Welcome

Poor Me is a five-piece rock band from Denver, CO. Our freshman release, “Readymade,” covered topics about self-improvement, the music scene, and maintaining our integrity within it.  We were new faces, booking gigs was tough, but we liked what we were writing...

Our second record, a concept album titled "Cosplay," was a concept album about comic book heroism and tragedy; the lyrics and atmosphere aimed to assume the roles of notable characters from popular comics. The thing about super-people is that they're stories are most compelling when they are most human. We hoped to remind people that a hero can be anyone. 

We are now supporting our newest release, 'Sugarcane,' released in 2018, with new music to come in summer 2020.

"Sugarcane" is inspired by a proliferating feeling that the world is getting harder to navigate morally. Falsities are acceptable as warrants for our beliefs, social issues are diluted and polarized until they are palatable for the ill-informed, and confidence in ourselves is replacing the competence of collaboration. As we negotiate circumstances in our lives, we have a plethora of sources to turn to for direction. We can gut-check the moment, or we can turn to science, philosophy, religion, government, our families, etc. -- each has its limits, its agendas, but increasingly, a satisfaction with conversion rather than persuasion. Watching the world turn this direction is frustrating, but not surprising... the carrot and stick has always been this effective on the masses.

Thanks for listening, and take care of each other.

- Brett

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"Heartsick," New EP, Summer 2020 

Good day friends,

It's been some time since we last had anything to report. In this last year, three of us got married, we were without a space to practice, and the songwriting of our latest EP involved bouncing tracks back and forth over the interwebs. The process certainly changes the approach to songwriting, so we think we'll have some unique stuff for you this summer. As it stands, those songs are tracked, on their way to being mixed. In the meantime, we've got some shows lining up that will allow to us to knock some of the rust off, hopefully see some friends we haven't seen in a while, and let loose.  I'm not sure about you all, but I've been reading the news more, trying to keep up on the latest in politics, science, and whatever else comes through my news feed. There was a time when I used to read a lot more, but something about the nature of the news lately, especially in politics, has got me hooked on keeping a steady stream of information coming into my purview.  If you've been following, I imagine you might share a lot of the feelings I have about what I'm hearing. Largely I've fixated on a President so corrupt, the stories involving his attempted expansion of the executive risks losing our demand for objectivity in law, losing a genuine sympathy and responsibility for our nation's poor, and what seems to be a renewed sprint toward fascism, partisanship, and identity politics in attempts to recapture values that everyone feels to be slipping.  We've never been a band who claims to have answers; like anyone, we see the heartlessness, stubbornness, and factioning, and wonder what we can do to personally change it.  Discussing the status quo with peers is often met with more anger than understanding. The anger gets in the way of seeking differed opinions. It gets in the way of explaining ourselves. It seems to be at the center of all this news I've been reading.  I feel a lot of anxiety about it. I feel a lot of anxiety about my own anger, and how it might get in the way of moving forward with people I'm in contact with.  That said, our upcoming summer EP, "Heartsick,"  addresses how we deal with the change we want to see, who's influencing it, who's responsible for it, and the drive to keep the conversation informed and progressing.  We hope to see you at some shows. Come chat us up.  We'd like to hear your perspective.

- Brett

The Night Gwen Stacy Died: Speaking for others.  

It's been more than a year since we last posted an entry to this Cosplay blog. I have found myself, to a complete extent, unmotivated to actually compose anything about life's happenings. Although I enjoy sharing anecdotes, and have been collecting relevant notes to continue this thing, I've kept it all to myself.  I've got tens of Word files with just a few lines of poetry or quick notes on an experience related to one of the songs yet to be blogged. Sometimes I'll open one of those documents, read it, wonder what I was thinking at the time, really hate it, then lose motivation altogether.  Other times, I just can't weave a theme through the ramblings. It's also tough to convince myself to extrovert a stream of consciousness into this text field, publish it to the world, and allow myself to appreciate the overt nature of the content. Some people can do that just fine, and that content can be charming, but I usually have to take a couple sittings...okay, a LOT of sittings, to knock one of these out. 

I also wanted to share that there are new POOR ME shows finally on their way again. We've got new merchandise (and vinyl). There will also be more reason to stay connected on social media. As we've stated through sharing thoughts on Cosplay in the past, taking a stance in the face of public disagreement, attempting to empower others to pursue self-improvement, and to reflect on how to challenge ourselves are important dialogues for us, to both the record and how we approach our music in a general sense.  Those themes were present on Readymade, and now on Cosplay, but Cosplay had a unique challenge that Readymade did not -- Cosplay was a constant exercise in empathy.  As I tried to hop into the heads of these comic book personas, I would read fan synopses of what superhero fans had thought motivated their favorite superheroes -- and opinions varied wildly.  In the case of Spider-Man, for example, some felt the character was driven by insatiable anger felt toward a 'mean world,' others felt he was obligated to a pervasive sense of duty, while others thought he was simply a prideful hot-shot. There were more perspectives, of course -- but the point is, some arguments resonated with me while others seemed to miss the mark.  There did seem to be a unanimous sense that Spider-Man's loss of Gwen Stacy was a jarring turning point, though. Everyone seems to think that Spider-Man gained his third dimension on the night that Gwen Stacy died in the comic book world, and thus, is the topic of this particular blog entry.  But first, to finish my previous trajectory -- writing to 'speak for others' is an immensely difficult task when compared to personal narratives, Empathy isn't simply the ability to understand and share the feelings of another through a willingness to understand. I believe it has to be practiced. Every singular experience has a multitude of 'appropriate' emotional and intellectual responses, so the desire alone -- to arrive at the precise emotional state of another -- is not exhaustive. I won't be concluding that I've practiced empathy enough over the course of Cosplay to be appropriately seasoned to empathize with everyone, at every moment, fictional or no.  I won't be concluding that I was successful, even once, with cracking open the psyche of the characters referenced on Cosplay.  I simply aim to say, in this entry, that I flirted with empathy in the same way those fan synopses had;  I stepped outside of myself to better examine how I might respond to a similar situation, then I stepped back to write a sympathetic account of another's experience.  

The last six months has had me thinking a lot about empathy for a couple reasons; 1) I was constantly trying to push myself to coalesce this entry into a publishable version, and The Night Gwen Stacy Died was the first song written for Cosplay that attempted to exemplify what I've stated above, and 2) public life, be it in the news, on social media, etc.,  seems to have engendered torrents of selfish posturing, soap-boxing and resentment.  It seems to me, at least, that all this is happening to a greater extreme than prior to the release of this record.  Honestly, it seems to have started around Trump's inauguration, and has snowballed since. I'm not arguing necessarily for causation, for the record -- I'm arguing for a time stamp. I'll leave commentary for cause to someone more qualified.  And no, I don't have proof of this 'poverty of empathy' in the first place, so forgive the phenomenalism in its entirety if you must. The claim is perhaps a product, after all, of the phenomena I worry we might be netted.

So,take or leave my interpretations of how public life has been transformed as of late, but the change looks something like this to me... 

We seem to be in constant worry that our neighbors don't see eye to eye, terrified that -- if we don't share our most candid opinions openly and publicly -- our neighbors will never understand our unique plight.  I certainly believe a confidence exists -- for many -- that no one will be taking survey of their unique position anytime soon, and they must represent themselves, else be stamped out. Being heard seems to mean shouting louder than everyone else, never worrying ourselves with audience comprehension or sympathies.  Personal narratives are easy, though.  Speaking with others, for others, takes more practice.  I've typically felt that the path of most resistance is often the most fruitful. 

I need to be clear here; I don't think that the entirety of public life in the US can be boiled down to an absence of empathy. I'll be the first to say that's ridiculous. But, I do think such an indictment helps to highlight a shift I've personally sensed, gives it form, and minimally provides a reminder that empathy is a prerequisite for garnering mutual understanding. At best, if your 'spidey-senses' have arrived at a similar sentiment, I hope listening and reading along to The Night Gwen Stacey Died ends up being a refreshing exercise in validating someone else's experience. 

Either way, let's get back on the rails... 

In The Night Gwen Stacey Died, I didn't attempt to further narrow or select an 'official take' on Spider-Man's motivation. Spider-Man, to me, is always trying to 'figure it out,' adjusting to life's unpredictability with a healthy dose of heart, humility, and hubris -- like most of us.  In this song about Gwen Stacey's fateful fall, I wanted to capture Spider-Man's attempts to learn through empathy, to catch him transforming through his viewpoint on what Gwen would have wanted.  I thought this would be especially interesting, because Spider-Man would be wholly unable to verify Gwen's perspective for Spider-Man, as that opportunity had just slipped from his hands.  

---

Don’t depend on my intent. When I crack my knuckles red, I’m bearing skin not cut to fit. 

Eternally, lives spent doubting live to die. And you’re right; you can’t save them all if you can’t save one. 

The more there is, the less you see. All stripped down, there’s something to save. 

It’s only bad. It’s only bad. It’s only bad.  So I’ll be missing you – I can’t capture the fortitude. 

When all the rest is recompense, please discharge my offense. 

A nameless face; a basket case. 

So count my time as served and don’t say a word. 

No, they’ll never learn that life is dear on the edge. 

And we built our modest rabbit hole – I’m not one for the size, but where we start. 

That’s the hardest part. 

And they’ll read of once a lonely boy suffering from himself. 

He can save a world that takes away. 

We have built a world that takes away. 

So slow me down. I can stabilize my sight, when all around we’re dying to find what’s been around. 

Just too afraid to straighten strides over dotted lines. 

You fell so quickly, I would doubt my drive. 

And I felt this notion -- this was your design. 

You took the fall. 

The more there is, the less you see; all stripped down, there’s something to save. 

It’s only bad. It’s only bad.  It’s only bad.  So I’ll be missing you. 

Can’t capture the fortitude. 

I can dry these blurry eyes.  When all around we’re dying to find what’s been around. 

Just too afraid to straighten strides over dotted lines. 

So count my time as served and don’t say a word. 

No, they’ll never learn that life is dear on the edge.

 

Smash It Out: Defy design  

The track from Cosplay that I plan to explain in this entry is not a song that anyone in the band finds to be their favorite, or even in their top few favorites from the record. We don’t think the song is bad, of course; I think we just feel there are some real barn burners on Cosplay that make Smash It Out feel like the coup de grâce of a front-loaded production.  But, whatever the reasons, we do have friends and fans tell us this song is their personal favorite – specifically, that it’s relatable to them before even knowing that the song is written about Bruce Banner.  My brother recently shared that he had this affinity for Smash It Out, too. Mind you, he doesn’t care much for comic books or much of anything fantasy-fiction.  When I explained last summer of the hero-inspired theme and content of the record, he didn’t care in the slightest. It’s probably, in part, that we differ so much that his favorite song choice intrigued me. It got me thinking at length about my own family and friends, coupled with the nature vs. nurture commentary that we interwove into this song about Bruce Banner (The Hulk). 

For those who may not know much about The Hulk, other than the fact that his iconic transformations can lead him to smashing the hell out of everything, here is what you need to know: Bruce lost his mother, Rebecca Banner, through domestic abuse as a child. Bruce’s father, Brian Banner, was an aggressive alcoholic, and during an attempt by Rebecca and Bruce to flee from Brian, Bruce’s father smashed his mother’s cranium into the driveway during a fit of alcoholic rage. It’s one of those comic book backstories that really addresses an important and powerful social issue.  Substance abuse and dependency is alarmingly pervasive. It certainly has been for my family. Of course, this much is well understood as a culture, enough that just about everyone we know has an incredibly small degree of separation from someone with a dependency disorder.  The destructive behaviors that accompany and ravage the sufferer are saddening, and those who come to witness the disorder’s unraveling will likely never forget. 

From talking with my brother, it became pretty clear that Smash It Out incited the shared sympathy we both have for our parents and extended friends/family who have tussled with alcohol dependence.  My brother and I have a handful of deceased friends who attempted to self-medicate depression, uncles still dealing with their disorders, one of whom has been in and out of prison for alcohol-related offenses.  My grandfather on my father’s side, who I will never meet, committed suicide in the back of the family Oldsmobile when my father was a child. He had dealt with prolonged alcoholism and depression, which had ultimately led him to devalue and terrorize his own family in his final years before ending his own life.  My grandmother on my mother’s side was also verbally and physically abusive under the influence of alcohol, which led to my mother running away from home during middle-school.  She entered foster care and would never complete secondary school due to a torrent of responsibilities placed on her; foremost, she needed to work in order to support herself financially. 

The point here, of course, is simply to characterize the pervasiveness of dependency. Fortunately, my story ends on a cheerier note for my own nuclear family – fast forward a bit – my mother would ultimately meet my father while waitressing as she had been doing for a number of years, and the both have raised my brother and me in an environment wholly unaffected by alcohol abuse. I think I saw my parents drunk a total of three times in my 29 years.  At any rate, I hope people enjoy Smash It Out, and if the content does hit close to home, I hope the narrative we crafted here can provide some strength to a very serious issue.

---

He spoke it softly:  “You just say the phrase, as if you’ve had enough, and all the nerve to say so.” 
She begged him often, but dad weighed in strength.  I am a mother’s son, but apples fall around you. 

Psychotic to some for the havoc he brought when he had lost control. 
His anger is bound to the fear of a man who needed whiskey to cope. 
  
But he’ll smash it. 
Can’t even giants defy their design? 
Can’t even giants deny? 
Deny your design. 
His faith is a brick away; cast it or be laid. 
His dad banked on fist and fate, a slave to DNA. 
If you can smash yourself, you’re bound to smash it out. 
  
Dad took her life with violence when he was just a boy. It’s not his fault, but it’s his penchant. 
He whispered softly: “It’s okay to stray.  I am a father’s son, but I’m not just a shadow. 
  
Psychotic to some for the havoc he brought when he had lost control. 
His anger is bound to the fear of a man who needed whiskey to cope. 
  
But he’ll smash it. 
Can’t even giants defy their design? 
His faith is a brick away; cast it or be laid. 
His dad banked on fist and fate, a slave to DNA. 
If you can smash yourself, you’re bound to smash it out.

Mad Love: Forgiveness makes us strong  

I have a friend that I typically see every handful of months. We catch up in little eateries over coffee and we engage in those obligatory conversations about our jobs, wanting to quit those jobs, our families, recent relationships, etc.  Sometimes we chat about politics or religion, but we tend to keep the content pretty surface level. It sounds mundane, but the interactions are always lively.  She’s a droll cynic, so it’s a good time soaking in her witticisms about whomever it is that has her frustrated.  She can be a little intimidating to some as she has an overwhelming personality by all accounts.  Despite, her cynicism comes from a really warm place.  She wishes people were kinder, more thoughtful, and more generous – she is a firm believer in micropolitics and thinks she can change the world by changing people.  She’s incredibly intelligent and somehow even more accurately intuitive about people and their motives. She’s also pretty aggressive toward the world when the world decides it wants to be inhumane and shitty to those who can't defend themselves. I share these traits about my friend because, upon hearing the story I’m about to share, I feel that many reading this will be otherwise dismissive about the accuracy of her intuitions toward people. I can report honestly that I’ve never heard her state a naïve or unfair assertion about anyone’s character and she seems to sniff out tendencies in others flawlessly.  Still, I can’t effectively capture her aura in a short post like this, so I suppose the above-mentioned is all the representation to her character that I’ll provide. 

The reason my friend comes up at all is, of course, because she reminded me recently of the inspiration behind the song Mad Love. Mad Love is the song I find to be the heaviest on Cosplay, and fittingly – in my opinion – is from the perspective of Harley Quinn of Batman fame.  I’d always found her character intriguing. Since I first saw her on the animated series as a kid in the 90s, I had a cartoon crush on Harley.  I was still ‘spongeing’ in relationship dynamics at this point, filling my head with stratagems on wooing and dating.  Even then, I knew the Joker was an asshole, but the areas I faulted him were not for his ill treatment of his love interest, Harley Quinn. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized how parasitic the relationship between the two characters had been storyboarded. She takes quite the physical beating from Joker as early as her origination comic, titled Mad Love.  In this story, she becomes hospitalized with severe injuries because the Joker had decided to send her crashing through a window for her purported disloyalty.  Naturally, she was pissed for being ejected through the window – who wouldn’t be – but it wasn’t for long. A well-timed ‘get well soon’ card and flower bouquet was enough to bring Harley back into renewed infatuation with the bruiser by the end of the comic.  In another arc, Joker even kicks Harley into a vat of acid, bleaching her skin and other permanent alterations.  Now, for comics, that’s not anywhere close to the worst fate, and in the Batman universe, it’s actually quite common.  But, I can’t imagine myself readily forgiving and ready to forget such encroachments on my well-being.  More importantly, I believe all other characters who have endured catastrophic chemical baths in the Batman universe have simply become supervillains with sinister plans to exact vengeance. Harley seems to forgive her aggressor, and whether that’s good or bad, I think that makes her unique. 

Forgiveness takes a lot of strength.  I suppose that’s the thesis, direction, or whatever I’m heading at here. We all know how easy forgiveness is to defend as an ideal, especially as the harboring of anger is most often the path of least resistance. As I mentioned in the last blog on Taste Takers, the easy route never seems to be as worthwhile for personal development as lessons that come hard to us. As Mad Love prods, sometimes forgiveness can enable others to remain reckless and inconsiderate.  And worse, we can enable corrosive cycles in others. At some point, unless we choose to live in our denial about our role in those cycles, we require some hard-found strength to elevate ourselves to challenge those who have taken our forgiveness for granted.  Calling a relationship to a close after expending so much effort takes an absurd amount of strength, especially if done because of a sudden realization that the relationship has become caustic. Back to my good friend… 

We had decided to meet up at a coffee shop this last time in order to get updated on each other’s lives. A tall, scruffy guy – bulky, a few neck tattoos – came in to order a drink after just a few minutes. My friend got giddy and kept breaking eye contact his way, so I started to tease that she must be single again. She’d been in and out of one particular relationship with a real shitstick over the last three years, and she would date other guys in between. I wasn’t surprised to hear that she was in and out of one more ‘serious one’ since the last time she was in town, but that she was still seeing shitstick on the side. For the most part, every break for those two came about because they’d basically get into domestic MMA bouts. I guess she’s pretty scrappy and a skilled hair puller from her reports.  And, for the record, I don’t think her on-and-off boyfriend is a shitstick because he’s willing to get physical toward a woman.  Honestly, I’m swayed from the other contexts of their relationship happenings. In fact, I’ve been given the impression that physical altercations are instigated by her when shouting alone won’t determine the winner.  Anyway, they fight, they break up. They rise and repeat. They’ve done that for three years.  This last time, however, a solid shove sent her through the coffee table.  The coffee table was hers, so she was strangely angrier about the upcoming furniture shopping than the fact that the two should perhaps consider more than another break away from each other.  I shared my thoughts on the matter as any good friend should feel inclined to do, but as we changed topics into family and work, I got the feeling that they will probably get back together, and she will likely resume a perhaps flawed campaign toward fixing his ‘flaws.’  And maybe someday she will; she’s pretty damn confident of her intuitions on the matter, no matter how love-crazy they seem to me or anyone else. 

Here are the lyrics to Mad Love.  Thanks for reading. 

---

Mad love; 
So, you’ve finally found your passion? 
But you’ve learned that leaving is easy. 
At what cost will you defend it? 
And if not, will you regret it? 
  
Today, I helped the loveless in hopes to fix them (hopes to fix them). 
If deadpan can feel, my darling, like truth – I’m in over my head. 
I’ve been pointing fingers where I may.  Pretext lived; I’m past decay. 
  
Past these yesterdays – I’m past the shame. 
Past the shame and travesty. 
Keep your filthy heart out on your sleeve. 
(A patron saint of felony) 
So why can’t they see the passion? 
There’s no lead in love’s dystopia. 
And why can’t I force reaction? 
A strange attraction. 
  
And we lost it again: The cause. The medicine.  My sense.  My motivation. 
They call it a shame. 
Some things I won’t be able to displace. 
Though I deserve this, I find rival in the fact. 
And we lost it again; but I made the most of it – this heavy risk I paid in. 
We both made mistakes.  Still I forgave. 
  
Validation always meant the most to me. 
And now I count the ways these ears and eyes adjust to agony. 
As long as I can crawl away, I’ll serve you better, please believe. 
With the will, there is a way. Don’t forget the best of me. 
Don’t forget the best of me. 
Don’t forget the best of me. 
Don’t forget the best of me. 
You’ll forget. 
  
They call it a shame. 
Some things I won’t be able to displace. 
Though I deserve this, I find rival in the fact. 
We lost it again; but I made the most of it – this heavy risk I paid in. 
We both made mistakes. And still I forgave. 

 

Taste Takers: Forget normal  

Last night, I spent about five minutes trying to step into the psyche of a man in a viral video clip. I watched the video probably eight times from my Facebook feed, end to end, trying to piece together all the decisions the man may have been negotiating during the pivotal ten seconds of the video. Welcome to my weird brain, I guess.  I was actually in the midst of losing all motivation to write this particular blog entry when I realized the man was a perfect illustration for the message behind Taste Takers. Some people scroll through their notifications and watch all the puppy and kitten videos. Some people quiz and re-quiz in order to discover which Hogwarts house they truly align. I get excited when my feed can jumpstart me into deliberations about the moral systems of others. I know that’s a strange admission, but when you’re in your own head a lot, you learn the dangers of trying to extrapolate everything from your own experiences alone. 

I should add that my conclusions are often pretty damn wrong, which can really suck.  My closest friends know I can be painfully analytical as I try to find linkages between facts, events, people, and solutions.  I can be pretty assertive, and outright ingenuous, about my thought processes. Still, the ride is always enlightening for me. I’ve argued for a while that being wrong is usually more valuable than being immediately right. There seems to be far less to be learned when you’re always right – and, that seems boring.  Truth-be-told, my regular deliberations while on social media help me feel in-sync with humanity.  I’ve read articles from high school classmates, concluding that President Obama’s race is the reason Americans don’t have any optimism for the future. I read posts about America’s destitute being nothing more than lazy bottom-feeders. I rarely find paragraphs I immediately agree with in these write-ups, but I try to understand the systems that spur their creation.  When you disagree with someone, it’s easy to dismiss their ideas.  Everyone knows we all function this way – but, fewer see how susceptible they really are to the ideas they hotly oppose. The most important ideas are never as black and white as we wish they could be, and I don’t believe heroism is any different. Taste Takers makes the argument that the ideas less-privileged are often the ones we, collectively, hold in highest regard.  But, since seeing is believing, something needs to, first, boldly present the evidence. 

So, hopefully you’re still with me as I try to roll toward the theme behind Taste Takers. This is my favorite song on the record, partially because its spirit is hard to explain quickly without underselling from where it comes.  Also, I was hoping you’d be baited with curiosity for the video content that kicked off this whole entry. So, here goes; The man that stunned me was pumping gasoline when a speeding car careened intentionally into the gas pump he was using. The pump exploded, of course, and the firestorm enveloped both cars with impervious black smoke. On the CC footage from the convenience building, you can clearly see the man escape from the pumps and off camera.  At this point in the clip, I had total empathy for the man that sprinted away.  It’s a simple relation: when you don’t want to be in danger for your life, you get the hell out of there. Derp… Fewer than five seconds later, however, the man runs back into the smoke, reappearing as he drags the unconscious driver of the car from the fires. It’s not the most incredible story you’ve ever read. I’m not even willing to say the story here is uncommon.  The point is that it’s easy to take either camp if you had to debate whether he should have gone back in to the firestorm.  To be clear, the situation was fucking life-threatening dangerous. In fact, the whole area blew up like it was under the direction of Michael Bay the moment the two men reached a ‘safe’ distance.  And what if the final pumps ignited while the man was still unbuckling the driver? Does a different ending then punctuate the decision as idiotic? I know my answer. I think he made the right call.  I think the video went viral because hundreds of thousands of other people thought so, too. 

It was extremely humbling, but that gave me a sinking feeling more than anything. I’m not confident I would have done the same when put under the same pressure, and that bothered me.  That doesn’t mean I can never gain the confidence for such heroic feats, of course, but real commitment to a system is clearly more than intellectual. You have to be able to fly it in the face of doubt and discomfort, and as a prolonged venture, you have to defend the system to its various counterpoints, manifesting and spanning a multitude of ten-second challenges.  I believe that the most inspirational personas in this world maintain their drive above all else, despite the stumbles. I sound like a Nike commercial, sure, but I’m of the opinion that such rhetoric is justly saturated into American comic-book hero culture. 

“I'm the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn't very nice… I’m a long way from home. An’ I think I’m dyin’. That’s good news to some. I’m crazy, y’see? – a berserker, a psycho-killer. That’s fact, not truth – the whole truth, anyway… I’m on the run, but I’m used to that. The important thing is, I’m free… So, I keep movin’ an’ hope things get better."
  - Wolverine, The Uncanny X-Men, Issue 162 

We’ve stated before that Cosplay songs have a theme that often implement the personalities and story arcs of known, costumed characters, and Taste Takers is one of those. Formally, it’s about Marvel’s Wolverine, but doesn’t reveal any homage to any Marvel storyline. The song is simply about Wolverine’s disposition; the strong-willed, brooding loner has always grabbed me as a powerful identity. Also, I felt Logan’s supernatural abilities played nicely into the Taste Takers meaning. He is an adaptive, self-healer, of course, able to regenerate damaged or destroyed body tissue far beyond the capabilities of an ordinary human. His passion becomes strength, and he meanders toward betterment through frenzied, often regressive behavior.  He must withstand the jealousies and violence that he evokes through his wild and tactless propensities, but his conviction is known, and it’s his conviction which humanizes him. None of us boast the Adamantium core needed to physically recover from all our miscues as we bang out our life’s callings, which is why sprinting into a torrent of flame is an act that absolutely floors me – but, it’s not the Adamantium that sends you running back in the first place. 

Here are the lyrics to Taste Takers.  Thanks for reading. 

---

I’m the best.  I’m the best.  I’m the best there is. 
My best ain’t very nice – yet what I do is causing you to salivate. 
Hit me with your violent jealousies; let’s see you crack these bare bones. 
Though you laid these wounds wide open, the best don’t pick the cut. 
I heal up. 

The best things in life are freaks. 
Model my skills and stamp me out. 
I am a tastemaker. 
I am a freak. I am the beast you’d like to be. 
You’re just a taste taker – you’re scared of missing out on normalcy. 

So hit me with your favorite malady; let’s see you bore this dense core. 
I could show you the parts in motion, but the best just shake it up. 
We all should. 

The best things in life are freaks. 
Model my skills and stamp me out. 
I am a tastemaker. 
I am a freak. I am the beast you’d like to be. 
You’re just a taste taker – you’re scared of missing out on normalcy. 
  
So hit me with your violent jealousies; you’ll never leave a scar on this freak show. 

When you laid these wounds wide open – 
You lashed out like a green-eyed child. 
You laid these wounds wide open – and lashed out.  You lashed out like the worst there is. 
It’s how we were born. And you can bet it’s evident you’re fond of us now. 
All the best won’t be blended to death in this world. 
You’re not the best. You’re far too much like the rest.

An introduction to Cosplay, its inspiration, and the blog series.  

From the album notes:  

Cosplay is a concept album about heroism. A fierce, daily prescription of courage and mettle, or conversely, of fear and dread, can spawn an unshakeable set of behaviors that may forever define us. As we become intimately interconnected with one another, the right time and location to be impactful becomes an incessant here and now. Collectively, we will continue to be framed by our willingness to challenge or impose things such as violence, but what of our willingness to neutrality, of being present but unwilling to take part - what extrapolations should be made from our indifference? Our mythologies share a consistent interpretation of what makes a hero/ine. These characters shoulder the responsibility of entire communities as the whole world watches, smash fear before it poisons their head, and offer examples of humanist vigilantism while being treated as less than human themselves.  

This record introduces some alternative narratives to the well-known comic book characters that we cherish for their larger-than-life occupancies in our own moral systems. The hope is to humanize their heroism, their dissonances, as processes that bear difficult fortitudes. Though their fictional means may be out of reach, their evolving struggle is of an attainable, cognitive capacity. Stimulating idle hands can be terrifying, but so is becoming the villain.

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We had talked about doing a concept album pretty much immediately following our release of Readymade in 2013.  Something tells me that Direct Hit! sold the idea with Brainless God, which came out only a month after Readymade. I got stoked on the record before I listened to it because I had heard the album had a central theme about Armageddon. I loved the recurring concept of a bomb dropping from song to song, and they were all really clever and catchy. Brainless God came at the perfect time to commit Cosplay as a concept record for me. We always had been stoked on records that just felt bigger like that, somehow more significant than most albums that get churned out with a collection of songs in isolation to one another.  It was not always clear how some records could feel so damn relevant and important – not all of them were concept albums – but when one came along, we would punish our weekend friends with repeated listens, demanding they keep their ears to the ground for the band to ‘blow the fuck up.’  Some bands were already big, honestly, and deservedly so, but we always just wanted even more people to love the shit out those well-pieced records. 

As a band, the first monumental record we shared was definitely The Flatliners’ Cavalcade, though. POOR ME formed at the end of 2010, so Cavalcade was out for about six months.  Over the following winter, we found a drummer and wrote a few ‘funny’ songs – they were really, really bad, and definitely not funny.  We had a couple different names back then, too, shit like ‘The Gay Bar’ and ‘The Rusty Wallace.’  Fortunately, no shows were played through that stint.  Anyway, I had ripped my Cavalcade CD and gave the disc to Nick. The next summer, we blasted the full record at countless backyard parties. Sometimes it would be the only record that got played, just repeating for hours. We were so stoked on the record that we would even talk shit on the people that would go home or to the bars because we wouldn’t switch the playlist.    

It’s stupid, anymore, to chastise people for disliking what we are into – or being into stuff that we aren’t – but there is still something to be said for bonding with new people through love of the same records.  Significant differences between people can be quickly set aside if the common ground is more significant; those backyard party people who were down with Cavalcade for several hours straight are still really close friends.  We still talk about how incredibly good we felt about playing a single record for an entire summer. We still delve into what a certain line means, what the song means, and why the band put everything under the marquee of Cavalcade. We still probably have no clue, but the thing is, I can recount at least five fervent conversations in Nick’s backyard that summer. They all were about how we should bail on those ‘funny’ songs, which had then comprised our entire ‘catalogue’ (heh).  We bailed so we could try our hand at writing visceral, intelligent music like the endless list of bands that have written hugely important records to us. I still cite lyrics from those records, and it’s usually when I’m trying to discover and relate my own viewpoints toward the world that doesn’t always see things the way I do.  I’m sometimes floored to think that I’ve been impacted so deeply by so many records, especially when I consider the source; many of these artists are non-entities in the scheme of popular media, but that has never shaken their influence on me.   

So, that’s my rambling precursor to why we tried to write Cosplay with an overarching argument.  A band doesn’t have to have a themed set of songs to accomplish such things, but a clear concerted effort seemed like a good idea to keep us on track with the big picture we were writing toward.  We wanted to impact people with an album that was better than any single on a playlist.  We wanted the appeal of one song on the record to be completed by its contrast and comparison to another on the record.  We wanted to suggest that the pedestrian act of sharing music is anything but pedestrian, that honest and engaging musical works can change people.  This isn’t a new argument, of course. However, it’s amazing how many people, just those we know personally, who wished they played music, wished they volunteered, wished they would stand up for themselves, wished they could expel their past or be someone or someplace else.   We wish we could change that for people.  And we know, it’s a long shot to hope to stimulate all that through a 12-track ensemble. But hey, if we are sure of anything, it’s that we have to first drop the denial of what we are capable to impact; we still hold that even nonentities in the scheme of popular media can make waves. 

The argument, then:  there’s no need to put on a costume to take part in the defense of public interest or offer an empowering narrative to inspire self-improvement in others.  In fact, as many of the songs are written from the perspective of well-known comic book super-people, the record was my personal exercise in humanizing many of the otherwise-intangible personalities that we seem to surrender our praise. All stripped down, people are people, protagonists and antagonists, making critical choices to act as their solutions to their own diversity of problems.

This little write-up is the beginning of a blog that we decided to start in support of Cosplay and its argument. From here on, you can expect a different song being discussed every few weeks or so [or years], and for good or bad, well-received or disregarded, we will share a bit about how the song came about, what it means to us, etc.  We are truly proud of this record and hope those who take the time to listen will find it relevant to their daily tussles, and deeply enjoy it. We also hope you see the blog as a nice companion to the tracks. Thanks for your support.  <3 POOR ME

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