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Topics - That One Guy

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Bring and Brag / TOG playin' da Bass
« on: September 01, 2009, 03:12:19 pm »
Hi all -

I know I haven't been posting as much lately, but there's a reason for that - two bands are keeping me pretty busy, along with a new girlfriend. I've got enough time to read the quality posted here, just not too much time to contribute my own.

So, I figured I'd post some videos from a show my band played at Harper's Ferry a while back. The show was a tribute to Jam Master Jay benefiting the JMJ Foundation (there were 12 of the best New England DJs that night spinning - amazing stuff!) and also had performances from a bunch of people that are part of the Peace Boston Foundation (benefiting families of those killed by gang violence in Boston). My band played with all of the Peace Boston people, doing a mix of hip-hop and pop-R&B.

Here is our band's website's links  to the videos from that show. It's a good sampling of some of the best local Boston hip-hop and it was a hell of a lot of fun to play.

Hope you enjoy it!

Bring and Brag / TOG's newest song (mostly) finished!
« on: January 23, 2009, 03:34:35 pm »
Hi All -

I haven't been around much the past couple months due to a bunch of factors, not the least of which is my band (Velvet Stylus) has been in the studio whenever we've gotten the chance. Well, I've finally got something to show for the effort!

Take a listen to the (mostly finished) latest mix of our song Inside Your Mind here at our MySpace.

We play neo-soul(ish) R&B/funk, and this is a ballad of sorts, so I understand it probably isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I just thought people might be interested to hear what it is my band does. Criticism and commentary is certainly welcome - just remember the mix isn't completely finished yet (and we still have to record the keyboard solo at the end) and we'll probably end up tweaking some stuff before we call it truly finished.

Hope you enjoy it!

Bring and Brag / ATTN: Boston-Area peoples
« on: June 02, 2008, 02:26:14 pm »
Hi all you spags - guess what time it is!

That's right, it's time for TOG to play a show at Harper's Ferry in Allston! Wednesday, June 11th (a week and change from today), my band will be playing a set, as well as backing up Letia Larok (who we played with last time we played Harper's) on a night in honor of Prince's birthday, so everyone is playing at least one (if not many a) Prince song in their set. Doors open at 8, and I have no idea when we're going on, but probably around 9:30ish.

If you're not sure of whether it'll be a good time, just ask D-Cup as she was at our last show  :mrgreen:

Bring and Brag / TOG on the intarwebs AND in the real world!
« on: February 13, 2008, 04:19:33 pm »
Hi all -

Just wanted to pass along some info on what I've been doing that's been keeping me away from this place lately. Last month my band taped a half-hour performance for Cambridge Community TV that's going to be shown on cable all over the Boston Metro area this month (so if you're in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville or Malden check out the times of the show to see TOG in action on the bass), and lo and behold, there's one of the songs on the web! - that's the link for the song, just enough for a taste of what the full show is :) It needs quicktime to play in case anyone is interested.

Also, check out for all the info on the show, showtimes, channels, etc.

Also also, I'll be playing with Letia  Larok (the singer we played the CCTV show with) at the Milky Way Wed. the 20th, so if you want a preview of the show next week, check out the video!

I will now go back to being swamped with work and various musical projects, peeking in here when I can. Enjoy!

Bring and Brag / Hey Boston-area people - it's the Allston Street Fair!
« on: September 20, 2007, 02:04:12 pm »
So this Sunday, Allston (otherwise known as the College ghetto) is celebrating its 200th anniversary in style with a street fair! Fun for all ages, families and associated weirdos, the city is closing down Harvard Ave. between Brighton and Cambridge streets all day to party and play. I'll be playing the main stage (which will be outdoors on the street by the corner of Harvard and Brighton) around 4PM, so come on down and spend the day with Brazilian families, hung over college students, self-important indie fags in girl jeans and Velvet Stylus! The fun starts around Noon and goes till 6 officially, then moves to all the bars and clubs in the neighborhood and is free for all  :mrgreen:

Check out for all the details, and I hope you can make it - the forecast is for a sunny, breezy day in the mid 70s, so the weather is no excuse  8)

Bring and Brag / Video clips from my recent NYC show
« on: September 10, 2007, 07:49:16 pm »
Hey all - just in case anyone was interested, there is a video clip here at Lee Wilson's MySpace of one of the songs from the show we played. I'm playing bass in the first clip. Enjoy!  8)

Or Kill Me / What are YOU doing?
« on: July 24, 2007, 08:51:37 pm »
Some days I want to light the match that sets the whole world ablaze, that puts the torch to the very foundation of every last structure, organization, and preconception of safety that keeps society hobbling along in these troubled times. Some days, I want to be at the front of the rally calling for someone in charge's head on the guillotine for the masses to spit on as the axe falls. Some days, I feel physically ill becasue of the stupidity and carelessness I see all around me. Those are the days when I feel like all the illusions we use to keep ourselves "sane" get stripped away leaving me to stare in the mirror of the world and confront that part of me.

Then I remember what I'm trying to accomplish, and how I'm trying to do it.

First, a little background. As I've said before, I was raised Unitarian Unversalist in upstate New York. The sermons talked about philosophy and social responsibility and never even mention the word "god" in the hymnal.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine ...

I'm a product of the UU Religious Education program. Before I hit middle school, I was (happily from what I can remember) subjected to things like Free to Be You and Me and other "happy hippy" schools of thought. When I hit middle school, I had sex ed in church for a year, then the year after we went to a different church, mosque, synagogue or temple every other week and talked about the basic principles of the place we were going to visit the next week when we weren't travelling. In high school, they gave us a room and made sure we didn't burn the place down and let us take over the sermon once a year to do with whatever we wanted.

I never really learned blasphemy or religious guilt like gets pounded into so, so many religions early-on - to me, "god" was just another way to try and wrap my head around the infinite universe we inhabit, not some all-powerful old guy in a dress with a bitching ZZTop beard that kept his eye on me like Santa. I got programmed differently, to respect everything even while trying to change it for the better HERE, on earth, where everyone has to actually do things rather than act like the sheep NOW to have the payoff LATER when I can't enjoy it.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine ...

I have a natural, easy-going good nature that makes everyone - and I DO mean EVERYONE - feel comfortable talking to me about, well, anything at all. I get all the crazies that need to rant or just have someone listen for a change, I get old ladies that need directions asking me for help on the street. I watched my father do this for years - anywhere he went, he would strike up random conversations about whatever struck his or someone else's fancy. I watched and I learned. I can be comfortable around ANY group of people, from hardcore thugs in the "bad" section of town to the fucking Rotarians, and I can make them comfortable around a long-haired anarchist with an arts degree that plays bass in a band - if only for a little while until I leave. I've done volunteer work helping drunks and crazies get to detox (at their request), I've done phone calling for social action groups, I've been to rallies, and I even wasted half an hour in my senior year of high-school trying to explain pacifism to a Marine recruiter because it amused me.

Hell, I probably even have a police file somewhere in the bowels of the Machine that lists everything I've ever done, just because of the environment I was raised in.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

All the while, I've been studying, reading, examining ... watching everything to see how people react to as many different situations as possible so I could predict how they'd react. Once I felt I had a decent feel for that, I started to work on manipulation.

I looked like a freak and was a total nerd back in high school. I had a mohawk, wore cut-off fatigue shorts even in the heart of winter (admittedly with long-johns), listened to music most of my classmates hadn't heard and would have scoffed at if they DID. All the while I was President of the AV Club for three years running, founded the RPG club, and was a total music nerd. And you know what? Since I knew about people, I never got in a fight, never had anyone spew insults at me, was never excluded from any specific cliques (although I limited my interaction with them, I stayed separate from all the typical high school posturing bullshit). I was a model student, National Honors Society, never even got written up let alone punished for anything.

And it was all part of the plan.

I kept my nose so clean it sparkles. I learned how to avoid the cops, I learned how to avoid the punishments. I made sure that when I NEED to have a clean slate, when I NEED to be able to ditch the current perception and disappear, I can. I have long hair and a goatee, no tattoos, a couple visible pieces of jewelry. In short, lots of identifying marks that I can ditch in half an hour. I only have a handful of possessions that I would care if I had to leave behind, but if I had to, they're gone. Will I be the first one up against the wall? Not if I can help it - by then I'll either already be dead or will have disappeared into the void.

None of the "greyfaces" really know how to deal with someone like me. Someone that looks one way, but acts another - neither of which fit the "preconceived" notions they have. I'm polite to everyone, from bums (even if you don't give them change, look them in the eye and acknowlege they ARE people) to CEOs. When I played jam-band funk I did it with a mohawk and spiked leather collar. When I play hip-hop I look like a metalhead - long hair, goatee, evil glint to the eye. I exploit stereotypes to twist them at every turn. As a non-violent person, I can talk ordinance with Marines - and get compliments on my Russian officer's trenchcoat that leads to a five minute discussion on the merits and detriments of various military winter gear.

I don't push the outer limits, the real "freak zone". I push the INNER boundaries, where preconceptions are rooted, where the world view sits entrenched. I (hope that I) expand peoples' concepts by direct, continuous example. Day after day, month after month, year after year I slowly keep pushing the comfort zones. It's not glamorous, and results can take years, but it DOES get results. Experience is the best teacher, so I'm out there every day, showing people that what they THINK isn't necessarily how things ARE. Every day, rain or shine, I'm trying to slip the notion that what people THINK they know about other people isn't necessarily what or how those people are.

It's not just me though. I'm that plant in the crowd - you know the one. The one that suckers the marks into thinking something they THINK is true (there IS a pea under one of those cups - I SAW IT!) actually ISN'T, despite what their senses tell them. Every time I can, I react the way I want OTHERS to react - consistency and repetition are key. One person reacting one way, one time is meaningless. One person, reacting one way every single time it happens can make a WORLD of difference if you know where and when to exert the influence.

I've spent 30 years - every minute I've been alive that I can remember - learning, watching and doing. How much have I accomplished? What have I done? How much of it all was me just being lucky - being in the right place during the right time of changes? Probably a whole hell of a lot. I like to think that I AM making an impact, though. Changing attitudes and minds is the hardest thing to do long-term. I HAVE done that in the past, and in the present, and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.

Even if I'm just deluding myself into thinking I have and will make a difference, well ... there's always the match and I've always liked watching the fires burn.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine ...

Or Kill Me / Brand Loyalty
« on: April 24, 2007, 04:16:22 pm »
Semi-rant that's a rought draft for the Aftermath thing

I pledge allegiance to the trademarks
of the Multi-national Corporations,
and to the Marketing for which they stand,
one Brand under the Dow,
with profits and dividends for shareholders.

What do YOU get for your "brand loyalty"? What's the difference to YOU which toothpaste, which dental floss, which lightbulb you buy? Are your teeth more clean with brand X or brand Y? Is your home more lit up? How much of a difference IS there between Coke and Pepsi? After all, they're both sugar-water, caffeine and artificial coloring. For that matter, so is the generic "Cola" from your local supermarkets. All your "loyalty" amounts to is either being suckered in by a slick Madison Avenue marketing strategy or just blindly using what your parents/friends/whoever used - and THEY were probably suckered in by a marketing ploy.

The only people that care which brand you use are the shareholders of the companies that make all this stuff. Their profits rely on you buying into the multi-million dollar hype that THEIR brand of toothpaste gets your teeth just a little bit cleaner than their competition. The Madison Avenue people could care less - all they're trying to do is sell whatever product they can get the account for. They'll pimp whichever one they get the $$$ for with whatever message they're getting paid to spread. They might never use the products they're selling, but since they got the check for the campaign, they're damn well going to sell it the best they can.

Why did you pick up brand X? Was it because they spent $50 million researching how to get your teeth .05% whiter? Or was it because they spent $50 million on an ad campaign that TOLD you it makes your teeth .05% whiter than that OTHER brand, has a sparkly box that the tube comes in, and showed the woman in her bathroom (with generic, perfectly groomed good looks, generic good-looking, well-groomed husband in the background and generic good-looking, well-groomed kids) really being so HAPPY brushing her teeth with brand X while the woman using brand Y was alone, rumpled and not all that happy with brand Y?

Have you ever stopped to think about what exactly you're being told to do in all these ads? Buy product X because it'll make you a better person/have sex with whoever you want to/fill the emptiness of your existence - oh and none of those OTHER products will do it as well as THIS one. It doesn't matter whether or not it's true - it only matters whether or not you THINK it's true, and spend your money accordingly.

If you have to buy into the consumerism, at least know what they're telling you and how they're selling it to you. You still might pick up brand X, but at least now you know WHY you're buying it.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / This morning ...
« on: April 02, 2007, 05:11:26 pm »
This morning I could feel the bars around me when I woke up, from the cool grey sky dribbling onto the ground through the shades as my alarm was going off to the dully lit streets as they passed by the windows of the bus to the elevator that's in the building where I work. From one box to another to another to another to another.

At least some have windows ...

But what use is a view when it's through bars? What use is the sight of the sun on the leaves when it's through a pane of glass that feels like one long bar itself? When you're trapped in one cell after another, what does the scenery really matter? When you're trapped in a cell you bring with you, does it matter where you are?

Maybe it's better if you can't SEE the bars ...

That's what I think some mornings when the bars are so clear around me. When every wall turns into bars keeping me closed in, keeping my thoughts in line inside the approved limits of the cell I'm in. That's what I think during the times when I can see the cage everyone is bringing with them, surrounding them as they go off to work, go shopping, go to the bar for a bite and a drink. When I can SEE the bars, SEE the cages enclosing everyone (even me), SEE the baggage people carry around with them and that colors how they see the rest of us, I wonder ...

Can anyone ELSE see the bars? Or is it just me?

Or am I even seeing the bars at all? Are the bars REALLY there, or is it just because it's a rainy day and those always get me a little down? If it's all in my head, is it all JUST in my head or can other people see it too? If other people CAN see it, have they thought about getting out of the cage, opening the bars? Or are they so conditioned that they think the bars are SUPPOSED to be there?

Did we ever see the bars as they were being put around us?

When we were growing up, learning from our friends, the adults that taught us (intentionally and unintentionally), and anything and everything else, did we put the bars up ourselves? Did they, did WE give us the bars to weld in place? Did they know it was happening? Did they WANT to know? Did WE want to know? Or did we just put the bars up because we saw them around the people we were learning from and just wanted to fit in, to get along? Or were we born in the cell and didn't know any better until it was too late?

Seems like the bars were always around me, and I never even thought they were keeping me in.

After all, the bars seem like they've always been there, the cool iron taking on a comforting familiarity after enough time. Sometimes I had a bigger cell where the bars felt far, far away, other times I needed my cell small and tight to keep things OUT as much as the bars were keeping me IN. At least I've been able to change the cell once in a while, right?



Not sure if this goes better here or in BIP (I've been stewing this for a while since I read BIP, and it's a semi-rant against the bars of the cell so I wasn't sure where to put it) so feel free to move it there if it fits better. Also, while I've proofread it a bit, I'm definitely open to suggestions as to how to flesh it out some more. I had a lot I wanted to cram in there, so some bits are a bit more cryptic/subtle than I might otherwise have prefered, especially since I fell into a rhythmic style I was comfortable with. So have at it!

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