May McDonough & Company

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A Brief Comment on Modern Wages – from May

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I got to thinking about the hierarchical idea of modern work & wages. To me, the whole pyramid seems rather upside down. Men paid to think are paid fortunes, while men paid to labor make less than livable wages. This, to me, seems downright topsy-turvey. How is it that men can be paid so highly for their innate gifts which come so easily to them, while men with little that comes easily to them spend their days toiling away at work which no one else wants to do, and yet are paid mere drivel? We pay men for the titles they have paid for (degrees, doctrines, etc…), yet the man who labors hardest daily has no money for titles, but soldiers on.
Shouldn’t we pay the men who toil the hardest the largest wages, and allow those of us who have the privilege of enjoying our innate gifts be rewarded by that privilege, instead of our wages? Take for example, the Artist. The artist so enjoys the gift of his art that he (most of the time) suffers low wages and works many menial jobs for a living so that he can continue to create. He sacrifices a life of leisure for the privilege of thriving in his innate gifts. That is not to say that what he does isn’t work. It is. But it is work he enjoys. Perhaps, our society today would do better to follow the example of the Artist and let the men who truly suffer enjoy the spoils of success. Just a thought.

Side Note: Bertrand Russel has some interesting things to say about work, not quite the same point that I am making, but relevant and much more interesting than my little rant. Check out his essay, “In Praise of Idleness“.

Or, if you really just need to get through the day without a bottle of pills, watch this incredibly patronizing American video on how to love your shitty job!

A Strange & Murky Few Days

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It’s that time again – that time of year where bloggers, weekly columnists, and quasi-journalists of all kinds begin all of their articles needlessly with the phrase “it’s that time again!”. (Kids! For a true example of irony in practice, see the above run on sentence. Or for the very definition, try watching 90′s cult classic “Reality Bites”). What a strange way to begin a blog entry, but it has been a strange and murky few days. To begin with, our loyal little tribe has been touched with death, illness, and heartbreak over the past week or two in our personal lives, all of which was slowly accumulated and mostly anticipated.

So, instead of falling to our knees in agonizing shock or disgrace, we’ve all sorta just been shuffling about in a malaise, not knowing what to say to one another, and passing knowing nods back and forth when the wind changes ever so slightly. But these periods of simmering, agitating, unidentifiable emotions and confusion expose a nerve to music in the most vulnerable way, and make for some very raw, powerful, and almost transcendental band practices. These are the moments when being a musician feels like a gift (as opposed to most others when it can seem like a cruel burden of cosmic torture somehow, but that’s just me…).

We’re all fine, and would prefer not to go into details, so don’t start flooding us with condolences (all though, just the thought is appreciated; so I’ll thank you now, and we can just pretend it all ready happened. Thank you. There. You see? Less awkward all ready). I’m very grateful to have band mates with such incredible character and caliber. These two friends are very brave and their impressive commitment to sound reason and compassion is steadfast and fucking amazing. It’s an honor to work with them.

All things aside, we have some exciting shit on the shelf. Our music video for Careful of the Tales is in post, but we previewed a sneak peak to a small group on Halloween and they loved it! No release date specifically planned yet, coming soon! We have a show coming up January 12th at one of my old favorite watering holes, the spectacularly classy bar-turned-venue just a few doors down from Jumbos Clown Room: Harvard & Stone. That will be a fun one. We’re also putting together a cassette tape release of Bullyboywithaglasseye through Weiner Records, AND come February we will be part of a psychedelic box set alongside some of the greatest artists of all time like MC5, Iggy & The Stooges, and Hawkwind! More on that later. Oh also, don’t forget we now have Bullyboy on VINYL in our store, and if you buy the vinyl you also get a free download card so you can download the album to your mp3 player! AND the download card is not only biodegradable, but it contains wild flower seeds. So after you download, bury the card in soil in your backyard or in a center divider somewhere and wild flowers will grow! In fact, I think I’ll go seed bombing later this evening. Maybe next album we can get vegetable seeds in there, start feeding the homeless with the things. Keep on keepn on, May.

The Revolution Will Be Relativized.

While you’re waiting for the revolution of a new order, or perhaps just waiting for us to finish this damn album, check out this satirical parody May did this week on youTube! But one tip, it would serve you best NOT to heed her advice…..

Mind-Twerking; An Open Response to The Miley Cyrus Media Frenzy & Onslaught of Celebrity Letters

It is 6 am on a Sunday morning, and Miley Cyrus’s twiggy body is still on the news; this time, because a few women I greatly respect have chosen to weigh in on the graphic nature of her foam-fingering exploits. Reluctantly, and far from lucid, I am captive to the burgeoning urge inside of me, and with much dismay, I take to this letter to ask:

Dear Sinead O’Connor & Amanda Palmer,
I ask this question with the utmost respect and love for both of you… but really, who are any of us to suppose what and where the motives of Miley Cyrus are? I, for one, don’t know anything personal about Miley Cyrus beyond the massive media frenzy, and based on your letters, I’m going to assume you don’t either. As you mentioned, our life experience has been radically different than hers. You two have had greater successes than I in this industry, but I would guess that none of us have had the sort of child-rearing life-team around us that Ms. Cyrus does. Your loving concerns, however noble, are based upon presumptions about the decision-hierarchy in Ms. Cyrus’s world. Though it is probably safe to assume that she doesn’t go swinging her bare crevasses atop giant pendular wrecking balls on her own free-time, I think to assume wherein her decision making lies is fool hearty. Nevertheless, I would hope that a mature woman capable of making her own decisions would head both of your cautionary warnings as sage advice from two wise artists with a bit more dirt under their nails. Then again, maturity comes with experiences the Disney Channel is censored from providing.

Personally, I have never understood why a woman taking her clothes off is in any way empowering. I understand that some decades ago, women’s bodies were hidden under overbearing and uncomfortable clothing, and our sexuality was taboo, but we do not live in that era. In my lifetime, women’s bodies have been claimed and reclaimed with overt sexuality until the very notion of a girl who doesn’t like to parade her cleavage around town (like myself) is treated oddly by both women and men alike, as though the lack of desire to objectify myself makes me in some way, less of a woman entirely . In this world, it seems contrary to female empowerment to persist in this notion that female adulthood is strictly tethered to graphic sexual displays. This is not to say that I think we should send our breasts spiraling back to the dark ages, but rather to indicate just how complicated and nuanced the issue of sexuality is in our society, and to perhaps remind you that your perspective, however valid, is not the only one.

Ultimately, I’m game for any discussion, but I’m surprised by the amount of attention being given to a silly underwear romp. While you, and I, and the media at large discuss whether or not Miley Cyrus should have her clothing on or off, little attention seems to be given to the fact that this girl is publicly accessorizing with black women, or more specifically, the back side of black women (because, ya know, if these black women keep letting Miley lick their ‘urban’ asses, then we, the unknowing audience, will be mind-twerked into forgetting about her Disney-bread upbringing. If you buy the bit, you buy the merchandise). The trumping offense to both women and African-Americans here is in the objectification of these women; and yet, the crux of the problem is being masqued by this petty argument about Miley’s low costuming bill. The longer we perpetuate this banal distraction, the further into racial and sexual ignorance we descend.

I greatly appreciate both of you for your fearlessness and rationality; it takes a woman of strong caliber to make public strides towards civility and truth, and usually to much detriment and thanklessness. And for the most part, I agree wholeheartedly with your messages. But rather than perpetuate the autopsy of a stranger’s personal choices, I would rather we spend our efforts illuminating the objectification of these anonymous women, whose blackness has been bought and paid for in exchange for an ‘urban’ moniker, and more importantly to serve as a distraction from what’s really important.

Next time you here the words Miley Cyrus on the news, ask yourself ‘what’s going on in Iran today?’

Sincerely With Great Respect,

May McDonough
P.S. Both Sinead O’Connor and Amanda Palmer are sage, intellectual artists with beautiful voices and powerful music. Please know, that I read each of their letters with great admiration.

Amanda Palmer’s Letter

Xiu Xiu talks with May McDonough

When I was eighteen years old, my boyfriend at the time Trevor was the merch-guy for the then less-famous-but-still-equally-polarizing experimental band Xiu Xiu. So one evening after a powerful show at The Smell where the excitement was palpable and human feces was prominent on the dance floor (why? i dont know, thats just the charm of The Smell), Jamie, Caralee, Trevor and I wandered into a Los Angeles Pay-to-Park, and mounted ourselves on the back of my volkswagen for an interview. I was still playing in my first band at the time, and even greener to the world of music journalism, and that nervousness nestled itself deeply into the pit of my vocal chords. Xiu Xiu was my favorite band, and I was still discovering my own identity as a songwriter and musician. The chance to interview Jamie was (in my fantasies) the linking of the great mentor and his new eager protegee. I asked questions I could learn from.

Ten years later, in the throws of a frantic move, I discovered this interview tape. I’ve purchased a cassette-to-mp3 converter so that I can share with you a very fond memory. In this interview, Jamie will talk about everything from his childhood to his musical inventions (i.e. The De La Cruz-aphone). The interview was meant for print in a new zine that never published. So until now, it has never seen the light of day. Forgive the sound quality, and forgive the random interaction with a homeless man who wanted us to pay him for his bag of cans. And Jamie, forgive me for never do anything with this interview until now.



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