Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Radkey Interview
When Nerds Go Punk

Conducted & Formatted 
by Anthony Servante

Radkey Ready for Rock or TV

The Interview: 

Anthony Servante: How did Radkey form into a band?

Radkey: We are brothers and we were homeschooled. After watching "School of Rock" we were inspired to start a band.


Radkey Burning up the Stage

Anthony Servante: What are the musical influences of the band?

Radkey: Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, The Doors, Local H, Goes Cube, The Giraffes, Beatles ,Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Helmet, Wolfmother, Misfits, Weezer, Year Long Disaster, Foo Fighters, Jack White, and the list goes on and on.

Anthony Servante: How did being home-schooled influence the band? As I'm a retired professor, this info really caught my attention. Was music part of your schooling?

Radkey: Music wasn't part of our schooling. Our Dad has a lot of records and was always listening to music and we are big movie fans which always has big soundtracks. It was just a part of our lives. Being homeschooled allowed us to have more time to dedicate to creating music for sure.

Anthony Servante: Dragon Ball Z?! Every nerd in the audience whooped when they heard this. What other Manga/Comic book culture contributed to your music and lyrics?

Radkey: We've written songs about the anime One Piece, our new song spiders is about the anime Hunter X Hunter, Junes is about a video game. Too many to list. We take inspiration from movies, anime, comic books, video games, all of it.

Anthony Servante: Describe your music for us. At the concert, I heard comparisons to Robin Trower and The Dandy Warhols, two musical styles from two very distinct generations. Where do you see your place on the history of music spectrum?

Radkey: We think pretty much 70's and 90's rock - Cheap Trick, Ramones, Nirvana, Local H. We like the sounds of many directions.

Anthony Servante: Tell us about the music you now have available. What is the name of the CD? Do you collaborate on songwriting duties? Where can my readers find and purchase your new music?

Radkey: Delicious Rock Noise was our last album. We have a bunch of singles we have recently released digitally. Our newest one is "Spiders" out 01/11/19.

It is always a collaborative effort to write each song between the three of us.

Almost everything we have is available to download or order online.

Anthony Servante: Can you tell us about opening for The Damned? How did that gig come about?

Radkey: We are big fans of The Damned and were stoked to be asked to join them on tour. We have no idea how they found out about us but it was awesome!

Radkey Opening for The Damned

Anthony Servante: Who else have you opened for?

Radkey: Jack White, The Descendents, The Offspring, Jane's Addiction, Flogging Molly, The Dead Boys, Rise Against, Black Joe Lewis, Local H, The Stranglers - the list goes on and on. Just so many good bands.

Anthony Servante: Who would you like to open for you when you headline concerts?

Radkey: Drop A Grand

Anthony Servante: Are you working on any new music? Will you be exploring any new directions for your great harmonies and musicmanship?

Radkey: We are working on new music all the time. We are releasing an EP this spring. Working on another album. We just go where the music takes us.

Anthony Servante: Lastly, can you give me a Top Ten List of songs, your own songs or other artists' songs, that best represent the band today? I'll try to find an accompanying YouTube video for each song for the readers to listen to.

Radkey: These are in no particular order -

10. Foo Fighters - Have It All

9. Cheap Trick - Dream Police

8. Local H - Scott Rock

7. Led Zeppelin - Out On the Tiles

6. Weezer - Take Control

5. Nirvana - Lounge Act

4. Jack White - That Black Bat Licorice

3. Arctic Monkeys - Electricity

2. Pearl Jam - Tremor Christ

1. Kyuss - Green Machine

Thanks! Anthony!

Dee, Isaiah, Solomon Radke

And thank you right back at ya, Radkey, from the Servante of Darkness and his readers.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Views from a Troubled Mind 
Scene #12

The Perfect Storm
by Anthony Servante

Duarte River of Mud breaks through concrete barriers 
& flows into hillside homes below

We're in the third day of a week long thunder storm. It's been nonstop light to heavy showers, with the occasionally lightning and thunder followed by a torrential downpour. I try to time my shopping during the moderate sprinkles when there's less chance of getting soaked and less risk of having my tennis shoes soaked down to the socks. Yesterday when I got home from shopping, there were five leaks in the ceiling. Luckily, they were about one inch apart along the support beam. Five fat droplets hanging plumply from the wooden structure above where I sit to watch TV. My brother had lain my grocery coupon book which had come in the mail next to my seat. The water drops were landing on the book, not on the carpet. I ran my hand across the carpet checking for moisture. There was none. How did my brother know to place the coupons right there on that particular spot? He usually leaves my mail on my seat.
That's when everything went surreal. I went through the motions without thinking about them. It was like a kind of shock. I systematically examined every inch of the ceiling. I found no other leaks. Good.

I found two plastic tubs under the kitchen sink and, after removing the soaked coupons, placed the tubs under the leaking. They perfectly fit to catch all the droplets that were spaced about 15 inches in length. 

Still, I didn't feel safe. So I double-checked the ceiling for more leaks. Nothing. 

Then I called my brother on his cell phone. No answer.

Two hours later, after getting some soup warming up on the stove, I checked my phone messages. My bro had called. I returned the call. No answer. 

Five hours later, I called again. He answered. I asked, "Why did you put the coupon book where you did?"
He was confused. What was this question about? Why all the phone calls back and forth? "What?" was all he said.
"The coupon book was on the floor, not on my seat."
"There are five leaks coming from the beam over my TV seat. The drops all landed on the coupon book."
"Is the carpet okay?"
"Yeah, but how did you know to place the coupons right there? How did you know?"
"Know what? "
"That that's where the drops would fall?"
"So the carpet's okay?"
"Yeah. The coupon book soaked up all the drops. The rain never reached the carpet."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. No other leaks in the house. Just the ones that fell on the book right where you put it. Were there leaks when you put the coupons there?"
"Then why did you put the book there?"
"I don't know."
"Me either. Just called to let you know."

After the call, the rain stopped, and the droplets dried up as the heater helped to evaporate them and warm the beam. The temperature had dropped to 57 degrees when I turned on the heater and shut the front door. I like the door open when it rains so I can hear the pitter-patter of falling droplets hitting the roof. I really wanted to keep the door open and hear when the rain started up again, but it was cold. So very very cold. But it wasn't about me at this point. The heater had a job to do--to curtail the spreading moisture along the beam. 
After I put on my hoodie and beanie, I turned on the TV and binged "Counterpart", the show about the doppelgangers. As the room warmed up, I began to rock back and forth on my seat.

Suddenly, I remembered the soup. Luckily, it hadn't burned or turned to mush. I added a cup of water and waited for the soup ingredients to regroup into a semblance of chicken noodle stew. Any hopes of soup were gone. Water's a poor replacement for salty broth.

I served myself a bowl of the hot food, added crackers, and sat in my TV seat to eat in front of another episode of Counterpart. As I blew on the hot stew, the rain started up again, the droplets reformed, and the plip-plop of shiny drops splashed into the plastic tubs.

P.S. The next day, in the late morning, my brother climbed onto the roof during a break in the rain. There were shingles missing in the spot above the living room support beam where the array of leaks had formed. A few weeks ago, the gusty Santa Ana winds made a mess of the neighborhood, knocking down trees, tipping trash cans, sending recyclables all over the yards up and down the block, and slapping shingles off the roof. We found seven tiles on the front lawn, so we knew there were bald spots on the roof where water might enter, but who expects rain in sunny California?! While he was up there, my brother cleaned out the drain. Lots of moldy leaves, four dead birds, and one dead squirrel. That explained the smell of skunk in the evenings. No, it wasn't skunk; it was cute squirrel carcass. He throw the drain clutter in a trash-bag and into the trash can. I could still smell the death, so I put the bag into another bag and returned it to the can. As of today, the smell of cute corpses is gone, or, at least, smothered by the double-bags. And before my brother left for his afternoon workout at the gym, he told me not to call the Animal Control people. Just leave the dead animals in the can for trash day. I thought, how did he know I was going to call Animal Control after he left? Hell if I know. I just know that this is the same guy who knew just where to put the damn coupon book.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Update 10

Trauma & Therapy

Snake Oil, Miracles, & Silver Bullets
Compiled & Narrated 
by Anthony Servante


There are no shortcuts to overcome trauma. No epiphanies, miracles, or silver bullets.  Time does not heal, but it takes a lifetime to learn to live with the memories of the events that caused the mental disturbance, the social anxiety, and the nightmares that invade sound sleep. And learning is a day-to-day duty roster. The chores of daily activities, such as getting up, remembering to eat, taking one's meds, dental and physical hygiene, making important calls, and keeping one's appointments, take a toll when you have to deal with the schedule on your own. That's why we need to trust in someone to help us get through each day. Each week. Each month. Each year.

I always recommend psychiatrists, professional therapists, and trauma counselors to help patients deal with their trauma and its symptoms. Do not be tempted to find cures for your suffering. It takes time to learn to live with trauma. Anyone who promises to rid you of all trauma is trying to scam you. Beware of "trauma cleanses" and other "snake oil" remedies. Sellers of these "cures" often refer to traditional medicine as unreliable or unproductive as a means to make their own products sound superior. Words like "shortcuts" and "miracles" are used as bait for trauma sufferers and victims.

Speaking for myself now. I found peace in solitude. I entertained myself with Television, music, comics, books, movies, and train rides. I also blogged about my experiences in my entertainment and reached out to friends in social media to share my woes and welcomed fellow trauma victims to share theirs. By opening myself online to discussing my experience with blackouts, amnesia, and nightmares, I found a fellowship with others who have been going through similar experiences. 

That is when I started my column on "Trauma & Therapy". When others told me and my readers about their "pain event", its after-symptoms, and the treatment they sought to adjust to the change in their life, I, too, decided to seek out treatment. I often jest about my "Shrink", but my doctor, a psychiatrist specializing in trauma, has helped me to return my life to a day to day existence. You see, one of the symptoms I suffered after my first blackouts was cleaning the house incessantly, washing my hands over and over, drinking coffee to excess, and avoiding talking to people in person. When people did approach me in public, even with a smile and a "good morning", I'd berate them or mock them. And I never met eyes with them. I always felt bad afterward, but I kept on doing it. I still do. 

Another symptom was the nightmares. I was living in an alternate universe in my dreams, one where I could escape my life by oversleeping. But the reality of my dream life was more comfortable and safe, a place where I didn't have to deal with the public. I was in control. Most of the time. Sometimes the dreams went places that I didn't want to be. But there in these dark places were little beams of light, memories that gave me peeks into what my waking mind helped me to forget with blackouts and amnesia. I wanted to go deeper into these dark realms with the rays of light seeping through the cracks in the rocky caves and hills, but I'd always wake up. And once I awoke, I went straight for the coffee maker. If I had to be awake, it'd be at my comfort level: Wired on Expresso or French Roast. 

When I shared all this with my Shrink for the first time, she did little more than prescribe anti-anxiety drugs and set weekly meetings. But as time went by, and the drugs began to do their work on my nerves, the doctor then began to talk to me about my dreams, my daily schedule, my antisocial behavior, and my reluctance to see a psychiatrist (I was hoping for a Psychologist or Therapy Counselor). But she said that "trauma" could be treated by dialog alone with counselors or with a drug regimen and what she called "free-flow conversation" as opposed to controlled dialog. With a medical doctor (Shrinks can prescribe drugs) compared to a counselor (a doctor who can't prescribe drugs), the former has extra tools the therapist lacks--that is, happy pills. 

If I remember correctly, I've been taking Xanax for over half a year now. As needed. Strange, but between the coffee nerves and the social anxiety combination and the anti-anxiety pills, I've found a balance that helps me to maintain my daily schedule. Man, I didn't even see it happening. First, I set the routine but didn't keep it. Second, I did half the routine. Now, I'm doing 90% of my schedule daily: exercise, diet, TV, reading, a set time to go to bed, and a set time to wake up. The dreams don't dictate my waking patterns anymore. When it's time to wake up, I get up. Sometimes I do miss visiting those lucid nightmares in the cave with the light beams, for that's the trauma trying to reveal itself to me in a safe place (the Shrink says, anyway), but with caffeine and happy pills, my mind is clear enough to remember the edges of that traumatic event in a drug induced comfort zone. I get the same results from drugs that I do by facing my nightmares--I get closer to remembering the specifics of my trauma. 

I feel like I'm getting better, though I do realize that I'm just adjusting to living my life in a new way that is conducive with my condition. I still don't recall the particulars of the "pain-event", but I'm not afraid to remember anymore--even if it's only bit by bit. The Shrink says that I should not recall the event full-on. Ever. And that if I do, take two Xanax, and to call her office immediately. No, that's not a comforting instruction. I'd like to think that I can chip away at the big boulder till it's in small rocks that I can examine. I'd hate for that boulder to land on my head like a cartoon anvil. I carry the Shrink's phone number with me at all times.

I am quitting social media, namely, Facebook. Of course, I plan on exchanging email addresses with the friends I've made over the years. I told my Shrink about the decision, and she seemed slightly indifferent. I asked her if she was on social media, and she said her grandchildren were, almost dismissively. I asked her if she didn't know what writer's block was and her patient was a writer, shouldn't she know what "writer's block" is? After all, isn't it the source of her patients' writing problem? She said no, that I didn't understand the goals of therapy. I told her she was just another untraumatized counselor treating the traumatized. She laughed and said that it's the first time in months that I've been humorous. That that was good. I told her, "That's convenient; she taking credit for my jokes." Then she said she was reducing my meds 75%. That it was time to taper off the meds and return to a normal functional state. Three to four months ought to do it. I asked her if she was talking about withdrawal. She said no. It was about a manageable tapering off of dependence. I told her that I could go cold turkey. She responded, 75% reduction, 50%, 25%, and then see where we stand. Didn't she give me the meds? Now she's taking them away because I cracked a joke? What was I when I first started coming to see her? Unfunny? No, I remember. I was angry, because she wasn't a counselor and she didn't talk, only prescribed drugs. How things have changed over the months. 

But let me be clear. I still don't like being in public, I still like my solitude, and I still suffer nightmares on a regular basis. I still notice the oddities in my community, like the stupid parrot infestation, the regularity of deaths (weekly), and the strange weather changes. And most of the time I can't tell the difference between what's in my head and what's outside my head, like the weather. Even with all my meds and my new happier routine, the oddities continue, and just this past week, another person was killed, about four blocks from where I live (the Petting Zoo deaths was less than two blocks from my home). But with my new frame of mental reference and anxiety-free confidence, I know this trouble is all out there in "reality", and I can distinguish it from what's in here in my head buried under the suppressed memory of that awful pain-event. Yet, somehow, my Xanax-clouded mind thinks the outside and the inside are all connected. Somehow. And in those beams of dream-light I'm sure there are some answers to the questions that I don't even remember.

Anyway, I thought I should recap the series so far.

I. The Recap

In the first nine updates of the Trauma & Therapy series, we covered the various types of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, from military, law enforcement, child abuse, spousal violence, to crime victimization, and accidents. We then published testimonials from trauma survivors who shared their "pain-events". Thereafter, we discussed the various symptoms of PTSD that these survivors were suffering, from social anxiety to nightmares. While discussing nightmares, we delve a bit deeper into the subject of the subconscious mind regarding dreams an a potential healing component of the brain, while we also considered that nightmares were more destructive than constructive. 

We then focused on the fragile mind that cannot separate dreams from reality by deconstructing the working of the senses in regards to illusions and other tricks of the eye and the dubious translations of visual objects by a traumatized mind. This research led us to discuss the possibility that what we in fact "see" in our traumatic state is possibly real, rather than illusion. We posed the question, If it is not illusion, what is it? Three essays were then published discussing the possibility that these tricks of the eye were in fact "ghosts" from our past, echoes of the trauma in supernatural form. 

We transitioned to forms of therapy for PTSD. We discussed paint therapy, dream analysis, drug therapy, and counseling, as well as others. Volunteers shared their dreams, and an analyst gave constructive possible meanings to the dream imagery. Paintings were sent in, and we published them here. Although there are many forms of therapy, I tried to restrict myself to the forms that were used by the volunteers who shared their trauma experiences with our readers. 

II. Here is a list of the contributors and Volunteers who have helped with the Trauma & Therapy series so far (real names respectfully have been replaced by job titles to provide some privacy). 

1. Barista.    
Trauma: Witness to bloody aftermath.  
Symptoms: Workaholic, fatigue.    
Therapy: N/A.

2. Instructor.
Trauma: Locked in a meat freezer; doesn't remember how
 Symptoms: Cynicism; loss of faith, agoraphobia
Therapy: None

3. Driver.      
Trauma: Trapped in darkness
Symptoms: Homeless, shoplifting, multiple arrests
Therapy: None            

4. Public Service Clerk
Trauma: Deprived of sleep during childhood
Symptoms: Manic-depressive, mood swings, works in file room away from people
Therapy: Work Sponsored Counseling

5. Self-employed Gardener
Trauma: Trapped with broken bones in basement while employer was on vacation
Symptoms: Afraid to be alone, overtly outgoing, stands close to people
Therapy: Born Again Christian, Church Counseling

6. Newspaper Writer
Trauma: Trapped in burning car, third degree burns over two thirds of body.                        
Symptoms: Loner, defensive, paranoia
Therapy: Physical Rehabilitation, Skin Grafts, and Psychiatric Outpatient Care

7. Maintenance
Trauma: 80% loss of sight due to undiagnosed diabetes
Symptoms: Alcoholic, divorced, regret, shame, guilt
Therapy: Alcoholic Anonymous (AA)

8. Law Enforcement
Trauma: Severe burns on arms
Symptoms: Schizophrenic onset, homeless when off medication, conspiracist
Therapy: Family, At-home Nurse, Outpatient Psychiatric Care

9. Blogger
Trauma: Unknown
Symptoms: Amnesia, agoraphobia, chronic denial, conspiracist
Therapy: Psychiatric outpatient

III. New Trauma Volunteers*

*Student 1 supplied the following information, which I researched before deciding to include with our more recent group. I talked with Priest, from the Temple, and he confirmed the hostage situation from 2016 and 2017. I recall talking to him before, in 2017. But some of the names on the following list I just could not confirm, so I've placed a "?" by their name. I will continue to research the "pain events" of these new names that I do not know, or, at least, do not remember. 

10. Student 1
Thank you, Mr. Servante, for your blessed blog and for your dedicated work. Those of us who suffered in the past need a place and person to direct our words, words that we keep to ourselves. But thanks to you, I have shared your blog with my mother who has sought the proper therapy for me, and I've shared your updates with my friends and their families who continue to endure the nightmares I still endure.

I am (Name omitted by me--editor). I am a Middle-schooler.

Trauma: A stranger took me and my two girlfriends. We were not raped. Let me be clear. Our bodies were not raped. Our minds were assaulted. My mother often told me not to talk to strangers, that in our culture, there are gangs that sell young girls into slavery and prostitution. My stepfather always drives me to school, but then he goes to work. He tried his best to protect me from any dangers. I caught the bus home from school. That's when it happened. I don't remember too much. I remember emotions, not events. I felt like I was sleeping, dreaming that everything was happening. My school counselor told me it was "shock". Not like electric shock. A kind of dreaminess that protects your mind from the trauma. I don't know what exactly "trauma" means. But everyone tells me I have it. Only when I try to remember how I was taken, that's when the dreaminess takes over. I can hear the ocean waves and the seagulls, but all the other sounds go mute like on the TV remote control. When I was taken, I still had my backpack and my books. I used to write notes and poems in the blank pages of the books till they were all filled. Then I began to write over the textbook words sideways so that I could understand my own writing. This helped me to stay unafraid till help came. I knew help would come. I wrote poems about it.

Symptoms: As I mentioned, I have bad nightmares. They take place by the ocean, just like in my dreaminess moments of "shock". I hear seagulls and other birds. Lots of birds. No people. No ocean waves. No wind or tree branches bending in the wind. But I feel the wind. And sometimes the bird screeches turn into screams. I turn to look at the screamers, but that's when I wake up. I need to see the screamers, my counselor says. 

Therapy: I am in Paint Therapy. I draw what I remember from my dreams. Now that I go to temple with (Student 2). We also do Craft Therapy. I created these Manga characters called Plvmage Punks. We make pajamas made from the birds based on my Plvmage Punk designs. They're like the Tokidoki Cactus Kids & Cactus Pets. The Cactus costumes protect the kids and pets from death and evil in the Tokidoki world. In my world, the Plvmage Punk pajamas protect us from the screamers.

11. Student 2 (As told by Student 1).
(Name omitted by me--editor) endured the hostage situation by keeping her eyes close for the whole time we were there. Sometimes, after she slept, she'd open her eyes thinking she was still in a dream. When she saw where she was, she shut her eyes again. I tried to talk to her, but my words were babbles, like baby talk. I could hear her praying. She'd bow her head and press her hands together. Sometimes she'd laugh or cry. Then she'd catch herself and jump back to praying, as if she'd lost her place in a book she was reading and picked up where she left off. She has a shrine in her bedroom and burns incense day and night to ward off evil spirits. (P.S. That was a good Update about the ghosts. Ghosts are very big in our culture. I'm glad you covered it). The priest at our temple says that evil spirits were behind our kidnapping. My father paid the ransom, but he never came back after we were released. I dream of him all the time. (Student 2) says she dreams of him too. That's what our Plvmage Punk pajamas do: They protect us while we sleep. Our religion protects us while we're awake. Even though I'm two years older now, I still feel like I'm 12 years old. My mother warns me not to get stuck at 12 [referring to "arrested development", AC], that I must grow up like a normal girl. I'm trying. She says that it's okay to wear the pajamas for a while, but we will soon have to outgrow them. I mean, it's not like they're Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny. It's therapy, right? I wish you'd explain that to her, Mr. Servante. The priest kinda agrees with my mother so he tries not to take sides, but she'd listen to you. I'm sure of it. Let me know if you can talk with her, please. I'd appreciate it.
[I spoke to the Priest who also said he enjoyed the articles I published on religion, ghosts, and demons. He sent me a few dozen of (Student 1)'s emails and suggested that I read them before contacting the girl's mother.]

12. Student 3
She is in a coma. No, not coma. I have to look it up. Wait. I found it. "Catatonic". Her mother feeds her soft food. And she used to love cheeseburgers. Her family is traditional Chinese, but (Student 3) gobbled up all American customs, music, TV, and dance. She was outgoing. She was first in everything. She fought back the hardest the day they took her. I remember they made her pay for that. I try not to think of it, but the nightmares keep reminding me. The family has two Buddhist Midwives who come in everyday to pray and chant for her. These old women lift from the bed, put her in a wheelchair, and roll her to the back yard where they chant for the "rupas" from (Student 3)'s old life as a little girl. Rupas are the things that meant the most to her when she was growing up, like a favorite blanket, toys, hair pins, and flowers. She loved flowers. But rupas can also be dreams and memories. The chants emphasize the good things and the good memories. Sometimes they show her old photos, but she doesn't look at them. The old women say that still she does see them. The main job of the chants is to separate the good rupas from the bad rupas. When the bad rupas are pushed away, then she will wake up from her dream. They don't believe in catatonia. They say she's in a dream that she can't wake up from. She's so skinny now.

It makes me so sad. I feel so responsible.

I have more information on the people who were involved with helping mine, (Student 2 and 3)'s families during our absence, from some teachers from our school, to others. I've been making a list for you. I think it will help all of us to share as much information as possible. Just like all the trauma volunteers who have been helping you for your blog. I'll tell you about the others next time. After you've talked with my mother.

Thank you for everything, Mr. Servante. But it's not over yet.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Poetry from the Light
Dedicated to Our Trauma Volunteers 
Christmas 2018

Compiled and Formatted
by Anthony Servante


Our poetry selections for the 2018 Christmas column has been filled with poems by our volunteers from the Trauma & Therapy Updates 1-9 (I am entry number 6, the writer). My only instructions to our participants was to write what they felt this Christmas holiday. One entrant withdrew their poem at the last minute. Thank you to the other eight for braving this first time venture into sharing your thoughts in this strange format. I took the liberty to edit the poetry for grammar and spelling. Nothing more. I'd also like to thank Martin Ryan, the only non-trauma volunteer, to submit poetry.

I did not use the names of the participants (as I did with the Trauma Updates) and instead used their vocations (in some instances, their former vocations). I also added information about their trauma experience and applicable therapy very briefly.

Now, let's get to the poetry.

The Poetry and The Volunteers (Bless you all).*

1. Barista: Witness to bloody aftermath. Workaholic, fatigue. N/A


I went to England for my vacation.
Saved up from my vocation.
From LA to the UK
I wish it were one-way.

I visited museums and sites
By day and evening lights.
The winter there chilled my pores;
I warmly dressed to stay outdoors.

I flew back home for Christmas time,
I left behind the land sublime
But here with friends and family
I am again where I should be.

2. Instructor: Hands held in ice. Loss of faith, agoraphobia. N/A

Two-Sided Knife in the Road

You know when you forget your lunch 
inside the kitchen
and have to return to retrieve it, 
that you've entered another dimension.
You are no longer you

YOU didn't forget anything 
and are now in your car 
headed for the beach. 


if you hurry, you can still catch up to YOURself, 
pass him, and beat him to the beach.
Then he'll be fated to pick up 
where you left off - heading for work 
without the paper lunch 
that you forgot. 

But in all likelihood, he has foreseen your detour 
and consigned to kill you 
before you could get in your car, 
brown sack lunch on your lap.

It is not his first time, YOU know. 
YOU've detoured off YOUR own course
countless times before.
Sometimes you reach the fork in the road
and create new dimensions.

Other times you reach the knife
and kill yourself to unsplit the road
and unify the course
between back and forth
and back and forth
back and forth.


3. Driver: Trapped in darkness. Homeless, shoplifting. N/A

My Christmas Coat

My Christmas Coat has many pockets
inside and out;
some you can see,
some you must figure out.

The plainclothes Santa's helpers
scurry 'bout the store;
they look for forlorn faces
in the crowded store.

But they do not see me,
though my pockets are full;
for I am smiles and toothy,
a frantic shopping fool.

Or so they think--Santa's elves
as one eye feigns interest in toys
and one eye follows the forlorn;
yet I am hidden in happy joys.

My pockets fill with goodies
deprived of UPC surprise;
I rip the seal off in cheer,
and squish them into pies.

Then ho-ho-ho I go,
my pockets full of wares,
eager to find a Christmas home
in pawn shops here and there.

4. Public Service:  Deprived of sleep. Manic-depressive. Counseling

Christmas Comes at Night

It's Christmas Eve again
No family or friend
The night is dark and cold
The routine's getting old.
The check is late, you slob,
My ex yells at the mob
As I walk away;
How'd she find where I stay?
Who's watching the kids?
I hid here in the skids.
How'd she find me here?
Kneedeep in wine and beer.
But that was yesterday.
Christmas Eve today.
Free dinner served by stars.
Dollars handed from passing cars.
But now it's time to go inside
The hotel where I hide.
At midnight the lobby will be full
With Christmas songs and bull.
Sermons sweet as candy canes,
Eggnog spiced by purple veins.
Finger sandwiches and bible books
Wrapped with ribbons for us crooks.
By 12:15, it's back to our rooms;
The staff retrieve their mops and brooms.
From my window the sirens blare.
Into Black, Black Christmas I stare.

5. Private Work: Trapped with broken bones. Born Again Christian. Religious

I Saw the Light

I saw the Light inside the Dark
I felt the Lord inside the Dark
I smelled the pine behind the sulfur
I tasted Jesus's flesh in the wafer
I heard the song of Christmas born
Inside the Dark, Inside the Dark,
I sensed the Glory of the Light.

6. Writer: Witness to ??, Amnesia. Loner, anxiety. Psychiatric Care

Brothers, It is Time

My hands were held in fire
But I had FAITH and did not burn.
The flames bit my flesh
But I did not scream.
And round and round the horses rode
Against the wintry wind of hell;
Flames of ice, and icy fire,
A clime for undead celebration.
Demons press their faces to mine,
But I did not cry.
For I was being tested,
Was I. Fear was not my sibling there,
Nor Terror, Horror, or Death.
I had thee FAITH,
God Bless The Dammed,
Forgive the Fiends,
Melt the fire,
Light the ice.
I placed my hands into the white flames
And held them there myself.
Merry Christmas, Demons of Hell,
My Brothers, it is time to gather
Ourselves for Xmas Eve;
The horses ride round and round.

7. Maintenance: 80% loss of sight. Alcoholic, divorced. AA

Poem withdrawn by contributor. 

8. Public Service: Severe burns on arms. Schizophrenic onset. Outpatient care

Christmas Heals All

Christmas will heal all the scars on my arms
Christmas will cover all the cuts on my legs
Christmas will take me far, far away from the pain
Merry Christmas, for it heals all.

9. Law Enforcement: Unknown, due to Possible Clinical Denial. Counseling outpatient

The Spilled Milk Blues
I have seen better days than Christmas Day itself:
The wedding to my wife.
The birth of my son.
The grandkids first Xmas Morn.
The snow on the mountain tops.
The cops busting the drug dealer.
The kind man who took me home.
The stranger who returned my phone.
The second chance my ex gave to me.
The smile my son had when I came home.
The warm bed at the new hotel.
The Christmas card from my PO.
The first and last Christmas card from my son.
The new shoes the hotel clerk gave me.
The day the cops caught the robber.
The day I sobered up for the trial.
The day he got sent away.
The victim fund in time for Christmas.
The baseball glove I bought my son.
The letter saying, I'm grown up, Dad.
The day my son was all grown up.
The Christmas Day I remember all this.
The Christmas Day I remember every year.
I've seen better days.
And I'll see them some more.

10. Martin Ryan

Christmas Mourning

Around the house, crisp white snow lay
The place oddly silent for Christmas day
Tommy dared not speak nor cheer nor cry
For fear the old man might die
In the wreckage of his humble sleigh.

It had been Tommy’s cunning plan
To prove Santa was no ordinary man
He devised a trap from wires and cans of coke
His father thought it just a joke
But Tommy was a smart young man

Tommy’s family died in the blast
Now Santa is breathing his last
With Blood oozing from every pore
Santa’s dying on the kitchen floor
But Tommy tries to remain steadfast

He sniffs back a sob, leans in and with a tear
Asks ‘does this mean I get no presents this year?’

Started 12th November 2018
© Martin Ryan

Precious Christmas

Squeals of laughter ring through the classrooms
As the school bells rings its last.
Even teachers are caught up in the frivolity
As their merry charges rush on past.

Free at last they run for home
Not a care for the cold and the wet
‘See you after Christmas,’ they shout to their friends
‘Don’t forget to DM me what presents you get!’

Images of gifts wrapped in shiny paper
Beneath trees glistening with tinsel and lights
Games and food and fun all day fill their minds
And a chance to stay up late at nights.

Sammy avoided all the talk
Of gifts each more expensive than the next
And crowds of horrid relatives with sweets by the bucket-load
His Christmas would a little less – complex

He lives on the other side of town
Where no-one has cash to spare
Their only gifts, Pandora’s boxes
Filled with exhaustion and despair.

‘Happy Christmas, Sammy,’ Mrs Johnson calls
‘You too, Mrs Johnson,’ Sammy waves back with a wide grin
He wonders what her Christmas will be like
As he pulls his thin jacket tight to his chin

There is no tree in Sammy’s home this year,
But Sammy doesn’t care, too much
No bucket loads of sweets and fancy fare
Sammy has no time for such.

Yet he walks slowly home
With a smile on his lips as he feels the whisper soft kiss
of the first snowflake on his cheek
Sammy makes a Christmas wish.

He breathes deep the warm tang of smoke
from a log fire, carried on the still air
and wishes for warmth in his life
and a life without care.

Putting off going home,
Sammy knocks on the doors of all his neighbours
He often does, to ask if they have any jobs need doing
Tonight he just wishes them Christmas favours.

‘Is that you, Sammy love?’
His mother calls excitedly when he gets in
He follows her voice into the kitchen
Lit by the light of a single gas ring.

Smells of sweet deliciousness
Fill the air like never before
His mother, beaming, wraps him in a hug
As soon as he steps through the door

‘All this is for you,’ she points to the table
Laden with small treats and gifts crafted with care
And handmade thank you cards
From the neighbours he’s helped through the year

It is a meagre affair
By the standards of his friends
But the hand-made toys and clothes from wool scraps
Are more precious to Sammy than all their expensive odds and ends.

‘But they have no more than us,’ Sammy says
His mouth watering for the pudding on the hob
‘They can’t afford to give us all this,
We must give them back,’ his voice breaking on a sob.

‘Don’t you dare,’ his mother glares
‘All year you help them out with errands and chores
This is their way of thanking you
For raking leaves and painting doors.’

On Christmas morning
after sweeping snow from old folk’s drives
Sammy and his mother snuggled together
For one of the best Christmases of their lives.

20th November 2018
© Martin Ryan


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers. Please continue to support our trauma participants and all sufferers of trauma. And don't look at this as a negative experience. When a trauma victim opens his heart for all to see, it is always a time for joy and relief. 

See you all soon. 

*All the poetry was submitted in paragraph form or as notes. I was entrusted to format these notations into poetic form. I did not change any word or phrase. I merely gave the words poetic form (stanzas, breaks, rhymes where they fit, etc). Sometimes first time poets have the words in their heart, but need an assist to find the form to make the words shine. I hope I helped capture your thoughts and poetic musings. 
Anthony S. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Greta Van Fleet 
Is Rock and Roll Making a Comeback?

An Appreciation & Review
Anthem Of The Peaceful Army (2018)
Anthony Servante
Assisted by Omar Jauregui

Greta Van Fleet, Front to Back 
Brothers Vocalist Josh Kiszka, Guitarist Jake Kiszka, 
Bassist Sam Kiszka, & Drummer Danny Wagner

Another Sold-Out Show for GVF


Since the 1950s, Rock and Roll has been on a roller coaster ride of survival to keep its legitimacy alive. From radio play, record sales, and concert attendance, the music born of Rhythm and Blues (R&B) has struggled to stay relevant while under fire from overprotective parents, civic leaders, and music industry executives who have tried to silence the rebellious songs or change them into family-friendly melodies. But Rock was born of rebellion and made its name indulging themes of sex, drugs, and youth. Rock and Roll itself is a euphemism for the motion of making love. 

Alan Freed, a radio disc jockey in 1951, is credited with coining the phrase "rock and roll" as a faster variation of R&B. Early on he plugged Black R&B artists like Little Richard and Chuck Berry as rock and rollers and White rockers Bill Haley and Elvis Presley soon joined the ranks of this new music trend. 

But as youngsters bought the records that they heard on the radio and danced to the music, attending radio sponsored concerts by these rock and roll bands and artists, there were those who fought to squelch the music and its alleged immoral and corrupt influences. 

And the fight began. Every decade or so, Rock and Roll in one form or another sparks a new rebellion for a new generation to dance to and claim as their own. Elvis Presley lays claim to the title King of Rock and Roll in the 1950s. The Beatles dominated the radio waves in the 1960s with the new British Pop Rock. Black Sabbath thundered into the radio stations with Heavy Metal music. Metallica took Metal one step further with Speed Metal in the 1980s. In the 1990s, Nirvana took the radio by storm with the birth of Grunge Rock.  

But the Nineties also saw Rap Music evolving into Hip Hop, a radio friendly sound that competed with Rock for the top spots on the spin list of hits and potential winners being pushed by the music industry for the top 40 on Billboard. Thus, in the 2000s, Snoop Dogg was vying with Indie Rockers like Linkin Park for record sales, radio play, and concert venues. 

For the first time in the history of Rock and Roll, Hip Hop was the new music of favor for the masses and the new music for the burgeoning millennium.  

But that's not the end of the story. The 2010s has introduced Quasi Rockers, Greta Van Fleet, and they just may be the kick in the ass that Rock and Roll needs right now to take back its place in the evolution of Rock music. 

The New Greta Van Fleet Recording (click here to purchase
the CD, MP3, or Vinyl).

Anthem Of The Peaceful Army (2018)

Greta Van Fleet is like a magic mirror. Every fan looks in it and sees something different. When you listen to the music of GVF, you hear the past and the present. Ask anyone who's heard the music of GVF, and they'll say that they hear R&B influences, the rebel Rock of the Rolling Stones or the Pop Rock of the Beatles; they'll insist that GVF sounds like Journey, Styx, or early FREE, the Paul Rogers band. They'll hear Alternative or Indie Rock, Grunge influences, or something altogether new. In either case, Rock and Roll has a second chance. After decades of placing second, GVF is leading the way for Rock to overtake Hip Hop on the charts, in the industry, and with fans. And to lay claim to the new Kings of Rock. If what you hear sounds familiar when you listen to Greta Van Fleet, it is because you're listening to the Future of Rock and Roll. 

As such, when music echoes Rock and Roll from its inception in the 1950s, through every decade to our own, we can safely call this new style Quasi Rock, for no two fans will hear it the same way upon multiple listenings. 

Let's take a look at some of the tracks on the new Greta Van Fleet recording to get an idea how their sound echoes so many other Rock and Roll legends. 

1. Age of Man The opening track of the album is a cross of melody and hard rock. It sets expectations high for the rest of the lp. It's reminiscent of New Wave fluff with Metal guitar work.

2. The Cold Wind combines elements of early Journey when Steve Perry took the progressive rock band into Top 40 Pop Rock with overtones of bluesy Rock from bands like Black Oak Arkansas. 

3. When the Curtain Falls suggests Rock that is too raw to be called new, but new enough to plant seeds for fresh directions for rock. It's like music we've heard before that opens the door for something better to come. 

4. Like Age of Man, Watching Over shows what this young band is capable of when they don't try so hard. When I hear this song, I think of GVF. without the allusions of other Rockers. It points to a direction the band can take with a new style of Rock all their own.

5. Lover, Leaver wants to be loud, but doesn't want to stray too far from their bread and butter delivery. This song needs to ratchet up the Metal and ease up on the pop rock. Almost there, but the band needs to get their hands dirty in the music by going all in with the source music. It's okay to step away from the traditional Rock sound and blow up the amps a bit. 

6. You're the One is GVF being cautious again. Let that guitar loose, cut the bass some room to boom, and give the drummer more to do than just follow the vocals. This is what the Greta Van Fleet sound can evolve into if they eliminate the safety net of traditional musings. 

7. The New Day echoes the Progessive stylings of bands like YES and ASIA, melody with majesty. One of my favorites. Again, the band can duplicate Rock leanings with style, but more GVF is needed here. It's okay for GVF to do Progressive, but don't let Progressive do GVF. 

8. Mountain of the Sun shows the band's strength when the music leads them, and not the other way around. Another song that is all GVF. More of this on the next LP would be nice.

9. Brave New World works because it is a good song. I can't imagine anyone but GVF doing this song. It captures that essence that the band needs to explore more. Highs and lows balance the diversity of sounds. All the instrumentals and vocals harmonize here beautifully in the tradition of early Uriah Heep. And I mean that as a compliment. 

10. Anthem relies on that overtly controlled sound they seem to like a lot. It's a song that requires some raunchy punch, lyrics, and guitar wails. This is Trans Siberian Orchestra turf. Christmas music with Rock aggression. It a commonality that GVF has with soft/hard Rockers like Savatage

All in all, Anthem Of The Peaceful Army reminds us that Rock and Roll is back to stay. It promises optimism for the future of Quasi Rock, the sound of nearly seventy years of R&B, Pop, Psychedelic, Hard, Heavy Metal, Progressive, Indie, and Alternative. But in between the songs, and in at least forty percent of the music, there is a NEW style of Rock music emerging. Is Rock and Roll making a comeback? If we don't get caught up in all the influences that shine in the sound, we just might get a front row seat to see the dawn of Rock Music's rebirth in Greta Van Fleet.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The DARTS (US) Interview: 
Grrrls Just Want to Have Fun 
Anthony Servante

"We don't want boys. We want batteries."
The Darts 


The easiest way for me to introduce The Darts would be to talk about the "Girl Bands" who've kicked ass in the field of Rock & Roll. If I were to do that, I suppose I'd start with FANNY whose cover of "Hey Bulldog" by the Beatles established the all-girl band as the first true competitive Rock & Rollers on stage and on the charts in a male-dominated Rock music age (1970s). GIRLSCHOOL combined Punk and Metal Rock long before any male band did so (1980s), [my old buddy Lemmy Kilmister (RIP) discovered the raw energy behind this female Rock band and introduced the Grrrls to MOTORHEAD audiences before world audiences met them]. FIFTH COLUMN and RIOT GRRRL brought Feminist Politics to their Punk Music after BIKINI KILL kicked off the Revolution of GRRRL bands, that is, Girl Bands that played Punk for girls, women, Gays, Lesbians, all feminist minded folk interested in the topic of Grrrls (as opposed the closed-minded Punk of the bigoted Boys who still expounded the virtues of excluding girls from all things Punk (from Zines to Rock). (1990s).  Sure, I could easily talk of this Feminist Punk Rock history, but the story would not end there.

Bikini Kill

Bikini Kill 

As these "Grrrl Bands" had to Rock a bit louder and angrier to be heard, reach beyond their audience of peers, and to spread their message to the Music Industry, the Chauvinistic Male Punk Bands, and the patronizing Punk fan base, Politics became the standard with Grrrl Rock. Meanwhile, Popular Girl-Bands like the GO GOs, the BANGLES, and the RUNAWAYS (among others) tried to veer away from this anger and played up their playfulness, sexiness, and seductive stage presence. While Punk girl bands battled for the independent Female Punk Rock scene, free of the Capitalistic Boys Only Clubs and Punk bands vying for Rock contracts, hit records, and sold-out concerts, Pop Girl Bands catered to the male audience with docile lyrics and boy-friendly tunes ("Girls just wanna have fun" or "Our Lips are Sealed", for instance). Whereas the GRRRL Punkers were spreading the word of Female Punk Revolution, the Pretty Pop girls sang about just wanting to have fun.

FIFTH COLUMN Documentary event

riot grrrl mini-zine

Now we have The DARTS (US). Combining the anger of the Punk Female Revolution and the sexiness of the Pop Girl Bands, this all-girl band plays aggressive Punk music with revolutionary lyrics but doesn't skimp on the "fun".

Left to right: Meliza Jackson (guitar), Christina Nunez (bass), Rikki Styxx (drums), 
front - Nicole Laurenne (vocals/organ).

"THE DARTS (US) are an all-grrrrl garage-psych-rock supergroup featuring Nicole Laurenne, Rikki Styxx, Christina Nunez, and Meliza Jackson. Soon after their October 2016 debut EP release, the singles “Running Through Your Lies” and “Revolution” enjoyed instant radio airplay, “Take What I Need” was selected by Sirius/XM’s Underground Garage channel as “The Coolest Song In The World” and author Stephen King personally tweeted about the band. By the end of 2016, The Darts had played their first shows around the Western US and had signed with London’s Dirty Water Records (Dirty Fences, MFC Chicken, King Salami, Archie and The Bunkers, Muck and The Mires). By 2017, the band had been featured on CBS (Dallas), performed on PBS (Houston), signed deals with licensing companies Media Horse (US) and Wipe Out Music (UK), toured Europe, and toured the US with Weird Omen (FR), The Jackets (CH) and Escobar (FR)." (

I caught the band at the Henry Fonda Theatre (The Music Box) on November 2nd, 2018, where they opened for The Damned. I asked them for an interview for my blog, and they gladly accepted.

Be sure to listen to the free music sampling* at the end of the interview and Top Ten playlist. One of my favorite songs from a long string of The DARTS rockers.


Anthony: How you gals get together and come up with the name of the band?

The Darts: The band was formed in 2016 when Christina and I, upon the ending of our previous band together, decided it was high time to form the all-girl garage rock band we had both dreamed of for years. We intended it as a side project and recruited our favorite musicians for it. We named the band after those little seams in women's blouses known as "darts". After recording demos of the first two original songs, we were all so thrilled with it that we wanted it to be more than a side project, and it took off especially when we signed with Dirty Water Records (London) a few months later. Everything you might want to know about us can be found at

Anthony: What are the musical influences of the band?

The Darts: The Trashwomen, The Stooges, Billy Childish, Ty Segall, The Damned, Dead Kennedys, The Gories, Nick Cave, Spray Tan, Night Beats, The Coathangers, LA Witch, King Khan and The Shrines.

Anthony: Ultimately, it's the music that will win the fans over to the band. That's what wowed me. Is the attire of the band something that will evolve?

The Darts: Thanks so much for saying that! The goal of the band was always to be ourselves and have a great time together, while making the kind of music we like to listen to ourselves. Initially we wanted our look to be something like 1960s secretaries who came home from work, took their dresses off, and jumped on stage in slips and bare feet. We did that for the first year and then wanted to change it up, so we went to pleather catsuits after that. Then recently we decided to incorporate black velvet into our stage outfits, with each of us just using that as a starting point and not matching. I kind of miss the matching to be honest, but it's also cool to see everyone's own take on the general concept evolving. Maybe pink hazmat suits and helmets are next, I don't know.

Anthony: Describe your musical style for us. It has a timeless feel to it. Hard to categorize.

The Darts: We call it garage-psych-punk-rock, but that's only because there really isn't a clear niche we find ourselves in. We literally don't think of a genre when we write the songs, we just use riffs and sounds that speak to us as listeners and see what happens. Let's just call it Darts Rock I guess.

Anthony: Where do you see your place in the history of "girl bands"? Running with it or running over the image?

The Darts: "Girl bands" really run the gamut throughout history - some rely on gimmicks and cuteness, some bring the musical power and toughness. My goal with this project is to prove to ourselves that we can be shamelessly female - meaning, yeah we care about sexiness and showmanship and accessibility - but we can also bring the rock. So that if you close your eyes, or you just have records, your ears are thrilled no matter what we are all like personally. I guess that means expanding the "girl band" image maybe.

Anthony: Tell us about the CD you now have available. What is the name of the CD? Where can my readers find and purchase it?

The Darts: We put out two EPs in our first few months together, which our label then combined into one album and re-released this past summer as The Darts LP. Our first full-length record, Me.Ow., came out this past spring. Then we put out a 7" with Alternative Tentacles Records this past summer with two singles on it. We also just recorded a Christmas cover for a compilation coming out this winter. Everything is available at and on all the usual online outlets - spotify, itunes, bandcamp, storenvy, amazon, you name it.

Anthony: Can you tell us about opening for The Damned? How that gig come about?

The Darts: Our drummer, Rikki Watson, got to know The Damned's tour manager over the years and he eventually asked to submit The Darts as an opener for their upcoming US tour. Apparently the members of The Damned actually sat down and watched videos and listened to our stuff and personally approved us for the tour. It was a dream tour, all over the US, with top-level professionalism everywhere, huge sold-out venues, and lots of support and inspiration for our band every single day. We are still reeling from it. Not to mention trying to put into practice all the sound and songwriting ideas that were sparked in all of us. The Damned are all consummate gentlemen and musicians, of the highest degree. It was an honor to be able to get to know them.

The Damned

Anthony: Who else have you opened for? Any plans to headline your own shows?

The Darts: We've opened for Black Lips, King Khan and The Shrines, Electric Six, Dead Kennedys, Turbonegro, The Woggles, Death Valley Girls, and had Jello Biafra sit in with us on stage. Most of that took place in Europe, where the band is starting to form a pretty strong following for a brand new group. We have toured the US and Europe as headliners at the club-show level, and would love to start expanding that into bigger venues, but honestly collaborating with better-known acts is still the best way to gain the exposure that we need in order to make that work. Everything in time.

Anthony: Are you working on any new music? Will you be exploring any new directions for your musical style and image?

The Darts: We have written and begun pre-production on our next full-length record, which will be recorded in December and released early next spring. We will definitely be exploring different tones particularly guitar tones, and rhythms on this record, and we are all thrilled with the more solid songwriting that is starting to happen. Everyone is more involved with the songwriting process than they were at the beginning, and that has been an absolutely huge evolution for us. It gets me out of my own head and really pushes the creative process.

Anthony: Lastly, can you give me a Top Ten List of songs, your own songs or other artists' songs, that best represent the band today? I'll try to find an accompanying YouTube video for each song for the readers to listen to.


Top Ten Songs that Influenced The DARTS:

1.Ty Segall  - "Girlfriend."

2.  The Trashwomen - "Batteries."

3.  Dead Kennedys - "Too Drunk to Fuck."

4.  Spray Tan - "Solo Slut."

5.  LA Witch - "Kill My Baby Tonight."

6.  The Stooges - "I Wanna Be Your Dog."

7.  Night Beats - "Dial 666."

8.  The Mystery Lights - "Follow Me Home."

9.  Billy Childish & Dan Melchior - "Bottom of the Sea."

10. The Greenhornes / Holly Golightl - "There is an End."


Thank you to The DARTS for appearing on the Servante of Darkness blog, sharing their insights, and delivering an incredibly diverse Ten Ten List of songs. And thank you readers for taking the time to meet our wonderfully Grrrlish Punkers. Remember, you don't have to be a Rocker to appreciate Women's contribution to all things Rock and Roll. What The DARTS bring to the PUNK ROCK sound is GOOD MUSIC. In these days of divisiveness, The DARTS bring two Punk factions together. That works for me.

*Here's a sample from the All-Grrrl Band. Enjoy.