The Great Jersey Controversy: Thursday – Full Collapse

Every proud Jersey kid knows the undeniable, debate-ending power of pulling out the genius of Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, the Fugees, and so on. While the sales numbers and cultural iconography are arguably the reason conversations occur, the deeper lyrical atonement they provide to listeners is why they continue to withstand the test of time.

While not achieving the same level of pop familiarity, New Brunswick’s Thursday represent the same kind of lyrical respite as their homeland’s predecessors. And none more so than on their emotionally charged sophomore full-length Full Collapse. A great many arguments begin and end on this record alone.

To paraphrase Tim Gilles of Big Blue Meenie Studios, an early supporter of the band, Thursday are hardcore at their core. While for many, particularly in the NYHC and Jersey Strong Core of the scene at the time, that would mean overdriven distortion and the wall of guttural vocals, for Thursday, it was the rawness of their approach overall. They were as unrefined as anything born out of the metropolis, but they brought something else out of their Central Jersey basement and attic scene, melding the elements of Jersey’s vast musical landscape plus aspects of post-hardcore, indie, singer-songwriter and the fledging emocore idea.

Throughout Full Collapse, it’s readily apparent that Thursday were crafting songs from a different plane than many of their contemporaries. Despite themselves even admitting they still felt quite immature, the reception celebrated them as crafty songwriters whose dynamic approach transcended their relative youth and inexperience. So much so, that early in the album’s cycle with Chicago thugcore giant Victory Records, they were already being courted by major labels to make the leap to international exposure.

Opening the album with “Understanding in a Car Crash” was not only daring due to it’s unconventional approach, but it also exceptionally sets the tone for the undulating sonic and lyrical journey the listener is about to be taken on. The song quickly became a staple of the band’s live set, and for good reason. It’s memorable in a way that most songs which are essentially devoid of a traditional chorus can never be. Listeners are immediately drawn into its building guitar lines and the tension of the lyrical story, but it’s really the just-off-key emotion of Geoff Rickly’s vocals that carry the song as if it’s literally teetering on the edge of crashing itself.

This unsettling dynamic carries throughout Full Collapse as it courses with a ritualistic sense of desperation, ebbing from heartbreaking melody and exploding into pain-inducing wails. The lyrics drive at introspection that challenges with a visual tapestry drawing on phrasing like, “We don’t stand a chance in this threadbare time, Staring at the setting sun, No reason to come back again, The twilight world in blue and white, The needle and the damage done.”

Each song is crafted around the story it is telling, rather than the expectation of a verse-to-chorus pattern and in-as-such, it frees Thursday to completely explore the vast reality they are trying to convey about life. If that sounds familiar, one only needs to be reminded again of their Springsteen-Jersey lineage to understand why it works so well as the albums winds through “Autobiography of a Nation.”

By the time crowd-favorite “Cross Out the Eyes” comes up, Thurdsay are just beginning to show the true depth of the hand they are holding. It’s a brutal sonic journey of bristling screams delving into introverted passages of reflection – the perfect climax for an album built on just this such kind of dichotomy. And yet, it’s hardly the perfect Thursday song in-and-of itself because of it’s predictability and cliches – it encompasses so much of what Thursday fans draw from the band’s energy.

This is not an album for simpletons or the weak of heart or mind, and that challenge continues on to “Paris in Flames” – another live staple because of its emotional outbursts. It’s really the lyrics that stand the test of time as one explores the exponential meaning of, “Still you won’t let go of old ideals, There is no headline to read at night, When the record slips and you’re not holding the needle.” If that doesn’t send shivers down your spine, than nothing likely will.

The band’s success was not achieved without controversy. There were tri-state supporters who felt the band’s move to Victory was selling out. There were fans of the band who felt their videos, larger tours, and courting by major labels was selling out. There were even those who just felt the band being labeled emo(core) in-and-of itself was a form of selling out. Yet, the band never sold-out anything more than a few hundred thousand copies and some mid-level clubs at that point in their career. Sadly, the scene did as much to hold them back as it was doing to prop them up.

Eventually, “Standing on the Edge of Summer” appeared in the Wes Craven film, “They,” while some of the other singles appeared on different comps including several for Warped Tour as well as eventual exposure on Guitar Hero.

While looking back, the criticism of the album is short-sighted at best and asinine at worst. What Thursday achieved for themselves (and more importantly, for Jersey and whatever genre you peg them as) is notably important. Few bands rose to the occasion at defining moments, toting the genre flags they were forced to carry, the way that Thursday did with Full Collapse. Everything after it in NJ, in the emo(core) scene and for bands of their era jumping indie-to-major, this record set a benchmark for.

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Stars and Scars column intro

A long, long while ago I used to write on occasion for a number of print and online ‘zines. DIY publications that were labors of love more than commercial successes for everyone involved. My contributions were primarily an outlet for me to continue my creativity discovered in college as a writer and editor while not having to adhere to a regular writing schedule or editorial board’s whims. It was a great experience then and I’m excited at the opportunity at reviving it again now.

Stars and Scars was a punk and emo zine put together by a former intern of mine who has more passion and devotion for the scene than almost anyone I’ve ever met. Her struggles sometimes were something straight out of the song lyrics she so closely related to and her ability to overcome was equally as inspired. The ‘zine ran for several years before going on sabbatical.

When she contacted me about reviving it both of our lives were in new and unique places. I was already old back them in a scene dominated by pensive teens so making a reprise now as a middle-aged father was going to be a huge step. One that I am more than both anxious and nervous to be a part of. But, it’s also a great opportunity to put into action an idea I’ve been kicking around since Padawan was born. One that I’m looking forward to exploring further … here’s my attempt at introducing the column:

Parents are in a unique role of being able to pass along preferences to their offspring. It’s an opportunity to educate and enlighten the next youth movement from where the previous left off. While many parents simply attempt to relive the glory days of their own youth, desperately trying to hold onto a bygone era pre-parenthood, my journey with my own Padawan is much different – at least when it comes to music. That’s because there are no glory days to my music consumption, and the genres and eras that influence me are as diverse as my everyday experiences with my little learner.

To capture those moments of shared musical enlightenment, I began documenting early on our joint listening habits. This column is my attempt at trying to take those first playlists and singular memories and craft them into something more meaningful than poorly scrawled notes on baby wipes, smears of spit-up on my hoodie, and other less glorified ways of keeping track of scraps of paper (I hope that was paper anyhow) in the nursery.

Fatherhood has forced me to take new, deeper, and more profound looks at the world around me. This is as much a musical journey of a dad rediscovering some of the lost memories of “growing up” as it is a father passing along their own music to the next generation.

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Save Net Neutrality

Recently Tech Crunch posted an article These are the arguments against net neutrality — and why they’re wrong by Devin Coldewey

It’s a brilliant work of observational art.

I’m going to copy and paste here bits and pieces of the different conversations I participated in that the article spurred on both social media and through emails in the immediate aftermath of it’s posting:

Dismantling NN in the US is more a function of immediate quarterly profit maximization by greed-driven capitalistic status quo than it is about creating consumer friendly products that are better, faster and more reliable. Reducing NN isn’t going to evoke more competition or drive companies to innovate, it’s going to produce efforts to maintain as low cost a backhaul as possible for the majority of users while allowing an ability to charge an uber-premium for exclusive top end access. That’s not good for the consumer, for society, or for technology moving forward in the future. But, it’s damned good for short term profiteering.

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Prepping MPHnoise: they said rap and metal would never mix, the great punk conspiracy, and more

The other day I posted about how I was going to

friend one: You’d better have at least one Limp Bizkit song in there somewhere.

Me: Nope. I capped the last songs mid-90s, like 1994 which actually eliminated a lot more than you’d think.


Me: Nope. The Bisquick only formed in late 1994 and there dollar bill was like 97. The didn’t hit till 98 and at that point the genre was headed to b level bands moving into the end of the decade with Bisquick knockoffs

friend one: You’re doing a disservice to the people looking to learn more about rap metal. Leaving them out is whitewashing the whole history. Is it just “Bring the Noise” by Anthrax and Public Enemy for 2 hours? Because if you’re purposely leaving Limp Bizkit out of this alternative history of rap metal, I don’t know what else you could play.

Me: [editors note, I already did a blog on this, but here’s the synopis of that blog I copied to my friend] The 80s were rife with rap metal, even before anthrax and PE got together. Bad brains and suicidal tendencies in 84 both touch on it as does Kiss, run DMC, LL Cool J in 85, Beastie boys (including with Slayer) in 86, red hot chili peppers, anthrax, ton loc in 87, public enemy, Sir Mix a Lot with metal church in 88, faith no more in 89, biohazard in 90, and then in 91 rush, tourniquet, Primus and iced t to name a few do it at the same time as the anthrax with PE duet. After that you still have Korn, stuck mojo, 311, rage against the machine, downset, candiria, infectious grooves, 24-7 spyz, helmet, clawfinger, kid rock, the judgement night soundtrack and a bunch more before limp dick are even a band and that’s not even all of it. I could get into Blondie from the pop side, or the Animals on the classic rock side, or Frank Zappa or Lou Reed/Velvet Underground or Brian Ferry/Roxy Music from the experimental/art rock side, the Doors and Black Flag both using spoken word, the Sugar Hill Gang and more, but thats more of a diversity of hybridization than what I want to explore (and this is only focusing on rap itself, not beat box which has an even richer and more diverse history of its own).

friend two: Good job! Shit Bizkit was the WORST band of that horrible sub genre nu metal. They couldn’t rap or play metal. They were a disgrace to all the real rap and metal acts that did it a decade before them. Mainstream crap!! What are you gonna tell me next? Green Day was a great punk band?? LOL

Me: Leaving off LB was much more about the timing of their career than anything else. They were NOT a founding father of the genre nor were they one of the original cross-overs into mainstream popularity of the genre. As I mentioned, the show focuses on the roots of rap-metal thus it begins in the early 80s and continues through the mid-90s, essentially 1994. That’s three years before LB release anything that’s widely known.
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Mike Pence, the “Bible” and Christian Oppression

For the record, I’m not trying to be anti-Christian, nor anti-organized religion. I am trying to point out the irony of a guy, Conservative Republican current VP Mike Pence, whose Christian Privilege helped him rise to the rank in society he has and who uses his interpretation of Christian beliefs to oppress and persecute others including Christians of other denominations talk about the plight of oppressed Christians.

He recently spoke at a Christian international forum and “claimed” that “Christians” were the “most persecuted” “religion.”

While there may be controversial evidence he might be correct in his statement, it is hardly tenable that what he stated in his remarks was a reflection of the international community compared to his at-home words and actions. His sect of so-called Christian beliefs are hardly persecuted here considering the wide berth so-called religious exceptions are even given here in the first place.

Generally, Pence is hardly the spokesperson for Christian morality with his reputation for being an aggressive Bible thumper that comes often at the expense of other’s liberty and freedom. He is more often the oppressor of not only other Christians but American liberty as a whole than he is a defender of anything morally logical or Christian in a Christ-like embracing idea…

But moreso, the conversation ended up devolving into a history lesson yet again. Without exposing too much of the flatlessness of the other side I’m simply copying here my own notes from the debate:

perhaps Christians don’t march here against ISIS and other worldwide (so-called) persecution because they are too busy pretending to be persecuted and oppressed by the fake war on Christmas. They are too busy feinding oppression by minority religions, atheists, scientists, gays, trans, women who want birth control, big city liberals, and whomever else the Fox News oppressor du jour is. If certain Christians weren’t so busy trying to pretend they were being marginalized and hijacking the narrative on what being Christian is here they might realize the plight of real oppression around the world.

Of course many Christians have conveniently forgotten Christians were the oppressors for centuries committing horrible atrocities like the Inquisition, the New England Witch Trials, the KKK, Pogroms, the Crusades, the Council of Toledo (to name a quick few). Many of the underlying premises of those historical wrongs committed by Christianity are being repeated today by non-Christian groups. Because many modern Christians have their heads in the sand about their own morally-void pasts they are unable to recognize what real oppression is and take real action against it.

That’s part of why no one marches here when Christians abroad are oppressed. Continue reading

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This is … us

I am told I shouldn’t watch Dan Fogelman’s “This Is Us” on NBC because it turns me into a tearing soppy mess. Granted, to be honest, I am a sap when it comes to a lot of filmed stuff. I cry during LOTR and the Hobbit series, during Harry Potter, during Star Wars, during Wal-e and many of the the Pixar shorts (Piper being the latest), and shitty Meg Ryan/Nora Ephron flicks and so on.

Being a sap is something I am completely ok with. As much as my significant other gives me a hard time about pooling over in my own tears during the show it’s just me being who I am. And, I think they appreciate that show of emotion and vulnerability too.

We’ve only really briefly spoken about why the show touches me the way it does. There’s probably a thousand reasons why the show touches me to be honest. In part, it’s portrayal of the complexities of the family and social dynamics during the late 70s and 80s is striking considering my own recollections of the era growing up myself.

Moreso, what makes me cry is the dad, Jack Pearson. There’s a lot of reasons he stands out to me.

First, he’s portrayed in a way that most dads are not from that era — hell most dads of any era even now. Sure, he’s the breadwinner cliche. Sure, he’s the catalyst for the family’s decisions cliche. Sure, he’s playing the paternal role opposite Rebecca’s sacrifices, expectations, beliefs and matriarchal decisions.

But, he’s also given this much more sensible and softer side.
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An open letter to the United States Coast Guard and opposing the proposed Anchorage Grounds along the lower Hudson River, NY USCG-2016-0132

Dear United States Coast Guard, a subordinate of the United States Department of Homeland Security,

Thank you for your service to the United States, particularly New York state, since The Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Life-Saving Service were merged to become the Coast Guard by 14 U.S.C. § 1 in 1915. Through wartime and in peace your work has proven invaluable to our safety and security and the sacrifices made by your members are an important aspect to the viability of the citizens of the country to this day.

However, at this time I cannot support your current endeavor which appears to serve a limited number of corporate interests over that of the greater good of the citizens of the states of New York and New Jersey. I strongly oppose the proposed Anchorage Grounds along the lower Hudson River, NY known as USCG-2016-0132.

Over the last several decades the US Federal Government through a number of different agencies, the States of New York and New Jersey, the counties of Bergen, Rockland, Putnam, Westchester, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Dutchess, Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer and the Bronx as well as the many riverside cities and towns, a large number of local, regional and national not-for-profits including Clearwater, NYNJTC, the Dyson, the National Audobaun Society and many, many others spent countless dollars over recent decades in clean up and restoration of the Hudson Valley.

Ecologically speaking, the work has taken portions of the Hudson River from Superfund status to where it is today in the early stages of recovery. It includes $460,000,000 and counting investment in General Electric cleanup, over $100,000,000 so far in Dow Chemicals clean up & at least $100,000,000 in Indian Point ongoing issues, as well as the undisclosed amounts spent on the General Motors and Allied Refining / Steam Refiners Sugar sites to name some of the larger projects outside of the regular restoration necessary to undo damage by industrial & corporate abuse including intentional dumping, accidental spills and general toxic runoff as well as municipal mismanagement of waste and runoff that routinely re-harms the river.

Allowing additional docking on the river reintroduces the potential for these burdens to the still recovering ecosystem again and chances spills and other accidents that would recontaminate the river undoing the vast money spent and years of work to restore the area.

Furthermore, since the majority of the barges are expected to be petroleum products one should apply the industry’s track record with safety, environmental impact and clean-up accountability to the regional expectations of such a project.

In the Hudson River region alone a few examples of industry negligence include: April 2016 Englewood Boat Basin spill; May 2016 the Germantown Boat Launch pipe leak; May 2015 Indian Point Energy Center’s Tomkins Cove fire related spill; as well as larger and more famous issues like the Kill Van Kull spill in 2012; Diamond Reef / New Hamburg in 2005; the Arthur Kill spill in 2003 and the 420,000-gallon 1977 spill at West Point. That’s not even discussing the environmental impact of disasters like the Exxon Valdese in Alaska, the 2014 Baton Rouge incident that closed 65 miles of the Mississippi River, the 2013 Vicksburg, Mississippi spill and so many more. In some cases as little as 30 gallons of crude was recovered from spills of over 30 thousand gallons. And, in all cases the overall cost of cleanup and restoration to the environment was shouldered heavily by the local citizens.

Within the current proposal there appears to be very little study of the environmental impact of what leaks, spills and other toxic runoff from these anchorages. Furthermore there doesn’t appear to be any accident mitigation plan for dealing with potential leaks and spills nor any type of clean up and recovery plan that would hold the docked vessel owner’s liable for the environmental impact costs. Although, even if these were available, it still likely wouldn’t be insurance enough against the likelihood of an environmental problem.

Cost aside, however, the Hudson River valley supports irreplaceable ecosystems. Each stretch of the river provides unique habitats—including 40 state-designated significant wildlife habitats—essential for fish, birds, animals and plants.
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