Category Archives: DAVID LESTER ART

Normal History Vol. 314: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

The winter 2015 issue of Geist magazine features an article by Connie Kuhns called “Strange Women” about Vancouver’s music scene in the 1970s—”a time when it was a radical concept to claim a musical space for women, when coming out as a feminist was a daring admission … ”

On page 45, there’s a reference to the singer in the Moral Lepers meeting David Lester in Vancouver after she’d seen his “large, colorful” Emma Goldman poster “in every single anarchist squat in London.” Currently (nearly 40 years later), David is working on a graphic novel about Emma Goldman’s life in Toronto, where she died in 1940. I made a video about the storyline of the new book. Mostly I made the video because he’s the kind of person who works on his projects with such intensity that I’d never get to see the guy if I didn’t barge in with a project of my own. Interviewing him on video.

Before the Emma Goldman book comes out, his fantastic comic The Battle Of Ballantyne Pier will be published in 2016 in a compendium of labor-related graphics. David created the Ballantyne Pier project as a challenge within a set amount of time. I was totally amazed with the excellent drawing and the fact that he put the whole thing together in some crazy amount of time—like five days or something. While mere mortals are catching a movie or tidying up the garage, he created this 12-page comic about his grandfather’s experiences during a time of labor strife on Vancouver’s waterfront in 1935.

“Drilling” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

Normal History Vol. 313: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Imagine Picasso and Dora Maar on a panel discussing surrealism, let’s say. Someone asks Pablo—”What’s it like living with another artist?” Not that I can really imagine that coming up in 1930-whatever. What would Pablo have felt and how would he have responded? I tend to think he would have diminished her and her work. I think he would have described her as his lover, confidante, subject, muse, but I doubt he would have taken the opportunity to express his enthusiasm for her work and his respect for her as an artist. Did he actively encourage her creative impulses as she evolved? Did Pablo consider Dora’s work with an eye toward a new reality where women were regarded as the creative geniuses they are and not the models, muses and playthings for egotistical men? I can’t quite see that.

Any thoughts on this? Or any other male/female artist pairings?

“Once” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

Normal History Vol. 312: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

he answers with enthusiasm and respect for both me as a person and the work I create

I think of Mecca Normal as a Petrie dish for a man and woman working together creatively for a long time (30 years). Whenever David is asked what it’s like working with me—and sometimes that question includes the wink-wink inference that I’m “difficult” or too intense or even just that I’m a feminist—he answers with enthusiasm and respect for both me as a person and the work I create, and I don’t hear men talking that way about women very frequently.

I like the way the song this week is from 1992, the embedded interview is from 2004, and now we’re all the way into 2015. It’s strange how creating work in each of the three eras is identifiable in my mind with a memory of feeling like everything had already happened. Maybe it’s more convenient to believe that there’s no point in participating because we missed all the action. But yet, it appears there is more to do and more to say. Onward!

“Not Yet” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

Normal History Vol. 311: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Last month, a riot grrrl panel discussion was held at UCLA. In advance of it, a friend of mine posted a question on Facebook. Basically, he anticipated being asked what was it like being a male in riot grrrl. “How can I even begin to answer that?” he asked. Me being me, I did two things.

1) I used his comment section to write an essay (actually, I rarely do that)
2) I got all self-referential (I try not to do that)

I took his question literally and conjured a reply for him.

“Well, thank you for asking, because back then nobody did and that was exactly the point.”

At that time we’d heard a lot from men about what it was like to be in bands, to be part of one scene or another, but this was a point in time when women put their concerns and experiences forward with an intensity that wasn’t hinged to appealing to men. At least not in the traditional sense. Don’t forget, a lot of men were totally into riot grrrl.

“This Machine” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

Normal History Vol. 310: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 30-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Of all the songs on the new Mecca Normal album I’d say “Between Livermore And Tracy” bears KRAMER’s mark of sonic ingenuity most in its soaring conclusion.

You may recall me writing about my father’s health in late 2012 after he had a series of heart attacks and strokes. “Between Livermore And Tracy” is about leaving for Miami to record the new album while he was still in the hospital with acute delirium.

Not wanting to be a downer, I wasn’t going to tell KRAMER about my father, but a pal of his had already seen my posts on Facebook (where ideas for this column sometimes arrive) so he’d been briefed on my possible state of mind. I was afraid telling KRAMER about my father might make recording too emotional (it’s hard to sing when you’re crying), but, as it turned out, it was all OK. Funny how interacting with other humans can sometimes be such a good idea and at other times, not helpful at all. It’s often difficult to tell which is going to be the better course of action. To stifle or spill.

“Between Livermore And Tracy” is really the first thing we did when we got into the studio. I didn’t set out to explain the situation. It was spontaneously created from my writing at that time. I’d never heard the music David started playing. I added piano as he played guitar, and then I sang, opening up what had been deeply felt. KRAMER added his part at his studio in Fort Lauderdale after we’d flown home, whisking what David and I had created together in a way that has come to symbolize the entirety of the recording project and how writing was very helpful to me while my father was literally not himself. And when I say writing, I mean the readers for whom I write—including myself.

“Cherry Flowers” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

Normal History Vol. 309: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 30-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Most of songs on the new Mecca Normal album, Empathy For The Evil, are about narcissism and the abuse of power—concepts we’ve heard quite a bit about in recent months. Much has been said about the Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby situations, and, in Ghomeshi’s case, how the term BDSM (interpersonal activities of dominance and submission based on consent) can be exploited and used to imply consent where none was given.

Lyrics on this album are directly out of my two most-recently completed novels. In Obliterating History – a guitar-making mystery, domination & submission in a small town garage a 54-year-old woman carefully selects a partner to explore BDSM. Trust is paramount in their relationship.
 
In my other novel, The Black Dot Museum Of Political Art, narcissist Martin Lewis explains, “It isn’t that I enjoy hurting people, but I do enjoy the reaction to pain. The surprise. The fear. The confusion. It’s very empowering to make people react. It’s as basic as that.”
 
The song “Odele’s Bath” provides back-story about Lewis’ mother—who grew up poor on a potato farm in New Brunswick. In the song “Maisy’s Death”, we go back farther to the death of Odele’s mother, to gain some insight into how that may have impacted Odele in her formative years, when her father basically treated her as a stand in for her mother.
 
While reading about Ghomeshi, I found a very thoughtful article by Gabor Mate, in which he too illuminates possible scenarios in which narcissism might develop in formative years.
 
In researching novel-writing, I kept hearing that readers—especially women—want female characters to do important and exciting things, so I figured I’d go ahead and have my protagonist cure narcissism, which is actually an incurable personality disorder. The song “Normal” illuminates the background of the woman who ends up curing narcissism.

“Held” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

Normal History Vol. 308: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 30-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Facebook is great for my cardio. I’m almost always leaving home late for work because I just want to post or read one more comment. This means I have to run most of the way to work.

Three blocks from work yesterday, I stopped to unclog a storm drain beside a large park. There was a giant pool of water on the street with a short and sturdy stick beside it, on the grass—no doubt a toss-and-fetch stick for the dogs that frequent the park on less rainy mornings. I started poking around in the water, looking for the drain, flinging semi-rotted leaves out into the middle of the street. What fun! The water began flowing as I freed up the grate from my crouching position on a slight incline on the muddy grass. This is when I slipped and went down right on my butt. Happily my foot didn’t go into the freezing water. It was quite funny, really. Fifty-five-year-old lady on her ass at the side of the road. It took me back to when I was about seven years old—playing in the mud after school with a boy named Danny Dennett, re-routing streams in a section of the school playing field that was mostly clay and horsetail. We stayed way too long, and my mother came looking for me in the car. Kids teased me at school the next day, saying Danny was my boyfriend. I was mortified. I don’t think Danny and I ever spoke again, but I still remember pushing that smooth, grey clay around with our sticks and boot heels.

Anyway, I ran faster than usual to make up the time, but I was totally smiling—still feeling like a little kid. When I got to work, my hands were all dirty from the stick and I had mud on the back of my jacket and my packsack. My shoes were soaking wet, but luckily I brought dry socks!

“Throw Silver” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also posted in GUEST EDITOR | Comments closed

Normal History Vol. 307: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 30-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

The new Mecca Normal album, Empathy For The Evil, is finally out. A full three months after we completed our Boston-to-D.C. tour in October, CDs and LPs are finally available online and, ideally, in record stores.

The album has already charted number one at WNYU (New York University) and CKUT (McGill University, Montreal) and number two at CITR (UBC, Vancouver), KAOS (Olympia) and CJSR (Edmonton).

Quite a few reviews and interviews have already appeared.

“Deep Dark Secret” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991; Matador, 1991; Smarten Up!, 2003) (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also posted in GUEST EDITOR | Comments closed

Normal History Vol. 306: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 30-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

An excerpt from “Behind The Scenes Of Empathy,” my audio notes on the making of the album:

There is such a thing as supporting the things that you appreciate. If that support doesn’t come, are we then hinged to an inevitable stopping our project, our group, our output because we can’t get enough support in terms of record sales? That’s kind of unlikely, but yet, in another way, our time is limited of course because now that we’re in our mid-50s—how many more albums are we going to do? How many more tours are we going to do? If people don’t want to buy the album because they already know about Mecca Normal—do we then say, well we don’t need to make another album. Is that what we have to accept? Or do we remove ourselves from what people think of us? How little people think of us. And not base our value on the evidence of the economy that there just aren’t enough people who want us to exist, so therefore we must stop. I would be inclined to resist that in the same way we resisted forming in a traditional way. I believe it’s possible that we continue with very little interest or support—that’s never been what is has been about for us, but it does feel awkward that maybe nobody else is looking at it that way, that they think, “Oh, these people, unless they’re independently wealthy, must have to survive somehow with their very unlikable band that doesn’t sell enough.”

“The Dogs” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991; Matador, 1991; Smarten Up!, 2003) (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

Normal History Vol. 305: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 30-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

That our new album, Empathy For The Evil, was not available while we were on tour in September—and won’t be available until some time in January—is problematic in many ways. I can only think of one other time when this happened. In 1989, we did a cross-country tour before Calico Kills The Cat was actually released, and while we were definitely not happy about that, there were many good things that happened as a result of that tour.

An excerpt from “Behind The Scenes Of Empathy,” my audio notes on the making of the album:

“Listening is the gateway to understanding what it’s like to make music. One might imagine that there’s a lot of emotional release, there’s a cohesiveness with the people you’re playing with and this intense sort of structure and adherence to various … you know, it’s like a culture … its own individual … your band is a Petri dish and things have to coalesce in certain ways or things are out of whack. It is a truly great experience.”

“Orange Sunset” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991; Matador, 1991; Smarten Up!, 2003) (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed