Artifact: a music lover’s review

ar·ti·fact

      noun \ˈär-ti-ˌfakt\

     : a simple object (such as a tool or weapon) that was made by people in the past

     : an accidental effect that causes incorrect results

 

This article isn’t coming from a cubicle nestled in a concrete jungle of Corporate America. There are no supervisory editors in suits to edit my brain, and the only payment I’ll receive from this piece is personal satisfaction that because I’m putting it out in the universe, my voice is being heard.

But here I sit. In my 700 square-foot apartment in Costa Mesa, worlds away from the rock and roll underbelly of Los Angeles, curled up with my coffee and determination. I’m eager to pour my thoughts on the page for no other reason than palpable inspiration, born on the heels of watching such an epic documentary, driving me to do so.

My introduction to Bartholomew Cubbins (30 Second’s front man, Jared Leto’s directorial alias) was delivered via ARTIFACT – his sweat and tears, pumped through his veins with an infectious passion, far beyond the comprehension of the corporate dudes behind their lawsuit.

Just minutes in, I snagged the remote and hit rewind. I needed to watch what little I saw again. The beginning of the film introduces us to various artists talking about what music means to them – how we as human beings cannot live without it.

I connected with each industry insider interviewed (including one with neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music), but it was musician Kenna’s piece that induced a familiar tickle in my nose, coupled with watery eyes, which were quickly wiped from the curve of my smile.

“A song has a story in it, there’s a heart behind it, there’s a frequency within it and you as a person delivered it, and that’s why people care. Music is the most powerful vehicle in the world. Period.”

I’m not a musician. And before ARTIFACT, I didn’t know the first thing about the industry’s convoluted relationship between artists and labels. Who I am, is simply a [music] fan. I’m a singular drop in a vast ocean of music lovers who marvel at the magic; how an artist delivers (within the space of only a certain amount of notes) continual creations of infinite melodies weaved throughout original lyrics, which solidifies our passion and moves us beyond compare. Again. And again. And again.

If you’re expecting a narcissistic, self-indulgent, “look at us, we’re rock stars, here’s how we roll” type of film, ARTIFACT ‘aint it.

This documentary views like a cinematic dream – or rather – dream come true – for the three men who make up 30 Seconds to Mars (Jared Leto (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Shannon Leto (drums, percussion) and Tomo Miličević (lead guitar, bass, strings, keyboards, other instruments). Leto is the first to admit, their band’s record-breaking success wasn’t expected in their wildest dreams, and we believe him. Not because his breathtaking looks and disarming prose lure us in; but because we learn early on in the film that Leto and his band mates are simply asking for what is fair. We learn that like most things in life – even when our dreams are realized, there’s always shit hitting the proverbial fan. And in the case of EMI versus 30 Seconds to Mars, that’s a thirty million dollar clean up.

Adding to the meat of this 100-minute ride is a visual feast I didn’t see coming. Leto’s directorial eye is born for cinematic artistry. We’ve seen his signature talent several times in his self-directed music videos (my faves are Up in the Air and his most recent, City of Angels), and ARTIFACT is no exception.

This is a feel-good movie – after it pisses you off – but in the end, you’re left with a fire inside your belly that will inspire you to kick ass and draw your sword with whatever shit comes your way. And with This is War in your corner, you’ve got a killer soundtrack for the fight.

Official Trailer:

Christine Macdonald

A safe kind of high: My unexpected relapse

You would think after fifteen years, my memories of “rolling” and free-falling inside myself would be strung together on a distant, blurry line, for which I am older and wiser living clear on the other side. For the most part, this is true.

I can’t remember my last night taking Molly (we called it ecstasy, or “X”), but it’s been so long, my cravings are nearly non-existent. There are times when I allow myself to enjoy a memory or two – and those flashes in my mind are always wrapped in a glittery bow of reckless abandon, stitched together with youth and frivolity. These warm and fuzzy emotions are always balanced by the harsh realization that thanks to a solid five-year, six-pill-a-day habit, my brain is now permanently damaged. My docs and I have a good thing going now, with regular maintenance of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) therapy. It’s a pain in the

Christine Macdonald

Music and Chair Shows: Reflections of a retired stripper

Navigating six-inch heels on stage with smoke in your face takes practice. Sporting a smile while dancing to Me So Horny in those heels, and you’ll need a cocktail.

One of the unique challenges I faced during my ten-year career as a stripper was pretending to like certain types of music. Like suffering through a bad date, you realize something isn’t your taste but you smile politely and muddle through.

A typical Saturday night set on the main stage was shared with three other women, each providing the DJ with very specific song requests. I was always the Enigma or Nine Inch Nails girl with an occasional PJ Harvey thrown in for good measure. Pair that up with the Bel Biv Devoe and Naughty by Nature chicks and let the muddling ensue. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate a little Ice Cube with my INXS; I just didn’t feel sexy dancing on stage with them. I always felt like an extra on MTV’s Beach House.

My personal taste in music was a bit more edgy and alternative than what was played on mainstream radio. In classic narcissistic fashion, I took full credit for introducing the local

Christine Macdonald