Tag: musings

12 years ago today, I started what has been for me — my life’s work.

Because some of ya’ll might be new and because I haven’t mentioned it in some time: I was working at a small publisher full-time and picking up gigs and left and right writing for any publication or website that would give me exposure, pay me or just give me free stuff.

I moved on to my second publishing job at a business book publisher but I continued freelancing. At this point my father was spiraling out of control. I was with my mom and I was desperately trying to make ends meet as much as I can. The number of publication credits I have in my name is kind of bonkers; but the sad thing is that most of those publications and websites have been long defunct.

In 2011, I started writing for a website, which was started as an offshoot of a fairly well-known and well-regarded website, which was big on covering singer/songwriters. The site was supposed to lean hard on covering indie artist but the main editor there seemed to have a blind spot about hip-hop — and about an artist, who I covered in the past that I thought was worthy of coverage.

So, encouraged by a then-girlfriend, I started JOVM as a way to cover whatever I wanted to cover — without having to debate about its editorial or commercial validity to someone else. Honestly, when I started the site, I couldn’t have imagined three quarters of the things that I’ve done and experienced over JOVM’s history to have ever happened.

I’ve covered roughly 1,100-1,200 shows in NYC, with a handful of shows in Chicago and Baltimore.

I’ve covered about a dozen or more festivals, including traveling to Montreal for M for Montreal back in 2019.

I’ve been a panelist at Mondo.NYC Festival and at New Colossus Festival, speaking about PR, promotion and press for indie artists, giving my perspective as a indie blogger.

A few years ago, I made a cameo in a JOVM mainstay’s music video. It’s a very noticeable spot towards the end of the video. It was a fun experience, but so far no one has called me about acting gigs. Maybe I need to stick to the writing and photography?

I couldn’t have imagined photographing George Clinton, Patti LaBelle, Snoop Dogg, Blondie, Nile Rodgers, Roky Erickson, Philip Bailey The Blind Boys of Alabama and so many others, as well as this site’s countless mainstays.

I wouldn’t have met the countless colleagues and musicians, who have become supporters and friends. And by far, music friends have proven to be the very best of friends.

When I celebrated this site’s 10th anniversary in the middle of the worst of the pandemic, things seemed — understandably — bleak. Although we’ve somehow managed to slowly claw our way back to some degree of normalcy, things across the industry still seem bleak: Touring is an even bigger financial risk for musicians and COVID-19 has made it even more complicated because you’re now out there risking your health — just to make money to live.

What’s next? In the immediate future — let’s say over the next one to maybe three years out, expect the following: Frequent cancellations, postponements and rescheduling of tour dates up and down the line, as artists grapple with the complications of touring during a pandemic.

Meet and greets with the artist before or after the show will most likely be rare for more mainstream and established artists. For indie and DIY artists, they’ll continue to do so at great risk because those connections are desperately necessary.

We’re all trying to figure out how to maneuver in a new, confusing and very uncertain landscape.

With 12 years under my belt, I have no intentions of going anywhere. I’ve managed to carve out a unique spot in the blogosphere, a place that I feel is increasingly necessary because the music and media industries are often rather homogeneous places.

Before I close out, I want to thank some of the following folks for their support. Without them, I don’t think the past year, let alone the past 12 would have been possible:

Sash

Alice Northover

Bella Fox

Jenny MacRostie

Janene Otten 

All of those folks have been generous Patreon patrons. Of course, feel free to check out the Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/TheJoyofViolentMovement. And if you’re able to support, your support will be greatly appreciated and continuously shouted out.

I also have to thank the good folks at Creatives Rebuild New York. I’m proud and humbled to be included in the program. And the monies received throughout the 18 month period will be put to very good use — keeping this dream of mine going. I can’t thank them enough.

You can also support by checking the JOVM shop: https://www.joyofviolentmovement.com/shop

You can also support my following me on the following platforms:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/william_ruben_helms

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/yankee32879 and https://www.twitter.com/joyofviolent

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheJoyofViolentMovement

And you can hire me for headshots, portraits and events. Seriously, I’m available for that, too. You can click here: https://www.photobooker.com/photographer/ny/new-york/william-h?duration=1?duration=1#

Here in the United States Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates and commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black people: It’s the anniversary of the announcement of General Order 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger, an order that proclaimed freedom for enslaved people in Texas. Originating in Galveston, TX, where Granger announced General Order 3, Juneteenth has been celebrated in various parts of the States — with the holiday often being a broad celebration of Black American culture.

Some of the earliest celebrations, which go back to 1866 involve church-centered community gatherings. Celebrations spread across much of the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s focusing on Black American food. With the Great Migration, the holiday was taken to other parts of the country.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Juneteenth was eclipsed; but the holiday grew in popularity in the 1970s with the Black Power Movement, and featured a focus on freedom and Black art.

Although many of us weren’t taught this, Juneteenth is the real independence day. Sadly, it took 150+ years for the day to become a federal holiday. But that’s America for you. (Over 200 bills were written to make lynching a federal crime — or a hate crime — and that was only passed last year! Also, don’t tell me that America isn’t racist.)

So, you’re an ally or you want to be an ally. I understand that it’s often very difficult to know what the right thing is to do or how to even go about it. It’s even more confusing when there isn’t consensus. Now, I’m not going to speak for every single Black person in this country but I’d say you can do some of the following:

  • If you have Black friends, coworkers, etc.etc. that you respect, ask. Ask without assumptions or preconceived notions — and fucking listen.
  • Amplify Black voices: If you follow a Black creative or a Black influencer, who you really dig, shout them out. For a small, independent website or a blog, every new click, every new pair of eyeballs can potentially mean a new follower, a new customer. If you have a few bucks to spare, buy art or merch from Black creatives. If they have a Patreon account, donate a few bucks. Every dollar really does matter.
  • Buy Black. Simply put, spend your money with a small Black business, who you really dig.
  • Donate to causes that help some of vexing issues of systemic racism.
  • With every candidate you consider voting for, look into the causes and issues they support and their thinking behind them. If they’re already in office, look into what bills and projects they voted for and supported.

Of course, there is always more you can do. Just listen to Black folk. And in the meantime, Happy Juneteenth!

https://pitchfork.com/news/love-as-laughter-sam-jayne-is-missing/?fbclid=IwAR3ruQGVWvQIRuwOZpVjvX1XL7HRj3D7T0e3Nhg_vQjC4DSPZPFbTeK1H_0

For a couple of years, Sam Jayne was one of my bartenders at Clem’s, my home away from home. I can’t and won’t say that I knew him better than his bandmates, family and closest friends. When I first met him, I found the man to be extremely annoying but he grew on me. He still had some awful taste inn movies. He once made us all watch the Piranha trilogy and JAWS 3D in the same night. Bradley Cooper wants all of us to forget Piranha — and so does Jerry O’Connell. (By the way, Piranha 3 is arguably one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.)

Mutual friends and acquaintances have shared pictures online and it makes me miss his mischievous eyes and laugh.

The last time I spoke to him was for Clem’s (virtual) Video Request Night the week before he disappeared and we bullshitted about music, as we often did. He regularly played Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face,” which led to an ongoing joke between the both of us about how the video was false advertising. I miss that the most.

He also loved this abomination of a video below. He played it so much at one point that I begged him to stop. I fucking miss that too.

People die, it’s what they do at some point. But often it’s the details of their deaths that shake you. Knowing that poor Sam was dead in his car for days breaks my heart. For someone, who was such a vivid character, it feels unjust and unfair.

Musings: Election Day

As I mentioned in a previous post, today’s elections may arguably be the most consequential of our lives, if not the country’s history. So far 102 million Americans have taken part in early elections — whether through mail-in ballots or showing up in person. Of course, there are Americans who have waited until today or who may not vote. This post is directed to those people, who will say “well, it doesn’t really matter” or “both parties are the same” or anything along those lines: Your life, your safety, your job, your bodily autonomy, the things you like to do, the businesses you frequent, your ability to be with who you love and have that recognized all depend on voting — and who you vote for. Your vote can impact the lives of other people, too.

I’m not trying to be hyperbolic here. It’s true. So please use your voice and vote. As De La Soul would say, “Stakes is High:”

On the evening of September 11, 2005, I returned home from a day job working as an Editorial Assistant at a small, Midtown Manhattan-based, family-owned book publisher of bilingual dictionaries and phrasebooks and international cuisine cookbook to my father cooking and playing John Coltrane‘s A Love Supreme.

My father was a very troubled man with whom I had a uneasy and difficult relationship for a significant portion of my life. But for some reason, playing Coltrane’s gorgeous and meditative opus on a day of such horror and terror seems like a fitting response. And it’s quickly become an annual tradition for me.

As always cherish life — especially today.

Musings: On Hot 97 Yusuf Hawkins and Racism in Media 

 

I have to interrupt some of my previous editorial plans for the day. I need to get a few things off my chest. I applied to a really cool job at a major magazine. This is a job that I felt I could do with my left-hand tied behind my back. I have 15 years under my belt as a freelancer and blogger, covering an insanely eclectic array of music — and I’ve done this while spending 15 years or so working at three different publishing houses, moving up from being an Editorial Assistant to being an Acquisitions Editor.

I’m extremely nocturnal. “Sleep all day. Up all night,” as a song once said. I woke up at noon today. My mom was talking to me about some news item of the day. I was barely awake and I needed coffee. Before I even had my coffee and while I was still in bed, I started to check my email accounts. Technology is wonderful sometimes, ain’t it? So as I typically do, I went through my blog account. And then I checked my personal email. I received the impersonal form letter rejection from that major magazine. Most of the time, I don’t take it personally. I shrug it off and move on. But this one, it felt like a bit like finding out your partner has been sleeping with your best friend or a relative. And yet, somehow, I wasn’t surprised.

I then went on to Facebook. One Facebook friend is posting infuriatingly dumb things and has been doing so for the past month or two. I ignored her and scrolled down a bit. Then I came across an article an elementary school classmate posted it on his page: https://hiphopdx.com/news/id.57484/title.longtime-hot-97-executive-paddy-duke-fired-for-involvement-in-yusef-hawkins-murder?fbclid=IwAR0AfP1_IS_OEGXvRE_I6QgJFsJGtQi6MQ5BiSFd36Kn5Oidt8ypP9f6zqo.

After reading the article, I immediately felt anger, despair and hopelessness. I’ve mentioned this on Facebook as a response to the events of the article and I think it’s important for y’all to read and think about: Two things likely happened with Paddy Duke  — but one of them is probably more likely than the other in my mind:

  • Raucci lied (and an omission is a lie here, too) and went through his life with the desperate an insane hope that no one would find. But every minute and every hour of the past 31 years, he had to live with the fact that he was involved in a heinous crime and with the fear that someone would find out, that someone would out him, that the walls would come crumbling down.
  • Rauuci was connected to someone, who gave him a shot above all the other talented people of color, who have been busting their ass for a shot, then protected him and allowed him to move up the ranks.

 

People have lied about their qualifications for jobs for generations. It was difficult for your employer to find out — and generally no one really bothered to delve that deeply, if you were embellishing a bit and not saying something flat out ridiculous. Over the past 20 years, employers have been following up on jobseekers’ claims: they’ll look Google you and look at your LinkedIn profile; they’ll call your references and ask detailed questions about you and your work. And if somehow, you’re one of the few lucky ones, who may have gotten away with it, it doesn’t last long. Companies have fired people once they’ve find out. (Remember the Notre Dame football coach, who lied about his background? By the following week, the school rescinded their offer.)

So for argument’s say, let’s say that Raucci lied. Maybe in 1994 he might have gotten away with that for a year or two, maybe even five years. But by the time he became a radio personality,  his involvement in a heinous racial crime wasn’t outed by someone? Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice were outed as phonies — before the Internet. Pusha T shouted out  that Drake had a secret baby on a fucking diss track. And you’re telling me that Hot 97 and its corporate office didn’t have a clue that Raucci was one of Yusuf Hawkins’ attackers? Raucci didn’t get outed as he moved up the stations ranks, earning a position of power and authority at the station? How did that continue for over 25 years? You mean no one was curious about the guy and said “Let’s look into him?” Seriously, how does that even happen?

Of course, that leads me to something insidious — and seemingly more likely to have happened to me: Raucci is connected to someone, and that someone not only gave Raucci a shot to redeem himself, that someone allowed the former Hot 97 exec to move up the corporate ranks. There wasn’t some equally qualified person or color without a criminal record that couldn’t have gotten a shot? Who does Raucci know?

There’s no way that Hot 97’s corporate office didn’t have an idea. Out of due diligence, the filmmaker who made the Yusuf Hawkins documentary did their research and confirmed their claims before leaving that in the final cut. Hot 97 and their corporate ownership is full of shit on that.

I’ve freelanced for a nubmer of publications and websites. I started this site over a decade ago while working full-time. The past 15 years I’ve slept very little, worked full-time and then worked hard on making moves. I’ve done JOVM, completely on my own terms. I’m proud of that fact. I’ve obsessed with music since I was a toddler. I’ve played a little bit, too. And when I turned 14, I knew that the only thing that made sense for me was to write. But I have to admit something: lately, I’ve been feeling deeply discouraged.

Sure, being a writer — or any other creative — means enduring through some degree of failure or feeling as though you’re a failure. But when you add unfair, incredibly racist shit to the mix, it just hits differently and on a deeply personal level. I often suspect that some mediocre white person, who’s connected to the right people will get some of these jobs that I’ve long coveted despite my education and my background. I’ve edited fucking  books. Don’t tell me that I can’t edit other music journalists — or that I can’t contribute to a publication.

Look at the staff at some of these websites and publications. If you’re lucky you may see maybe one or two black people on their staff. It makes me wonder how that’s possible. And I dozen wonder if some mediocre white person is getting that key gig, because they know the right people — and not because they’re truly talented or knowledgeable. There have been only a handful of days recently where I felt like everything I did felt profoundly stupid: George Floyd’s death and the protests immediately after and after reading that HipHopDX article today.

My folks gave me the talk when I was about 7. But I’m also not a stupid or naive man either. I’ve lived in the world and been around enough to know that life is really unfair. So I really loathe when organizations and people actively try to insult my intelligence. Don’t bullshit me about how you’re diverse and are down for the cause of Black Lives Matter if you don’t have executives of color or members of the LGBTQIA+ community in real positions of authority.

This story about Raucci and Hot 97 is a constant reminder of how insidious racism is — especially in media and other creative fields. At the end of the day, a lot of these companies are frankly full of shit. Either we’re willing to be better or we’re not. It’s that simple.