Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Black/Blue Lives Matter Movement

Hey guys, Dana here. Hope you're all having a good week so far...only a couple more days 'til the weekend. Anyway, a few weeks ago, I gave you all a sneak peek at my little side-project Heartstone and our debut performance with my band, Logan's Room, Ashes to Oranges and Vigil Antics on October 14th at Backstage Pass in Ronkonkoma.(I'm serious, come through!) Tonight's topic unfortunately isn't as light hearted as the last post I wrote. I'm talking about current events; the ugly stuff. I've held my tongue with this particular topic for the longest time, ladies and gents. I've ignored it, kept my thoughts to myself, and silently hoped that things would get better. I've kept silent long enough, and it's gone too far now; this is what I have to say about this black/blue/all lives matter thing. 

So today during my hour break at work, I read an article about a 40 year old man named Terence Crutcher who was killed by the police a few days ago. From what I read, Crutcher was unarmed, but acting very strangely as his SUV was parked in the middle of a road in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It appeared as if he was on some sort of drugs since he was not answering/listening to what officer Betty Shelby was saying to him, but did not pose any threat. He then proceeded to raise both hands so he was clearly unarmed. Aside from putting his hands in his pockets and supposedly reaching into his car window with one hand, he did not appear to pose any threat. At that moment, officer Shelby fatally shot Crutcher with one bullet while approaching officer Tyler Turnbough tazed him. This was at a simultaneous moment, mind you. Ask yourself this. Was a gun shot AND tazer really necessary for only muttering incoherant words and keeping hands in the pockets? 
Officer Betty Shelby & Terence Crutcher

Now, let's look at this situation from both perspectives, shall we? Let's take it from the police officer's perspective. Now, if I was a police officer and I found a semi-coherant man standing in the middle of the road and not understanding what I'm saying to him, I'd be kinda frightened too, not gonna lie. I wouldn't have any idea if he was armed, unarmed, mentally unstable, suicidal, etc. I'd most definitely call for back up if I felt diffusing the situation alone was too much to handle. But I would absolutely NOT kill him. Arrest him for walking/driving while supposedly being under the influnece of some sort of drug(s)? Sure. A quick taze to apprehend him and get him some help? If the police officer felt threatened, she should have at least shot him in the leg or somewhere NOT fatal. 
If the person was armed and dangerous, yes, shoot the criminal to disarm, not to kill. Since Crutcher didn't have a weapon in his hands, did he seriously have to die? Did he have to get shot AND tazed even though he had no weapon? Did the cops really have to kill him? I still ask this question with the deaths of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY. All over this country, lives are lost and families are destroyed.

The crime scene where Keith Lamont Scott was killed.
Terence Crutcher's family lost a son, a father, a brother, and a husband. Crutcher's twin sister Tiffany told the newsreporter that he was loved by his family, friends, and was looking forward to taking classes at a local community college; no one ever felt threatened by him. Why he acted the way he did around the police officer, we'll never know. But I've seen that kind of grief with a family. There is nothing more heartbreaking in this world than watching a mother cry from losing a child. That is not supposed to happen, yet this keeps happening every single day.

Today I found out about the death of 43 year old Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina yesterday. Unlike Terence Crutcher's case, Scott was supposedly armed while sitting in a car. Some sources say that he was simply reading a book in the car, when others said that he was armed.When he did not comply with the police officer's commands, he was fatally wounded. Why? This man was a husband a father, and now his children have to live the rest of their lives without their dad. His wife, now widow, is forever heartbroken that her husband was taken from her. Why did the police officer have to kill the man for solely having a weapon on him? I mean, the second ammendment clearly says we have a right to bear arms, but it seems that even if you're armed, you're considered dangerous and at risk to be killed by the police. As a result, riots have broken out in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the wake of Scott's death. Tear-gas fired in the streets, cops getting hurt, innocent people getting hurt, and people are getting killed because of wrongful deaths.

That's it, enough is enough. This Black Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter insanity has gone too far, and it's completely and utterly unacceptable. So many innocent people are getting killed because of the lack of communication between human beings. This "protest"  is just adding fuel to the fire and frustration of these wrongful deaths. Rioting in the streets is not going to fix what happened to these victims. Killing cops won't bring back those victims. If anything, murdering police officers will result in their families who will grieve and mourn for the rest

of their lives. Police officers are human beings too; think about their families. Destroying property, attacking the police and threatening the lives of innocent people are not going to fix what's already been destroyed, and this has to stop.

Now, should the victims have complied with what the police said? Yes, because if an authoratative figure tells you do to something, you do it. A police officer wants to see your licence and registration when you get pulled over? Do it. A police officer tells you to drop your weapon? Do it. Listen to the police officer and no one gets hurt, so I've always been told. But then here comes my question again, DID THEY HAVE TO DIE? Did the police have to kill those people? People always wonder and question why other people feel paranoid and scared around police officers. Only in America do people fear police officers instead of feeling safe and protected. Isn't that sad?

My last thoughts? Riddle me this. Why is it that these people are brutally murdered by the police, yet armed terrorists who bombed Seaside Park, New Jersey, and  New York City, MY CITY, are alive and simply detained? Are you kidding me right now?  Armed terrorists are alive and breathing, yet Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner are dead simply for not listening to an armed police officer? Riddle me that.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Heartstone: A Step Out of the Comfort Zone

Hey guys, Dana here. Last week, I threw in my two cents about cultural appropriation and how asinine it's become since we've landed in the mid 2010's...i.e the age of social media and political correctness. Tonight I got something different for you guys...this post is actually about what's happening with me and the music I've been working on. Not a lot of you know this, but I'm currently working on a project that I never thought I'd ever be a part's a little something called Heartstone.

The unofficial logo for Heartstone
Now before anyone starts jumping to conclusions, asking questions or spreading rumors, NO, I repeat, NO, nothing happened to Bending Over Backwards. No, I did not quit, and no, I never will quit. Bending Over Backwards is my baby and nothing will ever come between me and my baby. I'm helping out because that's what musicians do, no?

Anywho, Heartstone is a project that consists of myself as the bassist, my friend Matt Capitano behind the drums, Nick Martinez and Vladimir Kosonofv(his real name is Eric, he goes by this name on social media) as the two guitarrists, and finally, the founder of Heartstone, Pat Keenan as the lead vocalist. 

Heartstone is completely different from any kind of music I've ever played in my life. As long as I've been a bassist for the past soon-to-be 9 years, I've only played punk rock and it's all I honestly know. You know...the raw, loud, fast, short, simple, four-chord songs that made me who I am today. Never in a million years would I ever thought I'd try something different than punk rock. Heartstone, on the other hand, is hard rock/metal. Hey, a musician has got to grow by playing something different from what they're familiar with. It's the only way to give myself more confidence as well.

Pat originally called his band Truthful Dishonesty, and was made public at the end of last year and early into this year. All of his life he's always wanted to front a rockband. Pat's always wanted to be more than just a promoter for local band...he wanted to be up there with those local bands he shows unconditional and everlasting support for. Since early this year, I followed Pat's Facebook posts and saw that he got two guitarrists and a drummer, but no bassist. I never thought anything of it. I had my own band, practicing and playing shows. We never lost touch, though. Sometime in May, Pat asked me if I'd want to jam with him, Matt, and the two guitarrists at a rehearsal space in Deer Park sometime on a Saturday in June. I figured "what the hell, let's give it a try." I'm always up for a fun jam session! Let's see how it goes!

On June 18th, I walked into the rehearsal space in Deer Park with Matt, his girlfriend Rosalie, and Pat was there waiting for us. I met Eric, and we clicked immediately; not only as musicians, but as friends. We also realized how many mutual friends we have! Nick, however, couldn't make it that day, but went on with the rehearsal. Now, I got to be honest with you all, I was nervous. Like, to the point where it kept me awake at night. I walked into that studio not knowing one song that they've been working on for the past 5 or so months. In my my mind, I had to catch up on 5 months worth of material in just four hours. My legs turned to jelly and my mind was racing. I no idea what kind of music we would be playing, no idea what tuning the songs would be in, how long each song was, if there were any tempo changes, key changes, blah blah frickity blah! But guess what? The songs that were taught to me that day came naturally for me. I don't know how, since this was completely different from what I'm used to, but the chemistry between me and these dudes clicked perfectly.My mind was at ease, and I left that rehearsal studio smiling.

The next day, Pat messaged me and said that he was really impressed with how fast I learned the songs...and then asked if I would like to be the official bassist for his band. Now, I originally said no. I told him I was "a one band" kinda girl. And in all honesty, I am. If this was going to be a strict, once/twice a week rehearsal kind of band, this would not have worked. However, Pat re-assured me that this is just an every-now-and-then kind of gig. The practices would be based around all of our schedules since all of us have our own bands. Since he put it that way...I said yes. But here's the thing. I couldn't believe that out of all the bassists he knows, and has seen for many many years, he chose ME: the least experienced out of every bassist he knows, and has only played one genre of music. I'm still shocked, but I'm thrilled to be a part of something that is outside of my comfort zone.

At the next rehearsal, I met Nick. We had a much fuller sound with the complete band, and Pat's voice gained more confidence. The songs we worked on got tighter and tighter, and my anxiety significantly diminished. The name "Truthful Dishonesty" was then changed to Heartstone. Honestly, that name is much more memorable, I feel the name "Truthful Dishonesty" would be a good name for an EP.(Maybe take that into consideration, Pat?)

As of now, we have two songs: The Bitterness, and From Falling Apart, an instrumental we're currently working on, and a cover that has yet to be announced! Next rehearsal is this Saturday, September 10th.

So...I've been working with these dudes since the beginning of the summer, and get ready for this: We have our first show in October. You guessed it; October 14th at Backstage Pass in Ronkonkoma. We're kicking off that show as Heartstone's debut live performance. After that, I'm going double duty and playing a set with my own band, Bending Over Backwards...followed by Ashes to Oranges, then Vigil Antics, closing with Logan's Room. It's a show that you do not want to miss, and I hope to see you there. Please clear your schedule, mark your calendar, and hitchike your way to Ronkonkoma. As a matter of fact, Backstage Pass is located DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE RONKONKOMA TRAIN STATION so if you don't/can't drive, simply take the train.

Sometime after our debut show, we will record an album with Tom Douglas (the guy who produced my band's first album) and will keep you posted. If you like what you've read so far, please follow Heartstone's Facebook page:

Thank you for reading, and have a great weekend!