Call For Artists

Venus DeMars (performance artist, painter, founder of All The Pretty Horses) and hi/r wife Lynette Reini-Grandell (poet, professor, host of Write On Radio on KFAI) are being raked over the coals by the MN Dept of Revenue. Read the story by Jim Walsh on MinnPost: http://www.minnpost.com/minnpost-asks/2013/04/talking-taxman-about-poetry-and-deductions.
Despite living as professional artists for the past thirty years, Venus and Lynette are now being told that their life work is not work, it is a hobby.
This is not a new occurrence. Artists have drawn the ire of the tax man for years but it usually it ends in a settlement with little fanfare. This time they picked a fight with the wrong people; people with nothing to hide, people with nothing to lose, people with everything to lose, people with no choice but to fight.
But this is not their fight alone. This affects all independent and original artists. We are taking this to the streets and putting on a benefit concert to raise the $6,000 needed for Venus and Lynette’s legal representation, and develop an Independent Artist’s Legal Defence Fund to support other artists who find themselves defending their way of life in court. Our hope is that this will put an end to artist persecution, but if not, our hope is that this will be an annual event.
We are currently working with Sonja at First Avenue to secure a date. Current dates available include July 19th, 20th and 26th; August 9th and 10th.
Since this affects all of us we want to involve as many people as possible. We also want it to be a successful night for our beloved First Avenue. We want to put on a star-studded event with three or four short (20-30 minute) bands sets (using a back-line) interspersed with 1-3 song solo/duo acoustic or DJ sets, poets and spoken word performances. We will also have a silent auction and art show.
Please let me know if you or the people you represent want to be part of this important event. We need names. The level of interest will determine what kind of night we get at First Avenue. If you are interested and available we will find a way for you to be involved. This will be as big of an event as we as a community can pull off. If the TEA Party can attract national attention from their run-in with the IRS, we as independent artist should be able to draw statewide attention from this event.
Please contact me at: jevanmusic@gmail.com
~J Evan LeFreak (bass player for All The Pretty Horses)
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Yesterday

Yesterday was an absolutely fabulous day. Seriously, I’m so proud of yesterday.  This hardly ever happens to me, especially on Thursdays. Usually, I’m too wiped out from working Wednesday to do much of anything. But not yesterday. Yesterday I had energy, I got shit done, the weather was nice and everything seemed to be going my way.

I woke up at 10AM which was right when I wanted to. This gave me enough sleep after staying up writing the night before and enough time to get done what I had to get done, which was a lot. I had to:

  • Dive to target to exchange a print cartridge so I could print my pedicab license application.
  • Dump my newspaper recycling at the recycling center.
  • Fill out the pedicab application once printed.
  • Bike downtown to the get the form signed by Twin Town Pedicab.
  • Head to City Hall to get the license.
  • Bike bake home by 2:30 so that I could get my van and pick up my daughter from school at 3PM

I actually had everything done and was back home by 2PM – good thing too. When I got home I opened my mail and discovered that the county was over charging me on my property taxes. They had my home listed as non-homesteaded when I most definitely do live there… much of the time. In any case, it is my home!

So a quick call to the county told me that the problem was with the city. An even quicker call to the city told me that it would be taken care of and I was still able to pick my daughter up on time.

My daughter and I had fun shopping at the mall. I had a gift card for Claire’s that I needed to use up. My daughter and I have very similar tastes in fashion accessories.  I got my self some spiffy suspenders and some finger-less gloves. My daughter got a tie, some tights and a silver glittery bow for her hair. We then went back to my house where we had dinner and watched silly, funny YouTube videos until it was time to take her home.

Venus had asked me earlier in the day to guest DJ with hir at this monthly event at club underground called Vinyl Venus Space Lounge. It’s all vinyl, very eclectic, super swank fun night. I have no idea why nobody ever shows up. Basically, I was asked just to get one more person in the bar. Actually, the hope was that I would bring in more people. I tried but I didn’t really have time to promote beyond my close friends and while I can count on them for just about anything… I can’t always count on them to make it to a gig.

Oh well, I was done for it and I was going to have fun. I ran back to my house after dropping off my daughter,  grabbed up some records, slammed a beer and headed to the bar. Venus was already spinning so I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer from my buddy, the bartender. He said, “first ones on the house since you’re spinning tonight”. I love that shit!

I did my first set while finishing my beer then I ordered a second one for during my break. I only had twelve bucks in my pocket so how much damage could I do? I definitively watch my drinking when dealing with turntables but even more when I’m driving.  I ordered a water for my second DJ set.

After that, I was done, and felt like I could have one more beer. My limit when I’m driving is typical two but am willing to have three if they are well spaced out. This would have made my forth of the evening but over the course of five hours. So I was pushing my rule a little but I still felt completely sober.

That was until my lovely bartender offered to do a shot of Sambuca with me.  Shit! Now I had a dilemma. My number one rule is don’t drive while intoxicated but a close second is never turn down a free drink. What was I going to do?

Well I did the shot of course. I hadn’t done shots of Sambuca in years and years and I was feeling a bit nostalgic. Now, I was starting to feel it so when the second round of shots came around I said, “Fuck yeah!” to that as well. I also said yes to a refill of my empty beer glass.

I also said yes to Venus’ offer to drive me home.

El Dorado – Part 2

So I’m finally back home after a week on the road. I’m feeling sick as hell; don’t know why. I felt pretty good the whole time I was away from here. I hope it wasn’t the egg salad sandwich I grabbed during our last stop for gas. My band mates got me feeling kind of nervous by discussing their bad food experiences in graphic detail – WHILE I WAS EATING. Anyway, I need to get to bed so that I can get up early tomorrow and go do my delivery job so I want to hammer this out and finish my tour entries.

I actually got a good night’s sleep at Jule’s in Albuquerque. We wanted to get on the road early. It’s a long drive and the last stretch through Kansas is a real bitch in the dark. There are no lights what-so-ever and the lane dividers aren’t even reflective so it’s really hard to see. I hate to say this because the people I’ve met in Kansas are wonderful but for a while now, Kansas has been my least favorite state in the union.

We pulled into the horse ranch in El Dorado, KS around 8:30 at night. By the way, Dorado rhymes with potato not with the Eagles song Desperado like I always thought. Not that it matters; it’s just always bugged me. Another reason why Kansas rubs me the wrong way. But like I said, it’s not the people. Peter and Liz are absolutely amazing. Their generosity and hospitality is unbelievable. Not everyone would let a crazy rock band crash at their house, but they do so much more than that. They feed us, probably the best food we have the entire trip. They always have beer, a big plus for me. Seriously, the way they take care of us I would take over any five star hotel in the world. Peter even took the night of work so that he could be there when we arrived.

I’ve done the “crashing at punk house” touring. I’ve done the “staying in hotel” touring but the kind of touring I am able to do with Venus de Mars, where we stay with friends who just want to make sure that we get something to eat and get a good nights sleep is something new. I like it. I need it. I just want to make sure that the people who are caring for us are getting something out of it. I hate feeling like a pariah (sorry, I’m sure there are racist implications of that term but I can’t address everything in one post), but my bigger concern is that people aren’t feeling taken advantage of. I believe that our band is doing something good, really good; and I believe that we are all in this together. I’m just wish that I took more time to understand why people help us. It’s really and incredible thing.

Liz came out early this morning and checked on me sleeping on the couch. She was concerned that I might be cold. I was fine. I was in my footie pajamas so all was good but I did half wake up. You know that feeling where you wake up from an intense dream and you’re not sure if it’s a dream or reality. It was kind of like that, but kind of a lot worse. When I woke up I didn’t know where I was, how I got there or what was going on in my life. It was shear terror. I felt completely lost. Things like this can happen when you are sleeping in a different bed every night but this was beyond anything like that. I seriously felt like I was loosing my mind. I chalk it up to my crazy brain rebelling on the last night on the road. Luckily when I woke up for good a little while later I was feeling like myself again.

I had stayed up later than everyone else, writing and researching Venus’ IRS situation. I was still up and about before anyone else. To clarify, I think they all woke up before me but I was the first to be moving about. It was around 8 in the morning and my understanding of the plan was that we were leaving at 10 am so we could get home at 8pm. I was really looking to get some writing done this morning given that we didn’t have to get on the road quite so early.

Apparently I was wrong; or more accurately, I wasn’t the only person loosing their mind today. Venus came out apologizing that we would be waiting on her today. Confused, I let her know that we still had a couple hours before we needed to leave. She insisted that we needed to leave by 8 am to get home by 10 pm. Now I’m frustrated, “No, it’s a ten hour drive we leave at 10 am and get home at 8 pm”. This didn’t go over well. She still wanted to leave as soon as possible. My hope of getting writing done was dashed and I was annoyed. I felt cheated. I could feel my heart rate rise and knew I was beginning to loose it.

I voiced my emotions. I said I was upset and really stressed. Venus said that she didn’t mean to stress me out and that she though she had made herself clear the night before. Yeah, communication is a bitch. I never heard anything like that and in fact the last conversation I had with her about it was quite different. The conversation she was referring to I wasn’t even present for; not that it mattered. I just said, “I’m just putting it out there, not putting it on you.” These were my emotions to deal with. I just wanted the people around me to know what I was dealing with.

And I knew Venus was under a lot of stress too. I knew that she was worried about the weather, heading back into the snowy Midwest  I knew she was worried about driving at night. I knew that her biggest worry was about this tax audit that could end the band. We spent much of the trip home in silence separated by periodic discussions of what it means to be an artist and how this is not a hobby. It has really got me thinking and I hope that I can write an essay about this distinction. I’m trying to figure out if I have any hobbies  The only thing that I can think of that might fit that description is masturbation.

We got back to Minneapolis and dropped Jazz off just as the tenth and final disc of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett was concluding. This is seriously and amazing book and the reading performance by Martin Jarvis is absolutely phenomenal. Accept for a little David Bowie, Le Tigre and Rasputina plus This American Life and Radiolab podcasts, this was our main form of entertainment during the nearly 70 hours we spent together in that Toyota Corolla.

 

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