rock over, london. rock on, chicago.

at last, i deleted my spyspace page. praise rhesus monkeys. a very foul-mouthed friend of mine had this to say in response (subtitled, because he can be difficult to understand):

i think someone needs to wash that little dude’s mouth out with soap or something.

for anyone who noticed my sudden disappearance from their friends list, it’s not you. it’s me. i just don’t see the point in having a myspace page anymore. maybe i sign on once a month, if that, and i never feel any motivation to update the blog there, or do anything at all with the profile page. it’s not that myspace is no longer cool, though some people will tell you this is true. i never really felt at home there. this place always seemed a lot more worthy of stuff, so i generally kept my stuff here and only occasionally sent some residual stuff over to myspace. now i can just keep all my stuff in one stuff container. hooray, i say.

work on one of the new albums has slowed down a bit while i focus a lot of energy on the other one. you know the one. it’s got stuff on it. the way things are moving along, i think my ambition to have at least one of them finished by the end of this month may be pretty realistic after all. at the same time, i’ve been continuing to play around with cover art for cds from the back catalogue, and at this point just about every “official” cd (and even a few unofficial ones) has new artwork. you can check out the discography page if you want to get an idea. some things are crude, and often intentionally so. some things look a lot cooler than i expected they would. some things are frustrating, because the cds aren’t really worth “reissuing” but the new cover art almost makes me want to go ahead anyway. take the SICK SHIT ep, for example. as an album, it’s really just a dumping ground for out-takes, and not something i would want to give to anyone. but the cover art i came up with is so perfectly stupid, it makes me laugh hysterically, and i’m almost tempted to get inserts printed even though the music on the cd isn’t really worth it.

there are also some things that were fairly low on my list of priorities, but now i’m really looking forward to repackaging them because of how they’re going to look. the LIFELINE / WOHIS two-fer wasn’t something i planned on including in the invisible reissue campaign at all, but then i started scanning some old pictures, felt an unexpected surge of inspiration, and found myself changing my mind completely once i’d made the cover art. the CHINESE BUBBLEGUM ep was definitely worthy, but i couldn’t for the life of me come up with a cover image i liked. some of the pictures i unearthed took care of that too, and now it’s one of my favourite-looking cds of the bunch. the SLEEP-DEPRIVED ep wasn’t on my radar either, but now i may have to throw it in there, again, because of the cover art. sadly, i made the little video on the “who the hell is johnny west?” page before some of these new cover images were put together, so they don’t all show up there. but i’m too lazy to go back in and re-edit the thing to reflect the changes i’ve made. maybe some other time.

speaking of pictures, there were some i’d been meaning to scan for a while, but i thought they were buried in the basement somewhere and didn’t feel like looking for them. turns out they were sitting at the bottom of one of my dresser drawers all this time. check out some photos johnny smith took of me circa 1999.

something was wrong with the camera, and it didn’t properly expose the black and white film, so one half of every image came out as nothing but black space…with one exception. in this picture here, the black space is tempered with a little bit of what should be in the image sneaking through. i kind of like the unintentional effect it creates. yes—there was a time when i had short hair, and no facial hair. here’s proof.

i look about 12 in this picture, when i was 15. i was tall and didn’t really look 12, i assure you. in fact, when i was 14, seniors at my high school asked if i would buy cigarettes for them, thinking i was older than them or at least their age, because of my appearance. not that you’d guess on the basis of this picture. and look at me, trying to make it look like i play guitar the proper way. that right there is the infamous vantage shitbox i took to calling a kleenex box with strings. the first guitar i ever bought, probably made out of the cheapest synthetic wood ever created. still, it served me well, and for the first little while it wasn’t like i could really play, so i wouldn’t have sounded much better on a good acoustic guitar. this thing is all over the early solo cds, most of the papa ghostface albums, and it even popped up occasionally once i had better guitars, like on “peachy pear” (on BRAND NEW SHINY LIE). i don’t think i’ve even picked it up to play it in at least three years now. i should dust it off and see if there are any new dead frets.

that’s the arp omni-2 behind me, in the tiny music room at the house on kildare.

i’m a serious dude. never mind the fact that within a few months of these pictures being taken, i would be recording songs with titles like “kemit got laid” and “yer boobs”.

there’s something about these pictures i’ve always liked. even though they were taken on a consumer-grade camera (and a malfunctioning one at that), once you cut out the black space, they’ve got a certain something about them. plus there’s the novelty of me being all clean-cut and shit. i think i might use one of these pictures for a future album…there’s one in particular that looks really cool when i put a certain effect on it. as it stands, a few of them are now a part of CHINESE BUBBLEGUM.

four years or so later, at the time of OH YOU THIS, i looked a little…different.

from there, it was a whole lot of hair. and damnit, i miss that fucking shirt. thanks for keeping it or yourselves, or giving it to someone else by mistake, stupid cry cleaners. thanks a lot.

6 comments

  1. Fuzzy duck makes my heart explode almost as much as your photos do. Damn! I dunno if you know this or not but you’re quite the handsome guy.

    1. handsome? i don’t know about that…i think it might have been the malfunctioning camera. and that fuzzy duck has a serious case of potty mouth. he has two siblings who just shake their heads and wonder what his deal is. i think he’s been watching too many late night movies on hbo.

  2. Yay! I deleted my crapspace page too. Can’t really think why I had it in the first place – I never used it, never had any visitors and I signed up when myspace was already passé. And once my only friend was gone … well, what was going to keep me there?

    I remember the shirted johnny through the trees picture from the old johnnywestmusic.com webpage. I also remember thinking (in a non-gay way) that you weren’t half as bad looking as you seemed to think you were. A bit of a combination of a young John Lennon and young Frank Zappa.

    1. Lucas, He is good looking isn’t he and he has the brilliance of Frank and then some. hope you are well and hope to visit you with Johnny one day!

  3. Ismal, you two would be welcome to visit! I would love to get to canada too sometime – maybe when I have a swag of songs to record I could get johnny’s help.

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