(Click to enlarge, please to enjoy) 


Post Punk? Pre Punk? No Wave? Nein Wave? Avant Garde? Savant Garde? Phhhhht, I say, to labels, on my way to see legendary/infamous X__X (Ex Blank Ex) on their nationwide tour, and Seattle's own Tissue and DYED at the good ol' Funhouse. On this night I am treated to humans in their '20s to humans in their retirement years (haha, just joking, no one gets to retire anymore!) taking genres and booting them out the Funhouse door, any expectations landing with an inglorious splat onto I-5. A small but enthusiastic crowd cheered on each set while I took pictures for you. Extra-special thanks to X__X's Craig Bell!

Please check out each band via the links above, support live music, and click on each photo to enlarge and click on the Flickr set links for more. Click on and please to enjoy!



What do you do when the building that hosts your supercool Seattle printing business/performance space is going to be TORN DOWN by developers within days? You host a couple of fun show nights, that's what, and say bye bye in smashing style. Ink Knife Press will survive n' thrive close by, which is great news, as so many creative businesses and artists are feeling the effects of our area's real estate frenzy and leaving for far-away digs that won't leave them in constant panic that they won't be able to cover the ever-increasing rents. ANYWAY, I was able to attend last Friday night's bash, brought my camera, and now I share this visually-informative post with YOU. Please to enjoy. (Click on the photos to enlarge and click on the Flickr set links for more and such!)


Guys!! HEY GUYS!!!

Popthomology today is ten years old.


I've spent a full decade of my life writing and creating things for this site.

That's a long time.

For some of you, this may be the very first post you've read here (and the last). Some other folks have read nearly all 2596 of them. In the beginning, when the site was named "Diarrhea Island," the readers were my existing friends and family, along with a few people from a Howard Stern message board. Then, via the magic of the Internet, people came looking for information about diarrhea (which did not exist until I wrote a post directing people where to go), then diarrhea and Chipotle, then all kinds of other stuff, from nearly every country in the world. I've even had logins from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and even the White House (they read a post called "BOOBS," no joke). Around the time when I started properly photographing concerts again after a 20+ year absence, I changed the name to Popthomology, a name that didn't suggest I ran a site for fans of fecal matter.

And I just chugged along, for many years writing a new post every single day. I didn't have a plan or a vision -- the content was just going to be whatever I felt like making that day. I thought on February 28, 2008, hey, maybe I could do this for a year. And now ten have gone by, and there is no question that my life was profoundly changed for the better because I started this blog, something I could never have predicted sitting down to write and publish that first post.

After spending most of my adult life burying my creative ideas like so many cat turds in a litterbox, I desperately needed a voice. This site became that, and it worked as this construct to keep pushing myself to do more and do better. It's staggering to me that there's been nearly 2 million lifetime page views here. Even if you throw half of that away to bots or creepers, it's still more than the five views I was expecting. It was never my ambition to be a big, important thing -- I didn't want to do ads, or obnoxiously promote myself, or, most critically, write about things I didn't want to write about. Everything here is something that was important to me, whether it was a record review, a fiction piece, something funny my daughter said in the car, a political rant, pretty photographs, thrift store oddities, fake children's books, snarky holiday cards, or about how hilarious goats are. I think I may have originated the worldwide goat meme craze, but let's move on.

Naturally, I'm not the same person today as I was in 2008. Older and wiser, one hopes, and I no longer feel voiceless. I no longer feel like I didn't do right by some of the talents I had. I've had my say for ten years, and there's something very satisfying about that. What you can't see here in the digital archives are all the friendships I now have that never would have existed if I hadn't done this. Friendships that give my life color and depth, that bring love and support, that expanded my world to all kinds of ideas and opportunities, and brought me in like family. I know "gratitude" is a bit of a hack buzzword today, tossed around with the saccharine "blessed" and the snore-y "mindfulness," but man, I am grateful, in that way when you you know things really could've gone the other way, or just remained still and stagnant and grey.

I've slowed down posting here -- WAY down -- as a matter of practicality and natural run of things. I'm not done quite yet, but my energies are focused more on my health and gearing up for some new creative challenges that I'm really stoked about. I'm also utterly determined to give Popthomology a damn proper party for its decennial, which will take place sometime this year in Seattle, and I am thinking it will be a lot of FUN. Watch this space!

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read here, thank you to WN in AU who put in countless frustrating backend hours here to make this Frankensteined Blogger site function, thank you to everyone who encouraged me along the way or let me know that I did a good job or that I could do better, or who have stepped in to guest post along the way.

Ten years! Wow.


Lemons in the Grass

Bright yellow lemons on green green grass
Big sky goodbye please wait too fast
Look at you baby blue, eyeing up the past
Had the golden ticket but now stuck behind the glass

Lost at sea, lost at home
A sense of purpose never shown
Time was never yours to own
Time was never yours to know

Paper boats floating down curbside streams
Personalized cubicles and management teams
Restless minds and Ambien dreams
Sunrise washed in coffee and cream

Water sparkles with iridescent oil
Jet age dresses made from aluminum foil
Bus fumes billow, tires clouded with soil
Some of us work and some of us toil

Lying on the paper waiting to be seen
A fly shoots by, shimmering green
Hold yourself together, keep yourself clean
No reason to look up from a tiny little screen

Popcorn gunshots firecracker flutter
A lifetime's treasure sold as everyday clutter
Rain pouring out from an autumn-choked gutter
The universe is singing but you only hear it mutter

Looking searching but never found
Bicycle rides through the wrong side of town
Women walking by in cotton candy gowns
Burned to ashes or buried in the ground
Burned to ashes or buried in the ground
Burned to ashes or buried in the ground.

-- MCS, 2018


(Today, our Popthomology office, located in Seattle-ish, received the following letter to the editor via hand-delivered Express Mail, which we are publishing verbatim and responding to immediately. -- Ed.)


(Please to enjoy Popthomology friend and high school photojournalist/videographer Grace Tom back to this site for her coverage of the 2018 Women's March in Seattle! -- Marianne)

January 21st, 2017 was the first women's march I ever attended. It was mind-opening and heart-warming to see all the women getting together and using the voices they were given to make a difference. Fast-forward to one year later on January 20th, 2018 and I'm back at the Seattle's women's march and still blown away by the number of women, men and children that came to show support. Thousands of people gathered on that day to partake in societal change. From the hilarious signs, to the chanting and singing coming from the mouths of many, preaching what is right for our world and being a part of something bigger than themselves, brought some people to tears on this cloudy Seattle afternoon. It was clear that the energy and positivity didn't just affect the adults attending the march but influenced the children as well. 

It was very moving seeing young girls so enthusiastic and involved participating in this historical event that many will remember for a long time. Next time there is a march near you, I highly encourage that you join in for change, inclusion, and justice for all.


When going through all the concert photos I took at the end of each year, I am always struck by the same thought: "Boy, are you LUCKY to be able to experience live music this way!" It's a great privilege to be able to be so close up -- closer than close with a zoom lens -- and to take on the challenge of capturing moments of performance that go by with lightning speed. Much conspires against you: poor lighting, fast stage movement/lack of stage movement, TALL PEOPLE IN FRONT, people bashing into you, shooting time restrictions, sweaty hot venues, and any number of technical failures. Sometimes it goes well, and sometimes it really doesn't. But most of the time I come away with good stuff.

You can't judge how well each shoot went down until you get back home and get the photos onto the computer and begin to edit. Many of them I turn into digital dust right away because of whatever combination of above failures. Then it's the task of selecting the few that I'll take into Photoshop to process. These are the three questions I ask: 1. Is it in focus and well-composed?; 2. Does it give a good feel of the performance? and; 3. Is it beautiful, and can I make it more beautiful with thoughtful editing? I take my time with each image because my biggest goal at the end of the whole event is to offer you concert photos that are worth your time to look at and enjoy. These are the 17 photos I took in 2017 that I loved the most, and I hope you love them, too. (Click on each image to enlarge, and amble over to my Flickr account to see more if you wish!)

(Me at work, Burger Boogaloo, Oakland, CA., 7/2/17. Photo by Johnny Samra)


(Click to enlarge, ho ho ho)


If you still get excited about things, like I do, there's nothing like the Christmas+birthday-like anticipation of an excellent live music event coming up. No concert is exactly like another, even for the "Hello (fill in the city)! Are you ready to ROCK??" type of gaseous entertainment providers I avoid. There's an element of unpredictability and the uniqueness of the performer/audience vibe that appeals to me as a Know-It-All™, because the experience of being musically surprised keeps me from being mildly insufferable and dustily long-winded with jaded one-upping back-in-MY-day tales, which hold as much value as a 20-year-old cat turd in a Ziplock bag.

So, it was with great glee that I polished up the ol' Canon Image Sucker and headed over to Seattle's Highline Bar to see three of my most-favorites play: Steal Shit Do Drugs, Dreamsalon, and ol' fren Lars Finberg. It was in fact a FrenFest™ as so many of the people I love and hang with showed up to support this extra-special show: Dreamsalon's last, and Lars Finberg's first in Seattle. Wait, now just hold up, Miss Supposed Know-It-All™, I hear you say, this Finberg character has played here umti-billions of times in The Intelligence and the A-Frames and with the Oh Sees and such! WELL, nitpickers, maybe so, but this is the first time he is appearing as LARS FINBERG, SELF, with his nifty three-piece combo, the Bakersfield Moonlighters, in support of his just-released "Moonlight Over Bakersfield" album on In The Red Records! I'm WAY into this record (as you might note), so to be able to hear the new songs played live was firing up my dopamine neurotransmitters and putting a giddy smile on my face.

Was my anticipation of happy surprises realized? CHECK BOX: YES. SSDD's set's surprise brought Pink Parts vocal powerhouse Nicki on guitar for their in-ya-face Stooges-style punk, and Dreamsalon absolutely rose to the challenge of a final performance and packed the Highline floor with fans for maybe the best set I've ever heard from them -- tight, powerful, just the right level of crazy. (Min, Matthew, and Craig are making plans to do more music, just not as Dreamsalon, so do not be too sad!) And Lars Finberg's new songs? Filled to the rim brimming with riffs I wish I could hold hands with I like them so much, notably stellar drumming from Fren Kaanan Tupper, and Finberg's signature mordant songs that sum up so much of the weirdness of being on the planet as a fallible human.

I was able to contain my joy enough to hold a camera steadily, which I see as part of my lifetime skill set. Click on each image to enlarge or click on the Flickr set link to see them in their native land. Thank you Highline, SSDD, Dreamsalon (salute), and Lars Finberg!



(Click each page to enlarge, CONSUMERS!)


(Click to enlarge)


"...Cranberry State, cranberry hate, Cranberry State, cranberry hate..."

Red, oozy bubbles formed around the berries, sugar and water and heat popping them to make the sauce, fresh always for Thanksgiving, always Joanie who made it. She didn't even like cranberries, she thought to herself, frowning slightly as she stirred, the childish rhyme repeating in her head. The air in her mother's kitchen was thick with the smells of holiday dinner, turkey and gravy and sweet potatoes and green beans and rolls begging to be slathered with butter, each of the aunts and sisters and daughters working at their tasks, as always.

Her mother, bent over and rummaging loudly through a cabinet, let out a sudden, forceful sigh of exasperation and slammed the cabinet and stood facing it, her back to all. Everyone stopped working; the only sounds now were the bubbling of the sauce and boiling potatoes and the muffled conversation from fathers, brothers, uncles, and sons in living room, punctuated by a cheer or cry depending on what was going on with their football game.

No one in the kitchen moved.

Joanie stared into the pot, cranberries boiling too furiously now, thickening, like coagulated, angry blood. "I left this place, and learned from it!" she blurted. "Why didn't you?"

Her mother's shoulders lowered. That's the problem, she thought sadly: you leave, you change. It used to be no one left, and nothing changed.

Silently, the women went back to the food and the silverware and the serving dishes, while another triumphant yell from the men filled the empty space.