Wheelie?

by The Michael Character

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02:12
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04:12
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01:54
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01:32
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03:08
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02:38
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00:50
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02:46

about

This is a collection of songs written between 2015 and 2016 that grapple in one way or another with the question of how to square the inevitability of aging, a greater appreciation for ideological nuance, a recognition of the utility of pragmatic action, and a desire to be of use with the opposing forces of a reductive, youthful idealism, imprecise moral outrage, and the creeping pressures of social conformity that seem to intensify with age. There is no resolution to be found in this record, just an incomplete dialectical framework for (poorly) mediating these tensions. That may well be the point of the whole thing.

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credits

released June 16, 2016

All songs written and performed by The Michael Character (aka James) who also co-produced the record.

Benjamin Greer of Sun Brewed Records recorded, engineered, co-produced, mixed, and mastered this record. He also played bass and electric guitar, programmed drums, and sang three words. He's the greatest.

Louis Roe did the album art. [Please support his amazing art, he's my #1 'Lil BroBro]

Thanks to Bishop & Rook for putting out the single, "26."

Thanks to Tim Gagnon from Allston Pudding for premiering the record!

Thanks to the whole Boston DIY scene for being super supportive always.

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James: Guitar, Vocals (all tracks)

Ben Greer: Backing vocals on "Boy Wonder," auxiliary percussion on "Interlude #1"

Fenn Macon: Gang vocals on "26," talking in "Two Hands"

Will Henriksen: Gang vocals on "26," backing vocals on "When You Die," talking in Two Hands

Lawn Care: Backing vocals on "26"

tags

license

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about

The Michael Character Boston, Massachusetts

Acoustic punk based in Boston, MA. Absolutely willing to drive very far to play for you and five of your vaguely alternative friends in your combination kitchen/laundry room. Hit me up.

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Track Name: Two Hands
I'm ashamed of my body
I eat to much food
When I go out on the town with my dude Chris
But man, he's a real homie's homie let me tell you

I work hard sometimes
But others I lose interest in the very same things I do
To keep mentally healthy
And socially healthy
And physically healthy
That's why I'm not health

I know you've got a lot going on
Your cat is dying and your boyfriend's gone
But I really need somebody to come out to the diner
So I don't eat alone
But some days the thought, it comes

That I've got two hands and they can hold each other
I'm still an awkward kid
Still someone's little brother
On the big chair in the corner at the party
But I've got two hands and a heavy head
To rest upon them, drooping like the streetlamps
On the day we met
We were sober then
I did not regret
Being who I am
Track Name: Celebrate
You have a good day, it's fine
But people are starving somewhere
So you spend all your time worried, disappointed, unsatisfied
You fall into line, say
"We won't smile until we all smile together!"
This is you in your prime:
You won't let anybody by happy 'till the Millennium arrives.

**Chorus**
But the state's still here
The prisons are full
The drone strikes continue
There's bullies in our schools
Systemic racism poisons our institutions
And out globalized markets ensure widespread financial ruin
But sometimes
You've just go to know when to celebrate

So every four years we act like we all give a shit
Vapid presidential politics for no one's benefit
Parroting a blog post title
Parody of a republic ideal
Vision so narrow we can barely see
The forest for the trees
Humanity on its knees
Fake radical ideologies
Self-serving social capital thieves

So I guess the thing we gotta ask ourselves, though it might be tough is
How can one live a productive life in the face of a world that sucks so much?
We could take the critics' route--
Count all our dreams yet unfulfilled
Convert all our dissatisfaction into social dollar bills, or
We could walk organization
Tackle issues in our midst
And spend our many waking nights by all that's horrible transfixed
Or maybe we should just give up--
Lay out all our hopes of a world more just a peaceful on that slippery-est of slopes:
The nihilistic resignations faithless sweet release
Just waiting 'round for entropy to gnash us with its teeth, but me,
I take a different route that mixes all the others up
Critique the world you see around you
Organize for change and
Love
But don't forget to have perspective
Take a step back here and there
'Cause only burnout waits for those who can't escape their own despair
'Cause hey--

**Chorus
Track Name: Accountability
Now I get suspicious of people who leverage personal problems
And marginalization
For social gain
Some sort of victimization hierarchy
Makes your experience of life more good and true
...A fucked conclusion
Pulled like teeth from hard-won validation that
Nonetheless smears shit across the faces of
People whose lives you don't value
And that's fucked up
But I get it:
Hurt people hurt people and all that
Some of us heal in ways that can be destructive
And we can't all realistically be expected to forgive and deal with the people who fuck us up
Certainly not always
Maybe it's just gotta be that way
But that doesn't mean we can't account for our own shit
For the way we behave
Just because you're anxious doesn't mean that you're not
Acting like an asshole
Hurting those around you
Look, I've got weird destructive social tendencies too
Like when I get all cold and distant
Stop returning texts and
Lose all interest in being someones friend
For nothing they did
Just because I'm feeling weird
And I know that's not okay
It's not like--
"Yo, I know you just really need to take care of yourself!" Wow!
No, it's "friend you're fucking hurting people, cut this shit out right now"
There's really such a thing as taking responsibility for your actions
So please do it, just do it now
Track Name: Time, Keenly
I'm feeling time, keenly
On my way into the city
But when you're always moving forward, doesn't matter where you're going
Until you wake up in the same old bed for three damn years
The same fixture overhead
And you're wondering "why???"
Or you wake up in a different bed
Every two or three months
You never get no rest
And you're wondering "why, why, why, why, why, why, why, WHY???"
Just enough purpose to make it through the day
Like you helped somebody out
Or called your mom
Or maybe you did some laundry
Or applied for a new job
So now you're feeling kinda shitty 'cause you can't get paid
The kinda money that you need to feel okay
BUT AT LEAST YOU CAN AFFORD A DOPE BURRITO FROM CHIPOTLE, (RIGHT?) HEY!
You can hang out with your same old friends
Every Friday at the dive, and trivia on weekends
Or you can call up your favorite local band
Throw a living room show
Get your party pants and
Dance.
Now I'm feeling time, keenly
On my way back from the city
But though I'm always rushing forward
It still matters where I'm going
Track Name: Interlude #2
Taking stock of these few early years
Through all the shows and all the books and all the classes
Acknowledging my true worries and fears
Of losing friends and never getting thin and wasting time
Through my whole life
I've sat on park benches in the afternoon
I've looked out at the markings of a season
The winter trees and
The summer sky
The autumn leaves
And springs bright colors all around me
I've breathed those moments in
And thought about my life
Listening to tunes I wrote in 2009
You spend four years
Post-grad
Living a life you're not ashamed of
So when you look back, it's not sad
But will you be happy here next summer?
Track Name: Boy Wonder
My first trip to a psychologist
I played with blocks and chatted with the doctor
She told my mom that I was brilliant
I was so eloquent for a five year old

**Chorus
I used to be a boy wonder
Now I've become a man under pressure
To be a notable something
But I'm just alright at some things

I was the sage of cabin B12
The summer I turned 13 years old
The kids all thought I was a genius
I talked about white dwarfs and black holes

**Chorus

Turned up in The Space when I was 18
Cut perfect rectangles with a jigsaw
Got taken under some old wings
Who said my carpentry would go far

**Chorus

22 teaching high school
Even my students couldn't believe it
It was impressive for a man so young
But what happens when you turn back the pages
Of my tabletop calendar
'Till suddenly hearing "sir" doesn't sound like a mistake anymore

**Chorus

So now I'm turning 25 in New England
Same old job
Same old apartment
Same disregard
For taking new risks
I should have been something by now
I should have done something by now
I should have helped someone by now
I should have called my mom by now
I should have practiced guitar by now
I should have been a notable something
But I'm just alright
Track Name: Do Your Work pt. 2
Long day at work
So you come home to Fox News on the TV (**note, this is in reference to my old roommates, not my parents**)
My mom says I expect too much from people
I life lived in a world that makes me queasy
'Cause I remember...
Omdurman
Cambodia in the 70's
And Bosnia
I remember Wounded Knee
And the removal of the Creek
I remember Mahmudiyah
And the Force Publique
But this is my world that I love in
So every time you breathe a jaded breath
My heart collapses in distress
I'm holding onto memories of mankind's darkest powers
It's the ripples of that history which we play out by the hour
What appears to you as isolated, wanting of real meaning
Is to me the echoed sobs of my own human family bleeding
So it might seem like I'm clinging to a world the world's moved on from
But in my heart I know within us there is killer, victim, martyr, so...

Please don't tell me to move on
Please don't tell me to get over it
Please don't tell me that the cry of "racism!' is overused
And sometimes rich white faces get bruised too
Please don't minimize our pain
Or say people don't change
'Cause we've built a home upon this wretched earth
So like this might not be the 60's
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do our (work)

Go back to 1850
Bring your moderation with you
On a journey through a history
Marked with some important issues
Like a legal system built to steal humanity away
From like 4 million enslaved people
Then I'd like to hear you say:
"Hey! Abolition is too radical
You have to dream of changes
That exist WITHIN the system
Strike with comfort in the range
Of direct action that is meaningful to you
You lefty bastards
While remaining all the while
Still convenient for the masters"
FUCK THAT SHIT
Track Name: When You Die
I was in my boss's office
Fumbling through paper
Seeking a form of registration
For a fingerprinting session
Mandated by state government
For all public employees
Been putting this off for months
It's time to get my act together
Then you called me on my cell phone
I was flustered when you did so
You talked with power and conviction
Complete emotional control
You said your brother was in hospice
He wouldn't last for too long
Some sort of complication
From a surgery last winter
Then you cornered my attention
And said you'd lived a life complete so
After 94 years you
Could ask for nothing more so I should
Not be sad
When you die
Track Name: Interlude #1
7:47pm
Somewhere that coulda made me look cool in a picture
Where I might have looked cool if you'd been there
Where I didn't look cool, no one there cared
Got a bite to eat, worried about money
Paced the corner
"Should I go to the show
Or to home
Or to someplace else?"
Put my car in drive
Hit that exit right
90 East (**note: I flipped these first too in the recording. Sorry.**)
to 93
to Hancock Street
to Newport Ave
to Home
Alone
Track Name: 26
Lyrics:
The height of my ambition is basically doing this
Singing folk punk tunes in folk punk living rooms
Might not seem glamorous
Man I'm Feeling embarrassed by my hobbies when I talk to older people now
Hey, wait, may-be that's not all true everyday with my memory tryina
Say, stay, true to who I dreamt of being when I was nineteen
When I was nineteen, when I was nineteen, but I'm 26
So now I'm feelin' old at the punk rock show
I wake up really fuckin' early so I've got to go
I'm sick of all my younger friends moving away
To pursue the next stage of their lives while I stay but then
I'm feeling like a kid at the staff party
My colleagues talking bout their growing progeny
And I'm standing in the corner like a middle school dance
Looking down at my phone, a G & T in my hand
Gettin older made it easier
Cause now I know that I can be an alright person without
Knowing what to talk about
So I'm alone on the porch
But I tell myself it's cool because I really dig the tunes and it is, and I do
So I'll be keep rolling though and I'm not gonna leave any room for my insecurities to bother you!
Sing it with me some of us are young
Sing it with me some of us are old
Sing it with me some of us are both of those relative to other people here right now
Sing it with me ageism is real
Sing it with me so respect your younger peers
Sing it with me if you're feeling old
who are you trying to please?
What social standard are you violating?
Be wary of a general anxiety
manifesting itself as an issue of age like you hate your job and take it out on kids at the show cause you're feeling old but that's just you being unsatisfied with yourself
So get over it

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