(13) loudness, "crazy nights"
(8) vixen, "edge of a broken heart"
and will play in the championship 3/30/18
Read the essays, watch the videos, listen to the songs, feel free to argue below in the comments or tweet at us, and consider. Then vote. Winner is the aggregate of the poll below and the @marchshredness twitter poll. Polls closed @ 9am Arizona time on 3/29.
chelsea biondolillo on vixen's "edge of a broken heart"
A brief history (in words and pictures) of my rise toward and escape from high school, and Vixen’s rise and fall from fame—both of which happened between 1987-1991.
A couple of weeks into the 1986 school year, my parents moved from Portland to Oregon City, a mostly blue collar suburb about ten miles away. My city friends warned me about the “preppies” out in the sticks, how they popped their collars, teased their mullets, and listened to hair metal. Though I joked along, I took mental notes about what it would take to fit in out there.
My eighth-grade school picture demonstrates how far I’d managed to not come in a year. It’s not that I was opposed to big hair or shoulder pads—I had the Thompson Twins on endless repeat that year—it’s that I just didn’t know how to do it. My hair drooped lankly by second period no matter what I did. I hated collars and pastels.
The women of Vixen however, were at least publicly not sweating such details. As lead guitarist of the band, Jan Kuehnemund told Aamer Haseem of VH1’s short-lived reality TV show, Bands Reunited, in 2004 of the band’s look, there was “not really a whole lot of planning, on the clothing. What we were wearing was stuff we liked. We were just girls doing our hair, doing our makeup.”
In the earliest publicity pictures of the band-as-we-know-them, they look like they have done it all themselves. Their acid wash and leather fringe look like off-the-rack from Miller’s Outpost or Contempo Casuals. Their hair looks more frayed than styled. They are the kind of glamorous in this photo that the girls who lived next door to me aspired to, which is to say, an LA-by-way-of-the-sticks kind.
Though the kernel of the band formed in St. Paul, MN, the lineup that would become known as “classic” moved to California in the mid-80s to join the rock scene immortalized in ’87 by Penelope Spheeris’s The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years.
VIXEN “classic” lineup:
Janet Gardner—lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jan Kuehnemund—lead guitar, background vocals
Share Pedersen—bass, background vocals
Roxy Petrucci—drums, background vocals
When I look at the earliest pictures of Vixen, I see flyover country’s idea of Hollywood metal. This is also what I see in many of the faces from my high school yearbooks.
I picture Linda, an Oregon City girl whose bangs were teased so tall she had to hunch forward to fit in the passenger seat of her mom’s Corolla.
I picture pre-teen Tonya Harding hand-sewing her skate costumes—she would have gone to the high school just one depressed suburb over from mine, if she hadn’t dropped out—using fabric from the Mill End store we all shopped at.
There’s a brief scene in Decline, when Spheeris asks a baby-faced Janet Gardner if she has a back-up plan, in case Vixen doesn’t make it, and Janet says, smiling big, “No such thing. No back up.”
One girl I knew in the 9th grade wasn’t allowed to use hairspray, because her Jehovah’s Witness mother thought it Satanic. But every couple of weeks or so, when this girl got on the school bus, she’d brandish a pink can of contraband Aquanet and announce to everyone that it was time to do her hair. A mob would form as she aspirated glue around and around her head. Hands would reach in to scrunch and push clumps from tip to root. Brushes and combs were contributed to the cause. Then the crowd would part and she’d be laughing and patting at her giant sunburst of a mess of hair, which she’d later have to rip and yank flat before the bus dropped her back off at home. I remember the long hiss from the can, and the sound of all her ends splitting in the afternoon. It didn’t seem like fun, during or after.
That same year, I was old enough to start “running around downtown” with one of my old friends. I gave up trying to fit in with the subdivision kids, and switched to black lipstick (absolutely verboten in my school picture) and the flatter hair I saw downtown. More Calamity Jane, less Lizzy Borden. More Kim Gordon, less Lita Ford.
Vixen, meanwhile was not only into that suburbs-hit-it-big vibe, they were leading the charge. In 1988, they were signed to EMI, and released their first album, Vixen. “Edge of a Broken Heart,” with its big open notes and head-banging 4/4 time, combined with boilerplate lost-love lyrics, was the first single. And that was no mistake: “Edge” was written by Richard Marx (music) and Fee Waybill of The Tubes (lyrics) at the request of their shared label. The album credits on Vixen include four producers, four lead engineers, and fifteen writers in addition to Jan and Janet.
“Edge” made it to number 26 on Billboard’s Hot 100 that year, but it couldn’t hold the spot. While Marx is on the year-end list, with “Hold on to the Nights,” Vixen is not.
Despite it being their biggest year as a band, it still wasn’t easy.
At best, they were ladies first, rockers second. In a flashback clip on Bands Reunited, Jan tells an interviewer, “People would come up to us, and they’d tell us that halfway through the show, they forgot they were listening to a female band. They were just having a good time.”
At worst, they were a gimmick to sell records. Toward the end of the reunion show, Share Pedersen (now Ross) reminisces with her bandmates about how “…at the beginning of every tour, the guys in the other band? and the crew?—remember? At the side of the curtain, to see if we actually played our instruments!” The women all nod.
I like to think, based on the promo picture of the band for “Cryin’,” the second single released that year, they, like me, have heard a bit of goth’s clarion call. They were surely in the process of refining and defining their “look”—Jan’s ‘fox’ striped clip-in hair piece has made its appearance, while Roxy Petrucci has traded her acid-wash bustier for leather. Janet’s hair is less wingy at the temples and Share’s has more height, which suggests a stylist on board.
The weekend before I started high school, I was “missing” for a couple of days. It is worth noting that no one knew this until after I’d come back home. I did not run away. I was not lost. But, I’d been loose downtown with a very bad influence, and once my mom figured out what we’d done, I was grounded for a year. What I see in this picture is a desperate attempt to play the part of someone following the rules. I am wearing colors other than black and I have even tried to pouf up my bangs again, and again, I have failed.
I have always hated this picture.
The women of Vixen, meanwhile, have been touring hard in their picture. They spent 1989 supporting their singles and opening for huge names like Ozzy and The Scorpions all over the world. In August, they played with Bon Jovi, Europe, and Skid Row to a crowd of 66,000 metalheads in the UK. And just a couple of months later, they were back in the studio, but this time, without Marx or Waybill’s writing help.
In another 80s flashback clip, Share says, “the writing is so much easier now, because we trust each other,” but sitting with Haseem in 2004, she admitted that the opposite was true. In 1989, she says Jan and Roxy were trying to find songwriters who could whip up another hit while she and Janet felt, “…let’s keep the writing in the band. No outside writers at all. We don’t need it. Why are we doing it? That’s bullshit.”
By my junior year (no longer grounded), I’d collected around me a host of poor but well-read friends, and we aspired, even if vaguely, to getting the fuck out. In this year’s school picture, I see that bluster and resolve. I’d made a pact with a couple other girls not to smile for the camera. I was proudly wearing a second-hand men’s jacket. This is the year I’d saved up enough for my first pair of Doc Martens.
I was so sure I’d go to art school after graduation that I’d stubbornly refused to sign up for math classes, even though my guidance counselor said I’d need three years of math to get into any “regular” college as a fallback plan. I am clearly saying No such thing—no backup, here.
Vixen, too, were forging ahead, despite rumblings of dissatisfaction from the ranks. The bullshit that Share and Janet had called out in ’89 carried on into 1990. They’d managed to limit their sophomore release, Rev it Up, to one producer, but they couldn’t stop the flood of fill-in writers. Pedersen and Gardner are the sole writers credited on only four of the album’s eleven tracks. The other seven songs are written in part by other people, at least a dinner party’s worth, including members of lesser-known glam metal acts like Keel and Autograph, and writers who’d pinch hit for Eric Clapton, Heart, Elton John, and Whitney Houston.
I know this year was tough on the band personally, but they look the most comfortable in their leather, lace, and big hair, here. That October, they played their new single on the Arsenio Hall Show, giving them a chance to reach a wider audience. Even still, in an interview for his book Flashbacks to Happiness: Eighties Music Revisited (2005), Share told Randolph Michaels “people thought we were lip-synching. They didn’t think it was really us singing!”
My friends and I were headed toward the post-glam grunge aesthetic waving our working-class roots as a stubborn standard, while Vixen were all-in on Southern California’s sheer sleeves, pale pink against shiny black, and brocade-for-days party scene. Somehow, even after years of teasing and curling irons and hairspray, their hair looks better. In this picture, they look a little like they think glam can last forever.
My senior pictures were taken by my grandmother in her front yard, which is now, over a year after her death, my yard. We tacked up a piece of paisley fabric from Mill End and I got myself all goth-glammed out, and she snapped away. I was headed to art school in the fall, as I’d predicted, and I was working hard to carve out some aesthetic for myself that felt true and safe. While crashing hard into Jane’s Addiction, Nirvana, and Nine Inch Nails, I was also listening to a lot of Mazzy Star and Smashing Pumpkins. What I was not even considering listening to, was hair metal.
And it turns out I wasn’t alone. Share told VH1 that the band broke up in ‘91 because Jan was too nice, too swayed by the opinions of others, but also “it just seemed like the whole era was over anyway, and it was just time to call it a day.” To hear the band retell it, they broke up over the suggestion of a second (or replacement) guitarist, but the tension had been high for months. They weren’t alone, either. Many of the bands in Spheeris’s film didn’t make it out of the early nineties. (Though many saw an inexplicable resurgence in 2001, according to their Wikipedia pages.)
Reliving the 80s in the mid-aughts
When I found a YouTube copy of the 2004 VH1’s Bands Reunited Vixen show, I watched with a mix of discomfort and fascination. I hate seeing people thrown together in awkward situations designed for maximum drama. Which is what seemed to be going on as Haseem surprises the bandmates one by one. We see Jan express disbelief that the others will go for it from behind what looks like her office-job desk. We see Janet, who says she’s a stay-at-home mom going through dental hygienist training, bite her lip and say, “I haven’t been singing at all.” Roxy, ever the badass, is of course into it, but says that she’s been “playing [drums] with myself a lot lately.” While Share, ambushed as she knits with friends at a yarn store, and looking every bit the diy-punk-“Stitch n Bitcher” so popular in the early aughts, seems most to have moved on creatively. She’s got other music projects going on, and needs a lot of peer pressure from the other knitters to say yes.
Except, further research found the band had been together in various incarnations for years—all except Share. Janet, who said her “life had gone in a completely different direction” since the breakup, who “only sings for my son these days,” who seemed the most nervous about performing, the most wigged out by the possibility of having to face Jan after all those years—had been playing with Roxy in a version of the band since 1997, even recording an album in 1998. And Jan, for all her quiet anger at getting kicked out, had been playing guitar with Janet and Roxy since 2001. I know that no one believes that reality TV is real, but... For all their early struggle to be taken seriously as musicians, to be seen as authentic rockers, it seemed the phoniest of theatrics.
In 2004, I too went to an 80s party, held not by a TV show, but by a coworker at my newly acquired corporate desk job. I remember aspiring to a John-Hughes-Molly-Ringwald look (not pictured: a wide-shouldered petal pink brocade long suit jacket, which I rented for the occasion), but a certain Vixenesque glam influence is undeniable. I’d also like the record to show that I kept those curls up all night. Turns out there’s no magic to it, it just takes a fucking TON of hairspray.
The women of Vixen would try to spin the reunited line up into a steady thing, but it fell apart quickly. Jan, using the name and three new musicians, released some music in 2005, and then tried again in 2013 to get the original members back together. Share, Roxy and Janet all agree that they’d signed on, but the announcement was delayed by Jan’s sudden cancer diagnosis. She died just a few months later. The three remaining members reunited, as promised, and with a new guitarist they are still touring today. They’ve got 12 dates this year, including three in Europe and one with Lita Ford.
Chelsea Biondolillo is the author of two prose chapbooks: Ologies and #Lovesong (Etchings Press, UIndy). Her essays have appeared widely online and in print, and have been collected in Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016, Waveform: Twenty-first Century Essays by Women, and How We Speak To One Another: an Essay Daily Reader. She has an MFA in creative writing and environmental studies, and is a regulatory analyst by day and an online adjunct by night. She lives outside Portland, Oregon on a couple of acres in the shadow of Mt. Hood and blogs irregularly at roamingcowgirl.com .
YOU ARE THE HERO: W. TODD KANEKO ON "CRAZY NIGHTS" BY LOUDNESS
It’s the first day of tenth grade in 1984. You’re in traffic safety class, where you’ll spend the next ten weeks watching driving simulation movies with a fake steering wheel on your desk. A long haired dude sits down in front of you, a drummer who wants to start a band, and asks if you know anyone who plays bass guitar. You have never touched a musical instrument outside of that clarinet you spent a month pretending to play in fourth grade—you never practiced, so your mother took the clarinet back to the rental shop and said there would be no more music for you. But guys who are in bands have cool friends and go to parties. You have never been cool in your life, so you look that drummer square in the eye and nod your head. “Yeah,” you hear yourself say. “I play bass.”
You buy a cheap bass and some gear at a neighborhood garage sale. You’re thankful the amplifier is so cheap that your new drummer friend can’t hear you play over the sound of his drums because—well, you can’t play. You spend the next year in your room learning songs by ear, playing along with Mötley Crüe, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and whatever other tapes you have shoplifted. You spend many hours practicing those songs over and over and over again.
Then one year later: Loudness, the first heavy metal band from Japan to score a major record deal in the United States releases their album Thunder in the East—you’re captured by the opening guitar of “Crazy Nights,” which is weirdly hollow and full at the same time, a powerful jam that washes over you like cold fire and 80-grit sandpaper. Akira Takasaki’s guitar cranks out a riff that claws insidious at the air before the rest of the animal surges forth with drums and bass to swallow you whole.
And you would be swallowed gladly, if that was possible, because the chorus makes you a promise: “Rock and roll crazy nights / you are the hero, tonight.” You have heard similar things from other songs. Mötley Crüe implores you to rise up and shout at the devil. Quiet Riot tells you to bang your head for your metal health. Scorpions offer to rock you like a hurricane, and you’ll be all like okay, but the dudes in Loudness look like you. When singer Minoru Niihara says you can be the hero, it’s like he knows your life story.
There are only a few Asian American kids at your high school. Most of your friends are white but they’ve never made you feel like you’re less than them because of your race; however, you know you are different. You look in the mirror at the color of your skin and the shapes of your eyes. Notice the way other kids refuse to acknowledge you. Compare the hue of your hands against your homework in class, brown against the lightness of the paper—then jam your math test in your backpack instead of turning it in.
And there is no one who looks like you playing heavy metal, no one in any of those posters you have plastered on your bedroom walls. Bruce Dickinson, sweat-soaked and snarling under stage lights. Nikki Sixx posing sinister with his spidery hair and weird mascara. Randy Rhoads and Ozzy Osbourne, the saint of the six-string sling hoisted mid-guitar solo into the air by the Prince of Darkness. After Loudness, this heavy metal whiteness will go undisrupted until Living Colour hits in 1988, an African American band that your friends won’t acknowledge as legitimate rock until they learn that their album Vivid was produced by Mick Jagger. You still hate that a nonwhite band has to be endorsed by a white rock star to be accepted as legit.
Whatever—in your love of all things heavy metal, you feel united with your fellow metalheads, banging skulls and stomping feet with hands raised to the sky in that devil-salute that proclaims your rebellion against everything your parents represent, against the principles your school upholds, against society because it’s important to reject society before it rejects you.
After playing in a handful of garage bands in high school, you graduate to playing on the rock circuit in Seattle. When people find out you play in a band, they often look at you and say something like, Asian bass player, huh? That’s a good gimmick. This makes you angrier than you’ll ever admit, and you don’t have an answer for them because all your metal heroes are white people—you’ll feel like a gimmick until you learn in the late eighties that Soundgarden’s bassist is Hiro Yamamoto, and while you won’t ever meet him, knowing he is out there somehow feels reassuring.
In your mid-twenties, you have an opportunity to meet James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins. Your band opens for the Pumpkins on a weeknight in Seattle, but you are too filled with faux-punk rock anger and pride to knock on the door to their private backstage area and talk to him. Later, when you are much older and less proud, you think about how you wanted to ask Iha the same thing you wanted to ask Yamamoto: what do you think about Loudness?
And they would both have instinctively understood that you aren’t trying to group the three of you into some weird Asian rock and roll trio. They would understand your real question: is this all a gimmick?
It was never lost on you, how Loudness named themselves after the stereo volume knob, that symbol of heavy metal’s sway over its fans. In her book Heavy Metal: The Music and its Culture, Deena Weinstein defines heavy metal by its sonic dimension. She says “The essential sonic element in heavy metal is power, expressed as sheer volume. Loudness is meant to overwhelm, to sweep the listener into the sound, and then to lend the listener the sense of power that the sound provides” (23).
KISS sings “I Love It Loud. AC/DC sings “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.” Quiet Riot sings “Cum on Feel the Noize.” And Loudness by virtue of their name just says yes—we are all of that. It’s loudness that sweeps you up and inhabits your body. Other people dance in lines or squares to country twang or shake their hips to Motown, but heavy metal grabs your head and moves it back and forth in a frenzy. And when you strap a bass guitar over your shoulder and wear it slung low across the stage, you can’t help but whip your head along with the audience in front of you, that sea of devil horns and middle fingers aimed at you in a vulgar rock and roll salute. It’s this loudness—your loudness—that has brought you to heavy metal. Because when you were fifteen and alone in the suburbs, you enveloped yourself in loudness, hoping that one day you could harness this power too.
Your friends had so many explanations for the refrain in “Crazy Nights.” M-Z-A is the name of a comet that passes close to the Earth making people go crazier than they do under a full moon. M-Z-A is a drug like XTC, but Asian. M-Z-A is a Japanese word for the devil. Minoru Niihara used to tell people M-Z-A stands for “My Zebra’s Ass.”
Nowadays, Niihara freely says that M-Z-A has no meaning. Like many foreign born rock vocalists in the 80s, Niihara sang phonetically and ended up singing a nonsense track for a pre-production demo of the song. They never came up with anything better for that section, so they just kept M-Z-A. Niihara says it’s “like shouting ‘hey hey hey’ or ‘wow wow wow’ or whatever”—but these phrases have meaning in English. M-Z-A is just three syllables. Three punches thrown at the ceiling. Three beats for emphatic head banging. Fans of Loudness, fans of heavy metal, understand the meaning of M-Z-A, even if it has no meaning. Perhaps, you understand it because without meaning, that lyric “M-Z-A” is just pure loudness.
You don’t speak Japanese, so Japanese metal songs from the 80s are stripped of lyrical content for you. Bands like Earthshaker and Bow Wow and Anthem clearly understood the genre as you understand it, the idiom of raspy guitars and high-pitched vocals, guitar solos that warble dissonant against the against the rest of the song, but propel it to greatness before driving the chorus into a trainwreck. Loudness’s pre-American albums are no different. The chorus of the self-titled track that opens their first Japanese album The Birthday Eve goes, “We are the Loudness / come on now!” The rest of the song is in Japanese, so you have no idea what the words mean, but that doesn’t matter because without lyrical meaning, you hear their music more clearly. It’s obvious to you that before they came to America, Loudness’s songs sounded like heavy metal in its purest form: aggression, power, and volume, all fine-tuned into a hook that earworms itself into your head for days. So once Loudness started writing songs in English, they should have been unstoppable, right? Right?
The video for “Crazy Nights” received relatively heavy play on MTV in 1985. When you watch that video now, you still can’t help but notice how different the band looks from every other metal band that found mainstream success. They snarl and preen as well as the dudes in Mötley Crüe, but for all the makeup and Aqua Net, their faces are still markedly Asian. They are handsome, not in the way that Tommy Lee or Vince Neil are handsome because Loudness can’t ever be that. You can’t ever be that. And you wonder if this is how people saw your younger self (not handsome, just different), or even if it’s how they see your middle-aged self. You moved away from the suburbs almost thirty years ago and now live in Michigan where you can go a week or more without seeing another face that looks like yours.
The other people in the video are also different. There is a weird shot of a bunch of white kids headbanging, the fast-motion camera transposing them to a different time signature than everyone else in the video. Then those Japanese people in front of that glitzy Delish Curry billboard, those schoolchildren waving in a low-angle shot, that smiling woman in the kimono gesturing with delicate fists, those policemen brandishing their nightsticks, all of them chanting with the song: “M-Z-A! M-Z-A!” These are Japanese faces in place of the white faces that permeate most other heavy metal music videos. They are awkward, yet completely into the song. They are Japanese faces that could be your own face looking back at you.
When you load “Crazy Nights” on YouTube, the next song in the playlist is always David Lee Roth’s “Yankee Rose.” You hate this video for mocking so many stereotypes: the immigrant convenience store owner, the sassy black woman, the loud fat woman, and even the two party blondes (The lounge lizard says, “If there’s a conversation, I don’t have to be involved”). And then just before the song begins, Roth appears wearing face paint and wielding a spear. You get it. Sure, it’s a joke, but you can’t help but notice those people the video excludes from metal: black people, fat women, immigrants—it’s painful to watch because you know you’re in there somewhere too.
Meanwhile, in “Crazy Nights” Minoru Niihara sings, “we’re gonna rock and roll you / come get on your feet,” promising the loudness that is at the heart of heavy metal. And America, for the most part, says, “Okay! And hey—you’re Japanese!”
In her book, Deena Weinstein describes the visual dimension of heavy metal, the ways that metal bands use logos, album covers and wardrobes to further convey their sonic messages. Judas Priest is hell bent for leather and chrome. Guns N Roses is half gutter and half glam. Iron Maiden decks all their merch with Eddie, their undead mascot. Twisted Sister, Mötley Crüe, and Poison plaster their faces all in different shades of ghastly. It’s no wonder you can’t help but dig a band with a good gimmick.
Yet it’s difficult for you to dig Loudness’s visual dimension because under the usual heavy metal accoutrements (hairspray, leather), their gimmick becomes their racial markers: they are Japanese and play rock and roll. Loudness broadcasts this overtly with the sharp angles of their band logo and the rising sun image that appears on their T-shirts and album covers. Their stage costumes don’t transform them in the way that most metal bands are normal young men and women who appear onstage as glamorous rock deities. On the contrary, for Loudness, the leather and spandex serve to standardize a band that looks otherwise non-standard for the genre. Loudness is Japanese, and in the midst of the otherwise homogeneous white landscape of American heavy metal in the 80s, that does the trick. Essentially, Loudness’s gimmick is that they are simply Loudness. Pure loudness. Pure heavy metal. It’s a gimmick you wish you could more fully embrace for yourself.
You have always played guitar by ear, but then you discovered YouTube guitar lessons. You found one channel where a dude teaches you how to play “1000 Eyes,” “We Could Be Together,” and so many of the songs on Loudness’s first American album, including the intro to “Crazy Nights,” which has never sounded right when you’ve tried to play it in your living room. The teacher has such reverence for Akira Takasaki, such admiration and respect for Takasaki’s guitar prowess as he calls him the Japanese Eddie Van Halen and compares him to other metal guitar heroes. He shows you the secret to playing that opening lick of “Crazy Nights,” the pinch harmonics on the power chords, muffling the strings with the thumb of your picking hand to create that strange overtone. He might be the best guitar teacher you’ve ever seen on the Internet.
And yet, in many of his Loudness lessons, he calls the band “Roudness” with a mock Japanese accent, even explaining to make sure you understand his joke: “I should pronounce it a-Roudness,” he says. “Roudness. With an R.” There is no malice behind it, probably, but it’s ugly nonetheless. It hurts you, not in its political incorrectness or offensiveness, but in that this is how the world has been talking to you your whole life in one way or another. Heavy metal is beautiful and angry and awesome, yet it likes to remind you that you are always on the outside, even though you can bang your head like a motherfucker.
Ultimately, “Crazy Nights” comes down to everything you and every metalhead wants out of a song. You are still a child of the beast, rock and roller, lightning rider—or maybe you are still that Asian American teenager filled with disquiet and desire, with anxiety about where you belong in the world. If you will ever belong in the world. And heavy metal tells you that there is a story out there where you can be at the center of everything, a story in which you belong—not because you are the right kind of handsome or display the right kind of charm or go to the coolest parties, but because you feel loud. You are white or not white—it shouldn’t have to matter. “Crazy Nights” says you are the hero, tonight. Sure, you might not be the hero tomorrow night, or ever again, for that matter.
But tonight, you’re it.
Tonight, that’s enough to keep you going until tomorrow.
W. Todd Kaneko is the author of The Dead Wrestler Elegies (Curbside Splendor 2014) and co-author with Amorak Huey of Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury Academic 2018). His recent poems and prose can be seen in The Normal School, Barrelhouse, Gulf Coast, The Rumpus and many other places. A Kundiman fellow, he is co-editor of Waxwing magazine and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he teaches at Grand Valley State University. Catch him online at www.toddkaneko.com.