Foretold it might as well have been, that I would stir the pot a bit in my attempt at documentary writing, for I would inevitably document something that some would rather have remain undocumented. At my artistic whims, I have found the will to socialize and intermingle with those who I try to document, finding folks like KAE9mm, Yvan, Emma, and Randazzo along the way. They, however received my gratitude in writings previous alongside those who I condemn in this writing. What I say here in writing, afterall, is none but my take on the scene.
The safety of many locals is affected, however, by the confrontation of grim dangers, in manners positive and negative, for the agitated and/or accused may lash out, or be accused falsely, agitated without reason. However profuse is the sensitive subject matter on which I am trying my hand, myself and all who bare mention or allusion in this post must refrain from uncalculated behavior that might see chaos where instead may we have tact and steady development. Dictated by personal prospects or altruism or both, we would not easily quell volatility by causing it more to quiver, and while the behaviors that a frightening many have either observed, experienced, or endured are a moving lot, their material is overwhelmingly intricate. However valid the consequential emotions, emotion does not support action as well as reason.
Thus, let us reason most prominently but one of the blights in the Monterey music scene, and society at large. Certainly it is a ubiquitous matter, but let the “alternative” natives here not talk so wistfully of their home and their peers while the matter is neither coped with nor addressed. Pause in the preaching for love, hold your spindling hands from the cascades of astral energy for just a moment. While the world of popular culture erupts still since Hugh Hefner’s vile runes were dispelled - releasing many a celebrity from their binds to old orders that the scrutiny of the attentive public would smite them - we here in Monterey hold talk on Jesse Lacey, John Travolta, Louis CK, and get very wound up about it. Then a self-admitted sociopath and pseudo-Brit-goth punk frontman becomes very popular in the scene. Numerous occasions have been dampened in his presence, be there scuffles and fights or general reports of nasty, belligerent, and malicious behavior. Numerous people have come forth on private and public social media, or to friends and allies, in regards to the manipulative and warped encounters sustained with him, and the malcontent of those encounters. This varies widely within and between every account, from veiled personal attacks and discourtesies, to stark deceit and predatory relations. This is not a demon as many would probably fancy to call him. This is a human like you and I, and a friend to many, a brother and child, a scene-prominent musician, popular by the standards of an immense county with 140,000 citizens. A predator he remains in the eyes of many. This is true even as he almost certainly propagates this vision now in the drowning urban sea of Los Angeles, his visits home ever uncontested.
I did not see Erik Muñoz this way when first I witnessed his energetic performances, nor when I first convened with him and the bassist for his band, DZR, within East Village to discuss my next post, nor when we subsequently went to the beach and he drove me home in the rain. In this meeting, he told me that he considers himself both an “asshole” and a “shithead,” and that he habitually indulges himself toxic activities. While I had paltry doubt towards this notion, I interpreted it mostly as an attempted artistic edge. I did not see him quite the way many do now when I came across the guy sick as a dog at CT’s house while deceased bands The Shigs and Mental Musk performed. I did not see him this way when he served me my tea on the house at my neighborhood café, and threw in a free slice of apple walnut cake for good measure, and the young barista beside him would wave timidly, establish if at least an inch more of distance. Then he broke up, with his girlfriend, I mean, and with that was broken an egg of conversation among some cliques that shuttered me when it found my ears. I note now that the majority of information myself and my reconnaissance agent, Emma have directly accumulated from friends, affiliates, coworkers, and Erik’s ex-partners, remains undisclosed. What I say here is but a glimpse into two of these cases, until those victimized have reconciled the will to speak more.
We could start with manipulations of underage girls that a personal friend to Emma and I had first relayed out of her own experience. Jesse Lacey is under fire for a much more advanced case of the same conduct (atop his more lucrative musical career with the band Brand New). While this friend claims that Erik self-admitted to his own sociopathy, it only seems more reflective of what artists across the world have taken advantage: the self-predisposed interpretations of the art and character they create that ensnares the many younger consumers of local musics. There too is a worthy mention of one “Azy” from the local ensemble IOI, who has a history of contacting underage girls with offers of drugs and alcohol and paid motel rooms, his targets including this one of Erik’s, as well as Emma. The premise of this was a photoshoot. The pursuit was, as I read with my own eyes upon a phone screen, warped itself, however, and perhaps warping of those less fortunate who he may prey upon in other cities during IOI’s travels. Erik extended these manipulations to girls through more direct and assertive approaches. According to our friend, he deprecated them, constructed a platform of power that was imagined already as his ego inflated with every minute he spent furthering his psychological inquiries, emotional appeals, and perplexing criticisms - closer they drove him until, at age twenty-three, he successfully and shamelessly bedded a seventeen year old girl. It was only in the proximate days that she learned Erik had indeed not split with his partner of the time, as he claimed in justification of his pursuit.
While still he asserted the integrity of his relationship, and ridiculed the young lady just described for her feelings of violation, there were others. Emma was once his coworker at a popular peninsula café, where she experienced mostly mild or tolerable sensations of discomfort when they shared a shift. It was instead the aforementioned young barista, already a survivor of severe traumas (as Erik was told before), who was made panicked of impending horror during her shift with Erik. “I thought he was going to kill me,” she says. Take that for thespianism if you like. Any variety of crushing anxiety is best described with death. So it tumbles only more intensely when, after hours and alone, the heavy-set Erik assaults his sixteen-year-old coworker, who stands willowy at just over five feet tall. When he does not need the application of constraint, however, he draws the application of manipulation and tact. Otherwise, it’s a difficult task to be accused frequently of causing observable and unreasonable levels of instability and anxiety in the relationships he contrives.Erik Munoz is but one of many in the Monterey counterculture who have exploited and abused the laxity and apparent benevolence of our artistic and often-called “spiritual” community. His case is merely well-reported, and so he is the framework for my message. There are scenes for those intrigued by the eccentric that do not support Erik’s, or Azy’s, or Trevor Lucier’s who send photographs of stretchy ballsacks to his critics. There is the power of exclusivity that we need exercise more, lest the value of inclusivity falter before those who would neglect all the others that were included. There is the power of dialogue that refrains only before a Nazi-face-oriented fist. Dialogue will rarely stop the snake from striking, but you can sure as hell tell your kids how to avoid an encounter, or how to safely contend with and condemn the snakes along the trail, and you can build a cozy house, a hearth, and a studio to keep your people safe. However, for the present we must admit the condition in which many have convicted that our scene now wallows. I leave you with a quote from an endeared friend of mine and once-regarded member of the local counterculture, and why, between Jeremy “Namraja’s” cult and the alley-side antics behind SOMOS, she had left it all behind. “From thriving off the power, to believing they are the power. Their mindset has become deadly, as many overdoses have occurred from older men handing out drugs like candy to minors. It has lost all purpose, only pleasures and highs. The concept of consequences is unreal, because the belief that they are invincible has absorbed them and exposed an inner violence that often manifests in sexual abuses. The path of spirituality, even, is led by the beliefs of a few men… God has been painted as a joke, and the scene has made authentic connection something of the past as peoples agendas corrupt the safety of our community.”
My thanks to those who committed their stories to this post, and to Emma Devere for her help in research and editing. Should you have experienced similar abuses in our scene and are seeking someone to talk it out or kick some proverbial ass, DM Emma's public Instagram @veganbitch. If you've just got something to say to me, shoot an email to email@example.com.