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Wednesday
Apr242013

Land On

It’s been two years, one month and twenty-eight days since I first wrote about Mayhem. During that time, he has continually been strapping his laces, planting his feet in front of the mic, and verbally dominating our eardrums. His legion continues to grow as he grew from a rap minion, spreading his message through the streets, to ruling a dictatorship of hip-hop in his homegrown territory of Cleveland, Ohio.

Adding to the cause, Mayhem joined forces with other Buckeye State native, Wike Tha Kid, creating The Cleveland Kids - a duo to the likes of which haven't been seen since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Their album, "Hooligans," has the raw flavor that brings me back to the grassroots of hip hop - leaving out auto-tuning, kitschy female vocalists, and repetitive choruses about items made by Gucci for the styrofoam covered, dime-a-dozen rappers that should have slept in on the days they went to the recording studio.

If you strip down the glitter of shutter shades and swag concern, you will be left with what you may or may not have known you were craving for this whole time - unadulterated hip hop without the sour taste of contemporary pop culture. The Cleveland Kids quench this deprivation with anthems that solely focus on the passion of the craft.

Loud:

Wake Up (Feat. Jared Thomas):

Bonfire (remix):

Mayhem and WTK can currently be seen creating their warpath throughout Northeast Ohio, and being the true conquistadors that they are, do not plan on keeping their empire within their native grounds. By their veracity in the numerous battle of the bands they compete, continued recordings, and rhythms that stay with you like smoke from a campfire, you will soon find yourself an enlisted soldier for The Cleveland Kids, pushing their reign to the unsuspecting masses.

As Mayhem puts it, “Words be that weapon and it’s loaded, this is code red.”

 

Welcome to the team.

 

Mayhem and Wike Tha Kid are:

The Cleveland Kids | Cleveland, OH 

Made a lifesize replica of Chip tha Ripper out of melted Chris Brown and Soulja Boy CDs.

Tuesday
Feb262013

High Life

I had a brief trip in Rome back in 2004 where I split my time between eating my way through the city and walking along the cobble streets. Throughout the boulevards, I appreciated the street art along the walls and always made a point to stop and see what the artist’s message was trying to convey. These were the days before Banksy put street art on the radar and every kid with a stencil was making cookie-cutter versions of the elusive English artist.

The designs and writing on the walls around me were genuine, gritty and an embodiment of originality. They were simply sharing a message. No hints of another artist’s style or essence, no rats carrying signs. When I admired the work in this city, I received the same sentiments as I do with Trevor Bennett. We last saw him in June, 2011 when he shared a story with us that sticks with the reader long after they move on to their next objective.

Not only a writer of stories, Mr. Bennett creates music. The style across his narratives, via fiction or melody, have a realness that can only be portrayed by a person that is completely in their own element. He thinks, therefore he creates. Just as the Italian artists that accompanied me on my walkabouts through Rome, Mr. Bennett is creating work that is not cheap knock-off of somebody else.

Say what you have to say without saying how others say it, is what I always say. 

 

 

Mr. Bennett is a multi-tasker and currently working on a novel. The following is a excerpt from the work in progress.

 

Drown Me in the Red River - Chapter 12: Some Relief

John's driving me back to Lansing tonight. I haven't told him about Mom's emails or... that night. And he's had nothing good to say about Chris all week. I've had nothing to say about Chris all week.

Dad stuffs my bag into the back seat next to John's. Mom's crying like she does when we leave, and I squeeze the knot in my stomach and bite my tongue as she hugs me, tears in my hair as she kisses my cheek.

John and Dad share a shoulder hug, pat on the back, and we switch.

"Love you, Dad," I whisper in his ear and he cracks my back with a squeeze. I smell Papov on his moustache, and I understand that now.

"Dick, put her down, you'll kill her," Mom smiles through her tears. Dad scratches my chin with a kiss. I open the passenger door.

"John, I just upped the insurance on that car," Dad stands an odd distance from Mom. "If you crash it, total it."

"Yes, sir." John slumps down in his seat behind the wheel, leaving the door open.

"Don't kill Sarah, honey." Mom waves. "Watch for deer."

"Don't fight too much while we're gone," I say and close my door as I sit. Stare forward.

"Love you guys." John slapped his door closed. "This car has enormous doors."

"Mhmm." I wave at my parents without looking. John waves harder.

My guts groan.

The little engine starts and we pull out of the gravel driveway in reverse. As we stop at the intersection at the end of Peterson Drive I point to the right. "You need gas?"

"No we're good."

"Stop anyway? I'll buy you a Monster or something."

He obliges. 

We pull into the Pineview Grocery and John walks in with me. He walks to the cooler and I walk to the counter. "Can I get a pack of Parliaments please?"

"Can I see your I.D.?"

I oblige. She turns around and browses the cardboard packages, finger stopping over a blue pack.

"Um, lights, please. 100's, please."

She grabs the skinny white pack next to the blue, scans the barcode. Eight bucks. I raise a brow.

"These are getting expensive."

"Parliaments are a bit pricey," she says. "Do they taste any better?"

John sets a black and green 24oz  can on the counter with a heavy plink.

"No," I say, pointing at the drink, "I'm buying his drink."

She rings it up and I slide my debit card. We sit down in John's car and crack the windows.

"What are you, a machine gunner now?" John says as I hand him a smoke.

"I thought pilots smoked these." I spark the end, hand him the lighter.

Flick. "Same difference I suppose." Blows smoke. "Alright, I'm ready to get the fuck out of Sanford."

"Indeed." I buckle my seatbelt.

The little engine speeds us out of the little town.

An hour in, I take two Parliaments out of my purse and we crank down the windows halfway. I'm still cramped, and the car ride is giving me motion sickness.

"You're quiet," I say. We've been listening to my music. Regina Spektor and Norah Jones and a few songs from some other bands that Chris or Casey or someone showed me. 

I look for a lighter on the floor. No luck. I rub my stomach.

"So Dad's drinking, Mom thinks he's not."

"That seems to be the case." Clicklicklicklicklick I twirl the wheel through the music. I open the ashtray but there's no coil lighter.

"Why'd you tell them not to fight before we left?" He passes a semi truck. Doesn't use his blinker. I dig through my purse.

"Because apparently they have a lot to fight about."

"So you just want to get Dad in trouble."

"No." I play a loud song. He turns the volume down.

"Well then, what the fuck, Sarah?" He's speeding a little.

"Slow down," I say, and he steps on the gas. "Oh, come on, John."

"Why did you do that?" Eighty. Eighty-two. Eighty-four.

"John slow the fucking car down."

"What, are you going to tell Mom?" He passes a red pickup truck and I feel the swing as he slides back into his lane. Eighty-six, Eight-seven,

"John you're going to fucking kill us!"

He jostles the wheel slightly and I hit my head on the half-open window, hard.

"Oh shit!" As he takes his foot off the gas, the wind slows the car considerably. "Shit, Sarah, I'm sorry."

I feel a warm, sticky fluid run down and around my cheek. My brow is split. I press my palm to my eye and sit back in my seat. He looks at me.

 "Just watch the road." 

"Are you okay?" he says. 

I feel okay. I'm alright with this sort of pain. Endorphins fill my system. I feel good, actually. 

"Do you have the lighter?" I ask and he fumbles one out of his pocket. "I am now." I light the cigarette, still hanging off my lip. Wind blows my hair back as we speed along.

"I'm sorry." 

I hand him the lighter, my hand over my eye. A pirate. He sparks his smoke.

"Please stop in Ithaca. I want Wendy's." And napkins. I find some in the glove box.

"Sure thing."

"You're buying." Argh!

"That's my plan."

We take the next exit and John buys me my booty. He says nothing more about Dad or Mom the rest of the drive. 

Nothing hurts except my eyebrow.

When we finally get to Lansing, he helps me carry my bags up to my dorm. I unlock the door, and from the looks of things, Casey's already moved back in. I hug John and he leaves, and I start folding shirts and pants and place them into their spots in my drawers. I almost finish before I take a break and accidentally fall asleep on my bed, in the middle of the evening.

 

Contact Mr. Bennett at treverjbennett@gmail.com

 

Trever J. Bennett | Age 22 | Sanford, Michigan

Only seeks advice from psychics when he already knows the outcome.

Wednesday
Jan232013

Nothing Comes Close

The last two years for me have been relatively busy and I have accomplished many things that I am proud of. Among other things, there was the panda salvation I had a hand in during the blizzard of early 2011, the Banagrams tournament with John Stamos, the blindfolded unicycle race, and finally putting together the perfect combination of sweet chilli sauce, Sriracha and macaroni and cheese. But all of these accomplishments pale in comparison to the work Tolulope Popoola has completed since we first met her in January, 2011.

In the days since publishing two of her flash fiction stories, Ms. Poploola finished her first novel titled “Nothing Comes Close.” The work of fiction has been receiving critical acclaim which included being a runner-up in the Women in Publishing Awards and was listed as “Best Books of 2012” in Africa’s Book Clubs.



Not stopping there, she also started an independent book publishing company, Accomplish Press, based out of London.

Did I forget to mention she also had a baby?

While rapidly dominating the literary world she still finds time to write the flash fiction I have grown to love. It’s been a busy couple of years for Ms. Popoola and I am eagerly awaiting to see what the next two will bring. 

 

The Accident

I remember leaving my body ten minutes after the impact. Before then, it was a blur of tyres screeching, horns blaring, a loud scream, a dog barking and an awful thud. I fell off the bonnet of the car, and landed on the stony tarmac. Then I heard voices, and footsteps of people running towards me.

“Call 999!” I heard someone shout.

For the few minutes I was suspended between life and death, I recalled my mother’s warnings. Always look carefully before crossing the road, she said. I thought about her then. How would she react to the news of my accident? I imagined her crying, and I felt sorry for causing her trouble.

An ambulance arrived with a wail of sirens. My head hurt. My back hurt. My left foot throbbed. A light was shone into my eyes.

“I’ll check for a pulse,” a man said.

Somebody touched me. I heard sounds that I couldn’t comprehend. Then I suddenly felt cold. Slowly, I started to rise above the scene of the crash.

“Will she make it?” A voice floated to me, as if from far away. 

I thought of my father and baby brother, Paul, barely two years old. He wouldn’t understand any of it. I hoped someone would tell him that I’d gone to heaven. 

I visited that spot later. People had left cards and flowers. I wished I could thank them. But what I wanted most was to say goodbye to my family.

(c) Tolulope Popoola

 

 

 Accomplish something. 

 

Tolulope Popoola | London, England

In an epic match of Monopoly against Dave Coulier, she reigned supreme.

Tuesday
Nov272012

No Pants Space Dance

Something peculiar has been happening to me in the past year. At first I would find myself ripping the knickers off my trembling legs and dancing in public places. This, in itself, did not seem too strange but in a short amount of time later, I grew an unhealthy level of affection for robots. All Terminator units, Robot B9, Bender, Furbies, and the rest of the like. Any humanoid lacking a real heartbeat captured my desire. 

Life went on and I figured my tastes in the world around me were changing with age (wisdom, perhaps?). However, things took a surprising turn when I woke up in a robot suit surrounded by hash blueprints of spaceship designs. 

Not knowing who to talk to, I visited a wise man who was my most trusted source at the time - the robot-eque machine, Zoltar, in San Francisco's Musee De Mecanique. It was here that I asked him the reasoning behind the changes rolling through my body. A few brief moments passed when his card came out of the dispenser reading only three letters:

 

"NVO"

 

Suddenly, it all made sense. On top of my previously mentioned ailments, it all became clear why I would constanly yell "F&CK YEAH!", only read Tom Robbins, have dreams of sexy space girls battling killer robot martians, have a trusted source named Zoltar and create light shows in my room every night before I fell asleep. I had been infected with NVO's countless degree of awesome since first writing about them in August of last year. 

Since I last visited them, they have continued to melt people's faces throughout Northern California. From playing historical venues like The Fillmore in San Franciso to touring around Lake Tahoe, NVO has been growing a dedicated fanbase and receiving the attention they much deserve. 

In November, NVO unleashed their sophomore release as a follow-up to their full album, "Machine Nature." Their self-titled EP continues to dive deeper into the electronic sounds that fall somewhere between the epic nature of George Takei and the fourth-dimension - all while covering listeners in an aura that tastes like a binary star's wet dream. 

 

NVO's new tracks have once again taken a perfect blend of electronic instruments with electric guitar and drums to create a sound that would be perfect for a soundtrack to a Steampunk space saga. Their genre of music has still yet to be named as they continue to push the boundaries of our knowledge in electronic rhythms. After listening, I have fallen further under the bind of their spell. I have accepted the fact that I will continue to be strangely attracted to Gort, don silver spandex on the weekends and put glow sticks at the end of my walking sticks. 

I couldn't be happier. 

 

 

 

Fall under their spell

Leave the world in style. 

 

Mike Laglia, Greg Maximov, Chuck Jones and Justin Ward are:

NVO | San Francisco, CA

Convinced George Takei and Betty White to have a baby together during a backstage party. 

 

Monday
Oct292012

Blood Brothers

It's hard to believe that it is just shy of two years since I first exhibited Sophie Nemethy's work. In that time she has continued to provide the world with one masterpiece after another. Just as scotch gets becomes finer with age, Ms. Nemethy's new work continues to give us a more profound flavor than in years past. The outdoor imagery so vivid and colors so vibrant, it would make Van Gogh want to chop his other ear off just out of respect for the work in front of him.



Sophie Nemethy | Age 27 | Charleston, SC
Once confused a french toast stick for a brush and painted the most delicious breakfast east of the Mississippi.