War on Poverty

What group knows more about being broke and having to live without health care than struggling local musicians? That's the networking source that LA-based Rock a Mole Productions (it rhymes with guacamole, y'see) hopes to tap into to try and help. Founded by Boxing Gandhis lead singer Ernie Perez, Rock a Mole puts on cultural festivals in clubs, featuring music, poetry and art, and they've just finished their first film, The Ultimate Song, which spells out the ways music and musicians can be a force for social change—even in an age of self-absorbed bling-bling everything. The film has interviews with such community-conscious players as Steve Earle, Jackson Browne, Wayne Kramer, Ice T (who talks about the time he was homeless) and the always-articulate Tom Morello. "Music tells the truth in a way you don't hear on the nightly news or read in the newspaper," Morello says. Rock a Mole will send a free VHS copy to any musician who wants one, with the idea that recipients will use it as a catalyst to bring other artists together and hopefully coalesce into an arm of the universal health-care movement (e-mail them at rockrap@aol.com with your name and postal address). While most Rock a Mole fests have been held in LA, they're looking to branch out down south—meaning here—and a solid network with OC and Long Beach musicians would be a big plus (one was just held at diPiazza's in Long Beach on Nov. 6). There's a ton of info on the Rock a Mole website: www.rockamole.com. (Rich Kane)

HYPOCRISY IS THE GREATEST LUXURY
Best unintentionally hilarious LowBallAssChatter mailing of the month goes to area band IRATE, a bland "nu metal" outfit who've hooked up with such corporate sponsors as Jägermeister and Hot Topic—and they aren't shy about plastering this all over the advance copy of their new CD. The kicker is that the band's name is actually an acronym—for Infinite Rebellion Against the Establishment. Apparently, to IRATE, "the establishment" is anyone who's not handing them an endorsement deal. (RK) THE GAY THING
Underreported during much of the not-dead-yet-but-barely-clinging-to-life-support boy-band era of the past several years was the popularity of acts like the Backstreet Boys among many gay men—at least in the mainstream press. It wasn't always teen girls drooling over those singing, dancing, plastic hotties on MTV, y'know—just ask my boyfriend. And what queer hasn't played a round of guess-the-closet-homo whenever 'NSync pops up in conversation ("Mmmm, that Joey Fatone sure would make a cute bear!")? Indeed, the gay allure seems to be a given among everyone except the actual, clueless subjects themselves. As proof, the San Francisco Chronicle last week excerpted this response from an interview with Justin Timberlake, who was asked by New York gay-nightlife rag HX if he thought his queer fans would like his new solo album. His answer constitutes what might be the longest non-answer answer in music journalism history—you can almost feel the sweat dripping off his forehead:

"Um . . . honestly I've never really, uh, I've never really . . . something that I've thought a lot about. . . . Something that I will say, you know, about, you know, the whole community is . . . that I appreciate is that . . . and the people that I've met that are, I mean, it's so nondiscriminating where music goes that it's . . . it's all . . . sometimes it's almost inspiring that there's people out there who just like music because they like music . . . I don't know, for some reason, I find it in this community more than one another is that . . . you know, um . . . honestly, I don't know. I think, uh . . . I never really thought about it. I hope that, uh, all types of different people, they like it, I mean, 'cause, uh . . . it's kinda somewhere in the middle of . . . of . . . of the styles that are going on right now. So um, you can only hope for the best."

"I don't want to come off sounding pretentious," Timberlake later said. (RK)

 
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