Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
With everything he does, James Jackson Toth (or the man responsible for Wooden Wand), throws himself into the darkest of places, those hideous points of reflection that hang men if they aren't careful. He goes to those spots where people become all bones and rotting teeth, where their eyes grow bloodshot from staring at the hissing yellow lights and there's nothing anyone can do to help free them up from the tangles they've grown themselves. There are muddy boot tracks all over the carpeting the mornings after these sojourns and there's no idea how they got there or who put them there. They must have been self-inflicted because, really, what isn't self-inflicted, if we really want to think about it hard enough. It's a fool's wish to point the finger all the time. There should be enough mirrors to make one see the error in doing something like that. It's the place where you can be eaten up, eaten alive. It's where Toth spends most of his time, in those eaves of feeling and numbness where everything's in hyper-focus, but rarely in perspective, for it's never quite as bad as that bastard head will make it out to be. Toth sings, "I was feigning human, trying to learn from my own mistakes," and it might be the way it feels some of the time, but in almost every way that he operates, he couldn't be more human. He couldn't be feeling or reacting to those feelings any more than he actually does. He is devouring their every little scent, touching their every inch, blowing his cigarette smoke into their eyes and faces and watching as it bounces back from their surfaces. He's consumed by their wrinkles and their pores, by their enamel and by the ways that they just stare back at him, as if he were a mirage. It's this that likely courts the madness that we sometimes hear in his voice - the part of him that's going to lose its shit at any second. It's that part of his personality that's his most eloquent and brilliant. It's entrancing how he allows himself to get taken by the particulars, to be crippled by the tall orders before him. When he suggests, "I heard you couldn't quit/Stop that little twitchin' in your eye," we think he must be talking to himself, but the twitches aren't going anywhere.