Category Archives: Normal History

VIDEO: Dead Bird’s Feet

“Dead Bird’s Feet” by Mecca Normal from “Water Cuts My Hands” (K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Directed by Jean Smith.

Dead Bird’s Feet

Dead bird’s feet
mounted on the wall
they don’t have a right side up
they don’t have an up side down
they were something else
now they’re on the wall
on the wall

Wanting conflict to be neat
we name the opposition
forever it will be the things they do
that are wrong
that are wrong

Men hate women
making it easy for women to hate men
women hate men
making it easy for men to hate women
men to hate women

We are handing out stiff starched pajamas
to sex offenders
in concrete halls

We are wincing and creating opinion
slamming steel doors
and turning in the breeze
in the breeze

of right and wrong
of right and wrong
outside where air is pure
air is pure
air is pure

Right and wrong
outside
outside where air is pure
air is pure

 

 

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VIDEO: Not Standing Still

“Not Standing Still” by Mecca Normal from “Water Cuts My Hands” (K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar.

 

Not Standing Still

You might say,
“Why do I fight?
Change won’t happen.”

Well, not overnight.

Why do you think
we’re standing still?

We’re not standing still.

Change will happen.
Oh yes, it will.

 You might say,
“We’re standing still.”

 We’re not standing still.

 

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VIDEO: Water in a Bucket

“Water in a Bucket” by Mecca Normal from “Water Cuts My Hands” (K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Directed by Jean Smith

Images: Stock footage from Prelinger Archives. Flint faucet. Mecca Normal performing in Holland 1994 — using the visual portion of footage at Fast Forward Festival, Nijmegen. Direction and editing Remko Dekker. Cameras Bart de Keulenaar, Wilmer Hendriks, Remko Dekker.

Water in a Bucket

La la la my my my la la la my my my

Water in a bucket

down the street

You carry your water in a bucket down the street

La la la my my my la la la my my my

You carry your water too

in a North American city

in a North American street

Where the dream started

it started without you

I wanna get out of this dream

nightmare

I wanna climb out of this dream

this dream
this nightmare
nightmare

nightmare

It’s no dream

nightmare
nightmare
I wanna get out of this dream

nightmare

The dream started without you

It’s no dream

La la la my my my la la la my my my

 

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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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Beaten Down LIVE

It might just be that the guitar is too loud because of the proximity of the amp to the camera, but, over the years, I think more than a few soundguys have made a point of turning down my vocals because they don’t like how I sound and what I’m saying.

Dave and I recently spoke about the idea of bolstering live vocal recordings after the fact. Just as an idea. Might be something I will try with this video.

 

 

 

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Opening for The Julie Ruin

Just as we were about to start the show in Portland, David said he didn’t see Pat Maley in the audience. I spotted him front and center and handed him Dave’s Sony (consumer) video camera as one does when in such situations. No advance warning or anything civilized like asking with a “please” attached to it. Doh. I haven’t seen Pat for a couple of years. He smiled and took the camera. What a guy! Next time I looked at him he was shooting with the Sony on one eye and an iPhone on the other, like some kind of weird binoculars. I had to look away. It was kind of comical, but mostly just slightly disturbing.

It’s a bit clunky for the transition from Sony to iPhone at 4:09 , but it looks and sounds great after that!

 New and unrecorded songs are marked *
* 1. Anguish/Misogyny 2:45
* 2. Invisible Girl 8:24
3. Attraction is Ephemeral 12:07
4. Strong White Male 20:29
* 5. I Am Here 23:47
6. Throw Silver 27:23
7. I Walk Alone 30:35
8. Beaten Down 34:17
* 9. The Ferry to the Launch 38:19

VIDEO: four individual songs

Kenny Mellman and Kathleen Hanna talking about Mecca Normal between songs in Portland at the Wonder Ballroom, October 9, 2016. Thanks to Pat Maley for capturing this! After Kenny says Mecca Normal is his favorite band, Kathleen tells the audience to but my paintings! She also does a brief imitation of me working at Home Depot! I was standing at the back of the venue feeling like this was part of a dream!

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The Jean Smith painting Kenny Mellman bought. “No Hat #46 (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas). $100 paintings currently available.

Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester) opening for The Julie Ruin at the Showbox in Seattle , October, 2016. Video by Connie Ostrowski

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Vancouver

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Mecca Normal and Kathleen Hanna at soundcheck in Vancouver

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Vancouver. Photo by Erik Iversen Photography

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David Lester of Mecca Normal pre-show in Seattle at the Showbox. Photo by Jean Smith

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Portland. Photo by Mary Sharp

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Portland. Photo by Mary Sharp

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Portland. Photo by Mary Sharp

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Portland

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The crowd (approx. 700 – 800?) from the balcony in Portland, waiting for The Julie Ruin to take the stage at the Wonder Ballroom.

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I was spontaneously gifted with a necklace by the mother of one of the two girls on the right after I signed their copy of Mecca Normal’s 7″ 1990-something EP Paris in April (K Records). Later, when I thought about the lyrics, I was happy they ended up with that one. The song is about a young woman who doesn’t want to be conventional; she wants to see travel, to see Europe in springtime.

jean-in-portland-2-web

Photos with fans!! Always a thrill! It was fun to get Pat Maley to sign the back of Calico Kills the Cat (K Records, 1989) since he recorded it! I think it’s the one we recorded in a (renovated) chicken coop in Olympia.

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Portland Motel 6

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A Condensed History of Mecca Normal

A brief history of underground rock duo Mecca Normal’s early years in TV news clips and live footage to give background and context to Jeans Smith’s ongoing $100 painting series.

Jean Smith paintings currently available

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Artist Residency, Miami, 2013

For more information on these photos see Jean Smith’s Magnet Magazine column History, Vol. 381 July 9, 2016

17Jean Smith in front of a blank canvas in the corner of the main room at the Artist Residency. Jean Smith’s current paintings

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Christian Nerf with his art.

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Christian Nerf’s work with obstacles at the Artist Residency Open House, February 15, 2013.

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Judith Page and Simon at the Mikesells’ house.

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Philip Topolovac at the Open House at the studios.

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Jean Smith performing “Odele’s Bath” at the Open House in front of “No Coal” #1 and #2.

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Philip Topolovac at the Open House.1

Carlos, the Surfboard King of Miami, taking photos in the liveliest of studios. Love his wave-riding stance!

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Christian Nerf talking to a group of art lovers and collectors assembled at the Artist Residency.

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I did not put the sign there. The sign was removed.

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Phil installing his work.

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Hew Locke and Christian Nerf at sunrise in Miami.

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Phil Top through the flower.

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Christian and Phil in the backyard.

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View of the main room from my corner of it.

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Hew and Phil at the Mikesells’ house.

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The back yard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All Albums

All Mecca Normal’s albums (except the most recent one) are somewhat-secretly archived, chronologically, song-by-song in Normal History the weekly column David Lester and Jean Smith collaborate on for Magnet Magazine.

 

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David Lester Book Tour 2011

David Lester’s video at Type Book in Toronto, 2011. Featuring Canadian sensation  Robert Dayton.