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You Can't Fight in the War Room



I've always found it kind of odd that we call it Memorial Day, since the American consciousness is generally incapable of attaching memory to reflection in a way that serves as a reliable monument to the past. We tend to expand grievances while bumping out facts in favor of a national mythology incompatible with an honest relationship with history. Gore Vidal referred to our nation as "The United States of Amnesia," which is pretty generous, as amnesia in the medical sense is an unfortunate affliction, rather than a willful preference for stupidity and violence.

I think of Memorial Day as an annual tragedy: Nobody should have to die in war, as war shouldn't exist on a planet as vibrant and abundant as ours. One can squint at the arch of history and see the greedy hoarding (and wasting) of collective resources as a common culprit behind our grotesque mass violence, but it might also be the case, in the words of Brion Gyson, that "Man is a bad animal."

Either way, war is everywhere, or at least it has been for the entirety of my life. And while we are certainly very good at hiding its true face from our media and entertainment, opting instead for jingoism, the frontier of battle has undeniably come home. Our police are violent and militarized, our citizens paranoid and suffering from mass austerity, and our prisons hold a quarter of the world's entire captive population, eclipsing the height of the excesses of the gulag archipelago. We can and should remember our war dead, and mark their incalculable loss. But we should never valorize the causes of that loss. Rather, we should turn our rage and national lust for violence towards the class of rulers who insist on endless wars and exploitation. That might create something worth cheering for, a planet where the plows outnumber the swords by the billions, and the Mark of Cain fades into the obscurity of forgotten history. I'll leave you with the opening line from "Soul Love," the second song on David Bowie's masterpiece album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars:

"Stone love, she kneels before the grave

A brave son, who gave his life

To save the slogan

That hovers between the headstone and her eyes

For they penetrate her grieving."


RampArt is hosting another hardcore punk show tonight at 7 p.m. Two Rhode Island bands, Providence's Catalyst and Bullet Proof Backpack from Middletown (a group of teenagers who run their own label, which gets a huge thumbs up/fuck yeah from this old head), will share the stage with the Brain Dead Rejects, from parts unknown. I have heard this all-ages show comes in at the $5-$10 range, so plan accordingly.

If you are still up for it later, the Jam is having its end of the month reggae night, with DJ Sarge One Wise presiding over the decks between sets by his Wisedem Band and Arkaingelle, for which 9 p.m. is the hour, and $10 is the coachman's fee.


DJ duo Hispanic! At the Disco returns to the Miniplex for what is all but certain to be a raucous night of cumbia, reggaeton, merengue and all points in between. It's a birthday party for Charli, the oft-stolen, cloven-footed mascot of Richards' Goat starting at 9 p.m. ($5-$10, no one turned away for lack of funds).


Seattle's Some Surprises is a dream pop outfit fronted by songwriter Natasha El-Sergany, whose tunes jingle and jangle with a pleasant and resonant hum. Let me break cover for a moment and take you through a walk behind the proscenium arch of the Miniplex, where I have in the lost, dewy past played music, served drinks, met future friends and lovers, and been rolled out once or twice in squalid, embarrassing splendor. I'm probably more able than most to say that it's a venue with the ability to pull off a good show. And tonight's lineup with the aforementioned reverb-mongers aligning with local stars Strix Vega and Silver & Nails certainly seems like a sure shot. You can find out for yourself at 8 p.m. for $10.


It's tough to pin down the gigs at the Siren's Song, as my usual methods of relying on press releases, texting, fliers about town, social media (ugh), and a proprietary blend of my own secret Baker Street Irregulars and messenger pigeons has yet to crack the inscrutable booking policy of this genuinely fun venue. However, I can tell you there is word that sometime this evening two local bands I have regard for — up-and-comers The Critics and OG heads Pills for Thrills — will be joining an unfamiliar act called Roni Jean for a proper show. Let's peg the thing at 7 p.m. (it is Sunday, after all) and cap the door price with an over under of $10 and $5.

Monday, Memorial Day

Let's take a break and pour one out. The dark archons who create the evil slur of war will likely just smile and wheeze at the start of white linen season (better to cover the chitinous flesh of their vile bodies when they scuttle loathsomely into the public eye), while others in the lower classes might unfurl flags and recite the names of those lost in the psychotic, blood-pyramid of empire. I'll be around, too. Probably watching Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun, and thinking about who killed Pat Tillman, and why.


This is a powerhouse show at the Siren's Song that I can absolutely endorse. Oklahoma's blast rockers Psychotic Reaction share the stage with a powerful lineup of Humboldt excellence. I'm talking about the charnel, country outhouse yowl of the Bow-legged Buzzards. And the stoney riff-ship Planet of Green, which, along with Thee Cokers, fills out a heavy sonic bid. 9 p.m. is the time, $5-$10 sliding scale, though nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.


Portland's fantastic tattoo parlor country act Jenny Don't and the Spurs will be uniting with our very own shitkickers Barn Fire to singe some hairs at the Shanty tonight at 9 p.m. A $5 bill will get you in the door, which is a perfect price for our favorite dive in the 707. Two great bands in a beloved venue for less than the cost of a gallon of gas!

Collin Yeo (he/him) is a [redacted] who lives in Arcata and believes that everyone should come together and [redacted] the powerful people who drain meaning and dignity from our lives with their greed.

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