"I woke up at 7 a.m. because the cops had capped someone right in front of my house. They wasted him," writes Slightly Stoopid's Kyle McDonald to explain "Questionable," the band's punk ode to Danny Woodyard, the homeless Ocean Beach local who was shot by police this February.
"I used to trip on him, but they had no right to kill him. They fired 10 rounds and even hit parked cars. These are the guys patrolling my neighborhood.... Those cops can eat a dick."
When the police blew Woodyard's brains out for refusing to drop a knife he was wielding, Ocean Beach treated Danny like what he was: one of their own. Vigils were held. Locals-from Starbucks-card-carrying conservatives to flower-hawking hippies-wanted some SDPD heads to roll. It's fitting that Slightly Stoopid has recorded the first song dedicated to "Danny."
Jewel's too busy entertaining the rodeo crowd in her Rancho Santa Fe estate to smell the civil septic leak in the place she once parked her van-home. Jason Mraz, while spiritually based at the now-defunct Java Joe's, was a temporary transplant from Virginia and is off doing big pop-star things.
Stoopid, made up of McDonald and Miles Doughty (both on guitar, bass and vocals), is just the band to do it. These guys' entire lives have revolved around Newport Avenue.
You'll probably never see them playing at the Casbah (the urban indie crowd tends to dismiss their white boy punk-dub, or "Cauc-reggae," as fatuous). But for many OBecians, Stoopid are community heroes.
They've headlined reggae festivals in Jamaica. There are full-on billboards for their new album around the beach area (though that's more their record label hoping that they'll be huge than a real indication of the band's clout). They're selling out "Canes (800 capacity). Both 91X and KROQ have added their new single, "Sweet Honey," a Cauc-reggae pop song about groupies who swap spit for dough.
And while beloved by the sweet-smelling-Ziploc crowd for their odes to reefer, it isn't the first time the band has tackled police brutality. On their 1998 debut, they cold fronted the ghost of Eazy-E to pen a song called "Fuck the Police," along with the grandiosely-titled "Civil Oppression." On their follow-up, The Longest Barrel Ride, it was "Johnny Law" and "Violence/FTP." With their fourth album (their third was an all-acoustic placeholder in 2001) released on Encinitas-based Surfdog Records, cops remain their primary antagonists.
Of course-and blame this on their Stoopidity-they fault Johnny Law for his unfortunate role as henchman for the War on Drugs. On "Officer," they explain:
"Look out the window and to my surprise/ here comes the man in blue and he's flashing lights/ he said, "You know your party's fuckin' over with/ 'cuz you're smokin' joints and you're rollin' spliffs...'"
Some have accused Slightly Stoopid of sonic necrophilia-dry-humping a sound (Sublime) that was still a warm body on rock 'n' roll's embalming table, its contents still being analyzed, its presence still felt. They got their first break when, after a local Sublime show, Doughty's mom ("she's crazy," he once told me, meaning crazy as in cool) convinced the late Bradley Nowell to come over and jam with her son and McDonald till the wee hours of the morn.
Stoopid would later sign to Nowell's Skunk Records. Acoustic: Bradley Nowell Live with Friends was even recorded in Doughty's living room.
Yet with Everything You Need, it would be a mistake to discredit Stoopid as a Sublime knock-off. Discredit them for their lunk-headed addiction to the Almighty Party. Discredit them, if you're the type, because within the first two lines of their album they wake up, write off work and take bong rips. But Everything You Need shows two white guys making an ambitious, head-first dive into dub, the depths of which Sublime rarely ventured.
And make no mistake: watching Doughty and McDonald rip with each other on acoustic guitars-dexterous fingers, smooth, agile transitions, a physical sense of groove-it's apparent they've had an intense dedication to creating music for quite some time.
They are a suspiciously proud product of their environment: the regressive beach culture of middle-class punks with Marley collections, the type who aren't embarrassed by the fact that there are 26 candles on that giant, birthday pot brownie.
Just as mousse-rockers had Styx's "Light Up," metalheads had Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf," frat boys had Afroman's "Because I Got High" and the whole damn intergalactic pot populace had Peter Tosh's "Legalize It," Southern California surf culture junkies have Slightly Stoopid and songs like "Mellow Mood" (a cut from their new album that features G. Love).
And OBecians now have a punk tune dedicated to "Danny"-and the cops.