truly fix it, we would have to scrap the current system of power and money. It’s not nearly as difficult as those with power and money would have you believe. When one human being can no longer exert control over another, and everyone gets what they need without any exceptions, we will have moved toward the next stage of our evolution as a species.

    Rest assured, there will be no utopia. There will be no solution. It will be a constant experiment of trial and error. There is no “good” or “bad.” There is what works and what doesn’t. Right now, this way we’re living, doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for the majority of animals (humans and everything else) nor does it work for the planet we all live on together. It just doesn’t work.

    It doesn’t surprise me that this happened again. Guess what, it is happening right now. I guarantee somewhere a corporation or conglomerate is twisting the law, breaking the law or lobbying to change the law so that they can profit. So long as profit is the most important goal to survival, this sort of scandal will keep happening. It is happening. When we change it, when we finally join our voices together and say “Enough is enough. This doesn’t work.” then I will be surprised. Pleasantly.

     
  • NTSC 2:08 pm on August 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Milwaukee is Burning 

    Aug 13, 2016

    Aug 13, 2016

    I grew up in Sherman Park. I spent the first 14 years of my life in that neighborhood. My parents moved their little family there before I was born. The early years there were pivotal to me.

    I remember walking down to the local comic shop with my friend Eric. We would try to sneak peaks at the racier, adult comics with nudity in them. Inevitably we would be shooed out. I have good and bad memories of those days. Grade school was tough for me, and eventually the area got too dangerous for Eric and I to take walks anymore. Gang activity increased at an alarming rate.

    Shortly before my fifteenth birthday, my mother was held up at gun point one night in our alley. That was the last straw for my parents, who promptly picked us up and moved to the East side. They could afford to do so.

    After the violence which erupted in that neighborhood on the night of the 13th, you could be forgiven for thinking you know what my reaction would be today.

    When I was a kid, I hated gang members. They were violent, macho bullies. My grade school had a few of them, and everyone knew who they were. You just avoided them. It was easy for me to do so—I was a white kid who could stay out of the whole thing if I chose to. So long as I kept my head down, I would have opportunities awarded to me by the virtue of my upbringing.

    We moved, my parents enrolled me in a then-prestigious private high school and upon graduation I went to college from which I graduated summa cum laude. I have my parents and grandparents and society at large to thank for all of those opportunities.

    My opinion of gang members has changed a lot since I was a kid, which might surprise some to hear. Growing up I was always told to question things, to think critically and to look to the root of problems—to always ask “Why?”

    My mother, bless her heart, also told me to avoid engaging with the police. She taught her white, scrawny, nerdy son to be always mistrustful of authority, and never to give up too much information voluntarily. I don’t think she taught me that out of any dislike for police officers as people, but because she understood how the system really worked. The system inherently wants to find the shortest, easiest distance between two points. That distance can end up hurting people.

    This takes me back to the evening of the 13th, when Sylville Smith fought for his life and lost it. Why did that young man have a gun? Why did he have a criminal history? Why did he do everything that he did and why did it lead to his death and the destruction that followed?

    I don’t demonize criminals any more, because a criminal is an invention of our society. How do you make a criminal?

    You feed one while another goes hungry.

    You educate one while another goes untaught.

    You help one while another goes unaided.

    You give opportunities and representation and a voice to one, and in so doing take them all away from another.

    So long as there is disparity, and the rule of law to protect it, you willfully create an entire population of “criminals.”

    There is not a human being on this planet that will put up with that forever.

    On the flip side, I don’t demonize police officers any more either. Ask why. Ask how you make a police officer. Look at what they’re being told.

    They’re being trained to dehumanize an entire population of their fellow human beings.

    They’re being taught that breaking the law is inherently bad, even while their superiors fight every day to twist the law in their own favor.

    They’re being given complete control over the bodily rights of other people, and they are specifically rewarded for exercising that control.

    They are not taught to look beyond the crime to the source of the problem. They are not taught to question authority. In fact, they are trained only to protect the solidarity of the system for which they fight, although in reality it no more protects them and their interests than it does that young black man they killed.

    We are all in this together, and the very few in power do not want us to remember that.

    Nothing divides us but the imagined divisions of our own creation. Except the majority of is didn’t create those divisions. They were created for us, too long ago for anyone to remember why or how.

    Money is an invention. Class is an invention. Poverty is an invention. Law is an invention. Crime is an invention. Power is an invention. Freedom is an invention.

    They’re all tools, used for a specific purpose, and we don’t get to wield them. None of us really do. The hand of the police officer that pulled the trigger that killed Sylville Smith was controlled by the inhuman rights afforded him by the rule of law.

    A single, powerful man can order the sanctioned murder of thousands of people who live thousands of miles away, and will be applauded.

    A single poor man can choose to use the tools at his disposal to improve his standing in life, and will be murdered or caged for it.

    They are the same. They are born into this life with the same potential, the same value, the same birthright and natural heritage of all the Earth. Give one opportunities and he is president. Take opportunities away and the other is a criminal, and dead.

    August 14, 2016

    August 14, 2016

    Milwaukee is burning right now. It may no longer be on fire, but it is burning. The kindling has been built up over generations. What will we do? Will we fan the flames with further hatred, anger and knee jerk reactions? Will we let them keep dividing us?

    Will we work together to quench the fire finally?

    I will tell you what I saw on my drive to work the following day. I drive right up Burleigh, right past the shell of that burnt gas station on my way to work. I saw hundreds and hundreds of people all gathered with trash bags, bottles of water and open hands, cleaning up. The sidewalks and parks were absolutely full. Everyone was working. Everyone was helping. Police watched on. The atmosphere was tense and solemn.

    Cleaning Up

    August 14, 2016

    It was a balm on the burns, but not a cure for the root cause of the fire. Still, it gives me hope.

    What do we do next?

     
  • NTSC 5:27 pm on August 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Lessons from an August past – a stream of consciousness ramble 

    1945

    August 6th – The city of Hiroshima is the first target of any nuclear bomb used in warfare.

    August 8th – The Soviet Union declares war on the Empire of Japan.

    August 9th – The city of Nagasaki becomes the second city targeted by an American nuclear strike.

    August 10th – Imperial Japan accepts the Potsdam Declaration, contingent on the retained sovereignty of the Emperor.

    August 11th – America demands Imperial Japan’s unconditional surrender.

    August 12th – The Soviet Union advances onto the Korean Peninsula.

    August 14th – Emperor Hirohito of Japan surrenders unconditionally. The second world war is over, for the most part.

    1945 was a very different world from our own. People were different. Morals and values were different. Right and wrong were different. New cruelties never before suffered upon the world and its people were invented and executed, to terrifying effect. Over 2.2 Billion human beings were killed by other human beings, often in the worst ways conceivable. It was perhaps the most inhuman conflict in all history.

    For what?

    For fear.

    For hatred.

    For nationalism.

    In defense of the perceived differences that divide us.

    For power and money.

    Two Billion Three Hundred Million children of Earth, across every spectrum you can imagine, were murdered.

    Who were the bad guys? 

    Who were the good guys?

    Who are we?

    Let us never forget what transpired.

    War, cruelty, hatred and violence on that level is totally and completely unnatural.

    It is the ultimate expression of manipulative control exercised by the powerful over the powerless.

    Let us never again believe the lies of justified hatred against one another.

    Let us never again be so blindly convinced that violence is heroism, especially in defense of something as meaningless as the concept of a country or a race.

    There are many lessons to learn and remember from those days.

    Don’t hate one another. Don’t divide into groups. Don’t blame and accuse. Don’t scapegoat.

    Unite against power.

    Power serves only itself.

     
  • NTSC 3:58 pm on January 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    4th Place 

    My wife and I attended the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee 2015 Awards Party last night at the Turner Hall Ballroom. It was certainly an affair to be seen at, all congratulations to The Shepherd and all the folks that worked hard to make a great event.

    best of milwaukee 2015 logo

    What a Party!

    The menu was insane, with catering from almost 20 of Milwaukee’s best restaurants and hospitality groups. Needless to say, we all ate very well. As much as I enjoyed the food, and it was certainly a main focus for me, I went for different, personal reasons.

    november criminals plea for votes

    Holy Crap! We’re on the ballot!

    If you’ve been following us at all, you know that The November Criminals were actually nominated in our category of “best rap/hip hop group.” We were officially on the ballot, thanks entirely to the tireless support of our friends, families and fans. It was unheard of. We were listed among the ranks of Milwaukee’s most visible, most beloved rap acts – acts that had managed to achieve the unthinkable for a Milwaukee band: recognition outside of our local stage. There we were, in black and white with a little check box beside our name. It was unreal. I told myself I was attending the awards party for the awesome food, but there was a small part of me that wanted to go to see if it was possible, if we could really actually take home the title.

    I consider myself an optimist, but I fall short of that lofty goal pretty frequently, especially when it comes to my own personal success. Realistically, I told myself we couldn’t possibly win. We have incredible fans and followers, but their numbers – though staggering to me – are not nearly as large as the numbers of fans our esteemed competition enjoy. I use the term “competition” here very loosely. I’d wager 90% of Milwaukeeans have never heard of us, and that estimate is probably too low. So, yeah, I knew we couldn’t win. The numbers told the story. Yet, in the back of my mind flickered a small, fragile candle of hope. Maybe we had managed to creep by in the polls. Maybe our competition hadn’t cared enough about the title to promote their nomination. Maybe they were resting on their laurels and figured their name recognition would be enough to win. We, on the other hand, campaigned furiously on social media.

    we continue to pander

    Just one example of our tenacious campaigning.

    For us, this opportunity wasn’t just another award like it was to so many of the area businesses that win one every year like clockwork. For us, this opportunity represented a chance to gain real visibility, on a scale we could never achieve alone through our own network of connections. This was a real chance to get some recognition for the insane thing we’re doing musically. It would also represent a palpable admission that what we are doing isn’t so far from the mainstream that it will never be accepted. It would be validation and vindication that I, personally have been craving ever since we started this project.

    It was not to be.

    At 7:00  the winners were projected on a giant screen behind the band (shoutout to Wifee and the Huzz Band) one after another in order of category. First Milwaukee characters and representatives, then services rendered, restaurants, boutiques, animal advocacy groups, the list went on. There are a lot of categories. I clapped and cheered for the winners, especially businesses and individuals I appreciated and voted for. I fell silent when the Music category finally appeared. Best acoustic musician, best choral group, best female singer, etc. I held my breath. I could feel my heart pounding. I knew we couldn’t win. I knew it as a fact, but still, that glimmer of hope fluttered in my chest. Finally: “Best Rap/Hip Hop Group.” It was all I could do to bring myself to read the name below the title heading. WebsterX. Well, it wasn’t a surprise. I wasn’t shocked. It was exactly the name I’d expected to see. It made perfect sense, but no amount of logic can soothe that feeling of loss. We came in 4th among the runners-up. We came in dead last.

    A measure of hindsight has been a salve to the pain of losing. We made it on the ballot! There might be people out there who had never even heard of us before, who may have been curious enough to look us up after they voted for WebsterX. They might not become fans after they find us, but they had to look us up! There are probably at least a few people who never knew Non-Ironic Polka Hip Hop even existed before this competition, who now know undeniably that it does! We almost certainly got a modicum of exposure out of this whole thing, and that alone is a triumph, especially when you’re a band like us. Yes, the news is that we lost. The news is, we came in dead last. But maybe, for us, bad news is still good news.

    Maybe next year?

    Maybe next year?

     
  • Brümeister 11:01 pm on June 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Stanford Poetry Blues and Graduation for One! 

    So the last online class for the 10 PreModern Women poets happened the other week. It was a free online Stanford class and I signed up hoping to learn something new and I did. What I did not do was any of the assignments (feedback to questions prepared by the instructors). Essays like that were never my strong suit and questions that are supposed to be designed to illicit certain responses usually get the crickets in my head chirping. I’m like “You just said everything in the video, why do I have to repeat it?”  It’s part of the reason I excelled in creative writing instead of essay writing. I have no boundaries and I have no goals. Repeating a few lines from a text that everyone in class will already be repeating is the most fruitless waste of intelligence I came to know while in school. Instead I’d rather quote things deliberately and to make points as I see fit. My grades were only good where professors understood that I was intelligent and could not be motivated against my will.

    My sister is graduated high school a few weeks ago! She’s graduated with a much higher GPA than I did and will even be getting a scholarship! I am immensely proud of her, as any brother would be, but I’m even more impressed because I understand part of what she had to overcome. She had to deal with bullying at her high school and decided to take online courses from another high school to earn her diploma. Contrast that with the reality that I couldn’t even get my shit together for a few hours each week to write about Anne Bradstreet and Emily Dickinson (poets I admire) and you’ll understand why I think it’s doubly amazing. And while I can’t begin to fathom the dedication she had toward her own education to actually sit at a computer and not just play endless amounts of video games what I can appreciate is the desire to get away from the people who harass you and make your life a living hell out of boredom. Online school was not really an option when I was in high school and try as I might I could not get anyone to send me to an alternative school (even though I had friends with similar issues attending).

    We live in a state where education is under attack by our governor and we live in a society that cannot raise some children to be anything less than sociopaths. For many of these Lord of the Flies types there is little to no repercussions for their harmful words and deeds. And now it seems we are grooming a generation where many of us will have to cope with their thoughtless actions and misanthropic outlook. (but then again maybe that’s our natural state of humanity at all times)  What gives me hope is that there are people like my sister out there that are strong enough to deal with these people but also loving enough to continue to give of themselves. We could talk about how this culture creates the need for online charter schools and how there is a lack of respect for everything and everyone in public schools and that it feeds into the plans to fund private charters but that is another topic about which I don’t care to go into.

    The Stanford Prison Experiment was meant to examine what the roles of prisoner and authority figure did to people and how they reacted to a system of oppression.No similar experiment I am aware of truly shows the impact of oppressive learning environments, whether the oppression is coming from the faculty or fellow students.

    Line up kids.  Time for class.

    Line up kids.
    Time for class.

    To give you another perspective I attended the same High School my sister initially attended. Despite us being years apart, I was sad to see the culture had not really changed there and if anything had become more negative. The year I graduated was the same year Columbine happened. Our school had already brought in a police liaison (who ended up getting fired for messing around with a 16 y/o girl).  There was a great fear that any school would be next. My group of friends were outcasts and basically looked like and listened to the same music as the kids who shot up their school in CO. In response to the confusion of violence and fear that came from that moment I started to become more vocal in my anti-gun stance (If I die by a bullet I was killed by a coward) and in response to the kids use of Nazi imagry I began wearing my Dead Kennedys shirt that had a big swastika crossed out like the no-smoking sign which read in big capital letters: NAZI PUNKS FUCK OFF! and on the back ERASE RACISM.  A few weeks after graduation I wore the shirt to a buddy’s going away party. All night long people avoided me but would randomly shout things like “I hate Jews” and “Goddamn Niggers” to try to provoke me, me who was just another kid who spent his whole life growing up in the same town as them. We were all done with school, there was nobody left to impress, this is just how that place is. I don’t know what my sister had to endure but I am glad she didn’t try to sit around and let it bring her down.
    She graduated with HONORS and she even came into town to drive her no-car-having brother out to Madison on the shores of Lake Mendota (or was it Lake Monona? ) on a beautiful June afternoon to see her in cap and gown looking like the beautiful, strong sister I know her to be.

    Bru's Sister on Graduation day in Madison!

    Graduation day in Madison!

    I love this picture. Smile! You deserve happiness.

     

     

    (In case you didn’t click the hyperlink)

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)

    By Emily Dickinson

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
    That perches in the soul –
    And sings the tune without the words –
    And never stops – at all –
    And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
    And sore must be the storm –
    That could abash the little Bird
    That kept so many warm –
    I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
    And on the strangest Sea –
    Yet – never – in Extremity,
    It asked a crumb – of me.

     

     
    • NTSC 12:24 am on June 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      We’re all super proud of her. Your sis is someone who will surely improve the world, even if it’s just in her direct vicinity. That’s enough. Great job sis!

  • NTSC 4:01 pm on May 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Visibility and the democratization of online creativity 

    Technology is a truly wondrous thing. I can distinctly remember when my family could finally afford to buy a CD-RW drive for our computer. The ability to actually burn your own music CDs had finally become available to the masses, and it was incredible. At the time I was authoring digital music with a piece of shareware software called Goldwave. I’m stoked and shocked to see that it still exists! Anyway, I must have been around 18 years old at the time and I felt like a rock star. I burned CDs with my music and gave them to all my friends (as if the songs were any good at all.) I listened to them with my portable CD player everywhere I went, though it skipped terribly while I walked, cradling it in my right hand like a baby bird. Suddenly, small music producers could create their own mixes, their own compilations, their own actual albums and sell them to the masses at large. That is just one example of the incredible democratization of creativity that technology has created.

    Fast forward to today, when that democratization has truly revolutionized creativity as we know it. With the ubiquity of professional-grade music production software, industry standard programs becoming available through affordable subscription models, and other advances, almost anyone with an inkling to create art can get their hands on the tools to make it happen. For me, this is both a huge positive for the world, and also a negative. While it has made it possible for even the smallest indie artist to make professional quality products, it has also made it eminently easier for absolute offal to flood every conceivable marketplace. Video games, music, illustration, video, if it’s a media that can be consumed online, I promise it has been super-saturated with tripe of the lowest degree.

    Sturgeon’s law states that “99% of everything is crap.” This may be true, but before the widespread availability of media-creation tools, it was probably a little more difficult for all the crap to make it to market. When it took thousands of dollars in startup capital alone just to get your foot in the door, the market was understandably less flooded. Now, crap and mediocrity are the norm and it’s up to each individual artist to try and get their signal heard among the noise.

    That’s where this powerful democratization hurts us all. There are truly great artists out there, with unique, valuable voices who have the right to be heard, appreciated and rewarded for their talents. Today, it’s not enough for those artists to be skillful and practiced at their craft, they also need to be a full-force marketing and social networking machine as well. Nowadays an artist, instead of spending the lion’s share of their precious time creating quality art, must blog and tweet and post and reblog and instagram and snapchat everything they make, in the hopes of reaching any audience at all. It can be discouraging, to look out over the vast ocean of media that is created and disseminated every single minute of every day, and realize that you and your passions are just a drop in that endless sea.

    My wife got me a fabulous book recently, in which Calvin and Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson discusses the state of comics today. He laments the struggle of comic artists trying to make a living online:

    “…the new business model is to put the strip out there for free, attract some zealous fans, and then hope to sell ads, or T-shirts, or original drawings, or book collections to make actual income. You basically put your art out there as a loss leader. Even if it works, wow, that’s depressing.”

    The culture of free-to-play, free-of-charge media that today’s consumers are so accustomed to is, in my opinion, due entirely to the sheer volume of media available. Affordable technology is the cause of that volume. Today, unless your product is free, you can’t hope to compete. That’s not only ridiculous, it’s nauseating to someone who strives to make a comfortable living from their art. Bill Watterson and illustrators of his ilk were able to not only live comfortably, but handsomely, because they were valued and compensated for their skill and talent. It seems the best an artist can hope for today, whatever their genre or medium, is to scrape by on sales of peripherals.

    Personally, The November Criminals would not have an album, or a website, or any real presence at all without the availability of powerful technologies. I wouldn’t have any of my freelance gigs without the power of the software on my home PC. I cannot in good faith demonize technology since it has made my current lifestyle possible. However, I fear for what the future holds. If this is the current state of affairs when it comes to artists trying to make a living, what will happen as the markets become even more saturated than they already are? How will anyone hope to get their voice heard?

    At least I can rest easy at night, secure in the knowledge that when it comes to Polka Hiphop, we are quite literally the only game in town. We’ll always have that.

    For now.

     
  • Brümeister 8:32 pm on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    THANK YOU! 

    May 9th was a blast! We had so much fun at Empower the Tower and we want to say THANK YOU! to everyone who sponsored us and anyone who was there to dance at 3PM! (NTSC on the Melodeon gets feet  moving!) AND a shout out to everyone at Riverwest Radio for making the event truly special!

    It was just the three of us up there on stage this time (no beat machine either!) and we still had people coming up afterwards complimenting our unique sound. It made my day a lot easier since I was duty bound to work the door the rest of the day while I wore one of my other hats, the one marked WXRW board member.
    So in case you missed it we have a link to the There Goes the Neighborhood hour on soundcloud. So click here!

     

    Nov. Criminals getting set to kick off the 3 pm hour of Empower the Tower 2015 to benefit Riverwest Radio.

    Nov. Criminals getting set to kick off the 3 pm hour of Empower the Tower 2015 to benefit Riverwest Radio.

     

     

     
  • Brümeister 1:02 am on April 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Riverwest Radio on May 9th 

    We as a group support Riverwest Radio and the right to a platform for those voices not yet heard. We are scheduled to play in the 3PM hour (hosted by There Goes the Neighborhood) at the upcoming Fundraiser Marathon. All performers are asked to raise a minimum of $25 toward the building of a FM tower for the station.  Anyone who would like to pledge to support Riverwest Radio can do so on their website via paypal. If you’ve read this far you may have the patience to write in the comment box of your paypal donation that it is for The November Criminals. We thank you again for your support!

    We'll be playing in the 3 to 4pm hour on May 9th at Riverwest Radio

    We’ll be playing in the 3 to 4pm hour on May 9th at Riverwest Radio

    **************

     

    So there I was reading this article where Trent Reznor and Robert Smith talk about the Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Psychocandy’ and of course it was really just a summary of a video clip. But it got me thinking about the nature of music and how and when changes occur in music that continue to be relevant. The article opens up with the sentence “A lot of now-classic albums have grown into their reputations over the course of years or decades” and goes on to spell out what makes it so for this album. It dawned on me that a lot of “sound” is merely varying fashion. But there is a difference between fashion and style.  What makes the latest fashion the style?
    Part of it is the relevance to the listener. The way music informs the person hearing it. Most people want music that makes them dance. The dances become a part of the fashion, the way the body moves and sways or pops and locks or twerks and dry humps becomes relevant to the music and then relevant to the fashion of the listener.Lyrics for some exist only to fill a void. To put a human touch on a sonic experience that we sometimes pretend to be other worldly. If the lyrics command a contrasting disposition to the music then we can even ignore them if the voice matches the music. BUT if the contrasts are too great it forces us into the uncomfortable position of active listening.
    If there is a message that vibes with us we may go back to it. If there is something that makes us uncomfortable then we reject it.
    Rejection of a sound or of music is as much a part of fashion as the dances we perform. What we actively reject says as much about us as what we embrace. When a musical artist (or a musician, or a band, or a composer, or a poet) sparks controversy it is usually because they have created an equal amount of supporters and detractors.

    Support is defined in many ways. It is measured by money, esteem, praise and circulation or word of mouth. Detractors are obstructionists who work to actively prevent any of these from reaching the band.

    As we enter the next phase of The November Criminals project we thank everyone who has supported us so far. Whether we are ever going to be “fashionable” is not for us to decide. But no one can say we lack style!

     

     
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