Other Voices

“Shanon Mitchell is a sometime writer who owns and operates the Mitchell Home for Insane Children as well as the Institute for the Rehabilitation of Sociopathic Cats along with her husband Jesse.” I loved this description so much, I stole it off of Shannon’s Finding The Beat profile.  You can check out more of Shannon Mitchell’s works and rants here http://tarpaulinsquare.blogspot.com/

The arts should not be big business.  I hate the fact that someone with nothing more to offer the world than another trashy book about a voluptuous farm widow finding love in an unexpected place can make millions and millions of dollars while people with legitimate talent get nothing but rejection after rejection.

My husband got another one of those emails today, which I maybe shouldn’t discuss out in public.  But it hurts him every time, and when he hurts I hurt as well.  He is amazingly talented, as anyone familiar with his work knows.  But no one pays attention, no one gets it, and no one cares.  Twenty more vampire romances will have come out by the time you reach the end of this paragraph, but he has been published exactly once.  It is unfair.  It is ridiculous.  More than anything it is sad, because the world loses something every time a writer or an artist gives up for the last time.

Jesse will persevere like he always does.  He has far too much passion to quit.  But how many voices will go silent today because some greasy-haired, suit-wearing ass who probably doesn’t even read told them they should never put pen to paper again?  The idea sickens me.

This is why I blog.  I am given free reign to post anything I want whenever the mood strikes me, and I don’t have to wait on some douchebag in a Benz to get back to me six months later just to tell me ‘thanks, but no thanks’ anyway.  I am here.  My words are in print and no one can take that away from me.

Sure, there is no money in this, but who cares about the money anyway?  If you are writing just to make money, you are in it for the wrong reasons to begin with.  This is a calling, a mission.   And to make it into anything else is just gross.

Maybe I’m just ranty and full of bile today, but  I’m sick of everything being an ‘industry’.  It’s at best counterintuitive and at worst insane to push real talent aside for mediocrity and pomp.  Do we, as a society, really want to go down in history as vapid and culturally bankrupt?  I don’t know.  I guess maybe we do.  ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ is still on, after all.

It doesn’t matter, really.  Maybe I’m the only person on earth who feels the way I do.  It’s probably just another manifestation of my insanity.  But whatever the case, I’m moving on.  No more worries about agents or cover letters or queries or any of the bullshit that gets in the way of my saying whatever the hell it is I need to say.  I will say it regardless of pay or fans or any of it.  You can read if you wish, and to those of you that do, thank you.  You are my reward.

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Jesse Mitchell; writer, Cattle farmer, husband, and farther is the latest edition to Other Voices.  His writing is both contemporary and classic. He allows you into his world in a way few can do.  Jesse is also a fellow Finding The Beat subject. I greatly enjoy reading Jesse’s stuff. He has a unique voice and paints a very vivid picture with his imagery. Check him out you won’t be disappointed. I promise you that. You can find more Of Jesse’s words here http://commonobscura.blogspot.com/

Iberia, IL

by

Jesse Mitchell

Some days are lightening bolts.  Some days filled with super powered sparks, electric fire.  Some days are the blizzard, snow white, blinding. The lights always above us, blazing bright as camera flash or dim and steady, subtle like candle flame…flicker flicker and fanning in the breeze.  Today burning my neck and squinting up my eyes are the artificial long bulbs of fluorescent gas in the ever-widening supermarket aisle.  I try in vain to quickly find the certain baby formula and escape out of this mercantile madness…the dreary death…the itching dearth…the dying breaths.  I cannot say how I got to this place as I wring my hands together.  I cannot know the paths that led me here out of the wilds of my life.  But I have begun my song, my angel story, and now I must sang it…of the wild men and monsters in the memory forests of my mind.

My cart rattles as I push it down the aisle.  Filled to the brim with ice cream, sponge bob band-aids, vitamins…I shake myself into mischief and daydream.  Moving displays around…misplacing sign cards in their placards…anything to disturb.  It makes me sigh.

Once I was wild as you America, once I was with you all…when we were all young…I was with you, together.  You and I burning blood and oil, running like water, gasoline, breathing fire, tattoos in each and every town…the smell of smoke and noise and fresh ink, eating gravel, spitting asphalt.  You and I, America, big booming Gypsy rain clouds filled with thunder and ice, spilling our rain around…making storm wherever we did wander.  I was with you.  And I imagine I still am.  We are here together too.

My head hurts.  My heart races.  I have not slept in nights, not completely.  The cries of an infant keeping my eyes peeled open. I move so slowly now.  I am no dead spirit however, like so many others, I still live.  I am no ghost in denial.  I am still every bit a part of the growth, the surging tide, the power of beauty.  I am still alive. A spark of fire, a hot coal, a moment of life, a warm breath.

The Universe is loved not for its own sake,

But because the self lives in it.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Seven years ago, I woke up wasted a few miles outside of Iberia, Il, wasted and with splitting head and sore feet.  I woke up hard on the hard floor of a low rent apartment complex, three camel lights clutched in my hand.  I pushed up with my needles and pins hands and broke one of the stained cigarettes.  The carpet was moist and smelled of yeast and mud and stomped feet…the whole place smelled like loud music, dirty talk, shouting and beer bottle ashtrays.  The room still rocked back and forth.  The whole place leaked sound out of each and every black grubby crack and open gaping doorway.  Noise came pouring out like sudsy water from a squeezed ragged.  The sensitive but still pounding bass beating out of broken speakers, belle and Sebastian, popping out note by crackled wadded up note…on repeat.  My skin felt threatening and sore…my eyes could barely blink.  I opened the front door.  The light invaded the room like a flood of soldiers.  I could see the whole parking lot, empty, how did I get here…

I started to walk back to school.  The campus was a mere few miles from here to be sure.  I sloshed through the half-frozen mud and pocket of ice-cold water.  I edged around the lake…I did not realize I was so far out.  I out one of the cigarettes in my mouth…not my brand…who left me with these awful things?  I felt like a king when that nicotine hit my blood and reawakened all the other chemicals lying dormant.  A new high rushed over me, my blood got hot, and my face flushed.  I staggered and almost fell.  Oh my mind raced, raced so fast it hurt…all those crazy ancient things, wild kings, princes and mercenaries and mercenary stories.  I walked up the hill past the low swampy parts.  My mind ran and ran and I thought of the lava flows and ice storms and past steps and stumbles and flaming places and  browning and dying odd-out-of-place tropical plants that  surround the campus walls, fire wood and burning piano keys, madness.  A king out here, still wasted and wrecked, walking faultless like a Carolingian not a Merovingian…the second king…I took this away from other hands.

Cars rushing past me beep their horns at me.  I wave my hands.  I hold my bloodied hands up to the ceiling of heaven…bloodied palms too much from stigmata and too much from toil.  I am glad to be of the land under the weeping sky above…glad to be a person of the land…hallelujah.  I feel human.   Hallelujah. It is cold.  It is cold and I feel myself shake inside but I am far too gone to notice but I pull my wrinkled jacket closed anyway.

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DJ Sean Banks  “The Hip Historian” of Columbus, Ohio, has a passion  for, and knowledge of music, that few can match. I plan on working closely with Sean on my new site. Sean will be handling the music end of the site.  Here is a link to the Sean Bank’s SECRET INTERNET RADIO SHOW. http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=158896528&blogId=538589068 Sean producers and hosts the show himself.  I am honored to have such a talented individual on board with my project. The following is a bio written by Sean Banks.

“Music is my life” should be my favorite quotation because it’s the truth. As far as I can remember, this has been my main purpose in life. It is my strength along with my weakness. I can converse about it so much that it sometimes irritates people. I don’t mean any harm, it is just who I am.

Life began as Marshano Lamonte Gripper, born on November 25, 1967 in Columbus, OH. My memory goes back to around 1970. I recall being in a household filled with music. My Mother had a decent collection of 45 RPM records around the house of mainly Classic Soul. I can recall hearing Tyrone Davis’s Can I Change My Mind, Jerry Butler’s Never Gonna Give You Up, The Originals Baby I’m For Real, Nancy Wilson’s A Touch Of Today LP, Ronnie Dyson’s Why Can’t I Touch You and many others. I was the youngest of four, two sisters and one brother on my Mother’s side, so a lot of attention was placed on me and I learned early on how to get attention, whether it was positive or negative. I did what I could.

Part of my early memory was the presence of a new group, The Jackson 5 and its charismatic lead singer, Michael Jackson. Once I heard I Want You Back, ABC, Who’s Loving You, Mama’s Pearl and many others, I was hooked, so hooked that when people asked me my name, I replied, “Michael Jackson.”

One day in either 1970 or ’71, I remember taking my Fisher Price record player outside with a stack of Mama’s 45’s and began playing records. We resided in apartments with a blacktop driveway and the next thing I knew, my neighbors put on their rollerskates and began skating to the records I was playing and encouraged me to play more. This is when the light bulb flashed in my head: “People pay attention and respect people who play records” and I caught the DJ bug. I was only three, maybe four tops.

Being academically advanced, this alienated me from many of the other kids that grew up in the neighborhood. I was treated as if I were a nerd. Not really having too many friends to play with, I learned early how to entertain myself. I spent hours either playing records around the house, now in my bedroom or listening to the only Urban Contemporary radio station in the city, WVKO. The on-air personalities, Les Brown, who eventually became a motivational speaker, “Happy” Mel Griffin, K.C. Jones, Frank Kelly and superstar DJ, Kirk Bishop, had me mesmerized. I would spend hours emulating their style of speak, learning how to become a radio disc jockey. It was in my blood.

I began collecting records myself every chance I got. Birthday presents and Christmas gifts were usually records. I also began listening to more than R&B. The Carpenters, Three Dog Night, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and others were favorites of mine. I totally lost people when I played Mitch Miller. People didn’t know what to take of me.

My style was eclectic, to say the least, but combined with my Mama’s love of Classic Soul, my Uncle’s Jazz, my eldest sister, LaTonya’s Smooth R&B, my brother Terry’s Funk and my other sister, Brenda’s Top 40 R&B, I learned early to mesh all the styles together into one.

My first musical life changing experience happened in November 1979. While listening to a live remote broadcast on the radio, I heard a song that had “talking” all the way through it. Thinking at first that it was WVKO’s Kirk Bishop who just went on a rampage on the mic, I would hear the same song a couple of days later. It was Fatback’s King Tim III. A few days later, I would hear a similar song with extended “talking.” This would be no other than the SugarHill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight. A few more followed, which was Kurtis Blow’s Christmas Rappin’, The Sequence’s Funk You Up and Spoonie Gee’s Spoonin’ Rap. It was the birth of Hip-Hop on wax and finally, I found a genre of music that was all mine.

I still listened to R&B and some Rock as well, but other Hip-Hop records began to drop at rapid rate. During the Summer of 1980, a group named Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5 hit paydirt with the single, Freedom, which was a little different from what I have previously heard. On Freedom, I heard all of the Furious 5 members, Melle Mel, Kid Creole, Raheim, Mr. Ness and Cowboy with mentioning of Grandmaster Flash, but never heard his voice. This is when I began to wonder, who is Grandmaster Flash?

This would change in the Fall of 1980. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5 would come to town, opening for the R&B group, The Bar-Kays and then I saw a DJ perched behind three turntables and three mixers and was mixing and scratching everything that came his way. Unbeknownst to me, I had heard a mix before in 1979 on a Studio 54 compilation album. Michael Zager Band’s Let’s All Chant was blended smoothly with GQ’s Disco Nights. It used to make me mad because I couldn’t play the beginning of Disco Nights and I loved that song and now I’m seeing Grandmaster Flash do it and right before my eyes. The next light bulb went off: “This is exactly what I want to do”, but how?

A few years would go by and the thought was still in my head, but no way to initiate it. One day in 1984, I was at a house party hosted by my friend, Victor Smith, who had two turntables and a mixer set up and I saw another childhood friend, Derek Carroll was cuttin’ up The S.O.S. Band’s Just Be Good To Me, then I got invited in on it. I wanted to imitate the mixes that I heard from DJ Casual Kevin on CTNT radio, but I had no knowledge of what I was doing. I knew then that I would have to learn how to manipulate records with a turntable. I would practice and practice and practice while I was still working on announcing. Lately, I had been hearing kids my age on the radio at CTNT.

I finally went to the CTNT studios in the Mt. Vernon Plaza. DJ Top Notch aka Michael Reynolds was on the air. I knew Mike from the neighborhood and we were the same age. When I saw him there, I knew I could do it. I was amazed when I met local radio personality, Frank Kelly there. I used to listen to his morning show on WVKO and here I am in his office speaking with him. He could see how green I was a mile away. I didn’t have a chance. Later on, I would find out that the only reason why Top Notch and a few others were on the radio is because of the program at Columbus Alternative High School. The students received a half a credit for doing radio shows. I didn’t go to CAHS.

Besides learning the art of deejaying, I was also learning the art of petty crime. Shoplifting, house and car burglaries and robberies became a norm for me. Money was low at the house and I would spend hours searching for an after school job and being turned down by everyone. I spent time between home and juvenile detention at this time. I wanted to be a DJ, but now, it seemed too far-fetched.

I was nearly killed in February 1986 after burglarizing a neighborhood drug dealers house and that woke me up. During this time, school was a focus while I worked an evening job (finally). Two weeks after graduation, I finally got a position at CTNT, working third shift, Midnight to 5 AM, six nights a week for free. CTNT was volunteer work, but I treated it as a profession. I learned the business and caught on quick. I asked every question I could and paid attention to the veteran DJ’s, such as Tony Ray and Ron Bryant, the Program Director who initially gave me the position. I also stayed close to Frank Kelly, who became my mentor and schooled me to the art of radio broadcasting.

I alternated between doing the Morning Show, the Friday 4 O’Clock Mixdown, the Top 20 countdown on Saturday afternoon and Soft Sunday show until CTNT demise in August 1987. During my time at CTNT, I had also learned how to DJ nightclubs, by doing stints at Club One on Livingston Avenue and the Masterpiece Lounge on E. Main Street, so when Ron Bryant hired me to do

the Macon Lounge on N. 20th Street, across from the Mt. Vernon Plaza in December 1987, I was ready, even though legally, I wasn’t old enough to be inside of the bar. I was told to tell my age as 22.

At the Macon, still using my CTNT moniker as Sean Gee, I did 9 til closing on Friday and Saturday nights, eventually moving to the earlier shift, specializing doing Happy Hour on Friday’s. I loved doing this because I could concentrate on playing Smooth Jazz, instead of the Top 40 R&B dance music. This would be my opportunity to break more records and not be limited to just playing radio hits, which I began to despise at this time because regular R&B was getting stale and the growth of Hip-Hop was taking over me and I wasn’t allowed to play too much Hip-Hop.

The gig at the Macon ended in May 1988 and soon, I began bouncing around doing DJ gigs with my friends, DJ Icy J and DJ Club Dragon along with making mixtapes and whatever else I could get into. Later in 1988, we all held down weekends at Gene’s Place on Parsons Avenue until they closed in early 1989, the Triad on E. 11th, next to the Fairgrounds later in 1989 going into 1990 and various parties and wedding receptions. Looking back on it now, those were very busy times.

In October 1990, I began attending American School Of Broadcasting so that I could further my career in radio. It had been three years since I had been on the air and being 23 was too young for retirement. I was put out of the school in January 1991 over financial reasons, but things were about to change.

One night, I called Pete Michaels at Power 106.3. I knew Pete from him deejaying at USA East Skating Rink when I was a teenager and later at CTNT and we would have conversations about this and that. On this night in particular, Pete asked me if I had an audition tape and resume, which I did. He instructed for me to bring those in to the radio station the very next day, which I did and the next thing I know, I have a position at Power 106.3. I had been bugging Rick Stevens, the Program Director, for a position there since CTNT closed in 1987.

I was told the name, Sean Gee was “too street” and they instructed that I would need a name change if I were to begin at the station. A letter from Banc One was sitting in the production room where the meeting was taking place and the pseudonym, Sean Banks was born. My first night was Saturday, January 12, 1991 starting at 2 AM doing Quiet Storm. My first song was the live version of Johnny Gill’s My, My, My. Pete Michaels was there to train me on running the board and just like my first night at CTNT, I was told not to speak on the mic. This would change in a week.

106.3 was going through hard times when I began. They were second to last in the entire Columbus market with a .8 share in the Arbitron ratings due to stale programming. The playlist was garbage. There was not too much I could do at the time but to follow directions. Once I began to get a little notice, soon my opinion was asked for.

After starting at 106.3, The Capital City Rap Show began. I was upset because this was a show that I wanted to do, but I found a way to be included. I mentioned that maybe a half-hour mix would be needed and they jumped on the idea. I told them that I could provide mixes with my DJ potna, Club Dragon, who I collabed with on mix production that we did on a 4-Track recorder and soon, our mixes would be aired on the show. Once a Hip-Hop show was intact, this would open the door for more Hip-Hop to be played in regular rotation. At this time, Hot 105.7 began airing recurrent R&B and Hip-Hop, giving Power 106.3 competition. We still held our ground and by the Spring Arbitron’s, 106.3 went from their previous .8 share to a 3.1, a monumental jump. I also noticed other DJ’s at the station began following my lead by formatting their shows similar to mine’s. This is when I knew I finally made it.

Frank Kelly, who did mornings at 106.3 was also their Music Director and made a Quiet Storm playlist for a show that he didn’t do. One day, he asked me to make a playlist based on what I did on my Quiet Storm show. I did and he faxed it to Hits Magazine, who within minutes had me on the phone, telling me that my playlist was one of the best reported playlist nationwide and was asked to do a mini-interview on the phone, which I obliged. They also requested a Black and White photo of me and GM Photos was a paid advertiser. I did a session with Glenn Martin, the owner of GM Photos and soon I was featured in the May 4, 1991 issue. Once my co-workers saw me featured in Hits, the opposition began. Internal jealously ended my tenure at Power 106.3 on June 3, 1991.

I still did sporatic DJ gigs and making mixtapes. Nothing permanent happened until June 1992 when I began deejaying at Seville’s on Cleveland Avenue. An incident there in October 1992 caused a major falling out between DJ Club Dragon and myself. Our partnership was dissolved and I left Seville’s, mainly over safety reasons.

All the time, I was trying to return to radio. Jack Harris had lost 106.3 in January 1992 and was sold to Sunrise Broadcasting. Frank Kelly was now Program Director and since we knew each other personally, I knew I could get back on. For some odd reason, he would never let me back on or gave me an explanation, but had me making auditions after auditions. He claimed he liked them, but no job. I would do this for the next two years and still nothing. It didn’t make sense to me and to this day, still doesn’t.

I kept my name alive in the streets by making mixtapes, which got me by, but there were no clubs, radio or anywhere else to play, which was frustrating until the opening of a new record store in the Short North named Groove Shack opened in August 1993. Groove Shack was a specialty vinyl store for DJ’s and began hosting monthly Open Mic’s. I got the position as a Sales Clerk and DJ/MC/Host of their Open Mic in December 1993.

I held the position until June 1994. Shortly before, I had relocated to nearby Mt. Vernon, Ohio with my then-girlfriend. In the same month, I had gotten a position at SoundTracs, which was a new record store in Mt. Vernon and a position hosting my own mixshow at WKCO, the radio station at Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.

The name of my show was Live And Direct, named after the intro of Boogie Down Productions The P Is Free Remix and I mixed current Hip-Hop from Midnight until 3 AM on Saturday nights beginning on October 22, 1994. Following the Hip-Hop mixshow, I did Club and R&B mixes for a half-hour until I finished off with a Quiet Storm show until 5 AM. My last day would be on March 3, 1995, which was my last time ever being on broadcast radio.

I returned to Columbus on March 8, 1995 when I moved out of the house that I shared with my then-girlfriend, who was my fiancée at the time. Deejaying was real slow during this time, mainly due to me working two jobs. I made mixes, but nothing else until April 10, 1996, when I auditioned for a position at Club Aces on Hudson Avenue. I won the audition and worked full-time as a DJ at Club Aces until December 28, 1996, the day I was incarcerated. I wouldn’t return home until September 13, 2001, nearly five years later.

Returning home, my records were gone, no equipment, no connections, no nothing. I figured that I was done and I was miserable. Not being able to DJ took the life out of me. Finally, in early 2006, I found DJ Drastic, who was spinning at Bernie’s on N. High Street on the Ohio State University Campus with DJ Self and was a member of the DJ collaboration named, The ReVIBElists. I did have a

few crates of records left and he invited me to one of their shows and participate. I was told that I was their missing link and became a member of The ReVIBElists, which brought me back to deejaying. I would eventually do gigs at Bernie’s, Little Brothers, Skully’s, Oldfields, BOMA and High Five between 2006 and 2008.

I began operating The Secret Internet Radio in December 2007 by pure accident. The Secret, which fuses many genres of music is now known worldwide. Even though there is no professional radio gigs or permanent club venues, this is what has been keeping me alive.

************************************************************************************************************************** The poems of Popeye Squirm…. Princess Revolution Everywhere I go, I hear you bleating “revolution” In your nightmares, you’ve a paling lifestyle Yet I don’t think you really could stand the change you preach Could you handle being second to one? Or is it only justice when you’re on top? Nothing is new, but you kill yr elders Before you link members with all the wrong dudes And prance like you are Christ’s first coming But you’re just a teenage Edgar Guest Forcing pride upon the depressed I have to say I’m unimpressed.

I Remember You As You Were I remember you as you were when cars were 25 cents and plastic When God was alive and Nietzsche was dead When beds were built for an evening kneel I remember you would poke your mythologies in my neck And when the cyberbullies came out to play You would sit at your parents’ computer for eight hours straight Trying in vain to persuade the moderators That as I had written some good Christian poetry in ‘06 I was worth saving Now I watch you put believers in body bags I watch you shit on teetotalers, Zionism, and the freedom to choose virginity And it makes me regret my schoolboy contempt for what you were.

Mortality Back when I was in university, a girl on Floor 5 wanted me dead A made-up clown, she made every day look like Halloween I had to alternate between thoughts of her and a false friend Who would swerve into moving traffic on her lousy motorbike And expected that I would one day do the same Every Saturday, Tony would show up at my apartment And, having left his electroconvulsive equipment at home, He’d tell me that life is just a cup of root beer It’s always shorter than you wanted it to be Might as well sow & reap something before God starts looking grim. For more from Popeye Squirm go visit his blog here.http://popeyesquirm.wordpress.com/

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