Of Mynabirds, ‘New Revolutionists’ and a fashionable war (in the column); RIP Javier Ochoa; Great American Desert, Millions of Boys tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:59 pm June 20, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This week’s column talks about the marketing behind The Mynabirds’ new album, Generals. Is Laura Burhenn’s New Revolutionists concept the face of modern-day feminism or just a another way to sell records? You can read column in the new issue of The Reader, or online right here.

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Javier Ochoa

Javier Ochoa

I learned this morning via Facebook of the untimely death of Javier Ochoa. A former member of The Get, Blah Buddha and Goodbye, Sunday, the 43-year-old drummer was known more recently for his work in Led Zeppelin tribute band The Song Remains the Same. I only had the privilege of talking with Javier a few times, when we discussed our mutual love of Led Zeppelin and classic rock. But more than anything, I’ll remember him for the way he hit this drums — he was, indeed, a force of nature…

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Tonight at the The Waiting Room it’s the CD release show for The Great American Desert’s (a.k.a. Max Holmquist) new album, Carson City (Yer Bird Records). Joining Holmquist are Millions of Boys, Betsy Wells and Family Picnic. $5, 9 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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20 Comments »

  • Some friends and I spent a good half hour ripping the New Revolutionists’ cause (or lack thereof) and cast when it first dropped. There were no women of color and everyone seemed like local musician goddesses or the baristas that go to their shows. The lineup has since been rounded out with some really impressive folks (minorities included), but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t (still) get a big eye roll from me. Oh! When Oberst pointed his frail finger straight at Bush and sang at him on national television, that’s the voice of a generation. This kind of marketing does not excite me.

    Comment by Collin M. — June 20, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

  • This kind of ‘marketing’ is disgraceful for so many reasons…Laura should be ashamed or herself and apologize to all the women she duped into participating. She won’t, but she should.

    Tim, believe me when I say that many, many, MANY people will thank you for finally calling this out. Connections are tight in this town (to a fault) and there are lots who haven’t felt comfortable bringing this up. It was long overdue though; thanks for a great article.

    Comment by J.K. — June 21, 2012 @ 1:12 am

  • @Collin M.~ LOL.

    Comment by Bret Vovk — June 21, 2012 @ 10:06 am

  • Jesus, Mac, did you even bother to try to talk to or get a quote from Laura before ripping the thing apart? This might be the most ignorant thing I’ve seen from you, and you’ve certainly had your moments.

    Do you even care to know about these fashionable women? About what makes them revolutionary? What they do? If you don’t, don’t write about it. If you really want the right to be respected and lauded for this piece, do your fucking job and research them personally. Reach out to Laura, to these women for quotes. Don’t decide based on how a bunch of pictures and some off-hand quotes on a screen make you feel. Art is subjective, and on top of that, sometimes it’s easier to put into words that you fight for “beauty” than to say, “Hey, I fight for the woman who gets fat shamed, for the woman caught in the bonds of ‘thinspiration,’ for the woman who is shamed because of the unconventional situation that causes people to look on her with revulsion, I fight to remind people that there is beauty in everyone, regardless of how you feel about or react upon seeing them.” Not everyone is so eloquent or has the mind to put those words down, have those words in their vocabulary, but they know that’s what they do.

    And to condescend to scoff at anyone for fighting for “creative exploration” is to scoff at yourself, because that is terribly obvious to me that is what you’ve done with this article.

    Because you don’t understand something is no reason to tear it apart. It is a reason to research. It is a reason to come to an understanding or an impasse, but not because you didn’t try in the first place.

    Comment by Rebecca — June 21, 2012 @ 11:03 am

  • Thanks for the feedback Rebecca. Whether its an album, art project, or a film, I write about projects as I experience them. I don’t interview every band whose music I review. Most movie critics don’t interview the directors of the films they review, etc. Like any other art piece or social commentary, Laura’s project should stand on its own; and as such, my comments are a reflection of how I perceive her project.

    Comment by tim-mcmahan — June 21, 2012 @ 11:18 am

  • As an art piece or as social commentary, the impact that The New Revolutionists has had on the women in this community might not have occurred to you. So, as one of many women who would consider herself to have been enlightened, let me do my best to educate you.

    Laura, through this project, was able to expose me to other women in this community who inspire me. I knew and knew of a lot of the women who had their pictures taken and had written up bios for this project. The thing is, for women, and hopefully for men, The New Revolutionists does not stop at being a website, a social commentary, or a piece of art.

    I see these women walking in my community, at shows, I see them everywhere now, and by exposing their purpose and making it public, they have given me permission. I now know I have the power to converse with them, to commune with them, to plan and play and plot with them. It is no longer them, but we. There are a number of women, who, because of Laura and this project, finally understand that they have numbers to find strength in.

    I will not say I wasn’t trudging this line before her, asserting myself in the lives of the women I knew to try to make community, but I will say that this project made it considerably easier for me to be a woman in a male-dominated cultural hub, because now I recognize, I know that I have a community of like-minded women who will support me and fight for me.

    Comment by Rebecca — June 21, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  • Also, Colin, Bush is out of office, and I like Obama. He likes my ovaries. The message is different. The means of getting the message across is different. The hometown hero is phoning it in from another location these days.

    I had someone running for office this last election ask me how to get people to vote, and the consensus was to rally the people. If that isn’t what Laura has been doing through this project, through her album, whether or not you are in the loop, it is what she is doing. She is a Revolutionist because she has continued to fight to get women to recognize that it doesn’t have to be a shit show or a cat fight to communicate with one another, that women can have healthy relationships that result in action and change, that women are not an imposition on society.

    Comment by Rebecca — June 21, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  • And last, but not least, J.K.–

    This is hardly the first time inspiration for one project was born from another.

    Laura has no need to apologize to any woman for the mirror she’s holding up. Women recognize power in other women, and when the mirror says “This is the power you wield, too,” it is NOTHING anyone should ever be ashamed of.

    This project (which I can tell you whole-heartedly is not a marketing scheme or ploy) will continue long after the hype from her album fades, because there are a helluva lot of women in this world to celebrate.

    Comment by Rebecca — June 21, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

  • Rebecca, you sound like a crazy person. You insistence that Tim should have interviewed Laura or you or other women in the project just sounds ignorant. Should he also interview bands before he writes a review of their show? Obviously not, so I’ll assume you get my point. He ain’t an art critic, and this New Revolutionist thing looks exactly like Mynabirds cover art, Laura talks about it in conjunction with the record, etc etc etc. Fair game. No one wants to admit they’ve been taken advantage of; I feel sorry for you, Rebecca. Open your eyes. You think Laura is a revolutionist for promoting her own record sales? Then you are as morally lost as she is.

    For those who live in Omaha and have watched Laura put all this together, the connection between the project and the album is obvious.

    Tim, you are probably gonna get more of this backlash soon, and a lot of it. Know that you are supported wholeheartedly for calling a spade a spade. Without this kind of critique, all Omaha has is a bunch of cheerleaders. Cheerleaders are meaningless. This was spot on.

    Comment by J.K. — June 21, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

  • How many times has Tim lauded a male musician who tells the story of how he came upon one project idea from another that he’s done? How is that okay and this isn’t?

    Tim writes that he agrees there is, indeed, a war on women and then essentially posits that fashionable women can’t be revolutionaries with substance or purpose, they can only be a marketing scheme.

    I’m not sure you’ve heard, the face of feminism is changing, growing, and doesn’t mean burnt bras or hairy legs and doesn’t exclude them either. Pant suits and clenched fists aren’t the only solution in the fight for equality.

    Equating the celebration and recognition of women with purpose and who have personally felt called to action to some clever marketing scheme only shows that somewhere he lost the plot. And that is on Tim that he left it at that place. He is, however, in not digging deeper, doing a disservice to all of the women that very website celebrates.

    “For those who live in Omaha and have watched Laura put all this together, the connection between the project and the album is obvious.”

    OF COURSE IT IS. I AM NOT ADDRESSING THE CONNECTION. I AM ADDRESSING HOW IT COULD BE MISTAKEN AS A SCHEME.

    I ask again, how many times has Tim lauded a male musician who tells the story of how he came upon one project idea from another that he’s done? How is that okay and this isn’t? How is it capitalizing and enterprising for Laura Burhenn to be inspired to create an album with a message that centers on love and empowerment, to then be so inspired by the message that she’s trying to convey, that she gathers the wherewithal and the motivation to give it a place to grow? What is scheming about that?

    Yes, The New Revolutionists came about because of Burhenn’s work on Generals. However, if you imagine for a second that there is a way to capitalize on a website that costs money to run but asks for no donations and costs you nothing to look at, you don’t understand how commerce works. And if you don’t understand how a website celebrating women and their call to action is more than a scheme, you, too, have lost the plot.

    Comment by Rebecca — June 21, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

  • Rebecca, you are on the wrong side here. I get it, you are featured in the website; you take this critique personally. But your defensiveness is clouding things. Let me respond to a couple points and hopefully it’ll start to sink in.

    “if you imagine for a second that there is a way to capitalize on a website that costs money to run but asks for no donations and costs you nothing to look at, you don’t understand how commerce works.”

    You have to be kidding here, yes? Do you understand how marketing works? Do you know how much money it takes to buy a domain name and host a website for a year? You can google it if not.

    “How many times has Tim lauded a male musician who tells the story of how he came upon one project idea from another that he’s done? How is that okay and this isn’t?”

    You are saying there is a double-standard and that Tim’s critique of this project is sexist? By all means, please point out the male-fronted equivalent of what Laura is doing and Tim’s lauding of it. In actuality, the ‘feminist’ tone of the project is what makes it so despicable. Feminism is a terribly important thing; actual struggle, actual political issues, real suffering in an attempt for equality…NOT a way to sell pop records.

    “How is it capitalizing and enterprising for Laura Burhenn to be inspired to create an album with a message that centers on love and empowerment, to then be so inspired by the message that she’s trying to convey, that she gathers the wherewithal and the motivation to give it a place to grow? What is scheming about that?”

    This kind of answers itself, Rebecca. Since Laura has preyed upon your (very real and natural) desire to be acknowledged and appreciated, you seem to be incapable of seeing the forest for the trees. Again, I get it. But that changes nothing about the fact that Laura is coupling her trite pop record with actual accomplishment and struggle. That is immoral and just gross, in my opinion. The thing is, Laura doesn’t struggle (you tour with her, you must know how she lives and the advantages she’s been given); she needs to co-opt the struggle of others to legitimize her ‘political’ (?) record.

    I will agree that Tim maybe shouldn’t have gone after the participants in the project the way he did, but his assessment of the merits and motives of the thing were, again, spot on.

    Comment by J.K. — June 21, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  • Also, maybe neither here nor there, but Saddle Creek paid for the New Revolutionists website, not Laura. And you may ask, why would they pay for something that is NOT a marketing campaign for their artist’s record? Hmm, maybe out of the goodness of their hearts!

    Comment by CeeLo — June 21, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

  • So disappointed. As a woman, a female, an individual and a person working with and fighting for real people who experience real adversity (abject poverty, racism, classism, and an inspiration sucking cycle of fuck, fight, die) I abhor the simple fact that there was a lot of opportunity to promote something AUTHENTIC that was misused and misappropriated, wasted. I went to the website “project” listed and noticed that it’s just a lot of people, nay, women, telling their short story. Nothing deep, no tales of true battle. Tell me about surviving breast cancer – or how you saw your mom die from it; tell me about teaching impoverished kids to read, write about how you survived abuse and empowered yourself by cutting the noose. Of all the women nominated and “accepted” (who decides who is acceptable? Is this an exclusive club? GOD!) only Liz Hitt strikes me as a real person. She has something to say, has done something for her family and community AND truly lives her ideals.

    To people who used this site/record/boyfriend to promote themselves or their websites or their blogs, or their right to be wishy-washy and fashionable, I have one thing to say: Get a real cause, get your hands dirty, get in a trench close enough that you can smell someone who has some real problems, and try to help them instead of yourself.

    Comment by Genie Molkentine — June 21, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

  • For the record, I am not the Rebecca listed on the TNR website. She is currently on tour with The Mynabirds, and I believe hardly has time for this. I am here, in Omaha, being a woman, making music, fighting my own day-to-day battles. I am part of no exclusive club, I have no mark on these women, no block saved for me on the website, nor any reason to defend anyone.

    My original complaint stands. 1) Where does anyone get off questioning someone’s motives and integrity without posing the question to that person directly and 2) Where does anyone get off painting these women as mere fashion plates and tools of a marketing scheme?

    1) So Saddle Creek pays for the website. I will consent to that. That is hardly tell-tale of Burhenn’s motives in creating The New Revolutionists and of her motives in using it as a ploy or a scheme. It does mean she has resources, and a woman who doesn’t use the resources she has at her disposal is foolish, and I will tell you this: Laura Burhenn is no fool.

    2) I will address this to Genie. Genie, every single one of those bios was written by the woman who is in the picture. These ladies have no publicist working for them to sell you their stories. They are simply bearing what is in their hearts, answering the abstract profile before them. Who are you to judge how they expressed themselves, or the authenticity with which they did? Yes, there was an opportunity, but I imagine early on in the website’s existence, these women did not understand the potential of this website as a tool for inspiration and awareness.

    As far as who is acceptable, there’s a link at the bottom of the website. The simple fact is that you nominate a woman you feel really deserves it, a woman you find inspiring, a woman with a story, a woman with a cause, with fight in her. You do. I do. TMac does. Anyone who has chimed in can. That is, should any of you condescend that it is a website for women who deserve to be celebrated.

    Comment by Rebecca — June 21, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

  • While I take issue with the coupling of the website to the record, it’s kind of fun to pretend that’s not unscrupulous and just analyze their message. I don’t see any parallels that a disenfranchised voter from Florida can latch onto. I don’t see any parallels a former union worker from Wisconsin can grab. I really can’t even get behind this if I’m a woman who utilizes Planned Parenthood in a responsible fashion. More on this later.

    I don’t think Tim is unfounded in saying, “we need some New Revolutionists …(but that they need to be able to) stick their neck out… and take risks,” do you, Rebecca? He also very fairly juxtaposed both sides… Tim is still the most responsible (if not too responsible) guy covering Omaha music. So Tim’s ok.

    Again, leaving the promotion aside… Are these people even Revolutionary? A Revolutionary is supporting a Revolution, no? And a revolution is a sizable change that happens in a short amount of time, which is admittedly pretty subjective. I guess if we’re going to water down what success is in the American 21st century, we might as well water down what constitutes being called a “revolution,” too.

    I know some (!) of these women and I just don’t see the near or present Revolution in their lives. It’s like they just went home after making their first black friend and said, “wow, I really am on the front line against racism and bigotry.” That’s the vibe I gather from this, basically. The village raised them to think that every little thing they do or say is hugely important and deserving of recognition, when in fact it’s just the musings of a coddled white kid. This is American underachievement, this is Generations X & Y proving the ever-observant ghosts of America’s Huddled Masses correct. These are not my Revolutionists. (I said this analysis was gonna be fun?)

    Comment by Collin M. — June 22, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  • This is RIDICULOUS! Y’all are seriously accusing someone you know absolutely nothing about and have never met of conning ALL these women, friends and strangers, into participating in a marketing scheme purely for the benefit of selling records?

    1. Genie, Thank you for teaching underprivileged kids how to read. You are clearly a better woman than all the others who were duped into this marketing scheme. I can’t imagine the next generation of young women looking up to and being inspired by the women of the new revolutionists who are doing what they love and are passionate about. I mean, come on! Starting a non-profit cinema, a summer camp to teach young girls how to play music and feel better about who they are, high school counselor, Social Work Educator!
    It’s laughable! What insignificant things to be contributing to this world. I know I wouldn’t want my daughter to be inspired by these women and others who have made successful careers as independent film makers, musicians, or photographers.
    But you know what, that’s not why they’re doing this. It’s to show off how fashionable and “wishy-washy” they are, the self promoting, indecent scum bags. Thank you for calling all these women out as fakes and meaningless members of our society.
    EVERYONE, PRAISE GENIE FOR BEING A BETTER PERSON THAN YOU ARE!!

    Ughh, and Saddle Creek paying for the domain name! Or was it the domain name and web design AND hosting they paid for? It probably doesn’t come out of her royalties in the end and there is NO way someone could have donated ANY of that.

    2. Did anyone consider the possibility that Laura really does believe in the New Revolutionists and maybe that she is using the influence of her career to promote this project that she is truly genuine about instead of using the project as a way to sell records?

    If you don’t think Laura is going about this the right way, maybe offering some constructive criticism would be a better way of speaking out.
    This is what’s wrong with the world and one of the things I think she and the other revolutionists are trying to fight. It’s the hate and peoples belief that the world and all it’s inhabitants are inherently evil.

    Will this project help the record and Laura’s career? Probably, but I truly believe that is a latent, unintended effect of what Laura is really pursuing.
    Laura sells records just fine without exploiting the people she loves and admires.

    3. Tim, why do people need to be told what to fight for? Can’t they figure that out on their own? The women on this website are all fighting for their own causes, there is a lot of overlap, however. I don’t think Laura wants to tell people what they should be fighting for, but just wants people to start fighting – for whatever they feel passionate about. Also, the media has reported on Laura specifically fighting for what she believes in on several accounts, most recently the equal employment ordinance.

    Comment by Aaron — June 22, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

  • WOTD:
    terse
       [turs]

    adjective ters·er, ters·est.
    1.
    neatly or effectively concise; brief and pithy, as language.

    Comment by Gaines — June 22, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  • Aaron, feel free to believe whatever you want about the order of events (record, website, etc.). It is well known how this all came to be, do a bit of digging.

    “Did anyone consider the possibility that Laura really does believe in the New Revolutionists and maybe that she is using the influence of her career to promote this project that she is truly genuine about instead of using the project as a way to sell records?”

    Again, order of events isn’t a debatable thing. Snoop around and you’ll get the truth!

    “Will this project help the record and Laura’s career? Probably, but I truly believe that is a latent, unintended effect of what Laura is really pursuing.”

    Keep those blinders on, Aaron…you are looking smarter by the minute!

    “Ughh, and Saddle Creek paying for the domain name! Or was it the domain name and web design AND hosting they paid for? It probably doesn’t come out of her royalties in the end and there is NO way someone could have donated ANY of that.”

    It is hard to pick out what parts of this you are being sarcastic about. At the end of the day if you can’t connect the dots as to why this matters in assessing the purpose of and motivation for the project then you are truly lost in the dark.

    “Y’all are seriously accusing someone you know absolutely nothing about and have never met…”

    How do you know that, Aaron?

    Rebecca, sorry for the mistaken identity. Honest mistake. Your points are still total nonsense.

    Comment by J.K. — June 22, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

  • Nonsense to you, J.K. My points are nonsense to you. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong. It means we agree to disagree.

    Comment by Rebecca — June 23, 2012 @ 11:51 am

  • As I reflect on what I wrote previously I would like to clarify: Laura is talented at what she does. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and go for the grand slam. Attempting a collaborative effort to promote and affirm people is admirable. It could have encompassed so much more, been really inspirational or gritty. Perhaps that was never the intention, tho. Thank you, Rebecca for saying exactly what I meant to say in your response to my post. 🙂 And, J.K. you are spot-on.

    As to the women included in the new revolutionists: Many amazing women were included. Lots of us know them personally and respect what they do without being told to. I was just frustrated by the seeming “cliquishness” of the whole thing. Somehow it rubbed me the wrong way. Just my opinion. Just keep centered on what the message is about – empowerment.

    And finally, sincere thanks to all the men who really support the whole feminist cause thing. There are a lot of awesome men who believe in and work for the greater good. Perhaps they could be included as new revolutionists too.

    Comment by Genie Molkentine — June 23, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

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