Jason Handelsman: the Poet Preacher of Cutler Ridge

Untitled rough draft manuscript for The President's Reality Show sequel.

The night before I met Jason Handelsman at the Sports Grill on the Green (the one at the Palmetto Golf Course off U.S. 1), I was pacing in my bathroom and brushing my teeth when, out of nowhere, I felt like Jason and I were communicating somehow -- both of us in our respective lavatories, toothpaste burning our mouths, and that tingly feeling in the back of the skull that comes with what people sometimes think of as telepathy.

Handelsman -- writer, poet, musician, performer, and ordained pastor -- is glowering proof that our identities and lives are not cohesive, straightforward things. Not because of all the creative capacities just listed but rather due to the fact that before becoming a man of God, Handelsman was Azar Alcazar. He was also the Ghost of Dirty. Not to mention, The President, a practicing freemason, and more.

Harder things first, though: In 2009, Handelsman was writing for New Times, interviewing countless luminaries such as Rick Ross and Lil Wayne and growing an audience for his out-there, Dadaist style of writing and humor. It was then, while rising in the sordid ranks of South Florida's cultural journalism circuit, that everything came to a bloody halt. On Halloween night, on assignment in South Beach, Handelsman struck a man with his car while driving drunk.

By Rob Goyanes

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Hearing Damage: The Rat Opera Brings Dialogue and Song to the Life of Rat Bastard

The logo.

Rob Elba and Brian Franklin have gathered a large and notable cast of local musicians turned actors to perform their rock show Hearing Damage: The Rat Opera. The band -- which also includes Russell Mofsky, Andre Serafini, and William Trev -- started warming up with some Led Zeppelin last Wednesday night during its penultimate practice. They played with big, childlike smiles on their faces. The room was filled with song and laughter, more than a dozen old friends creating together and consuming a decent amount of beer, orzo salad, and sushi in the process.

Next week, they perform the rock opera inspired by the life of noise legend Frank Falestra, AKA Rat Bastard, onstage at Fort Lauderdale's Cinema Paradiso. Rat Bastard has helped guide the Miami music scene for three decades. He's recorded just about every local band or act that's come through town, and he's known as the mastermind behind Scraping Teeth (Spin magazine's worst band in America circa 1993), Laundry Room Squelchers, and the annual International Noise Conference at Churchill's Pub.

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Bruce Springsteen's Biographer on the Boss' Ten Most Pivotal Moments

Categories: Interview

Danny Clinch

There aren't many musicians who inspire serious scholarship, but Bruce Springsteen is one of them. The New Jersey native has sold more than 120 million albums over his four-decade-plus career. Although many acts that started in the 1960s or '70s still sell out arenas, most of these musicians (without naming names) have evolved into nostalgia acts. The Boss, however, continues to pump out new music, most recently January's High Hopes. Springsteen's music and life touch upon many critical historical and cultural moments of the past 60 years, from Ed Sullivan's weekly smiling face to the stresses of Vietnam and 9/11 to our tabloid obsession with celebrity.

To help navigate the pivotal moments in this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's career, New Times turned to Jeff Burger, editor of Springsteen on Springsteen: Interviews, Speeches, and Encounters. To compile the collection, Burger did plenty of sleuthing to track down rare interviews with Springsteen.

See also: Springsteen Photographer Chronicles 32 Years of the Boss

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Alex Segura of the Faulkner Detectives on Writing First Novel Silent City and Working With Kiss

Robert Kidd

We first met Miami native Alex Segura when reviewing his band the Faulkner Detectives's EP (Livid Records) The Modern Handshake back in 2012. Since then, his career in journalism and comics publishing has kept him bouncing between South Florida and New York City. His most recent, nonmusical musical endeavor: He penned the script for a surreal issue of Archie Comics in which the gang from Riverdale meets Kiss.

With that in tow, Segura just published his debut novel, Silent City, a gritty crime noir steeped in the decadence of a bygone era of hard-drinking journalists with mild poetic inclinations who can manage a little pearl in the swine before giving in to the personal demons. A speedy read and a solid first novel, Silent City is imbued with enough music to have you humming along and visualizing all those places in Miami you'd rather not set foot in.

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The Used Calls Walmart "an Evil Corporation"

Kane Hibberd

It's safe to say that the Used is doing better than it ever has before. Currently, it's co-headlining a U.S. and Canada tour with Taking Back Sunday, and shows are pretty much all sold out. If this success wasn't enough, the band has hit number one on the Billboard Independent Chart. Yet, the Used seems to only care about their time on the road. "We're not sure about CD sales, which is whatever, but we rather have people feel our music than spend money at Walmart any day," says Jeph Howard, bassist. "It's an evil corporation, they don't help anybody."

Wait, what? There's a band out there that actually cares about the good of people and not for their own publicity? "I'm all for people buying records and supporting bands." Howard continues, "But I'm against supporting the wrong people, like a corporation."

Not that this should be a surprise to anyone. The Used is known to never shy away from addressing wrongdoing in the world, and they openly express that in their music. Their lyrics are the opposite of radio sounds that brag about hoarding money or throwing it at strippers, humping, and Tom Ford.

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Blackjack Billy Explains "Redneck Rock" at Tortuga Music Festival

Blackjack Billy
Blackjack Billy has experienced a heavy shot of success in a short amount of time. These hard-working Southern boys are now living the country star dream, touring he country with tons of dates, and watching their song "Booze Cruise" rise to the top of the iTunes pile.

Blackjack Billy just finished performing a Spring Break concert in Panama City before heading to Fort Lauderdale for the beachside hoedown known as the Tortuga Music Festival. Guitarist Coplan pointed out about both: "There's women in bikinis. That never gets old!"

We sat down with Blackjack Billy after their set to talk about prude partying and their stolen trailer. Here's what happened when we met Noll Billings (vocals), Rob Blackledge (vocals, guitar), Jeff Coplan (electric guitar), Brad Cummings (drums), and Patrick Cornell (bass guitar) on the sand.

See also: Tortuga Music Festival 2014's Ten Hottest Beach Bods

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White Denim's Newest Album, Corsicana Lemonade, Is "Fresh," Not "Overworked"


We last spoke with White Denim's drummer, Joshua Block, when their album D dropped. He told New Times the odd album title came about because it's their fourth album and because "D" is the band's favorite letter in the alphabet. This was a strange enough assessment that we felt compelled to communicate with Block again. It's also hard not to be drawn to the Texas band's sound. Their newest release, Corsicana Lemonade, is groovy and psychedelic enough to have you doodling hearts on the album cover.

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Humbert on Opening for Dead Milkmen with Special Guests and Hialeah Fest

Categories: Interview

Photo by teajayphoto
Ferny Copiel has been recording musicians at his warehouse studio the Shack North for 26 years. The space is packed with the most interesting things mankind has ever produced. Graffiti ripped from the walls of the now defunct Washington Square, "Hialeah Kicks Ass" T-shirts for sale, an Uncle Luke 4 Mayor sign, huge statues of both Yoda and Jabba the Hutt. There's even a live snake (which, a sign says, you can touch). It all seems less like a distraction and more like a visual match for all the stimulating sounds coming from the studio.

Late Monday night, Copiel and his Humbert bandmates, Tony Landa and Izo Besares, were meeting up to practice for their upcoming opening set alongside Sandratz for Dead Milkmen show at Grand Central. It'll be a sort of family affair with Copiel's young daughter coming out and the addition of two special guest collaborators, Jeff Rolloson of Curious Hair and Night of the Weirds and multi-instrumentalist and singer Ali Culotta of Stop the Presses.

See also: Humbert's Ferny Coipel on Healing and Their Musical Take on the Crying of Lot 49

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Peoplewatch Bring Funking Miami Rock and Soul to Hard Rock Rising Friday Night

Categories: Interview


Peoplewatch is a Miami trio that has been vibing since 2012. Together, drummer Alan Ash, singer Cris Diaz, and bassist Branden De Caso create an ever-evolving sound that melds jazz, funk, and soul with rock music. Ash calls it "an eclectic mix of groovy and catchy lines that will have you humming on the way home from a show." And once you hear their songs after the jump, you'll be humming them at your computer.

The band has been playing around town at places like Tobacco Road and Churchill's Pub, but most recently, they gained praise and attention at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino's Hollywood Hard Rock Rising competition. The band was of the two wild card picks in the preliminary competition, won the second round, and this weekend, on April 11, will be playing for the chance to go global. The winner heads to Rome, and Ash explains their ultimate goal is to "represent Miami to the fullest." And certainly, Italy needs a little of that spicy Miami flavor every now and again.

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Heady & Sullen Debut EP Is a Testament to Their Undying Love


Ariel Vega is no stranger to our New Times readership. As the drummer for the Honeysticks in the '90s, he helped pave the way for the alternative sounds of South Florida today. An eternally busy musician with live tried-and-true chops and a penchant for creation within the studio and session setting, his latest musical endeavor involves his wife Tammy Fons, an accomplished and classically trained pianist.

Under the name of Heady & Sullen they're releasing a debut four-song EP replete with atmosphere and melody. Formed by their different backgrounds but catapulted into creation by a symbiotic link, their music is lofty and baroque and full of love without the aegis of cliché.

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