Orange County Poetry Club Brings Spoken Word to Santa Ana

Categories: stuff we like

Heidi Darby
The Orange County Poetry Club
Poetry is arguably like punk rock. It's an underground art form committed to raw emotion, placing emphasis on self-expression. It's a conduit for social and personal angst, and has little regard for the status quo. Poetry is nearly invisible in pop culture and local events, but the rhymesayers of the Orange County Poetry Club are looking to change that by bringing spoken word back to the community. The group's open mic poetry readings kick off at 7 p.m. every Wednesday, in the outdoor atrium of the 4th Street Market in Santa Ana.

Founded by longtime musician and poet, Thomas Monroe, the club is comprised of readers from throughout Orange County who speak about whatever ails or inspires them. Monroe not only founded the group, he started self-publishing poets under a press by the same name. Four writers are currently in print under the OC Poetry Press insignia. Monroe feels that giving his group a chance to see their work come to life is vital to keeping poetry alive, and offers each of the published poets an opportunity to be a featured reader.

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An Army Vet With Zombie Vision Creates a Popular Audio Drama

Categories: stuff we like

Courtesy of Wayland Productions
When Kc Wayland was deployed to the Middle East in 2003, he adjusted to hostile territory, dealt with satellite transmissions between Iraq and the Pentagon, and recorded footage for a future documentary.

Amidst all of his multi-tasking, he was also taking notes for an epic tale of the impending zombie apocalypse.

Wayland is the writer and director behind the 48-chapter audio drama, "We're Alive: A Story of Survival." The podcast pulls in roughly 5,000 downloads a day, was named to iTunes "Best Of" list in 2012, and gave Wayland enough fans and exposure to get funding for his upcoming spin off series "We're Alive: Lockdown."

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Comedians Who Show Us the Power of Balls

Chris Victorio
Jim Jefferies balling out at KROQ's April Foolishness 2014
It takes balls to convey what you feel without apology. As a comedian, being on a stage must be a great feeling because you get to say anything with an audience in front of you that paid so they're clearly eager to hear it. We can only sort of relate because, well, you are reading this right now.

Comedy styles are different and of course, that is A-okay. It's few and far between that people intentionally set out to offend someone and with that thought in mind, we know that's why some comics choose to keep it "mild" with their set. That's great for them and it works out perfectly for some but right now, we're not talking about them. We want to highlight the comics that grab "taboo" topics by the horns and ride them out like mother fucking champions. These people have a public platform and don't live in fear of having a "label" put on them should they happen to "offend" somebody. These people have the power of having proverbial balls. And when it comes to these comics, you can either choose to laugh along or you can choose to avoid them completely. With this list, you have the same choice. You can read it or you can click off of it. Ohhh the power of words...

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The Icarus Line Rise Again With One Hell of An Album

Aric Lorton
The Icarus Line
When we talk about the dividing line between music and art, The Icarus Line's 2013 full-length Slave Vows and this year's follow-up Avowed Slavery are most definitely in the latter category. That said, these records ain't meant to be hoisted on a wall because the songs are present, immediate, primal and important.

And why shouldn't they be? Since 1998, the Los Angeles group has been creating a harmonious cacophony that would make Iggy and Nick Cave proud. You'd think being placed into that sort of rock royalty would render The Icarus Line a household name, but it hasn't. Instead, the band -- led by singer Joe Cardamone and featuring bassist Alvin DeGuzman, drummer Ben Hallett, keyboardist/saxophonist Jeremy Gill and guitarist John Bennett -- have been presumed dead by many since 2004's Penance Soiree, which might explain why Slave Vows sounds like a group with its back to the wall, swinging, not going down without a fight.

Slave Vows is a challenge, an artistic peak for a group uncomfortable with familiarity. You might love it or you might hate it, but you'll definitely have an opinion. And that's what makes for great art.

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Bryan Watkins: The Hardest Working Drag Queen in Orange County

Categories: stuff we like

WD Photo Inc.
The stairwell of the Velvet Lounge in Santa Ana winds down into a basement that opens up to a dressing room, where wigs of every color line the wall and sequins twinkle throughout the dimly lit space. A pair of oversized, feathered black boots demand attention as drag queens and staff filter in and out of the lower level. Bryan Watkins, founder and host of the Lipstick & Lashes Dinner and Drag Show, sits at his vanity wearing a black hat and t-shirt. His piercing blue eyes are electric, despite the fact that he's two performances down on a four show day. Resting his elbow on the corner of his cluttered dressing table he asserts with diva-like conviction, "There's an insane amount of drag in California, but nobody really does what we do."

The Velvet Lounge's Lipstick & Lashes review is a full-scale production featuring a lineup as diverse as its clientele. Watkins hosts the show as Shannel, an irrevocably fierce diva whose headlined multiple shows in Las Vegas and appeared on the reality TV series, RuPaul's Drag Race. Shannel serves as the common thread for Lipstick & Lashes, navigating a flurry of rhinestones and size 12 heels with bawdy charm and raunchy comebacks. The show doesn't discriminate when it come to song choice and characters, enlisting impersonations of Disney princesses, Broadway stars, and Top 40 icons. Drag queens and their sex kitten male dancers work the intimate venue for multiple performances five nights a week, and saunter out into the crowd whenever possible.

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The Best Gay Rap Songs

Murs- Animal Style
Scrolling through our past Weekly listicles, we noticed that there is a topic that we haven't touched. Gay rap. Hip-hop is riddled with many topics, many different voices, and in case you didn't realize, some of these rhymers lacing tracks with sick flows are openly gay. So with that, we're stepping into that very arena with our breakdown of the Top 5 Five Gay Rap Songs.

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Hot Snakes Prove That a Band With Two Drummers is Twice as Good

Hot Snakes' first two records (2000's Automatic Midnight and 2002's Suicide Invoice) feature Jason Kourkounis on drums, but the band's third release, 2004's Audit in Progress, was recorded with drummer Mario Rubalcaba, who became a permanent member for the group's final two years. So, when singer/guitarist Rick Froberg, guitarist John Reis and bassist Gar Wood decided to reunite in 2011, they had a decision to make.

Luckily for fans, the threesome opted to include both Kourkounis and Rubalcaba, allowing each drummer to perform the material he recorded. Taking a quick break mid-set to change skinsmen might sound odd, but it's not. In fact, it's fucking awesome not only because audiences get to see both versions of Hot Snakes but because Kourkounis and Rubalcaba are phenomenal drummers who deserve to be heard.

Still, having two drummers isn't the norm, which is why I spoke to Rubalcaba and Kourkounis in regards to their band's upcoming show at Alex's Bar in Long Beach on Sept. 18 to find out what they plan on doing when the other guy is on stage.

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Descendents Guitarist Was a Fan of the Band Before He Joined. These Are His Favorite Songs.

Greg Jacobs
Stephen Egerton
Rather than having some schlub (i.e., me) pontificate about how brilliant pop/punk/hardcore pioneers the Descendents are and why everyone should see them Friday as part of the MusInk Tattoo Convention & Music Festival, I thought I'd go to the source. And by "source," I mean Descendents guitarist Stephen Egerton.

Egerton doesn't play on the group's first three full-length albums (1982's Milo Goes to College, 1985's I Don't Want To Grow Up and 1986's Enjoy! ) and one EP (1981's Fat). He joined the band during 1987's ALL, so I figured the Oklahoma resident would offer a unique viewpoint on the songs as someone who is a fan of the band and a member. The group has had one drummer (Bill Stevenson) and singer Milo Aukerman is on all releases except the first single (1979's Ride the Wild), so their opinions might be biased. And original bass player Tony Lombardo and his replacement Doug Carrion couldn't talk about the songs that followed their departures. Same with original guitarist Frank Navetta (who passed away in 2008) and his successor Ray Cooper. Yes, I could have included third bassist Karl Alvarez -- who joined with Egerton in 1986 -- but I don't have his number. I do, however, have Egerton's. Luckily, I was right as the guitarist spoke at length about the difficulty of honoring the legacy of Navetta and Cooper while maintaining his own musical voice.

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Author Craig Lewis Explains Why Punk Rock is a Haven For the Mentally Unstable

Max Braverman
Craig Lewis

Many authors speak in front of live audiences in hopes of selling books. Craig Lewis, however, has a different agenda.

The 40-year-old's lecture Saturday night at TKO Records in Huntington Beach will address issues regarding mental health, but in a way many are unfamiliar with. You see, Lewis -- like Sheena -- is a punk rocker.

To the uninformed, punk rock is nothing more than Sid Vicious shooting dope and (allegedly) killing his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, but people actively involved in punk understand the genre is more than a deceased Sex Pistol. The culture's do-it-yourself spirit empowers its followers and allows them to be as expressive and individualistic as they choose. Often, Lewis says, punk's open-door policy welcomes artists, misfits, weirdos and anti-authoritarian types. The scene also becomes a sanctuary for people with mental health issues.

Unfortunately, Lewis -- a certified peer specialist -- says mental health is an issue still not fully addressed in his community, which is why he published Better Days: A Mental Health Recovery Workbook and You're Crazy, a collection of 27 essays by punkers addressing their mental health issues and addiction. It's a sentiment that Lewis understands as he was first placed into a psychiatric home at 14 and later spent a decade getting high. Lewis says he's been drug-and-alcohol -free since 2001 and focuses on having good minutes, good hours and good days, which he attributes to his being "healthy now...for the most part."

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Happy (Anti) Valentine's Day From Twitter

Yeah, yeah we know what day it is. But if you read this blog on the reg, you know we're not all in love floating on a cloud with rainbows, cupids, and a fucking harp playing in the background. And no, we're not a bitter party of one because we're "jealous of your relationship" when Valentine's Day rolls around. We're actually not knocking what being in love is or saying we've never been there but when it comes to this made up "Hallmark holiday," some of us have different ideas other than showering people with candies and flowers. Case in point: the delightfully entertaining people of Twitter. These folks always seem to know how to lighten up the mood and "feel your pain" no matter what the occasion is. So whether you are in love and want to laugh at the single and lonely or you are one of those hostile peeps who like to poo-poo all over this day filled with chocolates that will end up giving you cavities in the long run, sit back and enjoy our top 14 magical affection filled tweets that are flying around the Twittersphere to prepare us for this year's love fest labeled, "Valentine's Day."

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