Memorial Day: another great thing black folk gave to America

1865 was a heavy year for the USA.

on April 9th, Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S Grant in Appomattox, ending the Civil War

it took a little while for soldiers to really get it that the war was over. and in some ways it wasn’t.

case in point: five days after Lee surrendered, Honest Abe was shot in the head while watching a damn play.

but by May most of the soldiers had packed up and made it back home to pick up the pieces.

A troop called the 21st United States Colored Infantry made it back to their home in Charleston, South Carolina. They found it in ruins. It was so bad most of the white folk had left and there were only about 10,000 black people still there – a third of them children.

But when the troops came home there was a huge parade of all the townspeople, preachers, and Union prisoners. The Rebels had turned the local race track into a prison. A horrible prison where over 250 soldiers died.

The first order of business that first day in May was to rebury the war dead, many of whom were white soldiers, into proper graves, surrounded by flowers and beauty.

That’s right: the first Memorial Day was started by newly freed black soldiers and their families honoring the fallen white Union soldiers who helped free them.

twenty years ago today i was living with Greg from the Villans and Whalen from Tsar

northridge quake

but at the time they were both trying to be in a band together and it wasnt really working out.

in college, in a land of great musicians, in a peninsula of a million bands, greg was the best lead guitarist

he also wrote some funny ass songs, and painted, and ruled.

jeff, in that same land, wrote the best songs, and dated the girl who most resembled a prettier Uma Thurman

so after college they naturally moved to LA, like many of us did, in order to follow their dream, in their case it was rock.

i was not following my dream. my dream was to be in the music business but i was driving a company car around the valley

teaching salesmen how to sell better, and failing miserably.

miserable is actually a good word because Greg Jeff and I were pouty little bachelors living in Atwater Village.

we had found a 3 bdr house on Glenhurst, just blocks away from where the Beastie Boys were recording Ill Communication

“Glendale Blvd., thats the one!”

the three bad brothers you know so well were doing far better than the three bad roommates.

greg even made an art school film called the three bad roommates where my character punches his in the gut

1484272_10152562510251040_1039197651_nbecause he had borrowed my appetite for destruction cd and had not returned it.

it was really just a great excuse for him to use slow motion while spitting out kool aid.

their was hella tension in the house because we were in the post-Isla Vista hangover, and their band wasnt really working

then in the middle of the night, 4:20am i think, i heard and felt what seemed like a slap on the side of the house

like a bigass slap from the hollywood sign.

i shook, opened one eye, closed the eye, and went back to sleep.

minutes later i heard an AM radio and greg and jeff panicking.

soon they knocked and opened my door and said Earthquake! the powers out. your book case fell over!

i asked “is the house on fire?”

they said, “no.”

so i said, “i’m gonna stay sleep then.”

which boggled their minds for some reason. and when i woke up a few hours later the power had been restored and they were watching LA freak out on the tv.

one line we heard over and over those few days was “and now from Chopper Two we have Stu Mandel. Stu, how are things from where you are?”

what made this earthquake unlike any that i had experienced was there were hella aftershocks.

the first one came that first night. it felt like a school of whales swimming underneath our street.

you could hear it rumble as it approached you and it got louder and louder and then your house wiggled in the most unnatural way.

and then you could hear it roll past.

sometimes there were just big smacks on the side of your house. it was unnerving. especially at night.

the best part about this house was it had a rock room basement. which was the reason we rented the home.

because there were already tensions, the weirdness of the aftershocks only made things worse.

so i got behind the drums one night right before we were gonna strangle each other and tapped out a little Native American rain dance beat

fuckyou earthquake, fuckyou earthquake… i chanted as i beat the toms.

jeff plucked the open bass string fuckyou earthquake fuckyou earthquake he sang into his mic

and when greg powerchorded to the beat Chopper One was born and we played off the mojo and made it ours.

if we were gonna die we were gonna do it with rocking a soundtrack of defiance.

after a half hour we started playing nirvana, the velvets, van halen, bruce springsteen, and any other song we all could play instantly

my favorite was the romantics’ what i like about you. pretty much the opposite of fuckyou earthquake.

about a month later we threw a party, introduced chopper one to the world, and only got together one more time,

my 30th birthday in frisco.

thats pretty much what i remember of the northridge earthquake: it created Chopper One.

ten years ago i was writing Stiff but i didnt know it

and rock oni was in hell

on my way home i saw a sign that said Customer Service

i never saw this sign before and i followed the arrow to a long line.

after about an hour i made it to the front of the line and said hello to the woman who said hello back at me.

yes, hi. i was wondering where i can find pants. i have no pants.

you can find pants at the store.

she rang a bell.


no no. please i have a few more questions. i heard that on new year’s day we can be re-judged.

dont believe your dreams. you didnt follow or believe them on Earth, Hell shouldnt be any different.

yes, but i shouldnt be here. i wasnt all that bad. plus i loved the Lord.

do you want to fill out a complaint?

may i?


she rang a bell again.


just a few more questions, please. im new here.

you didnt take the orientation yet?

no. what orientation?

you need to go to the Welcome Center and tell them youre new.

will they give me pants?

no. you get pants at the store. they will also have shirts for you there too.

when will i get pants?

pardon me?

i am trying to be nice here and i am getting no satisfaction.

what sort of satisfaction were you looking for?

i dont know. doesnt the squeaky wheel get the grease?

she pulled a chain and a bucket of hot grease dumped on me.

it was hot.

and greasy.

she rang a bell.



The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. –And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

–John Hancock

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

matt welch + negrophile