Monthly Archives: March 2017

VIDEO: Cherry Flowers

I made a video for the Mecca Normal song Cherry Flowers (Dovetail, K Records, 1992) fairly spontaneously. It’s a pretty song about springtime and I did a cherry blossom painting recently, so it occurred to me to connect them. But, as I was putting the elements together, I recalled more about the song’s meaning, which I don’t think I’ve ever been asked about or expressed.

That got me to thinking about all our songs and the various meanings tucked up into them, so I listed all the songs, created a song meaning legend and assigned codes to most of the songs with a note saying that some of the songs need to be reviewed due to their nature, which might be psychological, poetic or complex.

As for Cherry Flowers (1992), it is about the geography of borders, clandestine crossings in vehicles (row boats heading for the united caves of america) laden with cherry flowers. Feel free to interpret what the cherry flowers are (maybe art and music?), but, in the song, “seven men in white shirts watch the needle on the gauge, rise and fall, swing and dive, on the border” using specialized equipment to assess the validity of those attempting to cross.

Painting by Jean Smith “Spring” (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD

Song Meanings

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Song Meanings

6. One Man's Anger
Illo by Jean Smith
Normal History Vol 168 by David Lester
 Illo by David Lester

 

Mecca Normal songs listed alphabetically with predominant themes as per the legend. Songs without code need to be reviewed due to their nature, which might be more psychological, poetic or complex to assign code to at first glance.

LEGEND:

Activism related to Status Quo = Act
Apathy = Apathy  Anger = A
Capitalism = C
Empathy = E
Environment = Env
Feminism = F
History = H
Injustice = I
Language = L
Political (including Personal) and Protest = P
Relationships (romantic, interpersonal, family) = R
Social Justice = SJ

Utopian = U

SONGS:

12 Murders – F, SJ, Pol
1922 – F, I, H, P, U
A Kind of a Girl – F, I, H, P
Accidently – L
Alibi – R
All About the Same Thing – R, H, C
Ancient Fire – F, Pol, H
Are You Hungry Joe? – SJ, I, H, Pol, A
Armchairs Fit – Act, A, Apathy, Pol, C
Arsenal – F, R, L, I, Pol
Art Was the Great Leveler – E
Attraction Is Ephemeral – R, Pol
Beaten Down – A, Pol, C
Beppo’s Room –
Between Livermore and Tracy –  B
lame the Glass Man – H, C
Blue Sky and Branches – A, R, H, Apathy
Blue TV – C, A
Breathing in the Dark – R
Broken Flowers – R, C
Cave In – A, Pol, C
Cherry Flowers – Pol, U
Clatter – C
Convince Yourself – E, C
Crimson Dragnet –
Current of Agreement – E
Cyclone – E  Days – Env
Don’t Heal Me Like a Dog Just to Break Me Like a Horse – R
Don’t Look In The Mirror –
Don’t Shoot – Act, Pol, C, SJ
Drilling – Env, C
Drive At – H, Env, C
Echo –
Elemental Steamer –
Engine Rain – C, Env
Every Wrong Word – L, F, I
Excalibur – R
Fallen Skier – R
Family Swan – R
Fan of Sparks – Env
Fight for a Little – P, A, H
Flash Light –
Follow Down –
Forlorn – F, R
From the Surface –
Frozen Rain –
Gravity Believes –
Greater Beauty – Env
He Didn’t Say – F, R
Held –
Her Ambition – F
His Own Madness – R
Horse Heaven Hills –
How Many Now? – H, SJ
Hurricane Watch – E
I Don’t Get It –
I Don’t Need To Hold Your Hand –
I Hear You – E
I Know a Little Bit – C
I Walk Alone – F, A, H, Pol
I Went Away For A While –
Ice Floes Aweigh – R, H
I’ll Call You – R, F, A
I’m a Bit Confused – C
I’m Not into Being the Woman You’re with While You’re Looking for the Woman You Want – F, R, I, A, L, Pol
In Canada – R, H  In January – Pol, Res
Is This You? – E
It’s Called Rock ‘n Roll – H
It’s Important – E
Joelle – F, SJ, Pol
Kingdom Without Weather – Pol, U
Maisy’s Death – E
Malachi – Pol, Emp, Act
Man Thinks Woman – F, I, L, A, H, Pol  Medieval Man –
More, More, More – C
Mrs. McGillvary –
Museum of Open Windows – Pol, A, SJ
My First Love Song – R
Naked and Ticklish – R
Narrow – R
No Mind’s Eye – R, L
Nobody’s Asking –
Normal – Apathy
Not With You – R, F  Not Yet – R
Now That You’re Here – R
Odele’s Bath – E
OK, Here We Go – E
On the Row of Dials –
Once – H, Env
One Man’s Anger – F, Pol
One More Safe – Emp, Pol, L, Act
One Woman – F, Act, H
Only Heat – E
Pamela Makes Waves – F, H  Paris in April – F, H
Peach-A-Vanilla – Apathy, Act
Phone’s Unplugged – I, R
Pocket Of Scribbly Gums –
Prize Arm – A, C, Act
Revolution#Pine – Pol, Act
Ribbon – Pol, Act
Richard – C
Rigid Man in an Ice Age – H, L
Rose –
Scare in the Hallway –
Sha La La La – Pol, Act
Smile Baby – F, SJ, Pol
Something to Be Said –   S
tep into My Sphere – F, R
Straying to Summer – SJ
Strong White Male – Pol, F, C, I, H
Texada Warns Me –
The Caribou & the Oil Pipeline – P, A, C, E
The Dark Side of Maria – R
The Message – Pol, SJ, Act
The Observer – H
The Orbit – R
The Revival of Cruelty – Pol, Act, C
The Way of Love – R
Then – A, H, Pol
This Is Different – E
This Is My Summer Vacation – C
This Machine – E, Apathy
Throw Silver – R
To Avoid Pain – Apathy
Tolerate Me – A
Trapped Against – Apathy
Trapped Inside Your Heart – R
Upside Down Flames – U
Vacant Night Sky – E, R
Waiting for Rudy – C, SJ, Pol
Walking the Walls – Apathy
War Between the Neighbours – C, R
Wasn’t Said – R
Water Cuts My Hands – Pol, C
What About the Boy? – SJ
What’s Your Name? – Apathy
When You Build a House Without Doors – Pol
When You Know – R
Who Shot Elvis? – H, Pol, C
Who Told You So? – H, A, Pol
Will He Change? – SJ, Pol
Women Were King – H, F, Pol, U
You Heard It All – Pol, H
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“We Oughta Know” by Andrea Warner

An entry in an appendix of Canadian women in music, in the book “We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the ’90s and Changed Canadian Music” by Andrea Warner (Eternal Cavalier Press, 2015)

Mecca Normal, 1984 – present
Key 90s songs:
“Vacant Night Sky ” from Sitting on Snaps (Matador Records, 1995)
“Waiting for Rudy” from Flood Plain (K Records, 1993)

“Underground art-punk rock duo Jean Smith (vocalist) and David Lester (guitarist) have been crafting weird, tightly coiled but loosely structured songs about gender, feminism, politics, and social justice isues since 1984. Anybody who knows Beat Happening, Bikini Kill, and Sleater-Kinney should know Mecca Normal, almost nobody does. I’m ashamed to admit that up until last year, I barely knew them either. They’re a hometown band and I’m a feminist who writes about music and still I never came across Mecca Normal until someone alerted me to their existence after I wrote an essay about how much I missed the political fire of music from the ’90s. Mecca Normal were riot grrrl and DIY before those movements existed, and they were tireless in their commitment to their art, releasing seven records in the ’90s alone. In fact, Mecca Normal were basically doing the 90s in the 80s. Consider the still-relevant subject matter of their mid-’80s tunes like “Smile Baby,” which calls out street harassment (yes, three decades ago), “More, More, More” which addresses the privilege of white men and the American Dream, and the simple, chilling, and inspiring “I Walk Alone” which affirms a woman’s right to safety in a public space. It’s important music that still matters today.” – Andrea Warner

 

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Feminism was not a phase or a failed experiment

Feminism was not a phase or a failed experiment. We are here!”

On International Women’s Day, I edited, uploaded and shared a snippet of a very new song on both my page and the Mecca Normal page on FaceBook.

Snippet of “I Am Here” from the show in Portland, October, 2017, opening for The Julie Ruin.

I’m always interested in seeing the reach and reaction to what I post, so, here below are the stats for these two posts. These are high viewing numbers for us.

video 2

Jean Smith FaceBook page = 1879 views

video

Mecca Normal FaceBook page = 2343 views

View video on YouTube

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Graphic Novel about Emma Goldman

David Lester is working on a new section in his graphic novel about the last year of Emma Goldman’s life. Follow his progress as he posts key panels and other details.

model
model 2
David built a fascinating model to draw from. Ideal for scale, perspective and shadow.
panel 1
This panel depicts Emma moving into an apartment in Toronto, which still stands to this day! David visited the current occupants a few years ago and took a lot of photos of interior features.
David-Lester-standing-in-the-room-Emma-Goldman-died
David standing in the room Emma Goldman died in.