Normal History Vol. 422: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Every now and then, an unmistakable arc positions itself from the song in question to a more recent song. In this case, “Smile Baby” calling out street harassment 30 years ago connects to “Anguish / Misogyny,” an unreleased song I wrote about the sense that not much has changed.

“There’s a desperation. Tell me you don’t feel it.
This hopelessness coming down, coming down.
These times demand a reprieve from the anguish.
These times like no other before us. Like no other to follow.

In the anguish of uncompleted missions, disappointment and futility.
I knew you then and I know you still.
The anguish of nothing being resolved. It didn’t get resolved at all.
And I call this anguish—misogyny.

We hide the anguish not too well at all—not too well at all.
Why should we hide the anguish of misogyny.
The disappointment of all that’s unresolved.

All those times we thought there was a future built on words and actions
swept away.

I call the violence, malicious behavior, anger and misogyny
that rules the streets, rules the days and rules the nights—misogyny.
l call this lack of empathy my personal anguish.
Your violence and aggression—this misogyny.

The perpetration of aggression against all women.
I call our failure and disappointment—anguish.
I’m electrified, repulsed and angry at all that’s unresolved.
I call our failure—this misogyny.
For all the time we put into everything we ever tried to do,
to accomplish, to resolve, to make better, to happen.
We failed.

I call it a hidden anguish—this misogyny.
Anguish I share with you—misogyny.

“Smile Baby” from the album Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989) (download):