45 Reasons Why I Despise 45

45 Reasons Why I Despise 45

(Originally published October 16, 2018. Updated and bumped due to the coming election and current relevance.)

Seems like there's not a day that goes by now without the 45th President of the United States doing or saying something that makes me want to turn in my U.S. citizenship and find a new place to proudly call home.

Donald Trump has soiled the highest and most-powerful position in the land, and his ego and determination to carry out his vendettas grows by the day. While I railed against the Bush administration and the dumbness of Dubyah in the 90s, my disdain for Donald Trump has never been so strong. I was not a fan of him in the 80s... or the 90s.. or the turn of the century. In fact, I've never been a fan of Drumpf -- either when he was plentifully and playfully grabbing pussies and engaging in lewd sexual harassment, or when he was running his media empire and firing celebrities for fun.

The world will be a better place altogether when Donald Trump and his American oligarchy have moved on, and truth, justice and respect have the podium again. I'll add more links to specific items as I come across them.

Feel free to add the reasons why you dislike Donald Trump in the comments below.

Welcome to the United States of Madness

  1. Trump disrespects humans who disagree with him, often mocking their opposition to him. He is the biggest bigot in the Western world.
  2. Trump protects his insecurities by trashing and tearing down others.
  3. Trump is vindictive against those who oppose him, and often carries his grudge into vendettas that can last for decades.
  4. Trump has a callous disregard for the less fortunate, weak people who didn't start off with a million dollar loan from Daddy, and those people who don’t align with his white vision of an American.
  5. Trump cannot admit his faults, yet is quick to highlight and criticize the faults of others.
  6. Trump is a misogynist and disparages women, assigns rude and sometimes racist nicknames to them.
  7. Trump has an ego bigger than Jupiter.
  8. Trump is a liar, believes his own lies and the fabricated truths of others.
  9. Trump does not support personal transparency, and protects his lies through an endless web of untruths and misdirection.
  10. Trump is completely selfish and self-serving.
  11. Trump is an emotional fraud.
  12. Trump is a financial fraud.
  13. Trump is a religious fraud.
  14. Trump is a gaslighter.
  15. Trump is a tyrant and demagogue.
  16. Trump is a wall-builder, not a road or bridge builder.
  17. Trump is a divider, not a man of harmony and synergy. He is the most partisan President in U.S. history.
  18. Trump is an isolationist.
  19. Trump is a hypocrite, who cares very little about personal integrity.
  20. Trump is an enemy of the Fourth Estate, continually criticizes the talented journalists in America and calls any news that he doesn't agree with "fake".
  21. Trump uses spray tan so cheap that he looks like he fell off a Sunkist truck.
  22. Trump speaks with hand motions, as if he were trying to conjure truth like a magician (or shadowbox the ghost of MLK).
  23. Trump has the body of a horse and the head of an ass.
  24. Trump believes the his family is an American monarchy.
  25. Trump is an expert nepotist.
  26. Trump reportedly drinks a 12-pack of Diet Coke a day, eats unhealthy fast food regularly, and rarely exercises. He's had a few too many Trump steaks.
  27. Trump is infatuated with his daughter, Ivanka, and speaks of her in creepy ways.
  28. Trump is more interested in global destabilization than advancing the USA as a leader on the global stage.
  29. Trump is a puppet/muppet hybrid – a strange mix of Statler, Waldorf, Big Bird and Snuffalufagus.
  30. Trump is a horrible judge of character.
  31. Trump has delusions of grandeur and an inflated sense of self (in addition to an expansive waistline).
  32. Trump uses Twitter as his megaphone and his rallies as his platform for pushing the most recent conspiracy theory that he read or heard.
  33. Trump's moral compass shifts based on the alignment of his base.
  34. Trump condones hate as an American value.
  35. Trump criticized the swamps of Washington, yet has built an Alligator park on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
  36. Trump owns a Dark Tower in NYC (which includes offices of foreign-owned states -- which should cause conflict of interests -- and costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a day) and is the resident Randall Flagg of America. Sorry, Stephen King; the comparison works too well to ignore.
  37. Trump could care less for couth, culture and traditions of other countries.
  38. By not criticizing the actions of white supremacists, racists or other misogynists, Trump has made himself complicit in the evil actions of his supporters.
  39. Trump regularly attacks the integrity of the experienced subject matter experts around him (see Dr. Anthony Fauci), and would rather have counsel from crazed crackpots like Alex Jones, Steve Bannon, Kanye West and Dennis Rodman.
  40. The Apprentice and "The Art of the Deal".
  41. Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and is a climate change denier (even while the country suffers chronic wildfires, rise in hurricanes, and irregular temperatures across the country).
  42. Trump uses superlatives as if they were language laxatives.
  43. Trump is part of the white-male-privilege, good ol' boys network that laments the demographic shifts in America.
  44. Trump would prefer to rule like Putin and renovate the Constitution, with unending Presidential term limits and uncheckable power. He has sewn the seeds of upheaval by failing to commit to leaving the White House at the end of his term, as every other President has done before him, regardless of turbulence during their appointment.
  45. Trump leads by tyranny and authoritarianism, not by democracy nor example. His is the first true American Dictator, and has created the united states of Madness.
45 Reasons Why I Despise 45

Artemis Sere’s Twenty Best Albums of 2018

Artemis Sere's Best Albums of 2018

If this is your first time visiting one of my annual "Best of Lists", thanks for stopping by and checking out what I have deemed "listen-worthy" for this year.  If you're a repeat visitor, I deeply appreciate your continued interest in my musical opinion. Truly, these albums were my addiction over the course of 2018, with works that percolated into my daily playlist and provided the soundtrack to the dramatic events of my present day.

I'm sure your list would be different than mine if you created one. I've been compiling annual "Best of" lists since 2010, and these lists have created powerful sonic footprints in my past.  Each of our influences are individual and reflect our personalities and human stories, often intersecting in the music that we listen to and share. We "come together" over art, whether it be music or painting or film, or any other type of artistic expression.

As a visual artist, I have come to appreciate the art of music and all of the unique influences it has on my life and art. 

Some unique traits of my list:

  1. These are generally not radio-friendly albums. While I certainly embrace all music, I no longer listen to the radio. At all. Satellite or broadcast or otherwise. My influences come from personal research, network suggestions and historical influences.
  2. My statement is that I listen to everything from Slayer to Enya, minus country. I'd like to think my music ear is diverse, but I gravitate toward my sonic staples: industrial/ambient/electronica and/or dubstep, hard rock, machine rock, heavy metal, and hybrids of all.  My list of 20 is an intersection of a variety of styles and sounds, and is not specific to a single genre (or from a single geographic location).
  3. My list DOES NOT reflect socially-"popular music", chart-friendly creations or trendy music personalities that walk red carpets, troll headlines and/or have Social Media spats with other artists.

I began tracking this list early in 2018, with new releases by Rabbit Junk and Parkway Drive. It has evolved a lot over the course of the year with recommendations of new music from friends and colleagues. I hope you enjoy this list and find a new artist or two to follow and be inspired by. 

Please spread the word and share this guidance with your network, pay forward these suggestions of high quality music.  Check out my YouTube playlist featuring clips from every album, embedded at the bottom of this blog. And if you're feeling bold, drop a comment and let me know what you think. What's on your list of favorite albums for 2018?

Without further ado, my Top 20 favorite albums of 2018.

#yearoftheseretic

20

AMELIA ARSENIC 
 
"Queen of Risk (EP)"

Favorite Tracks: "Live Slow Die Old", "Architects of Death", "Queen of Risk"

My Take: Artist, designer and former Angelspit vocalist paired up with the king of angry robot music, Sean Payne, to create a quick, high-energy trip. Very fun live show, and an inspiring artist. 

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19

SOULFLY 
"Ritual"

Favorite Tracks: "Ritual", "Dead Behind the Eyes", "Under Rapture"

My Take: Blistering and brutal, the new Soulfly echoes tones of old school Soulfly and Sepultura, featuring two generations of Cavaleras and a powerful duet with Randy Blythe from Lamb of God.

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18

BETZEFER
 
"Entertain Your Force of Habit"

Favorite Tracks: "Dead Lines", "Never Been", "Hand in Hand to Hell"

My Take: Reminiscent of Pantera with a name that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, Israel's groove metal masters Betzefer have created an album and sound that could stack up with current US hipsters like 5FDP. 

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17

SCANDROID
"The Darkness (EP)"

Favorite Tracks: "Phoenix", "Onyx", "Red Planet"

My Take: Klayton of Celldweller fame has more identities than Kevin Crumb, and creates amazing artistic experiences with each. As Scandroid, Klayton creates a sci-fi synchopop universe that dwells somewhere between my #1 album of last year and my #1 album of this year. Always a pleasure to hear new music from Klayton. Scandroid has the companion EP, "The Light", releasing in 2019.

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16

DEAD CAN DANCE 
"Dionysus"

Favorite TracksAll 

My Take: A slightly-made (2 songs, 36 minutes - too short!) but densely-packed album filled with the atmospheric greatness of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard. 

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15

MANES 
"Slow Motion Death Sequence"

Favorite Tracks: "Scion", "Last Resort", "Poison Enough for Everyone", "Ater"

My Take: Once a Norwegian black metal band, Manes redesigned their sound over the last decade to be a mysterious mix of electronica, jazz and metal. "Slow Motion Death Sequence" is a dusky landscape of soaring vocals, gritty guitars and digital undertones.

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14

ARCHITECTS 
"Holy Hell"

Favorite Tracks: "Hereafter", "Doomsday", "Royal Beggars"

My Take: "Holy Hell" was my introduction to the major UK metalcore band Architects and the tragedy of co-founder Tom Searle, whose death from cancer in 2016 touched many in the music industry -- including my #2 album, which features a song dedicated to Tom. The album is well-produced, deeply touching, and full of cacophonous rage and edgy tones. Many thanks to friend Christian for introducing me to Architects as part of a music exchange.

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13

CODE ORANGE  
"The Hurt Will Go On (EP)"

Favorite Tracks: All

My Take: I don't normally rank EPs very high in my annual list of best music, but I have to give props to Code Orange, a new(ish) discovery that is delicious and brutal ear candy. After last year's wondrous release "Forever", I'm happy to give them prominence in this year's list. These 3 songs crush.

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12

SLEEP 
"The Sciences"

Favorite Tracks: "Sonic Titan", "Marijuanaut's Theme", "Giza Butler"

My Take: It isn't a stretch to call Sleep "stoner music" -- the experimental, trippy guitar solos and hooks, extended tune times and sleepy, monotone vocals combine to create an album that hearkens back to 70s doom rock. High props to friend Ryan for introducing me to this groovy adventure.

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11

GHOST 
 
"Prequelle"

Favorite Tracks: "Rats", "Faith", "Life Eternal", "It's a Sin"

My Take: I continue to give Ghost support for the character they play in the metal scene and their consistent approach to selling the darker side in a dramatic, fashionable way. Their concept of mocking the Church, its structure and its culture has no equal in the black metal genre. They're talented musicians with firm comprehension of their unique presentation and dramatis personae. 

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10

JUDAS PRIEST 
"Firepower"

Favorite Tracks: "No Surrender", "Lone Wolf", "Spectre", "Never the Heroes"

My Take: I've been listening to Judas Priest for 35 years and it amazes me how the band manages to maintain their signature style and sound -- despite age, technological advancement and changes in the metal sound. "Firepower" reminded me of "Defenders of the Faith" and "Screaming for Vengeance" in approach, content and overall style. Unlike recent previous Judas Priest efforts, the songs of "Firepower" are anthemic and tight, each tune telling a "very metal story of very metal characters". Rob Halford continues to defy the clock, though his vocals are more contained than traditional Judas Priest creations.

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9

ZARDONIC 
"Become"

Favorite Tracks:  "Revelation", "Takeover", "Before the Dawn",  "Army of One"

My Take:  According to Wikipedia, Zardonic is a "keyboardist, DJ, composer, producer and remixer primarily known for his heavy electronic dance music". I use that snippet to reflect the strange musician known as Zardonic -- a masked music crusader from Venezuela who is globally known for his skills as a DJ, but also as one who integrates metal, guitar and cacophonous screams into his work. Zardonic teamed up with heavy-hitters like Celldweller and The Qemists for "Become". This album will make you move. 

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8

SEVENDUST 
"All I See is War"

Favorite Tracks: "Dirty", "Medicated", "Unforgiven", "Risen", "Not Original"

My Take: "All I See is War" reminded me of the greatness of Sevendust. Next year, Sevendust celebrates its 25th anniversary, and their sound, style and statements are needed now more than ever, as the United States stands divided. Lajon's passionate, heartfelt vocals soar above the Civil War that we all see around us, and are a beacon of truth and diversity in a culture quickly slipping backwards into chaos, racism and bigotry. 

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7

MORCHEEBA 
"Blaze Away"

Favorite Tracks"Never Undo", "Blaze Away", "Find Another Way", "It's Summertime"

My Take: I have an affinity for Trip-Hop. Sneaker Pimps, Massive Attack, DJ Shadow, Portishead... Decades later, I'm still a fan of the genre. Morcheeba is a member of that classic list, and is still cranking out genre-delicious trip-hop with their new release "Blaze Away". While not as consistently powerful as "Blood Like Lemonade", "Blaze Away" is a worthy addition to their catalog and deserved of a broader audience, mostly unfamiliar with the roots of trip.

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6

FATLANTIC 
"Offshore Breaks"

Favorite Tracks"Love Made Me", "Falling Upwards", "Drum King of Californwall"

My Take: An underrated name on the big beat, trip-hop scene is Rob Howes, aka Overseer, who refashioned his persona as Fatlantic in 2018. Some will remember his classic album "Wreckage" from 2002 -- if you don't, you probably would recognize tracks from that album that were featured in TV, Movies, and other entertainment outlets. Since then, Rob has been partnering with Rachel Gray (Kanute), but has been mostly working outside the scene. With "Offshore Breaks", Rob returns with atmospheric beauty and resonance, but also with a less aggressive sound than Overseer -- more trip than hop, more beat than bombast.

5

SHINEDOWN 
"Attention Attention"

Favorite Tracks: "Devil", "Get Up", "Monsters", "Special"

My Take: I know  the song "Devil" has killed it on rock radio, and it deserves to - it was my "most listened to song" of 2018.  But I have to imagine that most rockers and metalheads have a difficult time with the album "Attention Attention" as a whole. There are times on "Attention Attention" when Shinedown sounds closer to Elton John, or a hip-pop act, rather than a rock powerhouse of the last two decades. I personally love the adventuresome spirit, and applaud their exploration into different sounds, styles and topics. I've heard it said that "Attention Attention" is a concept album; if the concept is reminding people that you are special, despite what popular trends and talents tell you, then Shinedown has my full attention. The album is a great reminder to "Get Up" and make something of yourself. Don't wait for your fifteen minutes of fame, because as you wait, you're wasting time...

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4

TOM MORELLO 
"The Atlas Underground"

Favorite Tracks: "Rabbit's Revenge", "Lucky One", "Battle Sirens", "Roadrunner"

My Take: This album took my playlist by storm, and its diversity is music to my ears. I have been a fan of Tom Morello and all of his projects since the first time I heard "Killing in the Name" back in 1991. Rage Against the Machine resonated with me; Audioslave entertained me; Prophets of Rage empowered me. Now, with his solo album, Tom is proving that he is an amazing collaborator, brilliant songwriter and standout artist -- by the power of his name alone. Tom merged with amazing musicians such as Knife Party, Pretty Lights, K.Flay, Steve Aoki, GZA, RZA, Big Boi and Bassnectar, and along the way has created some brave new anthems for the presently divided day. In a year with less powerful frontrunners, I would've notched this album as  my #1 in 2018.

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3

A PERFECT CIRCLE  
"Eat the Elephant"

Favorite Tracks: "The Doomed", "The Contrarian", "Hourglass", "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish"

My Take: A cryptic and metaphoric attack on religion, politics and the darker sides of humanity, "Eat the Elephant" is brilliant from start to finish. Billy Howerdel and his Ashes Divide sound reverberate strong throughout the album, and Maynard's adventurous, soaring vocals are showcased perfectly on top of the melodramatic and seething atmosphere of "Eat the Elephant". It would take far more space than this snippet to unpack all that is going on with "Eat the Elephant", so I invite you to check out this interview with Maynard and Billy on the best A Perfect Circle album in their curt catalog. 

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2

PARKWAY DRIVE  
"Reverence"

Favorite Tracks:  All

My Take: Introspective, visceral and blistering, Parkway Drive's "Reverence" is the perfect assault on mainstream belief systems and human struggles. From the first lyrics of "Wishing Wells" to the closure of "The Colour of Leaving", "Reverence"  is a touching adventure into pain, sorrow and loss. The final song is written in response to the death of and in dedication to Tom Searle, twin brother of Architects founder Dan Searle, who died of cancer in 2016.

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1

Rabbit Junk 
"Rabbit Junk Will Die:
Meditations on Mortality
"

Favorite TracksAll

My Take:Most of my audience has never heard of Rabbit Junk, and will question me for notching this small band's humongous album above such greats as Judas Priest, Shinedown, A Perfect Circle and Soulfly. If anything, noting this album as my favorite of the year should cement how amazing this album is. I've been a fan of Rabbit Junk since their self-titled in 2008. For 10 years, JP Anderson and his wife Sum Grrl have been crafting sonic assaults with "hardclash"/"digital hardcore" style -- "a fusion genre that combines hardcore punk with electronic music genres such as breakbeat, techno, and drum and bass while also drawing on heavy metal and noise music." (also see The Shizit) "Meditations on Mortality" reflects J.P. Anderson's diverse intelligence, musicianship and talents; in addition to his role as master of the mic and guitar, he's also a Graduate Instructor at the University of Washington. The greatest coup of the "Meditations" album: sampling Enya's "Cursum Perficio" into the brilliant tune "Bend the Light". Rather than drone on about how awesome "Rabbit Junk Will Die" is, I suggest you find it and "Become Hell".

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Xoterica 15: The Demagogue

Xoterica 15: The Demagogue

"It is the ego that stands rigidly against influences from the outside, and it is this “ego rigidity” that makes it impossible for us to accept everything that confronts us." (Lee)

We are the ones that have allowed the building of Drumpfesque behemoths. The oligarchies. The monarchies. The hierarchies of power that press our faces to the pavement and smile. The culture of appeasement and harassment that have become unnaturally second-nature to the human creature.

We enabled this as cute quirks of evolving culture. I despised "The Apprentice" as an ego-stroke for Donald Trump, the rock star with a bad tan and chia-hair.

We made the imperfect "rock star" the persona to aspire to. Even in marketing, I dread when I'm called that, because the historical rock stars were mostly harassers first --- a la Motley Crue with "Girls Girls Girls" --- and gentlepersons second. Spinal Tap drips with sexual harassment, reflective of a time where all voices were not amplified equally. There was a time where power and the abuse of it got a pass.

This is a different time, when all crimes and imperfections are easily and eventually revealed. Big ticket politicians, comedians and movie stars are in the spotlight now; rock stars could be next.

These revelations destroy careers and legacies if they're not reckoned with appropriately (Spacey, Moore), but could lead to the creation of better humans and advocates for equality and integrity with an honest, humble approach (Louis C.K., Franken).

Bottom line: be a humble human, learn from (and try not to repeat) your mistakes and fully own up to your flaws.

In this digital present, we are each an email, photo or soundbyte away from our undoing.

Or an unethical assault by our elected officials.

#xoterica