By Ashley Zimmerman
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By John Hood
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By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
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Got a call from the Lord the other day. Following an e-mail volley, I asked Jesus if I could hear his voice on the phone, and lo, I have been blessed.
Jesus is actually an especially effective agent provocateur within the South Florida music community. Two summers ago, the local Website Queen of the Scene stood as an unofficial cyberspace street corner, where denizens could converse, commiserate, bitch, whine, complain, dis, and praise anything and everything that passed for culture in our area.
At Queen of the Scene, Jesus would regularly get the message board flaming by dropping incendiary devices with his postings. "And I'd always sign 'em, 'Love, Jesus,'" says the Lord. Sometimes, he'd write blasphemous, calculated-to-offend diatribes linking Catholicism and pornography, or he'd "out" straight members of area bands and then post follow-ups under different names confirming or denying the rumor. A shit-stirrer, they'd call him in Nazareth. After gaining notoriety that way, Jesus had a personal epiphany: "I realized I wanted to do something to help."
The 24-year-old -- well aware he has just nine years till he's crucified -- still uses the handle Jesus H. Christ to attract attention. And it works. Queen of the Scene eventually wallowed into deep trouble with its ISP over the increasingly nasty tone of the message board, in no small part because Christ's initial rib-jabbing opened the door for all sorts of petty inter- and intraband nastiness.
"I did things that were provocative, because that's what people respond to. That's what they want to hear," sayeth the Lord. Now, Jesus has taken on slightly less of a saboteur aspect with his writings found on Spitswap.com, a three-month-old local music Website/message board that tries to fill the space vacated by Queen of the Scene. But Jesus isn't there to guide his flock with kindness -- in fact, he comes down hard (and justly so) on the exclusive clique of area musicians that currently rules the roost on Spitswap.
"I go out and see these local bands," he says, "and I don't see anything that impresses me. I'm not a hard-ass; I'm honest. If I see someone trying to be original and making an effort to do their best, I say so. But if I see someone doing something someone else is doing, it's a waste of my time."
Obviously, the Lord's time is precious. But he has raised an important point that isn't made often enough in the South Floridian music press: that the great majority of popular local bands who can draw 400-500 fans to their shows at our geeky little clubs are nothing but carbon-copy rip-offs of mainstream acts, catering to the lowest common denominator. Many of these groups have been together a year or less, but they find a soapbox on Spitswap.com to pat their own backs. There's plenty of ego on the board, arranged nicely in a gilded setting of ignorance. For every ten My Life in the Gush of Boastspostings exhorting us to "support the scene!' and "show some unity" or "we need to come together" or "don't miss our CD-release party!" there's about one intelligent message. The vast majority of those are from Jesus himself, a veritable voice of reason in an inarticulate morass of self-promotion and self-aggrandizement. He has his own forum on Spitswap, where he offers "constructive criticism" to regional acts, most of whom he condemns as "trying to model themselves after big, huge rock bands, thinking that if they act like that, they'll become one. They rehearse like crazy and develop these big stage shows, but there's no substance behind it."
What would Jesus do to make a better scene? He advocates a free, open, centralized message board that isn't moderated by someone with an ax to grind and a band to pimp. And maybe some input from individuals outside of the DeadBodyAssembledMonsterGods inner circle who've played stages other than the ones at the Factory or Culture Room.
"I wish people would actively participate instead of promoting yourself and your group of friends," he says. "And I wish they'd stop being such spineless kiss-asses." Of Spitswap, he says, "Their site is not what I stand for." Spitswap is the creation of D.S Poe from Morrison/Poe and can easily be construed as little more than a front for Mo/Po and pals.
Interestingly, it was a verse from a 1972 Genesis song that tipped Bandwidth to the fact that this messiah might actually have more of a clue than the other 20-somethings who pollute Spitswap with dopey drama and grammatical offenses. "The book of Genesis is really my unauthorized biography," kiddeth the Lord, who realizes he has a lot of work ahead, what with educating the lost children. "I just want to try and touch a few of them and enlighten 'em some, but it's tough. You can't expect them to listen to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway."
E-mail Jesus at JE5U5ddd@aol.com.