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JP1000



From the February 2009 issue of
Vaidade Magazine available on newsstands now.

Due to the popularity of the interview Victoria Wright recently conducted with James Power & Luther Brixton in the December issue of Vaidade Magazine, we decided to have Victoria do a follow-up to discuss the presidential election outcome, as well issues that time did not permit during the original interview.

 

VW: Well, James, you must be quite happy with the 2008 presidential election. Were you surprised at all by the outcome?

 

Luther Brixton: No. no. Well, it’s always surprising when things go right, no matter how much you expect them to. There hasn’t been a lot to be happy about after 8 years of Bush, so I certainly feel a lot better about the future. Anyone who doesn’t feel better about having a president not beholden to Saudi Arabia and OPEC, to the point of maintaining a hands-off policy on Osama Bin Laden like Bush, is not paying attention.

 

VW:  Do you believe George W Bush actually has a policy to not get Osama Bin Laden?

 

Luther Brixton: Well, let’s just say I can’t imagine Bin Laden being too angry about how he’s been treated since 9.11. There clearly has been no interest in going after him by the Bush administration. And McCain’s flowery nonsense about chasing “Bin Laden to the gates of hell” - but notice not apprehending or killing him - confirmed his status quo approach.  By the way, if he knows how to get Bin Laden, why aren’t Republicans demanding he do it?  Hey Johnny! Sorry you lost, but since you know what to do to get Bin Laden, do you want to share it with the class? You didn’t win the presidency so, what, are all bets off? What about country first, douchebag?

 

VW:  What about you, James? Any thoughts on the election? 

 

James Power:  Well, I’m guessing cave values have probably gone up quite a bit since Novembre 4th
 

VW:  Any thoughts on the Wall Street bailout?

 

James Power:  The very foundation of the US economy and our systems of finance have been compromised. There is no longer a free market. That illusion has been revealed. The government spent hundreds of billions of the people’s money for direct government intervention to save companies who deserved to fail due to their mistakes. We nationalized the banks.

 

The conversation must now change. Healthcare? Welfare? Unemployment? Taxes? All of these things and more are now on the table for discussion! A republican president ended the free market system. That's a fact. After decades of the right-wing preaching that the free market system could regulate itself, with no oversight necessary. So, why lower taxes on the wealthy in hopes it'll trickle down? We know now conclusively that it won’t. It will only tank the economy. Why not just give the people the money? The ultimate upshot is from now on everyone knows that the government will spend the peoples' money to save private enterprise. That knowledge was the death knell of conservatism.

 

VW: We didn’t get a chance to talk much about the new material in Octobre.  Are there any particular themes running through the current project?

 

James Power: The usual - alienation, death, lust. It’s really only variations on those themes that ever hold people’s interest. And a good beat.

 

VW: What about romance, love, happiness?

 

Luther Brixton: What about it?

 

James Power: Do you really want to hear a song about some guy going out on a date with the girl of his dreams and everything going according to plan? If you’re honest, you know the answer’s no. You want a variation on that theme. In other words, the guy can’t get the girl he wants without paying a price. So, he torments the living shit out of her, to the point where she waits in his driveway, throws a wire around his neck, and rapes him mercilessly.

 

VW:  She rapes him?

 

James Power:  I’m just thinking out loud, but you know what I mean… About 10 years ago when things were going my way in a relationship - lasted about 3 weeks - I recall trying to find music that matched my mood during that time. The only song I could find was ‘Here’s to the Losers’ by Frank Sinatra. Song’s sung from the point of view of a guy who’s got everything going his way are very rare.  The reason is it’s not a frame of mind most people can relate to.

 

VW:  But they can relate to having a wire thrown around their necks and raped unmercifully?

 

Luther Brixton: Yeah! Duh!

 

James Power: Not the wire and rape, per se, but the dark, unexpected consequences of trying to find happiness. That’s something everyone can relate to.

 

VW: Since you said any topic was open for discussion, I wanted to go over the case of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania versus James Power which went before the courts in 2004.

 

James Power: Shoot.

 

VW: You’ve said before that your most prolific period as a writer was 2002 through 2005, but that it was also a very volatile period for you personally

 

James Power: I see the two things as being inextricably intertwined, actually.

 

VW: So what was it exactly that lead to the charges against you?

 

James Power: First, let me say that I was born in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. But as a real American, I only legally recognize the United States, not their commonwealths. Initially I refused to accept the charges brought against me by a banana republic like Pennsylvania. Of course, I was also forced then to not recognize myself, since my birth certificate says I was born there. Which lead to a bitter and protracted lawsuit called James Power versus James Power. But I digress…

 

In 2003 I had a good friend named Ralph Blood who lived in Philadelphia. I was living just outside New York City at the time. Well, he hooked up with a barfly named Dianna Wierzbicki from Bensalem, Pennsylvania. During the early months of 2003 he bugged me repeatedly to play guitar with her because she was looking for someone to play with. I wasn't interested at all, but I eventually relented. The idea was that I would go down to Philadelphia on the weekends and we’d play. It initially seemed like a win-win situation since I was writing a lot of new material and it gave me a sounding board to try out the songs. But by the time Ralph and Dianna became engaged, she started becoming increasingly interested in me.

 

Eventually, she got persistent in her interest. Calling me constantly. But I made it clear I wasn’t interested in her like that. Well, by the end of the year they broke up. My position towards her never changed, but after they broke up Ralph suddenly refused to talk to me or answer my calls. I called Dianna to see if she knew what was going on. She said she didn’t, but being considerably smarter than a half-wit Bensalem hairstylist, I knew what she had done. She had told Ralph that we had fucked. Excuse the language. Which, beyond not being the truth, is also beyond the pale of what someone who wants to live should ever do. That’s when I decided to stop being a nice guy.

 

VW: What happened?

 

James Power: Well, I knew killing a low-rent, barfly, as insignificant as she was, would most likely land me in jail. And I was not going to jail for stomping on a dog turd. So, using my diabolical sense of conflict resolution, I decided to make her life a living hell.

 

VW:  How?

 

James Power:  The greatest lesson I learned from 8 years of Catholic school - the same lesson learned from Alfred Hitchcock movies – is that the fear of the unknown is always worse than the actual act.. Unless, of course, the actual act consists of butchering someone in the shower…. The idea was to make her fear every waking hour. A friend of hers even called me up at one point to say she was so terrified she was getting a body guard to protect her. That, of course, made me quite happy!

 

VW:  What exactly did you do to her?

 

James Power: In and of themselves none of the acts were really devastating, but the culmination of the acts together brought the desired outcome. I started sending her crazy things COD such as gigantic birdcages, and imported fertilizer, you know, weird shit that no one in their right mind would think of. General weirdness, done up right, can be truly frightening….  I wrote all about it in the song ‘Bird Cage.’

 

VW:  But what was it that brought about the court charges?

 

Luther Brixton: HAHAHA! It actually wasn’t anything as cool as the giant birdcages. James placed an ad on Craigslist offering sexual services extremely cheap by Dianna and put her work phone number in the ad. He placed the ad on her busiest work day as a hairstylist – Saturday. Apparently, she got inundated by phone calls from skeevy dudes wanting to get their rocks off! HAHAHAHA!!! C’mon now! THAT’S funny!

 

VW: I suppose… So, you went too far with the Craigslist ad?

 

James Power: No. Not really. I was hoping the issue would be brought to the light of day. I enjoyed explaining it in court. I don’t regret any of my actions. Even the detective who was prosecuting the case smiled when I explained what happened. My life story is replete with such incidents. Accordingly, my mugshots are always up to date.

 

It’s funny that the night the detective called me to inform me of the charges being brought against me I was in the middle of writing a song called ‘Devil’s Got Me in a Rundown.’ I’ve often thought that if I hadn’t been able to get my story into the public record – even if it was only a Commonwealth record – I would have probably killed the bitch.

 

Luther Brixton: She would have had it coming!

 

James Power: Goddamn right.

 

VW:  That’s truly demented.

 

Luther Brixton: You make it sound like that’s a bad thing.

 

James Power: I look at life as a short story. It goes by very quickly. I want to leave something behind more interesting and memorable than the average Joe Crackerbarrel leaves behind.

 

The actor Paul Muni once said something I thought was profound. He said if someone steals your money or your watch, he’s only stolen material things. But if he steals your time, he’s stolen your life. Well, no one’s stealing my life.. except me.

 

Luther Brixton: Muni’s always been a favorite philosopher of mine.

 

VW: I know you had a similarly interesting story regarding The State of New Jersey versus James Power.

 

Luther Brixton: He actually documented that in his online journal awhile ago. I’m still waiting for The United States versus James Power. THAT’S the one to get front row seats for!

 

James Power: You think? Kind of like Cody Jarrett at the end of White Heat?

 

Luther Brixton: Yeah, yeah, yeah! “They think they’ve got James Power, but they haven’t got James Power!

 

VW: So, what happened to Ralph? Did you do him in, too?

 

Luther Brixton: Of course not! What’s your problem, lady? Are you not following this?

 

James Power: No. Maybe you don’t see any sense in what I do, which is fine. But there is very sound reasoning at work. Ralph was dealt a shitty hand by a lowlife shit-stain, who frankly was not even attractive.

Luther Brixton: Amen to that!

James Power: He may think I did something horrible, but I know the truth. One day he’ll figure it out.

 

VW:  You wrote the lyric, The gunman rides alone / He’s judge and jury. ” Is that your idea of justice? The vigilante. Should he always get away?

Luther Brixton: He dies, lady. That’s what happens to him! No one gets away.

 

James Power: Every life ends with death. That’s the deal we’re all dealt. Whether you’re a cactus or a human. A beautiful flower or a venomous snake.

 

Luther Brixton: A piano or a lampshade.

 

James Power: No, no. Luther, remember I explained this before?

 

Luther Brixton: Right, right. Not a lampshade.

 

James Power: Or a piano.

 

Luther Brixton: Right. Or a piano.

 

VW: You were talking earlier about the importance of singing. You were describing it as man’s most pure artistic expression. 

 

James Power: If you want to paint, you need a canvas, a paintbrush, paint. If you want to write you need paper, ink. The same is true for sculpting, composing music, just about every other form of expression. The exceptions being dancing and singing. They involve no additional equipment.

 

Luther Brixton: And mimes. Don’t forget mimes.

 

James Power: Right. Mimes. But, I believe singing is man’s greatest and most unique artistic expression. It is unencumbered by any additional accoutrements.  And everyone’s voice is unique. That's why I’m always willing to hear a new voice. They all offer something distinctive. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes not, but the truly great voices make our lives much more bearable somehow.

 

VW: I understand you recently met with the gospel great Claude Jeter of the original Swan Silvertones, is that correct?

 

James Power: Yes I did. But I’ve had several people contact me recently trying to find out information on him, where he is, how is he, and I want to respect his privacy and not say too much. He deserves that respect.

 

VW: Did he impart any wisdom to you?

 

James Power: Yes.... long before I ever met him

 

VW: As I asked at the end of our last interview, what music are your listening to these days?

 

Luther Brixton: Can I answer that? Humphrey Lyttelton.

 

VW: And you James?

 

James Power: Today? The Swan Silvertones, Victor Mourning, and Red Foley.

 

VW: As always, thanks for your time. Any final thoughts?

 

James Power: Yes. What Albert Schweitzer once said. “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”

 

Luther Brixton: That sounds about right.

 
 
Current Music: Bettye Lavette - Talking Old Soldiers