Thursday, November 29, 2007

When was the last time you had a reason to cry? I could swim in a river of tears if I was strong enough to let them go. My good friend and more then part time mentor speaks often of crying as if it was a body function so regular as eating or using the bathroom. I am not in tune with myself well enough to allow an emotion or two to be so physically present unless its selfish or foolish behavior like rage or anger. It’s much easier to harm someone or break something or say something loud or hurtful then it is to relax and allow the emotions swelling within to manifest in tears. I caught myself a few times today losing my cool and tears began to well up. It was right in front of Jake, who was my best friend for the kind years of 11 and 12. He knew me well and it feels good to be close in relation to one another for how much distance has come between us in the last 13 odd years. I am unable to give in or man up as the Man would say and just let go, yet I am devastated by the rational the hardest dude from my hood died because a punk couldn’t beat him in a fair one. Over the course of the past 20 or so years not many people could ever beat Ogre. He was the kind of guy who lived in rage and violence. Some scream loud and walk proud of not giving a fuck about jail but he just lived it without ever having to mention it. I can say that he is one of the first people to give me the strength to fight and lose. Lose with the notion that in fighting you’ve proved your worth. It’s a simple concept lost to the era of the drive by, the gang initiation and the thug mentality. “Respect through Fear” as they say. He was not a saint by his actions but I will say that his sense of right and wrong were aligned to what and who was closest to him. Outsiders got nothing more then respect he wanted in return. Not a bitch by any means, hardly a bully and the kind of guy who was fearless in the face of an asswhooping if it meant at the end of the day his point got across to the guy on the other end. 32 years old, shot dead a block from where we once lived. In fact we didn’t make the best impression when we moved to our first real house on the “other” Brill Street, as we’re now known to say from time to time. The local thugs were white kids known as GBC or Get Blunted Crew. Not the toughest and actually in hindsight never more then wiggers who ran from the real fights down the street from Red Brick. Either way after an altercation that led to our window getting broke and a fist fight with the guys in the street, a congregation of Kensington and Frankford cousins stormed into the small corridor blocks looking for vengeance. I remember being told to stay inside and could hear the beatings taking place across the street in the cemetery. As legend and time holds it, the last to get the beating was one of the Grossman twins. Known for their mouth and bravado more for their quick hands and solid street cred, Brian Grossman tried stabbing Ogre with a screwdriver in the initial sweep of the 5 x 5 blocks we called home. Making the trip from our house to his house one night he caught up with Brian and leveled him with a single shot. Brian fell to his knees and his head and neck tilted back. Its been said that the sudden rush of blood in his mouth would have choked him to death if he hadn’t been knocked onto his side by a friend. Rash and severe at times, but never without righteousness it felt good to know there was someone who could come down and be there for you when you were in over your head. To think that I stood over him today and say the hardest man from Frankford lying dead today is crushing my heart. One of my first “champions”, the kind of guy who inspired me to be more then what I was is dead for doing the right thing. I could waste time and talk of useless notions such as revenge and how that guy should be found and get the chair, but really what is worth fighting for is already gone. Depleted.
As a lifelong friend spoke at the eulogy today, we never had anything but each other and to be without someone like Ogre is to know there is one less person by your side. As I grew to adulthood and began my own legacy I never felt the need to call on him but I know that he would have been there for any of it. In fact the last we spoke he was the one telling me about how the worst part is the wait between being out on bail and being told whether you’re doing time or you’re out Scott free. There are so many things that I think of now that in my reminiscence of our times can be attributed to him that I want to cry. I want to feel the physical relief of that sorrow knowing someone who’s life impacted yours so greatly is no longer alive because his deeds were struck down by a weaker man. I think of my old excuse for not showing sorrow as “Thugs Don’t Cry” mimicking the over the top B movie at Blockbuster that Samantha would never want to rent. I want to be pitiful and say these words are my tears. I am crying to the world in my grief and hopefully venting this anguish. I walked down Frankford Ave and up the cemetery hill yesterday looking for where he was struck down. I couldn’t find the spot. Later I was told it was a block away from our old house. I wanted to throw up. As I mentioned earlier we had issues there and in fact it got to the point where once my mom found a better spot out of the hood we moved. That was the closure of one chapter and the beginning of the end of my Frankford days. He got us through that rough patch between the apartment on Griscom that was our salvation from the Fonze to the first real house we lived in. It seems as though tragedy strikes all of history’s greatest heroes, Ogre was on his path towards getting a spot out of the hood and getting wifed up with the mother of his children. This tale has no wisdom or lesson to be taught. His actions spoke for him time and time again and I will not relegate this tragedy to the pitfalls of living in a shot ass neighborhood. This was the new way of life, the reason this city and this hood has gone to hell. Damien and I laughed the other day at Mike’s lyric “I’m from the era of the One on One, punching niggas for fun”. Then I think of Ogre being shot dead for being of the caliber of dude to stand up for the small and “shield the weak” as Darius would say.

Mike old buddy, I guess I’m from that era too, and if it wasn’t for my man Ogre I never would have lived past it.

May He Finally Be Granted Peace...and his Killer be shown True Justice.

David Howarth, 32, of Penn Street near Dyre, was found shot once in the chest on Brill Street near Frankford Avenue in the Northeast shortly after 4:30 a.m. yesterday. He was pronounced dead at Frankford-Torresdale Hospital at 5:30 a.m. Detectives were interviewing a possible suspect, but no charges had been filed, said Homicide Sgt. Ron McClane.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I guess I am a lifer now

I got the chance to have a full out interview for my boy Tremblay's serious blog/zine. Definitely the more definitive interview with me. Totally my style too the way the questions were long enough that I could bounce around and make nonsense out of a well placed question..
Check it out..

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Man Behind The Curtain

I would like to disclose the truth behind JOEHARDCORE.NET. I figure I will do this before all the legal litigation happens when I start being sponsored and making 1000’s a month with all the banner ads that will soon cloud over these humble words.

Joel “JUICE” from Clenched Fist is the guy who registered the URL for me. He has always pushed me in a positive way towards something like this. He drew a cover that I will be putting up here for my failed attempt at a zine in 02. He is a truly supportive, encouraging friend and in thinking about this site and how it just popped up out of an email I got from him, I would like to take the time to micro analyze our friendship and its correlation to the bigger picture that is hardcore.

It was 2000 and I received a CD with a band Clenched Fist from Memphis, TN on it. Later on and into 2001 I was booking Punishment’s first US tour. Via Mike Hood I got Juice’s contact and the game began. Sure enough we had a show and we were truly appreciative of it. Then it was a lot harder to get shows period unless you were booked by an agent, there wasn’t myspace and email was checked at the free library via hotmail addresses. Not every band and his mother decided to go out and tour the states (like it is today). The fact we could hook up with a band of similar interest in a place as far different and removed as Memphis and Philadelphia just reveals the power of hardcore (to nerds like myself) the day of the show we were told to go to his apt and the door would be open. Lets think about that for a minute.Book a band and tell them they can go to your house before you get there. It speaks volumes to the character of my friend. It wasn’t too long before he showed and we were hitting it off like we had grown up together. There were varying differences, my love of metallic bands like Dmize and yet amazing shared interests ala the few hardcore videos that made headbangers ball and such.
So we go to play the show and there are only a handful of kids (maybe 20 at most) that are all friends with Clenched Fist at this huge venue. Now typically that would put people in a shitty mood but we were all uplifted by the spark of a new friendship that we didn’t even care or take notice toit. We played first and it was awesome, great sound anda great time. Clenched Fist took the stage and the entire place (all 20 or so of us) was going off. There is something special about a band playing on its home turf. Sooner or later they had run out of songs and started doing covers. At this point Punishment began our usual antics that included at that time naked moshing. Totally unexpected to these kids from Tennessee but that was most of the gag. With clothes back on a few of our guys got on stage and more cover songs were played. This is so not typical of how things were or are. If there is no one at a show its usually a bust. If there are 2 bands playing it’s usually cut and dry sets and then everyone goes their separate ways. The show was quite long and so much fun that it ranks up in the top 10 shows I ever played or was at. Back to Joel’s house where we were paid by the kids and Joel out of pocket just as a token of friendship. I can’t tell you how much that meant to be a band that no one cared being paid by the kids just so we can get to our next show. We had a lot of good talks and we knew we’d be seeing each other soon enough.

The next time we hung out was in St. Louis at the Creepy Crawl where for those of you who know Clenched Fist’s “Welcome To Memphis” cd know at the end there is a live track of Juice telling the crowd that if Joe Hardcore gets naked and goes from end of the club to the other end that they’ll do Madball. Sure enough, in front of St Louis and everyone else that’s just what I did. In fact at one point during the naked moshing I jumped on someone’s shoulders and there was a pic of it for a bit. Definitely great fun times with our new buddies.

Over the course of the next few years we only grew tighter, whether it was Clenched Fist coming to Philadelphia and living at my mom’s house or Punishment or SR stopping by Memphis and being treated to some of the best away from home cooking ever.

When we came to Memphis after Thanksgiving we were treated to a for real Thanksgiving meal prepared by Brookie and it was just awesome. Even back then we were always on Joel to try to pursue the tattoo thing as he is one of the best artists that I am friends with. He has some much talent it was such a waste that he was rocking a tie and working at a bank. The guy painted this awesome Santa Claus with all these tattoos and a spiked baseball bat on a sheet of plywood, and then cut it out, it was seriously just incredible. Like someone crossed Santa with Bluto from Popeye and everything.

The last Punishment tour with Blacklisted we had one of the greatest moments in touring wiffle ball competition ever. I think we were at the corner of his new house in Memphis for about 4 hours of serious middle of the intersection wiffle ball that would just not end.
The show that night was just awesome and afterwards I was introduced to Down South barbequing with a charcoal “smoker” that gets your coals nice and red hot before you start cooking on them. I can’t tell you how much I wanted one of those things.
The following year I was presented with a gift from Joel at a show in Chicago (SR’s last time there) It was a brand new charcoal smoker with my ugly face hand painted on there with a spatula in my hand and the words master griller like Merauder’s record.
That’s the kind of bond we had. After I tried to get them signed to Too Damn Hype where I worked (years before the smoker) I got them hooked up with Thorp and that’s how they got the Welcome To Memphis CD. That CD had so much lyrical power for me, I wonder just how a guy could write shit that hit me the way that did.

Funny enough, that JoeHardcore cartoon face wasn’t born from that but MET (too damn hype/chord) wanting to give me a label under TooDamnHype. He had Juice draw up a caricature face with my signature crooked hat, bad crooked teeth and slobber coming out of my mouth. So fucking funny. I really wish I had my old hard drive shit so I could post that picture. That alone just showcases his talents in being able to draw these awesome characters.

The bonding points for Joel and I go beyond our hardcore pursuits and principles and that’s where the deep connection was made. He and I both grew up with a mom who did all she could for our siblings and us. We both grew up on the have not side of things, in neighborhoods that were less then nice and more often blacker then white. We had a lot to talk about and so much to connect to it really amazes me that I met someone that is my age that grew up so much like I did who just happened to find not only the same music I did but is into so many of the same bands and principles and virtues of the core. Don’t get me wrong we have our bit of differences but they are minute and just something for us to pick on each other about.

Its just incredible to have a friend out there that truly understands not just what you’re into, but what you’re capable of, where you came from and what makes you who you are… I have always thought of hardcore as the great equalizer for those with an ax to grind, a story to tell or a past to work out through healthy doses of aggression but I never would have thought I would get a friend from Memphis who could finish my sentences and fully know some of the pains and bullshit that came from growing up the way that we did.

My friend Joel is still to this day not a tattooer, though I hope now with him in Denver he will explore that avenue. I really look forward to having something by him tattooed on me; in fact I plan to save space just for that eventual occasion. The only real question is whether it will be a PMC tattoo or something else.. maybe a Biohazard logo.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ten Years Ago

I thought about this some and realized 10 years ago we were all caught up in a band from New Jersey who just came out with a CD called "Time 2 Shine". I remember Bushy getting us a ride to the Pipeline in October of 97 for the record release of Time 2 Shine (yet we had the CD already, in fact we bought it in July off of Rick). Now people will go into detail to talk about the "beef" with Rick and E Town, but at that time it was just starting up. They opened with Shaydee, even though Rick was there the whole show with his minimart distro table. In fact that show in particular I can remember Rick having the sound guy play "Strength Through Unity" over the PA between bands on almost a constant loop. I am sure the band was already upset with Rick by that point because it wasn't much later when I heard about a riff between the two parties over Tshirt printing and what not. Before the internet, Rick used to be the guy who could get you pretty much anything from the smaller labels to the bands who weren't on a label. Case in Point- E Town Concrete, which Rick carried both their demos , the split 7" which was on his label (featuring Second To None on the Bside) and whatever shirts he had of theirs at the time. Which was really cool because even thought you could travel to see Rick every weekend, you might have a chance a shirt by a band that played alot less frequently or close to you. I only mailordered clothing from big labels like Victory and EVR at the time, so Rick was my go to guy for alot of my hardcore shirts.

Back to the Record/topic at hand. I can remember seeing E Town at Beaver College (now Arcadia University) with a ton of bands. Something happened onstage with the band internally there was a bit of a fracas on stage and that was about it. Aside from that time, I think I'd only seen them in Browns Mills and at the Top Of The Roc in Reading previously. It seemed like 97 was going to be E Town's year. First seeing them at the Superbowl of Hardcore at the StonePony in Asbury Park, NJ and thinking how much they'd improved since then, I really made an effort to travel out to a show if I saw E Town on it. I don't remember if it was their raw lyrics or the reaction from the crowd that they got at the time but something clicked with E Town and my group of friends and its funny that 10 years later I still can't help loving them. Time 2 Shine was really one of the better produced soon to be car ride staple of that time. I think we rocked it two times up and back on the way to the Vision " the Kids .." Record Release party. Thats just how it was. We were grimey kids who really didn't have much and most of the lyrical content wasn't wigger garbage to us, but anthems for our late teen angst. I never really heard a band say the kind of things I think aloud before....

Learn to live with pain and you won't complain.

That which doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger.

That which doesn't kill you, only makes you wanna kill.

Now I'm getting mine by taking yours, Time 2 Shine.

All my life I hated those who had more.

But now I'm getting mine by taking yours, Time 2 Shine.

Please excuse my fucked up attitude, but I don't give a fuck about you.

If that don't reach the dirty rough end of town youth in you, nothing else will.

I guess over time they got a bit bigger and as their band grew, their talents musically and lyrically became something that our lil bubble world of hardcore couldn't contain. For me they will always be a huge fuck you type of band worthy of our support. Sure I'd go see bands like Floorpunch or H20, Vision or Shelter.. But you could see look in the pretentious guys' faces when you wore an E Town shirt (if they were even clued in enough to know what it was).

Its kind of sad now that every douche bag over privileged hardcore kid cross references current hip hop lyrics & style into their own hodge podge subculture identity, never really knowing what it really means to be a part of an underground or thugged out or whatever else they're going for in their teen rebellion. Their love of E Town and bands like it have nothing to do with the primal connection that we had then.

I should really give a strong mention to all the mid to late 90's bands that tried and failed miserably to do what E Town did. I think the worst example was 7th Rail Crew from the New England area. There were plenty others out there, but 7th Rail Crew was possibly the worst example ever. At least there were crazy dudes and nasty brawls at E Town's local shows, I think I heard something like 7th Rail Crew was dispised everywhere and never really got a fanbase, though I swear to go they had to have played Sea Sea's in Moosic, PA more then half a dozen times.

Maybe I will set up some time and really explore this matter further and post my inquiries into the worst of the worst mid to late 90's rap wannabe core bands. That would take a monumental amount of effort, but nothing ventured-nothing gained.

Thanks to E Town Concrete, not just for Time 2 Shine or any of their other records, but for being there when I was 17 and needed to lash out and be angry and scream along to angry street anthems..

"Some get a little, and some get none, some catch a bad one" yo, that was my anthem.

17 long hard years of blood tears, nigga you were never there,

Nigga you would never care,

fuck the word cause the world fucked me,

You could take me outta' hard times, but you can't hard times outta' me.

Some Reviews For Ya'll

Damnation A.D. ‘In This Life Or The Next’
Surprising as it was, the return of Damnation A.D. may not completely a bad idea at all. This is pure anger filtered through serious stacked guitars and screamed in rage and frustration. While so many bands are out there trying to persuade us to believe their emotions and lyrics are heartfelt, it takes but a few seconds as each song on In This Life Or The Next to hit before you’re instinctly aware of the sincerity of Damnation’s intentions. One of the bands I missed most from the 90’s is back and they made a hell of a record to re introduce themselves to the world. I was pleasantly surprised to see the rerecorded of The Hangedman and Rain As My Veil as well as Addiction, damn there are some good old songs on here. Interesting “upgrades” so to speak, but all in all I would take them doing some good old tracks so that way when they play live I am not forced to endure an entirely new set of songs from an old favorite like Damnation. Sure to get a few people who haven’t touched a record from Victory in some time listening and might even get some of these know it all whipper snappers who think they got this metal core thing figured out jumping around on the floor. Overall an intense display of aggression from the heavyweight champs of the sorrowfilled hateful hardcore.

Down To Nothing “The Most”
Today they’re standing as one of the only bands left from the beginning of this decade. They’ve been through all the worst ends of this shit and yet have managed to position themselves atop a crop of bands that are more gimmick then substance, more trend then standard. The Most is possibly the best record Revelation has put out in god only knows how many years. Down To Nothing has really outdone themselves on this one, topping my previous favorite release by them (Save It For The Birds/Thorp Records) Great recording, good mix of the fast and slow stuff with the right mixture of singing alongs to keep the whole place moving and involved. They have beefed up their sound and really come at our throats on this one, the production is phenomenal, in fact it’s the aspect of the disc that really pushed this over the top. Good song structures and strong vocals could be weakened with something less, instead this is top notch shit jumping out at you –keeping the cd jamming through the whole time- a perfect LP in under 25 minutes. I really can’t say anymore about this disc without being redundant, yet I will say this is in the running for CD of 2007.

Allegiance “Desperation”
Another great band that has managed to survive most of this decade unscathed and still belting out pure fucking hardcore. They don’t tour as much as a lot of the other bands but they still manage to keep up pace with the leaders of the pack. Desperation is an intense angry piece of the core, delivered fast and it hits hard as nails. I really dig the pace they set and the songs seem to fit well the way they were arranged on the disc, with most of the songs flying by. The title track is the big number on the disc and it hits like a ton of bricks even at 3 minutes long (a near mortal sin for by the numbers hardcore bands) Allegiance has delivered another awesome disc, its ashame they don’t tour more as there is a serious need for more bands rolling with the straight up delivery that these guys have the patent on.

Over The Last Few Days

Reunion shows are really just a sad reminder that the more you dedicate yourself to hardcore the less time you will have to develop a "life" that consists of material and professional acquisitions that may make hard times a little easier. Thank the hardcore scene for either remembering how much work Robby Redcheeks put into hardcore or for their love of the "big Reunion" to get the job done at the end of the day. I was so happy to see all the kids and the bands that day, but I wonder how many felt like they were doing good for a family who was truly in need and how many were there for the bragging rights.

I gotta say that Floorpunch was just what this scene needed. So many people talk and talk and talk online (ha just like I'm doing now) and yet when a band gets on stage and give more damn songs in one show then any other time I can ever remember... kids are still standing around scratching their ass. Not to say the finger pointing, diving and front of the crowd wasn't in effect, but it was the middle mass of people standing around and wasting their energy on "pre-mosh" that really reminded that kids today are just "not as into" the moment as we were.

I am well aware of the sheep mentality and follow the leader principles that are constantly on display at every show almost anywhere, but fucking- FLOORPUNCH reunion and people in the middle of the room just standing around really proves that the generation now are either really a bunch of candyasses or we did something wrong here after all.
I can think of just how excited I would get each weekend for the next show and it often featured bands that I'd just seen the weekend before, let alone the excitement of a reunion show - man we would have "torn the roof of that shack" (words of Joey Demaio/Manowar)
I am happy the crowds came, but a little bummed that the energy wasn't there throughout the sets. The band performed rather lengthy sets to fulfill any fanboys wet dream, yet no matter what they played it wasn't enough. Kids will talk about how they were losing and it was the best show in so long, but honestly the contemporary bands on both shows got more of a workout out of the crowd.
I should bash some of the older guys for coming out of hiding to get the dust off and just fill in the cracks after about 2 or 3 songs but I'll leave them be, I am just happy to see old faces.

I think as far as Church benefit shows go- this despite its huge turnout and amazing lineup for me falls short of the Stoney Benefit show. I was there, but my head was elsewhere. It was hard to focus on anything but the minute task at hand. One of the few shows that I knew I was having a good time, but I didn't feel like I was then. I guess it takes standing in a room full of friends with the thought that if he was just here with us everything would have been that much better...

I am very happy that some of the stress will be relieved off of Robby's step dad as he is a good man and has his hands full as it is. I can only hope that their family finds some peace in what little the benefit show did for them. Money may remove financial stress, but the growing pains of being without a mother is something that we can't fix with 10 benefit shows. I am glad I can call Robby a friend and even happier that hardcore did something for him after all the years of him doing for the scene without thought of repayment.