Monthly Archives: November 2013

Malachi (acoustic)

In November of 2012, Mecca Normal recorded an acoustic version of “Malachi”. It didn’t end up on the new album, but it gives a good indication of what the album sounds like.

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Jean Smith vocals, David Lester acoustic guitar, KRAMER on bass and keys. Produced and mixed by KRAMER. Recorded by Rat Bastard at the Laundry Room, Miami Beach in November of 2012.

“Malachi” is a stand-alone track from the “Empathy for the Evil” sessions.


The album “Empathy for the Evil” will be released on M’lady’s Records in April, 2014. KRAMER plays bass on all songs with keys and organ throughout.


Poster by David Lester from the Inspired Agitators series about activists and actions that intend to create progressive social change.

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David Lester is the author and illustrator of The Listener graphic novel (Arbeiter Ring, 2011) – the story of Hitler’s rise to power correlates to questions about the power of political art. A painter, graphic designer and guitar player in the underground rock duo Mecca Normal, David Lester lives in Vancouver, Canada.

No Coal 11 by Jean Smith  (16 x 16)

Paintings in the “Malachi” video are by Jean Smith from the series “No Coal” protesting the Raven Coal mine on Vancouver Island.

Video by Jean Smith.

Malachi Ritscher (1954-2006) was an anti-war activist who made high quality recordings of musicians — often free jazz and experimental — performing live in Chicago.

After the U.S. invaded Iraq, he became a vocal opponent of the war. Like monks opposing the Vietnam war, his final act of protest was self-immolation.

“If I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country. I will not participate in your charade — my conscience will not allow me to be a part of your crusade.”

“Malachi” by Jean Smith

And camera goes click as you press record
and you hand the document to the jazz musician
after they perform

And you talk and you listen
and you protest this war

And there is pain and it instigates change
And there is frustration that your voice is not heard
when you protest the war —
with a sign above your head — in words

And your camera goes click as you press record
and the can of gasoline is there on the ground
for this final document – your protest against the war
and some of us understood
you know the history well

And your camera goes click as you press record
and you pour the gasoline
and Malachi you light match
that ends your life
in this final statement
and some of us heard your final words

and Malachi you light match
that ends your life
in this final document – your protest against this war
and some of us understood
and some of us heard

your final word

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Molly Zuckerman-Hartung

In November of 2013, the Whitney Museum of American Art announced that Molly Zuckerman-Hartung was included in its 2014 Biennial.

In 2009, Molly invited Mecca Normal to Chicago to present our classroom event “How Art and Music Can Change the World” at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago where she teaches. At that time, I invited Molly to be on the board of The Black Dot Museum of Political Art and she accepted.

Back in February of 2013, Molly submitted a studio playlist that included “Throw Silver” by Mecca Normal to a Walker Art Center blog. She also included this quote from my novel “The Ghost of Understanding.”

“I used to be very careful about how I represented myself. I was responsible for everything I did and said. I learned that humour didn’t translate well. No matter how clear I thought I was I noticed that I was still misunderstood. In fact, the clearer I was, the larger the degree of misinterpretation. I regained control by deciding that I could allow that to happen. Then I was in the same position. In control. In order to get beyond this I needed to explore the dark. I would like to work my way back from the darkness taking slow steps, breathing in everything I missed along the way.”
-Jean Smith, from The Ghost of Understanding 1998