Category Archives: DAVID LESTER ART

Normal History Vol. 435: 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.

Excerpt from my YA novel-in-progress from 17-year-old drummer Curt Frost’s perspective.

Chapter 24
Some guys want to own a hot car. Me? I just want to be in a band.
Normal people make plans. They plan to go to college or they plan to get a job. They know what they’re gonna do after they graduate. I can’t seem to get past just wanting things to happen. Like wanting to be in a successful band. And by successful I mean one that writes decent songs, records and tours. There’s no point in planning to sell a million records. It’s really hard work and luck. Apollo 13 is exactly the right band for me, but it seems like every time I turn around there’s someone or something ruining everything.

I get up from the table.

“You’re not going for a swim are you?” Static asks.

“No,” I say with a laugh. “I’m gonna go get those clowns out of the pool and try and get us out of here.”

As I walk toward the open sliding glass door, Lizzy steps inside wearing her dripping wet clothes.

“Go back outside,” I say. “I’ll find you a towel.”

I turn around and practically bump straight into Carol who’s holding a stack of neatly folded, navy-blue towels.

“I’ll take those,” I say, extending my arms.

“Thanks, Curt!” she says, handing them to me. “You’re a good egg.”

“You’re a good egg,” Lizzy says, mocking me in tone of voice I’ve never heard her use.

“Better than being a rotten egg,” I say, holding out the towels for Lizzy to grab one.

“Speaking of rotten eggs,” Lizzy says. “Did you see that blinding yellow swimsuit Isabella’s got on?”

“I did, actually. Yes,” I say, still holding out the stack of towels. “But at least she put on a friggin’ swimsuit before she went in the friggin’ pool, Lizzy.”

“Oh, Curt,” she says, sounding like she’s gonna cry. “I’m such a friggin’ mess.”

“Come on, Lizzy,” I say. “Take a friggin’ towel. I’m standing here like I’m some sort of glorified pool-boy/butler. Help me out!”

She laughs, wipes her nose with the back of her hand and takes a towel, but she just stands there holding it. I set the remaining towels on the back of the couch, take her towel and swing it over her shoulders.

“There,” I say. “Now go get a shower and stop drinking.”

“Sure, Curt,” she says, reaching behind the pillow on the couch. She grabs the whiskey, tucks it under her towel and heads for the stairs.

“Lizzy!” I hiss in a half-whisper. She ignores me. I go after her. She’s nearly halfway up the stairs when I accidentally step on the corner of the towel trailing behind her. She falls backward, silently, toward me. I try to grab her by the arm as she tumbles past me, but I can’t get a grip. She lands in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. The bottle of whiskey rolls across the fake wood laminate flooring until it is stopped by Nate’s right foot.

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

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Normal History Vol. 434: 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.

The Dogs
My thoughts are chased my dogs
trapped in Instamatic snapshots
their eyes are red in the night
I can see into their mouths
past the teeth
past the teeth

I’m at home in the strangest places
but the sea is just pounding water
trying to get revenge
trying to get revenge

The dogs are barking
running towards me
through a roll of twenty-four exposures

The dogs have questions for me
I don’t know what they are

On the train I heard the sea on the tracks
roaring in a straight line
away from me
away from me

Stop it with the gun
Stop it with the gun
was a philosophy of hers
more than a request
but right now she’d like the kid to quit it
he has a sound-equipped machine gun
pointed at her head
pointed at her head

The dogs have been measured out to me

Some of the snapshots have one big dog
some of the snapshots have two dogs
some of the snapshots have three dogs
I don’t know how many dogs there are
more than three
more the ones my flashcube illuminates

The dogs have questions for me
The dogs have questions for me

Dogs don’t mince words

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

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Normal History Vol. 433: 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.

Orange Sunset
This sunset spreads orange
across the sky
a lid pressing down

In Grand Central Station
pickpockets look for tourist eyes

I am more obvious—
white female
ambassador of lust

He said,
“Come with me
I know
you like to suck and fuck.”

Orange sunset
a lid pressing down

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

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Normal History Vol. 432: 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.

Lois Wrote About The Farm
America has named its chickens.
Two of them are called The Twins.
 
America strings its words together neatly;
it is hiding something big.
 
The check-out girl says she can’t quit smoking.
She’d have nothing else to do.
 
America, instigator of The Dream.
In my mind my body aches.

“Lois Wrote About The Farm” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991) (download):

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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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