Category Archives: DAVID LESTER ART

Normal History Vol. 431: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist 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

“Dead Bird’s Feet” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 430: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

” … wilful, atonal punk is driven along by the rhythmic, metallic chugging of David Lester’s guitar, while singer Jean Smith recites her stream-of-consciousness text … ” —AllMusic album review by Dean McFarlane, 1991

First of all, you can’t recite something that is stream-of-consciousness. To recite is to speak from memory.

Wow. That feels good. That’s been bugging me since 1991, back when whatever reviewers wrote was pretty much beyond responding to unless you wanted to write a snail-mail letter to the editor (which I’ve never done).

Second, I have always thought that the stream-of-consciousness comment was a bit of a dig—even though male poets and lyricists might be lauded for their stream-of-consciousness brilliance. Anyway. Wrong on both counts. I wrote the lyrics on paper in advance, and we rehearsed the songs on the album in question prior to recording them. Not to say that I haven’t “written” excellent lyrics while they were being recorded on the first time through. These weren’t those. Them. They.

Water Cuts My Hands

At a bus stop
in yellow darkness
where concrete building meets stone sidewalk
a man wants in
to a can of mushrooms

I am from a bar
he is from an alley
I use his pocket knife
to mash around the rim

“Water Cuts My Hands” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 429: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

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

“Not Standing Still” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 428: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

“Water In A Bucket” is about the American Dream, brought into focus through the basic necessity for water. The video I made this week shows people in happier times—before the dream turned into a nightmare. The lyrics attempt to turn awareness to the very basic act of having to haul water. I’ve used the video to re-politicize the song by adding footage of a water faucet in Flint, Mich. This seems like a step in the right direction in general. Giving older work new context.

Images: Stock footage. Flint faucet. Mecca Normal performing in Holland circa mid-90s.

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

“Water In A Bucket” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 427: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

20 Years / No Escape

I row my boat to shore
I pull up on the sandy beach of spite
I walk across the sand
to the green
to the dark

I look back over my shoulder
sea sucked my boat away

sky grew grey
sea grew cold and the sky pounded down in rain
sea sucked my boat away
no escape

cloud line, tree line, sea line, grey line, mist line, tree line, sea
sea sucked my boat away
20 years
no escape

I’ve been here for 20 years
in the tree line, cloud line, mist line, sea line
20 years

no escape

“20 Years / No Escape” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1989) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 426: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Taking The Back Stairs

Bicycle handle bars scrape across the suburbs
Chrome to iron innocence chips off

You are taking the back stairs
You are taking the back stairs

There are desperate harsh attempts at simplicity
By people who know too much
Complicity

You are taking back stairs
You are taking back stairs

The soft white wax of a candle goes hard
When the flame is blown out

You are taking back stairs
You are taking back stairs

“Taking The Back Stairs” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 425: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Will He Change?

You lock him away from the rest of us.
Will he change?

You lock him away, you let him out and he does it again.
Will he change?

You lock him away.
You put him under ground.
Will he change?

Therapy. But will it help?
Will he change?

You give him drugs until his mind explodes.
Will he change?

“Will He Change?” from the album Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 424: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

I Know a Little Bit

I know a little bit
I don’t need to tell you

I know you know it
know you know it too

I know you see it
know you see it too

I know you feel it
feel it because I do

whatcha gonna do?
you know it too

I know a little bit
I feel a little bit
I see a little bit
and I know you know it
know you feel it
know you see it too

whatcha gonna do?
you know it too

“I Know A Little Bit” from the album Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 423: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

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

“Richard” from the album Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 422: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Every now and then, an unmistakable arc positions itself from the song in question to a more recent song. In this case, “Smile Baby” calling out street harassment 30 years ago connects to “Anguish / Misogyny,” an unreleased song I wrote about the sense that not much has changed.

“There’s a desperation. Tell me you don’t feel it.
This hopelessness coming down, coming down.
These times demand a reprieve from the anguish.
These times like no other before us. Like no other to follow.

In the anguish of uncompleted missions, disappointment and futility.
I knew you then and I know you still.
The anguish of nothing being resolved. It didn’t get resolved at all.
And I call this anguish—misogyny.

We hide the anguish not too well at all—not too well at all.
Why should we hide the anguish of misogyny.
The disappointment of all that’s unresolved.

All those times we thought there was a future built on words and actions
swept away.

I call the violence, malicious behavior, anger and misogyny
that rules the streets, rules the days and rules the nights—misogyny.
l call this lack of empathy my personal anguish.
Your violence and aggression—this misogyny.

The perpetration of aggression against all women.
I call our failure and disappointment—anguish.
I’m electrified, repulsed and angry at all that’s unresolved.
I call our failure—this misogyny.
For all the time we put into everything we ever tried to do,
to accomplish, to resolve, to make better, to happen.
We failed.

I call it a hidden anguish—this misogyny.
Anguish I share with you—misogyny.
Misogyny.

“Smile Baby” from the album Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989) (download):

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