bigbottleswap.com

US: Evidentiary documents released in Golden State Killer case

March 7, 2019 0

in Uncategorized @ 2:21 am

Friday, June 1, 2018

On Friday, the Sacramento, California County Superior Court in the United States, with Judge Michael Sweet presiding, publicly released approximately 123 heavily redacted pages from an 800 page document related to the trial of 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo, in the Golden State Killer (GSK) case. The high-profile case prompted the defense to motion delaying the release on the grounds of jury tainting.

From 1974 to 1986, there were 12 murders, 45 rapes, and 120 burglaries ascribed to the GSK. Many of these crimes were initially attributed to separate suspects, and California investigators coined such nicknames as “East Area Rapist,” “Original Night-stalker,” “Visalli Ransacker,” and “Diamond Knot Killer.” All these identities were later determined to be the GSK. DeAngelo is currently being charged with first degree murder with special circumstances, and is being further investigated for the 1975 first degree murder of Claude Snelling.

GSK’s alleged victims include 18-year-old Janelle Lisa Cruz on May 4, 1986; 35-year-old Cheri Domingo on July 27, 1981; 27-year-old Greg Sanchez on July 27, 1981; 24-year-old Keith Harrington on August 21, 1975; 27-year-old Patti Harrington on August 21, 1975; 21-year-old Brian Maggiore on February 2, 1978; 20-year-old Katie Maggiore on February 2, 1978; 44-year-old Dr. Robert Offerman on December 30, 1979; 35-year-old Debra Manning on December 30, 1979; 35-year-old Lyman Smith on March 13, 1980; 33-year-old Charlene Smith on March 13, 1980; 45-year-old Claude Snelling on September 11, 1975; and 28-year-old Manuela Witthuhn on February 5, 1981.

Law enforcement used DNA and other evidence to link the twelve known murders attributed to the GSK to suspect DeAngelo. Any DNA from rape kits and burglaries that predates 1970 is only admissible in court for murder cases because of California’s statute of limitations. The DNA evidence allegedly implicating DeAngelo was not found through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database, which catalogs 20 sections of DNA from local, state, federal, and some international agencies making a unique profile for 16 million individuals, but CODIS did rule out other GSK suspects, like Paul “Cornfed” Schneider and Joe Alsip.

Instead, law enforcement used a nuance investigative technique, comparing GSK’s DNA profile against the open-sourced GEDmatch’s genealogical DNA database. The GEDmatch’s database flagged a GSK blood relative and, with other evidence, DeAngelo was suspected of being involved with GSK’s crimes. The genealogical website methodology is not unique to the GSK case. GEDmatch’s database was also used to identify 51-year-old William Earl Talbott II in the 1987 rape and homicide of Jay Cook (20) and Tanya Van Cuylenborg (18) in Seattle, Washington.

The newly released documents reveal DeAngelo’s DNA was not collected via a warrant but rather from the door handle of his personal vehicle as he was shopping in a local Hobby Lobby on April 18. A secondary sample was collected from a tissue found in the garbage on April 23. The door handle and tissue DNA were compared to a semen sample from a known GSK murder that had been confirmed using the CODIS’s 20 section DNA profile standard. On April 24, DeAngelo was arrested for the twelve GSK murders. A warrant for DeAngelo’s Citrus Heights, California residence disclosed dozens of wedding rings, photographs, driver’s licenses, and other objects allegedly taken from victims as trophies.

Public defender David Lynch, tasked with defending DeAngelo, motioned for the 800 documents to be sealed until trial to prevent the jury from becoming tainted. Lynch has also questioned the validity of certain search warrants for undisclosed reasons. Prosecutors from Sacramento, Ventura, Orange, and Santa Barbara counties have not determined the best way to prosecute DeAngelo considering the complexity, age, and multiple jurisdictions of the case.

DeAngelo was, until 1979, a police officer in small California towns. After allegedly stealing a hammer and dog repellent, DeAngelo was subsequently fired from the Auburn, California police force. He later became a truck mechanic near Sacramento.

[edit]

Wikinews interviews biologist Chris Simon about periodical cicadas

March 5, 2019 0

in Uncategorized @ 2:30 am

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In May, periodical cicadas with 17 years life cycle emerged on the East Coast of the USA after underground development as juveniles since 1996. Researchers and scientists worked to map and study the rare wave, and the locals prepared for the noisy event. First recorded in 1666, the Magicicada septendecim species recently emerged in 1979, 1996, this year, with a next wave due in 2030.

This week, Wikinews interviewed Chris Simon, an ecology and evolutionary biologist at University of Connecticut, about the cicadas.

((Wikinews)) What caused your initial interest in periodical cicadas?

Chris Simon: As an undergraduate student, I was interested in the formation of species so when I went to graduate school I looked for a study organism that was likely to be in the process of forming new species. I chose periodical cicadas because they are broken up into reproductively isolated broods (or year classes). Reproductive isolation leads to speciation so I planned to study biochemical differences among the broods.

((WN)) You study the emergence of the periodical cicadas. What do you study? What observations are you making?

CS: We record exactly where each cicada population emerges (using GPS automated mapping and crowd sourcing). We record the presence or absence of each of the three morphologically distinct species groups of periodical cicadas (Decim group, Cassini group, and Decula group). We collect specimens for DNA analysis. We look for cicadas coming up one and four years early and late. We dig up cicada nymphs and monitor their growth rates.

((WN)) What equipment do you use?

CS: Nets, shovels, automated GPS recorders, cameras, laptop computers, automated DNA sequencers.

((WN)) Do you study the periodical cicadas with anyone else? What is their role?

CS: Yes, there are a large number of people studying periodical cicadas in my lab and in other labs. My lab is made up of Research Scientists, Postdoctoral Researchers, a technician, graduate students, and undergraduates. Research Scientist John Cooley is the leader of the GPS mapping project; he invented the automated GPS recorder; he built our crowd-sourcing website, and he is instrumental in public outreach. Postdoctoral research David Marshall also participates in the mapping project and leads the part of the research related to the mapping of stragglers. John and Dave and Technician Kathy Hill all study periodical cicada mating behavior and conduct mating and hybridization experiments. One of my graduate students Beth Wade has participated in the nymph collections and will soon start genetic work involving genome wide association mapping designed to locate genes related to life cycle. My graduate student Russ Meister is studying the genes of the bacterial endosymbionts of cicadas. My current undergraduate honors student Erin Dwyer is also studying the development of Magicicada nymphs and is helping to design a lab exercise for college students around the eastern US to do the same. Many of my past undergraduate students have studied the biochemical genetics and development of periodical cicadas. See the Simon Lab website.
CS: We are collaborating with Teiji Sota at the University Kyoto and Jin Yoshimura at Shizuoka University in Japan. They are studying the phylogeography of Magicicada. We are collaborating with John McCutcheon of the University of Montana who is studying the endosymbiont genomes.
CS: We are also collaborating with ecologists Rick Karban and Louie Yang, both professors at UC Davis who have an interest in cicada population dynamics and nutrient cycling in the ecosystem.

((WN)) You studied the periodical cicadas in 1979 and 1996 too. What changes with time?

CS: I have studied periodical cicadas since I was a student back in 1974. What changes with time is increased human development constantly shrinking the patch size of cicada populations.

((WN)) What are your thoughts on the long life span of the periodical cicadas? Why could it be so? What advantages and what disadvantages does it have?

CS: Most or all cicadas have long life cycles compared to your typical annual insect. Examples have been found of two-year to 9-year cycles in different species. Periodical cicadas evolved an even-longer life cycle and I think that part of this relates to the evolution of their synchronized life cycles and peculiar safety-in-numbers strategy for survival. To become synchronized, periodical cicadas had to evolve an exact length life cycle and all adults would have to appear in the same year. Because the nymphs grow at different rates underground, a longer life cycle and a way of counting years must have evolved so that the individuals that get to the last nymphal (underground juvenile) stage first would wait long enough for all other individuals in the population to become ready to emerge.

((WN)) News reports mention this is ‘Brood II’ of the periodical cicadas. What are the distinctive features of this specific species and what is its full scientific name?

CS: The same species exist in multiple broods. No species is restricted to Brood II. The three species present in Brood II are: Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula. These same three species are found in every 17-year brood (except the farthest north which only has M. septendecim).

((WN)) At what depth do the cicadas juveniles live underground?

CS: Most live within the top foot of soil but some have been found deeper. We do not know if they go deeper in winter. We need to do much more digging to understand the nymphs.

((WN)) How do people prepare for the cicada emergence?

CS: Of course various people prepare in different ways. Ideally, everyone prepares by studying information available on the web (especially on our websites Magicicada Central and Magicicada.org).

((WN)) Do cicadas affect transport in the local area?

CS: No, not really. Occasionally individuals can be seeing flying across highways and sometimes they smash into cars.

((WN)) Do cicadas usually stay outside or do they also invade houses too?

CS: They stay outside. One might accidentally fly in through an open window but that would be rare.

((WN)) What do the cicadas eat?

CS: Cicadas suck xylem fluid (the watery fluid coming up from the roots of plants) in deciduous forest trees and herbs. Essential amino acids in the cicada diet are supplied by their bacterial endosymbionts. There are two species of endosymbionts. One makes 8 essential amino acids and one makes two essential amino acids.

((WN)) Do cicadas damage crops or city vegetation? What damage?

CS: Cicadas do not chew leave so they do not damage crops like other insects. They can inflict some damage by their egg laying. Cicadas lay eggs in pencil-sized tree branches. If there are not enough branches available, too many female cicadas may lay eggs in a single branch weakening it and making it susceptible to breakage by wind. This can sometimes cause damage in fruit orchards. If the branches break, the eggs die so this behavior is selected against by natural selection.

((WN)) Thank you.

CS: You’re welcome. I am happy to have this opportunity to communicate with your readers!

Wikinews interviews Flame about special effects at New Zealand’s Rock2Wgtn festival

0

in Uncategorized @ 2:17 am

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Across Easter weekend Wellington, New Zealand was host to Rock2Wgtn, an international two-day hard rock festival. Large crowds showed up at Westpac Stadium to see the various acts. The world has never seen an event of this kind before, and New Zealand has never had any kind of major rock festival or multi-day music festival.

Day one featured three theatrical acts. Finnish band Lordi, known for their monster costumes, opened the night. They were followed by the US shock rocker Alice Cooper, whose themed set included the horror theatrics regularly associated with him and a hanging stunt he recently restarted after a gallows collapse nearly killed him two decades ago. The night was headlined by the distinctively costumed band KISS, complete with their famed black-and-white makeup.

The first major act on the stage on day two was the American hard rock/glam metal band Poison. After Poison, British act Whitesnake took to the stage and performed their set to the crowd. British-born American rocker Ozzy Osbourne, who, as well as a solo career, fronts the world-famous Black Sabbath, was the second night’s headline act.

The festival’s entertainment did not stop at the six main acts. There was also support performances from three New Zealand bands – The Symphony of Screams, The Valves and Sonic Altar. Their sets were accompanied by a special effects package from award-winning studio Weta Workshops, who are known for their work on movies such as The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. This came in the form of ‘Drusila the Dragon’, which rose up to a height of six foot and wigspan and moved for the audience, shining lasers from its eyes and breathing red smoke. Flame Fire Productions were hired to put on a fire show featuring several dancers alongside the performers. Also performing were six local guitarists and a group of ‘zombie‘ cheerleaders.

Wikinews was able to secure two exclusive interviews with those responsible behind the scenes for putting on such a show. Weta Workshop’s Philip Sharpe, who supervised the project and Milly Bea, current manageress of Flame Fire Productions, discussed their roles. In the first installment, Milly Bea tells us about “a definite highlight” for Flame and lets us know everything from her thoughts on Gene Simmons’s tongue to just how much kerosene it takes to put on a fire show at a rock fest.

Woman in Buffalo, New York accidentally sets herself on fire

0

in Uncategorized @ 2:12 am

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Buffalo, New York —A woman in Buffalo, New York in the United States is in critical condition tonight at Sisters Of Charity Hospital after she accidentally set herself on fire.

The unnamed elderly woman was receiving oxygen for medical problems in her home and lit a cigarette, and the oxygen coming from her mask facilitated the ignition of her clothing, setting her on fire.

Despite her “severe” burns as described by firefighters on radio communications, she was still able to dial the emergency line in the U.S., 911.

In the U.S. only 4% of all residential fires were reportedly caused by smoking materials in 2002. These fires, however, were responsible for 19% of residential fire fatalities and 9% of injuries. The fatality rate due to smoking is nearly four times higher than the overall residential fire rate; injuries are more than twice as likely. Forty percent of all smoking fires start in the bedroom or living room/family room; in 35% of these fires, bedding or upholstered furniture are the items first ignited.

Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

March 4, 2019 0

in Uncategorized @ 2:27 am

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of PETA, on animal rights and the film about her life

March 3, 2019 0

in Uncategorized @ 2:22 am

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Last night HBO premiered I Am An Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA. Since its inception, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has made headlines and raised eyebrows. They are almost single-handedly responsible for the movement against animal testing and their efforts have raised the suffering animals experience in a broad spectrum of consumer goods production and food processing into a cause célèbre.

PETA first made headlines in the Silver Spring monkeys case, when Alex Pacheco, then a student at George Washington University, volunteered at a lab run by Edward Taub, who was testing neuroplasticity on live monkeys. Taub had cut sensory ganglia that supplied nerves to the monkeys’ fingers, hands, arms, legs; with some of the monkeys, he had severed the entire spinal column. He then tried to force the monkeys to use their limbs by exposing them to persistent electric shock, prolonged physical restraint of an intact arm or leg, and by withholding food. With footage obtained by Pacheco, Taub was convicted of six counts of animal cruelty—largely as a result of the monkeys’ reported living conditions—making them “the most famous lab animals in history,” according to psychiatrist Norman Doidge. Taub’s conviction was later overturned on appeal and the monkeys were eventually euthanized.

PETA was born.

In the subsequent decades they ran the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty against Europe’s largest animal-testing facility (footage showed staff punching beagle puppies in the face, shouting at them, and simulating sex acts while taking blood samples); against Covance, the United State’s largest importer of primates for laboratory research (evidence was found that they were dissecting monkeys at its Vienna, Virginia laboratory while the animals were still alive); against General Motors for using live animals in crash tests; against L’Oreal for testing cosmetics on animals; against the use of fur for fashion and fur farms; against Smithfield Foods for torturing Butterball turkeys; and against fast food chains, most recently against KFC through the launch of their website kentuckyfriedcruelty.com.

They have launched campaigns and engaged in stunts that are designed for media attention. In 1996, PETA activists famously threw a dead raccoon onto the table of Anna Wintour, the fur supporting editor-in-chief of Vogue, while she was dining at the Four Seasons in New York, and left bloody paw prints and the words “Fur Hag” on the steps of her home. They ran a campaign entitled Holocaust on your Plate that consisted of eight 60-square-foot panels, each juxtaposing images of the Holocaust with images of factory farming. Photographs of concentration camp inmates in wooden bunks were shown next to photographs of caged chickens, and piled bodies of Holocaust victims next to a pile of pig carcasses. In 2003 in Jerusalem, after a donkey was loaded with explosives and blown up in a terrorist attack, Newkirk sent a letter to then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat to keep animals out of the conflict. As the film shows, they also took over Jean-Paul Gaultier‘s Paris boutique and smeared blood on the windows to protest his use of fur in his clothing.

The group’s tactics have been criticized. Co-founder Pacheco, who is no longer with PETA, called them “stupid human tricks.” Some feminists criticize their campaigns featuring the Lettuce Ladies and “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” ads as objectifying women. Of their Holocaust on a Plate campaign, Anti-Defamation League Chairman Abraham Foxman said “The effort by PETA to compare the deliberate systematic murder of millions of Jews to the issue of animal rights is abhorrent.” (Newkirk later issued an apology for any hurt it caused). Perhaps most controversial amongst politicians, the public and even other animal rights organizations is PETA’s refusal to condemn the actions of the Animal Liberation Front, which in January 2005 was named as a terrorist threat by the United States Department of Homeland Security.

David Shankbone attended the pre-release screening of I Am An Animal at HBO’s offices in New York City on November 12, and the following day he sat down with Ingrid Newkirk to discuss her perspectives on PETA, animal rights, her responses to criticism lodged against her and to discuss her on-going life’s work to raise human awareness of animal suffering. Below is her interview.

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Contents

  • 1 The HBO film about her life
  • 2 PETA, animal rights groups and the Animal Liberation Front
  • 3 Newkirk on humans and other animals
  • 4 Religion and animals
  • 5 Fashion and animals
  • 6 Newkirk on the worst corporate animal abusers
  • 7 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
  • 8 Ingrid Newkirk on Ingrid Newkirk
  • 9 External links
  • 10 Sources

Apple announces Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud

March 1, 2019 0

in Uncategorized @ 2:32 am

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

At the company’s own Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote at the Moscone West center in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the next generation of software products from Apple. Apple unveiled Lion, the new version of their Mac OS X operating system for desktop and laptop computers that brings new features to the software. They also demonstrated iOS 5, a new version of the operating system that powers iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads. Alongside both announcements, Jobs also announced a new iCloud service to sync data among all devices. All 5,200 participating developers will spend the rest of the week in workshops with Apple employees; developer releases of each product were made available today.

Mac OS X Lion will be shipped in July through the online Mac App Store available on Mac computers for US$29. According to Apple, the update adds over 250 new features to the OS. Employee Phil Schiller discussed new multitouch gestures along with a dynamic task manager named Mission Control that shows open applications. During the keynote, Schiller said, “The Mac has outpaced the PC industry every quarter for five years running and with OS X Lion we plan to keep extending our lead.” It also adds full support for the Mac port of the popular App Store, full screen applications, iOS-style app icon lists called Launchpad, and other iOS-like features including a revamped Mail and Auto Save among others. Mac OS X Lion was announced at a different Apple event several months ago and will replace Mac OS X Snow Leopard, which was released in 2009.

Soon after, the company also introduced the latest installment in its popular mobile operating system iOS. The fifth version (iOS 5) introduces around 200 new features, including a revamped notification system, which combines messages and notifications from all applications installed on the user’s device. Scott Forestall, an Apple employee, also revealed that iOS devices would no longer require a computer for setup, allowing users to ‘cut the cord’ between their devices and PCs. Magazines and newspapers also have a new folder interface; the Twitter social network is now integrated significantly into iOS devices. Improvements to the mobile Safari browser were also announced; tabbed browsing and a Reader feature introduce desktop-like functionality. Finally, new camera features are built in, including the ability to take snapshots from the lock screen, as well as iMessages, a new messaging platform for iPhones and iPads.

We are going to demote the PC to just be a device. We are going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud.

CEO Steve Jobs returned to the stage to reveal Apple’s new cloud services offering, iCloud. The service integrates with Lion and iOS applications and syncs data between a user’s iOS devices. For example, calendar events created on a user’s laptop would be sent to their iPhone through iCloud. Apps, books, documents, photos, and more purchased or created on one device will be shared with others. The service is intended to launch in the fall of 2011 alongside iOS 5 and will be available with 5 gigabytes (GB) of storage for 10 devices for free. Earlier this year, Apple opened a 500,000 square foot data center in North Carolina intended to facilitate this new service. Jobs rounded the services off by unveiling a new iTunes feature that mirrors a user’s library in the cloud, allowing them to listen and download music to authorized devices. “We are going to demote the PC to just be a device. We are going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud,” said Steve Jobs during the keynote. iCloud and iOS 5 will be released in the fall of 2011; Apple announced no new hardware products.

NFL star Michael Vick indicted for running dog fighting operation

0

in Uncategorized @ 2:18 am

Friday, July 20, 2007

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three other men were indicted on Tuesday by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy related to a dog fighting operation. The charges included buying, breeding and training pit bull dogs, transporting the dogs across state lines to illegally participate in fights, and gambling on the fights.

The indictments stemmed from a search of Vick’s Smithfield, Virginia home in April, in which 54 pit bulls were removed, along with equipment used in dog fighting.

The indictment said that Vick had bought the property in Smithfield for US$34,000 to run the dog fighting under the name “Bad Newz Kennels” with two other people named in the indictment. Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips, and Tony Taylor were all named in the indictment along with Vick.

The indictment stated that Vick took part in the killing of eight dogs that didn’t pass test fights, called “rolling”. The pit bulls were allegedly killed by hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog onto the ground.

If convicted of both portions of the conspiracy charge, Vick could face six years in prison and a $350,000 fine. His property, located in Surry County, would be subject to forfeiture under U.S. laws dealing with illegal activities that are carried out at an interstate level. The indictment alleges that the dog fighting operation, involving American Pit Bull Terriers, spilled over into Alabama, North Carolina and New York.

Vick has a court date on July 26 for a bond hearing and to hear the charges. Vick has said that he had a kennel operation on the property, but had no involvement or knowledge of a dog fighting ring.

Al Sharpton speaks out on race, rights and what bothers him about his critics

0

in Uncategorized @ 2:13 am

Monday, December 3, 2007

At Thanksgiving dinner David Shankbone told his white middle class family that he was to interview Reverend Al Sharpton that Saturday. The announcement caused an impassioned discussion about the civil rights leader’s work, the problems facing the black community and whether Sharpton helps or hurts his cause. Opinion was divided. “He’s an opportunist.” “He only stirs things up.” “Why do I always see his face when there’s a problem?”

Shankbone went to the National Action Network’s headquarters in Harlem with this Thanksgiving discussion to inform the conversation. Below is his interview with Al Sharpton on everything from Tawana Brawley, his purported feud with Barack Obama, criticism by influential African Americans such as Clarence Page, his experience running for President, to how he never expected he would see fifty (he is now 53). “People would say to me, ‘Now that I hear you, even if I disagree with you I don’t think you’re as bad as I thought,'” said Sharpton. “I would say, ‘Let me ask you a question: what was “bad as you thought”?’ And they couldn’t say. They don’t know why they think you’re bad, they just know you’re supposed to be bad because the right wing tells them you’re bad.”

Contents

  • 1 Sharpton’s beginnings in the movement
  • 2 James Brown: a father to Sharpton
  • 3 Criticism: Sharpton is always there
  • 4 Tawana Brawley to Megan Williams
  • 5 Sharpton and the African-American media
  • 6 Why the need for an Al Sharpton?
  • 7 Al Sharpton and Presidential Politics
  • 8 On Barack Obama
  • 9 The Iraq War
  • 10 Sharpton as a symbol
  • 11 Blacks and whites and talking about race
  • 12 Don Imus, Michael Richards and Dog The Bounty Hunter
  • 13 Sources

Alex Necochea and Bryn Bennett: the ‘Guitar Heroes’ of Bang Camaro

February 28, 2019 0

in Uncategorized @ 2:31 am

Monday, October 8, 2007

When a fan connects with a band, it’s often during moments like a drive down a highway at night reflecting on some aspect of his or her life; sitting at home after a fight with a girlfriend; singing in the shower; or celebrating at a party with her friends. Music becomes a soundtrack to an individual’s life, and a connection with the musician forms when the listener is able to peg a perfect moment or feeling to a song. Boston-based mega-member rock group Bang Camaro‘s fan base claims a different level of interaction: they often have learned to play their music before they ever had a moment associated with it. Bang Camaro found fame on the video game Guitar Hero II, where an aspiring rock god uses a guitar-shaped peripheral to play rock music as notes scroll towards him on the screen.

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone journeyed to the Bowery Ballroom to talk to the two founding members of Bang Camaro, Alex Necochea and Bryn Bennett. But when MTV.com shows up at the same time as Wikinews to do an interview, the band must split up. Below is our conversation with Necochea about touring, influence, politics, throwing his corpse out of a plane and flatulent women.


David Shankbone: How’s the tour going?

Alex Necochea: The tours is going great! We just played in Poughkeepsie last night with the OCC house band.

DS: Poughkeepsie, huh?

AN: Yeah! [Laughs] Poughkeepsie, it’s kind of a dark town. Not much of a built-in crowd there.

DS: What kind of crowd is there?

AN: From what I could tell, we played for a lot of Guitar Hero fans and people who heard about us through friends of friends, or came across us on MySpace. That sort of thing. But for the most part a lot of the kids we meet are anywhere between…well, I guess at a club like that they have to be over 18, but usually they are just much younger kids who are video game fans, who have heard about us through Guitar Hero II.

DS: What’s that like to have a fan base that comes from primarily video games? Have you noticed a difference between being known as a local band playing in your city and being known through video games? How would you compare the audience?

AN: It’s different. In our hometown it started off as just a big word of mouth thing. We had twenty guys in the band, so everybody had friends-of-friends. We started a groundswell that way. But when we get out of town, not in New York so much, but when we go to Chicago and Milwaukee and places like that they generally tend to be much younger people. It’s a really big thrill for Bryn and I in that we are meeting kids who are just like us: young video game fans, aspiring musicians, usually males who picked up guitars. They come to us and say, ‘Nobody plays guitar anymore like you guys do!’ or ‘My parents used to listen to music like that!’ It’s just a big thrill for us to meet young kids like that who remind us of ourselves when we were kids.

DS: How does it feel to be looked-up to by the kids, by America’s future?

AN: [Laughs] It’s terrifying! [Laughs]

DS: Do you see parents at the show?

AN: Oh, yeah, oh yeah. Parents with their kids—

DS: That must reduce the crotch grabbing.

AN: [Laughs] Yeah, a little bit of macho posturing. I tell you man, it’s a really big thrill, just to go out and play in towns we’ve never been to. Kids come out and they know all the songs. We’ve had situations where we’ve played New York and girls are in the front row singing along to our guitar solos. Like, wow…we’re on stage playing and we can hear them singing back at us. Something else Bryn and I have noticed is at larger festival shows when we get to the end of our shows we play Push Push Lady Lightning, the kids would just light up and start air guitaring! But not actually playing air guitar, but playing air guitar hero–like, they knew where all the notes were!

DS: Which is a lot different for audiences of many bands.

AN: Absolutely! I can’t imagine other bands having the same experience, because we come from such a unique perspective that a large part of our music is driven by the instrumentals, and that sort of thing.

DS: Your fans are so engaged with your music, far more than most bands have. Most bands they have fans who feel their music speaks to them, but your fans can say, ‘I learned to play guitar on your shit and not on Eleanor Rigby!’

AN: It’s an honor. It’s still unbelievable to me. I had a message from a friend of mine who was at Guitar Center and he heard one of the kids cranking out one of our songs when he was trying out the guitar. To me, it’s like we made it.

DS: At this point of your career, you’re not playing stadiums, but you’re also not playing Otto’s Tiki Lounge on a Tuesday night. When you reflect upon it, what do you think about?

AN: In the past two years, since Bryn and I started this project, we’ve both been playing in bands locally in Boston for years. We had some mixed success, we played large venues in and around Boston. We got to the point where we said fuck it, we just want to have some fun and we’d laugh a lot going over old Ozzy Osbourne stuff we listened to as kids, just giggle about it. Bang Camaro started that way, something for us to do and invite our friends to come sing on it. Now, just two years later, it’s amazing what happens when you stop trying. It’s something not contrived or born of any desire to reach an audience. We just did it for fun, and that spoke to people more than anything else we worked on.

DS: Do you have other areas of your life where you’ve been able to apply that?

AN: [Laughs] You mean as an ethos? Don’t try? [Laughs] You know, not really. I have found the greatest success in the things I have put most of my effort into. This band has been a complete unique experience in that respect, at least in terms of trying to forge a ‘career in music.’ Bryn and I had gotten to the point where we thought maybe this wasn’t the way to go. Bryn was going to go back to his career as a video game programmer and I was just going to find something else to do. So not really, I don’t really apply that in any other portion of my life.

DS: What are some dream projects you’d like to work on?

AN: As a musician, obviously for me it would be to meet and work with some heroes of mine since I was a kid. Like Mutt Lang; he always made my favorite records. At the same time, it has also been a dream of mine to meet people like Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse. Those guys made honest sort of rock n’ roll, for lack of a better comparison, the way people like John Lennon or Bob Dylan would. To me those are the artists of my generation. It would be my dream one just to meet those guys and two just to work with them on some level. I’d also be lying to say that it would just be my dream to take this project with twenty of my best friends and take it as far as we can take it. So far in my life it’s been the most rewarding thing.

DS: In the creative process it’s so difficult to be original today. Everything has been done. Do you ever let that trip you up, the Simpsons Did It problem?

AN: No, not really. I found I would end up falling into that cycle playing in indie rock bands, just trying to come up with the next thing, like Radiohead they stopped using guitars and things like that. Trying to kick the ball forward a little bit instead of kicking it side to side. With this band we don’t get hung up on that. We originally just started it as a celebration of the things we loved when we were kids. We’re not out here trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re fortunate in that when we were putting the project together we wanted that big vocal sound. What set us apart was how we went about doing that. We just invited all of our friends because we didn’t want to multi track everything ourselves. Soon after we had to figure out how to pull it off live, and people would approach and say ‘we heard you have this crazy project with all these people.’ The project grew into the live monster it is out of necessity. We’re not rich people, we don’t have refrigerators and the big tour bus. Speaking of dreams, maybe one day we’ll have a tour bus. For now, we travel in two very smelly vans.

DS: If you could choose your own death, how would you die?

AN: [Laughs] I would want to steal what I heard a mutual friend of ours said. He said when he died–it’s not how he died, but this is what I heard–he said when he’s dead, he wants his corpse to be dressed up like Superman and thrown out of an airplane. I thought that would be fitting. But I’m not ready to think about death, not just yet.

DS: You guys have been described as Metal and Glam rock. What would you describe your sound as?

AN: I would call us anthem rock. We’re really not heavy metal. I think our focus is more on writing great singles, as best as we can make them. Pop music. That’s just something Bryn and I grew up on. We’re big fans of melody and big driving hooks, that sort of thing.

DS: Would you say anthem rock more in the Mötley Crüe vane or more in the T. Rex vane?

AN: I would say half and half. Our influences don’t just stop with hair metal and things like that. We draw on things like Thin Lizzy, Boston, bands like that. Not necessarily virtuosic sort of musicianship, but things that are put together. We like to spend the time when we are writing our songs that we are taking all the extraneous crap out of it. We just want to make good, hook-drive pop music.

DS: Does the war in Iraq affect you artistically at all?

AN: [Laughs] No, not at all. No, you could say I’m just like everybody else. I read the paper and blogs, and I’m just as horrified as everybody else. I’m definitely not a fan of this war.

DS: If you had to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan, where would you fight?

AN: Oh, the fight was definitely in Afghanistan. Iraq was a much different animal.

DS: Are you more inspired by things in nature or things that are man made?

AN: I would probably have to go with nature. I’m a student of science. I have a degree in environmental geology. When I was 19/20 years old I went through all the regular existential questions people that age go through: why am I here and my place in the universe, that sort of thing.

DS: Did you answer any of them?

AN: Oh, God! I play rock guitar in a twenty man band!

DS: That’s important for a lot of people – you see your audience. You’re giving a lot of inspiration to a lot of people. You don’t know who you might be inspiring to pursue music.

AN: [Laughs] Oh, kids, don’t be like me! I would definitely go with nature over man made.

DS: What’s your favorite curse word?

AN: Fuck.

DS: What’s your favorite euphemism for breasts?

AN: Big guns.

DS: Have you used that recently?

AN: Actually, I think I did use that in the last week, and no comment.

DS: I read that you named the band after fast women and fast cars.

AN: [Laughs] Who told you that? No, Bang Camaro were two words out of the English language that were the two sexiest words we could think of. We put them together and they roll off the tongue. Bang Camaro. It says a lot more than it means.

DS: What sort of qualities do you look for in a woman?

AN: I need a girl who is going to make me laugh. I need a woman who is smarter than I am. A woman who will always keep me guessing. Absolutely. Calling me out for my own jerky bullshit. I like a girl who is fiercely independent, knows what she wants, and doesn’t need me.

DS: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

AN: Oh, man, I’m going to get in a lot of trouble for saying Obama. I would probably go with Obama. There’s just something in his rhetoric and his oratory that is a lot more inspiring than Hillary. Hillary, to me, represents not much of a changing of the guard.

DS: What would be the greatest of misfortunes to befall you?

AN: [Chuckles] Oh, if I were to die alone. No, probably one of my greatest fears is injuring or maiming any of my appendages, to be honest.

DS: Do you have any special things you do to make sure you don’t injure or lose an appendage?

AN: [Chuckles] I don’t keep my hands in my pockets when I am running down stairs.

DS: That’s a conscious choice?

AN: Yes, that’s a conscious choice.

DS: What if you are just walking down stairs?

AN: [Chuckles] You can’t realign the stars, man. Shit will happen, shit will happen.

DS: What possession do you treasure most?

AN: That’s a good question. Probably my cat. I love my cat more than anything.

DS: What’s your cat’s name?

AN: Sadie.

DS: Like Sexy Sadie?

AN: Yeah, like Sexy Sadie. That’s exactly what I named her after. Big John Lennon fan, so I couldn’t resist.

DS: What trait do you deplore most in other people?

AN: I’m a lover, not a fighter. Jealousy, greed. But I try to look for the best in everybody. Who knows.

DS: What do you think are the greatest threats to humanity?

AN: Humanity itself. You can typically read anywhere that humanity is a virus, a plague, on Mother Earth. I really think the greatest threat to humanity is not a meteor or comet hurtling toward the planet, it’s us. We’ll be our own undoing. Bad politics, the spread of…oh, man, I could get in trouble…

DS: Who would you get in trouble with?

AN: No, I don’t know who I could get in trouble with. But I definitely think that capitalism is something that having gone unchecked for so long isn’t doing right in delivering civil freedom. It’s not delivering on its promises. Then again, I play in a rock band and people come pay to see me. I understand it works on both levels.

DS: What would be a bigger turn-off in bed: a woman who spoke in a baby voice, or someone who was overly flatulent?

AN: Oh God! I’d go with the baby talk, man.

DS: You’d prefer the baby talk?

AN: No, I would go with the flatulent woman. At least she’s real.

DS: Have you ever been faced with either scenario?

AN: No, I don’t think women should be flatulent.

DS: At all? Not even if she lets out a little giggle afterwards?

AN: Yeah, well, so be it.

DS: What if she was really flatulent?

AN: Like, extremely flatulent? I’d go more for the flatulence. Baby talk…that’s a real boner killer. Sorry, man.

DS: And you’ve never had a baby talker?

AN: No, not since high school.

DS: In high school?

AN: Oh, yeah. She had to go.

DS: What if she was Dutch oven flatulent?

AN: Is it really one or the other? Can I just go gay?

DS: You can always go gay. It’s the new millennium.

AN: Yeah, well, I’d probably end up with a baby-talking overly flatulent man, I’m sure.
« Previous PageNext Page »