Thursday, November 18, 2010

The 1982 Brewers and I: a love affair

1982 was a crazy year. My father had died a short two years before and a while later, after almost being killed by a potential axe murderer in his building, my brother decided to move back in with myself, my Mom, and my stepdad. I was thrilled.

 Not about attempted murder, but my big bro moving back in to share a room with me. He was back and unexpectedly brought a passion with him.

The Milwaukee Brewers.

As we watched ballgames together on a tiny Admiral black and white, he explained the strike zone, runs, hits, errors, and the science of the game I never really played or understood. As that 1982 season progressed, I became enthralled with America's pasttime and the Brew Crew, and individually, they became heroes.

Having never attended a game at legendary Milwaukee County Stadium, I always hoped for those 50-odd games on the road each season that were televised by local independent station WVTV-18 to be aired on the weekends. Brought to you live by husky white-haired play-by-play man Steve Shannon and former Brewer first baseman Mike Hegan (Rest his soul).   It was more fulfilling to listen to the radiomen, Wisconsin mainstay and current legend, Bob Uecker, Mr. Baseball himself, and his partner, Dwayne Moseley (The Nose and the Mose) but having the ability to see what I normally merely heard was something special. I was able to put faces to the names.

On that immensely exciting '82 Brewers squad, there were rookies, vets, speedsters, power hitters galore, and something that set them apart from a lot of other classic baseball teams...character. Manager Harvey Kuenn, the Wisconsin-bred West Allis boy who hit .300 for his career and had over 2000 hits was the top character of the big list. Leaking tobacco and ambling out to the mound on his wooden leg (he had it surgically amputated due to circulation problems) he looked every bit the pirate command a ship of baseball buccaneers while taking the ball from some exhausted pitcher, and pointing to the bullpen for relief.

There was the young stud, Robin "the Kid" Yount, who had come up under the mental tutelage of the great one, Henry Aaron. The youthful eventual 3000 hit hall of famer  consistently hit for average, in the clutch, and fielded shortstop like it was his own personal domain. Gorman Thomas, the oafish Bob Stinson-like power-hitting centerfielder, who smashed almost as many outfield walls crashing into them hunting down flyballs, as he did fastballs out of the park.

In 1981, he once accidentally died his hair orange.

Another Brewer star that would ultimately lay claim to 3000 hits and the hall of fame was Paul Molitor, nicknamed "The Ignitor" for his uncanny ability to start late inning rallies with base hits and stolen bases, despite overcoming an intense cocaine addiction in 1980.

The team had the third base/DH tandem of Don Money, longime crowd favorite and Brewer mainstay since the mid 70's, and pesky spray hitter, Roy Howell. Charlie Moore, who was a former light hitting catcher, stalked right field with arguably the strongest cannon in the A.L., who regularly gunned down cocky baserunners that underestimated his right handed shotgun. (Including Reggie Jackson,in the ALCS, who according to legend, popped up out of his slide to salute Moore.) Who could forget the diminutive second baseman Jim Gantner of Eden, Wisconsin? A malcontent on the field, his temprament was legendary, and he combined with Yount to be the best double play combo in baseball.

Lastly, but certainly not least, were this duo: cool cucumber Cecil Cooper, who hit well over .300 (and would have won the batting title the year prior had it not been for George Brett's flirtation with .400) and drove in runs with clockwork regularity. Besides Coop's offense, his glove was the envy of first sackers around the league.
Let's not forget wiry, whip-swinging power lefty, Ben Oglivie, who had some production left in the tank after a deal with the Tigers that brought him to Milwaukee to be the left fielder a couple years earlier. They both spent significant 70's time with the Boston Red Sox.

From Molitor down to Howell, the Brewers were a modern day "Murderer's Row" (a moniker given to the 1927 New York Yankees) for their ability to pound pitching over the fence from the top to the bottom of the lineup. For this talent, they were also given the nickname "Harvey's Wallbangers", as they were the power source of major league baseball (and the joke not lost on a state known for it's drinking prowess).

My family was drawn together a bit that late September into October by the Brewers successes, as they were delayed a bit after a lackluster start dimmed the optimism of their playoff appearance in the strike-shortened previous season. Then they fired manager Bob "Buck" Rodgers and the fortunes almost immediately changed when Kuenn, the hitting instructor, took the reins.

As summer faded to fall, the leaves browned and the sun dipped beyond the horizon sooner in the day, we'd gather around to watch the ever more important late season games wondering if this could be the first year for the Brewers since their move here from Seattle in 1970, that they could make a serious run at the World Series. My Mom and eventual stepdad would spend a fair share of time at taverns, and the talk of the bars and nightspots was the Milwaukee Brewers. It was often on these evening drinking expeditions that little bits and pieces of memorabilia would make their way home to me thanks to my parents remembering to bring them home for their Brewtown baseball obsessed kid. All kinds of little junk from evenings out with the Brewer logo on it would be laid claim to by my small hands.

I never imagined my mother, a life-long Packers fan, would become embroiled in baseball, but she did. It was fun to watch her chew her nails during those tight one-run affairs where Rolaids relief man Rollie Fingers would have to be called in yet again to put out another team's fire. It was completely reminiscent of her moaning and groaning over tight-knit Packer battles with the hated Chicago Bears, as the Brewers attempt to clamp down the A.L. East came down to a four game series against the Baltimore Orioles. Only needing to win one, the crew lost the first three, and the title came down to a one game playoff.
My Dad and I would play a game wherein we would try to outguess each other as to what the next hitter would do, and what would happen next. Even my 16 year old sister got in on the act, developing a major crush on the face of the franchise, Robin Yount, with his shoulder length hair and sly grin, Yount won my sister over for more than just his ability on the grass. In that cathartic last game against Baltimore on October 3rd, Yount hit two homers to lead the crew over the Orioles and ace Jim Palmer, 10-2. On to the famous come from behind ALCS victory, and eventually, the Series loss in 7.

This team claimed a hold on my imagination, more importantly. I would often go out into the backyard with my black weather-beaten Louisville Slugger, and pretend to be the Brewers lineup. I had even mastered the art of imitating each and every one of their batting stances. Yount's wide-open pose with his back almost facing the pitcher. Catcher Ted Simmons' stoic and motionless knee-bender. I'd even switch around to the left side to mime Coop's way-back lean (wondering the whole time how he never fell down), and "The O", Ben Oglivie's stick straight stance, bat waving in the air as if the wiry Panamanian was attempting to swat flies with the lumber.

 Incidentally, it was this odd attempt at mocking Cooper, Oglivie, switch-hitting legend, catcher Ted Simmons, and Jim Gantner that actually led to my ability to be able to hit left-handed. I had inadvertently tought myself to switch hit. My physical baseball abilities initiated upon me from the tutelage of my brothers, Dan and Tim, were brought to another level all by my lonesome.

For each of these "plate appearances", I'd toss the ball up into the air and swing my damndest to simulate the Brewers hitters in an effort to forecast the crew's performance against an upcoming opponent. Narrating to myself the whole time in my best Uecker baritone, I'd give myself the challenge of facing the other teams, if only portraying my heroes in doing so. Nightly, my imaginary Brewers would vanquish the likes of Jim Palmer, Ron Guidry, Dave Stieb, and Jack Morris.

It was a thrill, if only a small one, to get a hold of one, especially lefty, and watch it sail over my parents chain-link fence from under the backyard porch light, perfectly mounted on the middle of the house, right where "home plate" was. I then would do a victorious homerun trot around the bases, (Frisbees in this case) before ending the joyous tour back under the light, where the grass had been flattened by hours of my mimicry. I would then bask in the imagined admiration of 50,000 strong County Stadium faithful. Ben Oglivie had just taken Steve Trout off the right field foul pole to end the game and thwart the dreaded Chicago White Sox again, and I had made it happen. Then I would trudge out to the field beyond the fence to undergo the crime scene investigation of trying to find the baseball I had just crushed.

Ah, yes, the innocence of the young baseball fan, and the purity of his admiration for the sport. The smell of summer, the humidity hanging in the air, the crackle of the crowd on the radio, all amongst the hum of the central air unit.

Before sexual angst, teenage frustrations, systemic anger, punk rock, and rebellion set in to flatten it all.

Baseball and youth. Forever intertwined.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I hate Advertising Ad Fest: Volume Quatro

Okay, technically this is a public service announcement, and brought to my attention by my kid, a Godzilla fan. It's endorsement of positive fatherhood is both a pat on my back, and it rubs my sentimental retro nostalgic bone by featuring Nilsson's theme from "The Courtship of Eddie's Father"....ah, yes....all it takes to point out the gallantry of a good Dad is a giant radiation creating monster that spends most of his days knocking down architecture.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Burning Bright: Another Low Volume addition.




Carlos Brooks directed this straight to DVD effort, another one of what I call "low volume" flicks....much like "Frozen" by Adam Green, it features a very small cast, limited special effects, and very few sets and locations. It's energy lies in it's suspense.

On screen dickhead du jour, Garret Dillahunt, (Krug in "Last House on the Left" and 2 psychotic roles in "Deadwood" as well as a nutjob in "The Road") decides to buy a tiger for a safari he's attempting to build on his Florida land. He's using money needed for lead actress Briana Evigan (who is fantastic here) to start her college career, and care for her autistic brother.

Through nasty circumstances, Evigan and the boy, Tom, are trapped in the house with the tiger, dubbed as "evil" by the man who sold it to Dillahunt. They're boarded in because a hurricane is hitting the gulf coast, and the house was battened up by laborers as the two slept.

Evigan is no scream queen. Her character is smart, resourceful, sympathetic, and emotionally-torn....she's a thrill to watch. The tiger is beautiful and terrifying, and suspense is palpable through the whole flick....

As a matter of fact, the sad circumstance involving Evigan and her need to care for her autistic brother with no help from her shitty stepfather shortly after the suicide of the pair's mother is so engrossing and believable, you almost forget for a bit that horror is on the horizon.

Low budget, high quality fare like this doesn't come along often, so if you're looking for lesser known and unique viewing experiences, this movie is a good one to search out.....

Monday, November 8, 2010

I hate Advertising Ad-Fest Volume Tres

Caught my attention from the get-go, because I dig polar bears....funny, thought provoking, and goddamned cute payoff. What's not to like about this extremely well thought out, shot, and edited little commercial....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I hate Advertising Ad-Fest Volume Dos

Beat boxing? A silly yet rhythmic way to "get it done" in the rap game. But if you give that ability to a beaver.....comedy gold....I love this bit, spit and all.

I hate Advertising Ad-Fest Volume Uno

Despite it's popularity at the time, and it's retro-admiration now, I've always liked the song "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran, but never been certain why....
On the other hand, I adore Bruce Campbell, not just due to his cult status with Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" series, but his supporting turns on "Burn Notice", and the obviously noticeable chops as an actor in "Bubba Ho-Tep", among other films. The man has game....but overall, his sarcastic sense of humor and self-deprecating ability to charm you is never more evident than in his autobiography "If Chins Could Kill", and his novel "Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way", both literary classics I highly recommend.

But this Old Spice commercial?, flat out fuckin' gold.....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Digital Dab'll Do Ya: Home by Hovercraft




Beautiful harmonies, nice rhythms, and piano-driven pop rock that stands out over what's on the radio today by leaps and bounds......forget most of what you're hearing in the mass music media.....
this is the real deal.....

http://www.myspace.com/homebyhovercraft

Saturday, October 16, 2010

COMING SOON Last Will's Last Ads

Sometime tonight I'm going to really get boring and rehash my favorite spots in a section I call: "The I hate Advertising's Best Spots".....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Halloween Heroes: Perkins 14




"Perkins 14" is three different movies in one, really....

A.) A melodrama concerning a police officer dealing with the lingering misery of a son who was abducted some ten years ago, and damaged relationships with his philandering and ignored wife and rebellious daughter.

B.) A potential conspiracy/paranoia riff. Our hero cop believes, with little reason initally, an incarcerated speeder may have been the one who abducted his son, and 13 other children those many years ago.

C.) A bloodfest splatter flick, with the "Rio Bravo", "Night of the Living Dead", "Assault on Precinct 13" flavorings....It's well done...

Telling you anything at all, I risk giving away what are many surprises and twists and turns that make this one fun to watch....It's a slow burn initially, so it requires a patient viewer, but one who won't be dissatisfied with neither the drama or the gore.

Chris Singer directed this little flick with some skill, and snappy editing covers some uneven performances save for the absolutely heartbreaking turn by Michaela Mihut as a conflicted woman is both dedicated to her husband, and neglected by him....it hurts to watch her hurt. Watch for her, she's good.

I initially was uncertain how I felt about it, especially after a cold-cock ending, but the versatility of the film from beginning to end had me thinking about it in a positive light for days afterward, despite "Perkins 14"'s tremendous darkness. No, Chris Singer is a director who wanted to make some noise with his first horror feature, and love it or hate it, "Perkins 14" does just that....

Halloween Heroes: Midnight Movie

This review is posted by my son, and pride and Joy Aidan Zeus Will





In recent years, as most people are aware of, there have been a slew of Slasher film remakes, from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, My Bloody Valentine, to Friday The 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. most of these films, while often entertaining, are nothing remarkable or interesting. what perhaps the majority of general audiences aren't aware of are the original Slashers coming out since 2007, The new blood.

among these new murderers is Ted Radford, the antagonist of 'Midnight Movie', directed by Jack Messitt. This Man's intentions seem about the same as every other Slashers, kill the shit out an entourage of teenagers, showing the world who's boss. But he has a different way of executing it. Ted starts out as the director of an early 1970's horror flick "The Dark Beneath". this film is essentially Texas Chainsaw Massacre with different characters, but that's not important. this film (or perhaps Ted himself) has ambiguous supernatural powers. the origin or extent of these powers is not particularly clear, but they allow Radford to essentially control the entire Theater building at which its screening. Of course he himself enters the fray, donned in the outfit of his "The Dark Beneath" killer, with a primitive drill, that will be used for less than constructive things.

The characters are surprisingly believable, entertaining, and developing through out the duration of the story for a film like this, and a few you come to feel bad for as they are brutally destroyed by Ted. most of these are the usual teenagers, but you get a couple of detectives, a small child, and a biker couple. while it sounds uninteresting, the above-par writing forms almost all of these people into dynamic characters.

after viewing the film, it becomes apparent that this film needs, and deserves, a proper sequel, as we barely came to understand the character of Ted and his powers. this is sadly unlikely, as the film didn't receive much attention, but we can dream, and here's hoping Ted Radford somehow finds his way into the hall of always-remembered psychotic murdering heroes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Halloween Heroes: Just Before Dawn




In the early 80's the slasher market became oversaturated, and as a result it was an inevitability that now and then a good one would slip through the cracks...."Just Before Dawn" is a Jeff Liebermann film that somehow managed to make a giant northwest forest seem claustrophobic. This was helped by a strong synth score by Brad Fiedel, who would go on to do the "Terminator" films.

Virtually no one saw the film upon release in 1981, and it didn't see a DVD release until Shriek Show put it out in 2005. The cast features a young Gregg Henry who many will recognize from "Payback" and "Slither". In the latter, he was comic genius as the obnoxious mayor of the town suffering from slug and splatter circumstances.

A typical splatter movie set up, young party-harders head off to forested land, in this case an inheritance for Henry's character, despite the warnings of the "old man with the scary story", this time none other than George Kennedy. Chris Lemmon provides some comic relief...there's nudity (of course), but what may be the weirdest stalker in slasher history, and a strange family living on Henry's land.

Beautiful cinematography, great locale selection, and some serious tension help this one in locking itself a position in the "better than most of the genre/era" category....a little tough to locate (internet may be your best option) but damn-well worth it. If you're looking for a "stalking madman" movie that actually provides some real atmosphere and tight moments, this is a good suggestion.

Halloween Heroes: Behind the Mask




This movie is kinked from the beginning. In two ways: It's a mock documentary, first and foremost, and when "shit goes down" it turns into a top notch slasher film. The second way is that it takes place in a universe where Michael Myers, Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, et al are real and unapprehended serial killers who haunt their hometowns on an annual basis.

Leslie Vernon (played here with panache by Nathan Baesel), is an "up and comer", a slasher who is just trying to start his "career". A documentary film crew works with him, in an attempt to put his actions to film, and look into the whys and hows....there's a hamfisted allegory here about how the media not only glorifies the exploits of the sick and twisted, but also tends to take a step back and film as opposed to helping potential victims. Alas this movie is too much fun to get caught up in all of the social commentary.

As the doc unfolds, Vernon accumulates all the necessary pieces of the pie that after being baked is a completed hack and slash film. Virginal victim, dumbass horndog teenagers in a less-than-intelligent locale for ease of mutilation, and of course, an "Ahab".....a doctor/hero type in pursuit of this murderous individual...in this case, it's none other than Robert Englund.

There are twists aplenty, and a ton of real smart, solid humor mixed in that make this horror flick above the fray of the recent re-flooding of the slasher movie market. Give this one a go, it's way worth it....plus it has the best usage of the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" I think I've seen....

Halloween Heroes: Frozen




It's refreshing as hell, when I come across these "low volume" horror films....
A small cast, claustrophobic surroundings, snappy editing, and solid direction. This one, a tense thriller about three young people trapped 50 feet in the air on a ski-lift when the resort shuts down does remind one of "Open Water", but you forget that once it gets going.

Adam Green, who made a completely different kind of horror movie with the 80's homage, "Hatchet" is responsible for this, an edge of your seat flick, based on something that could actually happen.....this isn't a demon, a slasher, or some sort of apocalyptic outbreak that is the antagonist.

It's circumstances.

You can imagine yourself going through the nightmarish turns of events happening to the characters, and they're so well played by the principal actors, it's convincing throughout. Green hired the right people for this flick....

I'm impressed with Adam Green. I will mark him up there with Steven Mena, and Joe Lynch (incidentally the name of Shawn Ashmore's character in this flick) as young directors to watch. They are all capable of driving it right into your forehead, but none of them suffer from a lack of subtlety either.

"Frozen" is very good. Enjoy it if you can....

Monday, September 13, 2010

Misfits and acknowledgment



A few years ago, author and journalist Michael Azzerad released a compilation of essays and stories about the 80's music underground entitled "Our Band Could Be Your Life" (a lyric from the Minutemen track, "History Part II") The book compiled biographies on various iconic punk rock and alternative acts that struggled through the alleged "Me Decade", shunning conventionality to quote, "DIY" or "do it yourself". The forefather of that attitude was Black Flag, of course, but the book sprawls out to include Midwestern acts such as Husker Du, The Replacements, east coasters Minor Threat and Big Black, and bands from all points in-between. It even chronicles the burgeoning Seattle sound that would eventually spew forth Grunge, a type of music considered landmark at the time, but in my humble opinion is just third generation punk. It does this by detailing the beginnings of Mudhoney and Dinosaur, Jr. (but somehow overlooks Green River in favor of those acts.)

The tome acts as a decent primer for anyone looking into the flash and fury of the bands mostly responsible for influencing many of today's non "Nu-Metal" groups, as well as giving a passing glance to those responsible for influencing the subjects of the book, Television, The Clash, and The Ramones. But there is a huge, glaring, gigantic absence.
The Godfathers of "Do it Yourself" themselves. Lodi, New Jersey's pride and embarrassment, The Misfits. Basically Glenn Danzig, Rock's future purveyor of all things evil, and Jerry Caiafa, (who would eventually adopt the last name moniker, "Only" when people seemed to develop an inability to spell Caiafa). This pair and interchangeable guitarists and drummers (save for Caiafa's brother, Paul (Doyle to Fits' fanatics) who took the job of six string shredder permanently in 1980) were guys who basically created the horror punk genre with their creepy appearance (eye make up, and the legendary devilock, a long narrow piece of their bangs hanging down the middle of their face) and songs about B-movies, murder, and other less than savory things. They were truly the musical bump in the night.

Oh, mind you, they are mentioned in Azzerad's book, albeit briefly, and usually just as some sort of accompanying act for one of the groups Azzerad is documenting. It is sad really, when you consider how much of getting it done the Fits had to do all by their lonesomeness. They did record a bunch of well mixed material in the late 70's using studio time gained basically in trade. Glenn Danzig was smart enough to copyright "Blank Records", the self-styled record label the fits released their debut single, "Cough/Cool" on in 1977. A major label wanted the name and Danzig gave it to them in exchange for 30 hours of studio time, which explains why the "Static Age" sessions have such a higher production quality than many of their later recordings. The stuff was very good and was intended to be a full length album.

No record company wanted any part of it.

Which is a surprise when you consider that at the time (approximately 1978) damn near anything out of the New York/New Jersey in the wake of the Ramones was getting signed faster than you can say Blondie. In London, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Damned were all making big noise. Somehow, no one wanted in on "Static Age". Perhaps it was the stark lyrics that Glenn Danzig, lead singer and vocal hellion, put to paper. Some of the words to the JFK epic, "Bullet" were pretty gruesome and sexually deviant. But that's neither here nor there. The Pistols lyrics on "Bodies" were almost equally offensive. To me, when you compute the factors of the time period and what the sessions came out sounding like, I am shocked no label, even an indie, wanted in.

So the Lodi boys had to put it all together on their own, and it wasn't easy. They floundered away, cutting 7", 12", and EP records by small amounts, usually less than 5000 copies, and often cut and sealed the covers themselves. The sound quality of much of the work in this period (78-80) was less than impressive, but who can blame the guys. Eventually an album was recorded, "Walk Among Us", and distributed by a Slash records imprint, but by then the group was heading towards it's inevitable end.

Much of the Misfits catalogue from that period has considerable monetary value, even to less than hardcore followers of that groups music. Eventually in the late 80's, bands that were heavily influenced by the Misfits, such as Metallica and Megadeth, brought the group's background into the forefront. A lot of the material was compiled and re-released, however haphazardly in compilations, bringing the value and collectability of the originals even higher, putting a glimmering sheen on the collected works of the masters of DIY.

My point? How the hell does a band that epitomizes the basis of the book Azzerad wrote get left out without even a whispering glance? When you look at some of the popular "punk" and metal acts of today, My Chemical Romance, A.F.I., Rob Zombie, and many others, the "splatterrock" genre has influenced far beyond the Metallica/Slayer era of the mid to late 80's. It's still standing today, directly outside the door of rock and roll, clawing it's way in.

Azzerad left a gaping hole in his book.

Sheesh, the Misfits history is a long, black soap opera. Even today, there are original bassist Jerry Only's past and ongoing projects, including two underrated albums, "American Psycho" and "Famous Monsters", with vocalist Michale Graves (who some, including myself, consider superior to Danzig) doing the singing, and a fine cover record, "Project 1950" with Jerry himself on vocals. That was received well by some Misfits fans, and just as passionately in the negative direction with fervor. You can't ever forget Only's tumultuous relationship with Danzig, including a decade long lawsuit over the right to record and tour under the name Misfits, which Only won, with provisos. There are legendary "true" stories like early 'Fits guitarist Bobby Steele vomiting on John Lennon's shoes at the Mudd Club in 1979, and Glenn and Doyle chasing a young unknown metal band named Motley Crue down Sunset Boulevard with the intention of beating the shit out of them. To this day, there is still stormy bickering among the principal players, and more lawsuits. A full book could be written on this monstrous terror of Lodi, New Jersey.

Perhaps it should.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

FEAR?


In memory of Fear bassist Derf Scratch, who passed away a couple of weeks ago.




In 1977, long before the early hardcore movement featuring the likes of Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and the Bad Brains, there were a handful of bands that bridged the gap between the Ramones and those affore-mentioned punkers.

There were Sex Pistols, X, The Clash and the Damned, 3 of the 4 from the disenfranchised U.K., and America offered the east coast Misfits. All the way across the contiguous states, out of L.A., was Fear.

Incendiary to the nth degree, they were still the envy of many punk bands in their wake for despite writing songs that seemed to support bashing gays, or embrace misogyny and debauchery, they could flat out play.

The content of their music wasn't all of the "piss 'em off" variety, however. When they "got serious", political unrest (Let's Have a War, Foreign Policy) and mental illness (Camarillo, Welcome to the Dust Ward) were well thought-out and performed.



Leader Lee Ving's voice could be as tuneful as much as it could display the raw rancor and howl it was noted for. Spit Stix was a demon on drums. His drumming seemed out of control and weird, and I feared for the safety of his snare, as he plain beat the shit out of that thing. It oddly sounded like he used it as a replacement for a ride cymbal. Philo Cramer had some eardrum-shrieking leads and Derf Scratch was an excellent addendum to the rhythm section with Stix.

Fear was getting notices long before they cut their first LP, "The Record" due to John Belushi's drug-addled attempts to push the band on anyone who would listen, and an infamous display in Penelope Spheeris' documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization".

Why, who could forget their head-scratching 1981 Halloween appearance on "Saturday Night Live" where slam dancers destroyed the place, one grabbing Ving's mic and screaming "Fuck New York!!" at the top of his lungs.....

All before their first record came out. That's pre-consummated reputation, folks.

Where am I going with all this?

I had decided to revisit their music a few weeks back while on a cigarette break in my car. (editor's note: I have long since quit since this was written)  I happen to own two Fear cds and on a sauna of a day, began listening to "The Record".  About 5 songs in, I felt the need to switch to their live reunion album "LIVE for the Record".

As I ejected the first disc, my stereo went into it's radio default mode. Turning to my right, and my trusty cd binder to grab "LIVE", the radio voice spoke these words:

"Fear,.... today is the fear show,...I'll show you how to tolerate your fear of investing"

A lot of people may have been a bit taken aback by that astronomical synchronistic event. I just cocked my head, thinking "Of course that just happened." and slid in the second disc, firing immediately into "Null Detector".

However, something like that just doesn't sneak by me, and I knew immediately a blog post would be necessary....

two weeks later Derf Scratch died.

Here it is.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Good for Karma, Good for us


My wonderfully talented and beautiful friend, Lezlie Deane, AKA Scary Cherry has candy for the ears. Take an hour,....see what happens!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

CHERRI BOMB'S new video to debut shortly

Youth and guitars.

What else can one ask for....folks, give this a shot, you won't be disappointed.

link at right to their website for details on the vid....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

THE BANG BANGS ARE HITTING THE ROAD (HARD!)


My favorite splatter/catchy/chord-crashing/screech & howl/harmonizing punk band, Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs, have a tour coming up....if you're in the neck of the woods, (or hell, even not, go anyway) check them out...their live shows have garnered like eleventy million positive raves from large quantities of pensman.....(I wish I were a pensman).....anyways....click on the link at the right for dates and locations...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

VINYL DESTINATION: 3 from the decade's end

These 3 bands were of the alt-metal variety that I pushed in my college radio days. As a matter of fact, all 3 of my vinyl copies were "rescued" by me from the station floor. To me, their music still holds up and I throw the platters on often enough to glance back at them now, in written form...



I Love You emerged from LA in 1990 with a self titled Live debut EP, their only recording for indie Medusa records. They eventually signed with Geffen, put out one hell of a debut, and a couple others over the ensuing 18 years, to little avail. Their biggest national coverage came with an appearance on MTV's "120 Minutes" and on Rick Dees' live show where the former radio host got the title of their single wrong in his introduction of the band.

Back to the EP, It's 6 songs are in front of a small audience. They are a blending of "Disraeli Gears"-era Cream and the trended crossover punk-thrash metal of the period. Jeff Nolan was a guitar god in waiting, and Chris Palmer's voice is like Henry Rollins channeling Jack Bruce. From the ripping "Steppin' On Baby",



to the Cream cover, "SWLABR", and the eerie "Flies" the record has no weak points.

The Psychedelia of the lyrics is another evident symptom of their hippie-era influence.

I Love You were unique.

Broad audiences weren't ready and they faded. They are definitely worth seeking out. This is good stuff, and can be found periodically on Ebay.



Clockhammer were a trio out of Tennessee. A debut from them, self-titled and on First Warning records popped up in 1990.

The grim opener, "Mother Truth" is a grabber from the get-go. A fantastic choice for the first cut. Philosophical metal is what it is, by God, questioning knowledge and the mind's eye over some of the coolest riffs of the time period.

The band likes to dip into a jazzy half reggae vibe at times before slapping you in the head with well produced thrash metal chording.

This is not Metallica, folks, this is thinking man's devil-may-care, set up for people looking for something different. The refreshing thing about Clockhammer, unlike some of the mixed-genre bands of the time, you can tell the musicians had played the "off-metal" structures before, and in the pure.

While vocalist-guitarist Byron Bailey displays both surprising vocal range and convincing growl not to mention enviable six string licks, Ken Coomer and Matt Swanson keep time behind him, and display artful fills that swirl all this together like a nasty twist cone.

Clockhammer also faded, like I Love You, but cuts can be found on YouTube and Itunes. Highly recommended.

It should also be acknowledged that they thank Redd Foxx, the Flaming Lips, and their parents at the bottom of the back panel of the record.



SWA was founded by Black Flags bassist Chuck Dukowski and were often referred to as SST's worst band. Probably unfounded, yet "Winter" shows why that statement is both true and false.

Like the proverbial little girl with the curl, they are awesome and horrible on this record....Tracks 1-6 are fairly strong, they stumble a bit, and then recover into a fantastic song called "Wasting my Time" that really features great vocals by Merrill Ward...two follow up tunes, chiming in at under 2 minutes a piece, "Chances Are" and "Headphones" bookend each other and are truly headbanging.

Phil Van Duyne's riffing is tip-top, but his solos are sloppy, seldom fit the part of the song they appear in, and are in general all over the fretboard, quite the dichotomy from his rhythm parts.

Greg Cameron, is one of those fun drummers to listen to, not just content with keeping time, he likes to use every piece of his kit.

"Talking Behind Your Back" features great tempo changes, a storyline about the title's self explanatory musing, and then "The Man Upstairs" is one great song about the horrors of schizophrenia. The record then devolves into noise again.

Also worth seeking out, I had missed the good parts of this record for so long because my vinyl is in such bad shape, I thank the rock and roll gods someone on Ebay was willing to part with it.

--Rob Will (May 30, 2010)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Plug: Vinyl Destination : Overlooked 90's Gems

Coming up this weekend, a Vinyl Destination look back at 3 independent albums that I still own and listen to that have been left in the dust......hopefully to someday re-emerge like the majestic ground hog:






Ain't No Daisy

My personal self-produced notebook collection of prose and essay bullschtein.
It ain't pretty, but it's writing.....





Contact info available at Facebook's "Aint No Daisy" page, or if interested in one, drop your address here as a comment.....No charge. It does take time for me to put them together.

My goal is to get a copy in 50 states. Ha!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Useless Icon

Useless Icon--Rob Will

Editor's note: This is from the beginning of the fall, when I had things handled, shortly before everything else piled on and pushed me through the ice......

I cant' do this much more
Waiting for an answer to walk in the door
I'm like a life coach who has yet to live
yet, I have nothing left to give

Can't walk her through this fucking downpour
Because she may drown me

feel free to say I'm not what she needs
I can't fix the wounds as she bleeds
Cast your doubts and aspersions '
in a great pile on the floor

I'll pick em up later
When I have nothing left to do anymore



after the years
things shift and twist
but never change

Her blackened heart hurts
but I can't heal her pain

A useless Icon
sworn to protect
her soul and heart

while her irrational mind
wanders around in the dark

Oh, no, I can't do it much more.....

Thursday, April 15, 2010

BUCK PETS: Rares and Unreleased



I flew down to Dallas last weekend to see the reunited Buck Pets play at Trees in Deep Ellum. The place no longer has doors, because the beeps blew the fuckers straight off. A blistering set featuring the tight musicianship of the band was among the best live shows, if not THE, best live show I've ever seen.

Too bad you can't can, bottle, or box that energy. They lifted it up and set it down. A CD collection of unreleased Buck Pet material from over the years has just been issued and contains a ton of excellent and mostly unheard material.

Veteran Buck Pet Fans and newly converted will find it outstanding. Link to purchase is at right....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

DIGITAL DAB'LL DO YA: Antonio Estevan Huerta




It seems today's best straight up rock combines elements. Power pop, punkish edge, harmonies and melodies that have "feel". Especially vocal ones that elicit a reaction, maybe even a goose bump or two. Maybe there's a touch of blues or roots twang in there....

Antonio Estevan Huerta gets that in spades.

"Your Shrine" is a damn fantastic rock record. Huerta's got a fine voice and knack for lyrical artistry which he intertwines with some unpredictable mid-tempo rhythms.
Oh, and his band can play. These guys are for real.

"Feel" is important here. "Swept Again" will take you into THAT relationship. "Pigeons of your Paradise" is one of the strongest openers I've heard in some time. I dare you to listen to "Horses" without getting a strong vibe. Every song on this platter slams a good or bad emotion on the table.

Huerta is his own self. He cites inspirations as Alex Chilton, Thom Yorke, and the Buck Pets, but you will notice he takes these paths laid into his own direction.

"Your Shrine" is available on Itunes and Lala, and along with Mic the Tiger's debut, is among my strongest suggestions for download.....New music, pure, edgy, and honest.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

LUCID DREAMING

I've read much in the past about techniques for "lucid" dreaming, you know, that ability in your sleep where you can take control of your own actions in a dream and participate knowingly in the events transpiring....the possibilities are endless. You could take out a sword and battle Sir Galahad, beat Jimi Hendrix in a guitar solo-off, knock down a monster threatening a village, seduce and bed Asia Argento, who knows?




It's never happened to me, unfortunately.

I've tried the techniques I've read about, but sadly, my dreams are these disturbing David Lynch affairs with a touch of the Farrelly Brothers for flavor. I've tried to make things happen in la-la land knowing it's a dream, because, believe it or not, I've gone lucid and actually said to myself, "This is just a dream". Then, being a bad-ass, attempted to go about it, conspiring with my subconcious for potential entertainment, gratifacation, or even enlightenment.

Despairingly, I end up falling down cliff banks, get in knife fights with former junior high bullies that I almost lose, wind up at horrifying off-color funereal events, or end up having sex with Courtney Love in a refrigerator.

Is this the kind of thing that a person lucidly in control of their dreams, let alone their mind, would want to be participating in? Or am I just flat out insane whether or not I'm awake or asleep?

I guess I just need more practice at the lucid dream preparations. Because quite frankly, the alternative dreams are just too frightening. And I don't need those anymore...

Friday, March 19, 2010

MUSES: 30 Years Later



This year marks the 30th anniversary of the death of my father, Robert W. Will (1933-1980)

This is for you, Dad
--------------------------

The target of abuse
is often the muse
taken from 'til the well runs dry

Mined from forever
Like a bird's soft feathers
when it's been plucked, we wonder why

Another example
of the forces that trample
the man had something to say

He had those he loved
It wasn't enough
for the powers above
and on a cold day
he was taken away

Do those hear on Earth
cut such a wide berth
through thought and circumstance

That the next world as a result
needs them to consult
more than we need them, by chance?

So are they the muses
for unseen fuses
that light the great beyond

We miss them so steady
but they may be already
strengthening some unseen bond.
-------------------------------------

PICK UP A BOOK ONCE IN A WHILE: "Both Ends Burning"

Since I was a kid I always liked short stories, having fallen in love with them upon picking up "Night Shift" from Stephen King at a Paperback Exchange...

You just never know in a medium so small, what direction that brief, but possibly striking piece of fiction may be coming from. Or what it may do.

Marci Mangham's "Both Ends Burning" is a hell of a collection of stories so stylistically and character-wise different, that it may leave your head-spinning. You have sick children listening with glee to impossible fantasy stories, heart-broken widowers finding ways to cope, long-distance friendships that ebb and flow.

There's stories here that made me laugh out loud, and some that made me strikingly ill at ease, as if I was watching David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence".

Miss Mangham's imagination comes from so many different angles, that the anticipation of what the next story could possibly be about is tangible.

I highly recommend it.
Link for purchase is at the right.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CHAINED TO IT



"You hide it well, most people don't see it, but you're the angriest man I've ever known."--"Justified" FX

----------------------------------------------

One day in a darkened movie theatre, my ex-wife told me what amounted to almost the same thing. She followed it with "It's nothing to be proud of" after I chuckled, staring right through me. Then the house lights went down, the trailers began to roll, and for a time, I forgot about it.

It came up again the next day....and I asked her about it, as I was unsure about the angle of the whole thing. After all, I never get into fights, I've never raised a hand to wife or child, and I brought all this to her attention.

"It's not us", she said referring to herself and our son. "You're angry at yourself."

It was like a bit of a revelation.

I then went and looked in the mirror. I saw through my borderline mongoloid, scruffy nerfherder features, into the hazels, beyond. My thought spinning to the things that may anger me about myself. I was rattled.

What's there, what don't I like?

Then it came like a flood. Voices careening through my head, swirling at different volumes, whispers, shouts, accusations......You roll your ankles, clod, you can't walk, ....you're a failure as a husband and father,...you break more things than you fix.....

What the fuck? Who were these rude, petulant voices?

Maybe, since you spent so much time being mediocre in the 80's, the least you could have done was have some fun.....so much effort in trying to be the monumentally heroic good guy, you never thought to try to be the villain once in a while....

All those chains I attached to myself so long ago, no matter how much I shake and rattle them, they will never come loose. There it is. I'm definitely angry with myself, but the only difference here is, unlike being pissed off at another individual, I can't FORGIVE me.

I'm the only person in the world I can't give that grace to, even if I may deserve it.

Lord knows, I've tried.

THE SAD HOLIDAYS OF POWER POP



ST. PATRICK'S DAY

Alex Chilton and his band, Big Star, influenced more groups, and the acts that they in turn inspired, than you'll ever realize. Despite the sadness and truth of that statement, it's not at all what I really wish to talk about.

I want to talk about Alex.

I always new who Chilton and Big Star were, but didn't really get my education and initiation until a dear friend and the Lala website schooled me in. After immersing myself in music I could hardly believe was from the 1970's, I began searching for and finding cds, including my personal favorite, Rykodisc's "Big Star Live", a radio gig taped directly to two track in Long Island, while on tour for "Radio City"...It sounds amazing despite the source recording.

Alex Chilton passed away last night at 59. This is a fact that most don't know, because outside of a #1 hit with the Box Tops, "The Letter", back in the late 60's, he's remained on the fringe of the musical scape outside of the initiated and converted. That's piece of bitter truth.

The sounds that he coaxed from his guitar and elicited from his voice, a perfect partnership, were undeniably his own. Even in the most upbeat of his songs, there was a dripping slice of melancholy, that tugged at a place somewhere within, even as your toes tapped.

You knew it was Alex's guitar just from the first few notes of his records. Few six stringers can say that.

Goodbye, Sir. And El Goodo, wherever you are.....Play it the same.


VALENTINE'S DAY

The Knack sold 6 million copies of their debut on the wings of a Capitol Records media Blitz and the strength of one of the greatest singles of all time, "My Sharona". Matter of fact, every track on that debut, "Get the Knack" was a potential hit single.

"Oh Tara", "Lucinda", "My Sharona",...contrary to popular belief, all these girls were real individual romances in the life of lead singer, Doug Fieger who co-wrote most of the Knack's songs with lead guitarist Berton Averre, who, in Doug's words "grew up 2000 miles away from him, next door".

This was Power Pop at it's finest, showing flashes of the garage rock of the 60's, with touches of the Beatles and Dave Clark Five, Doug and the boys still made it their own. Sadly, despite solid success in their 2nd LP, and critical acclaim of their third, they fizzled out....a couple of moderately noticed reunion albums followed, but the Knack couldn't grab it back.

But for a brief shining moment circa 1979/1980, they were the biggest band in the world, and Doug Fieger was the core. A sweet, smart, self-effacing guy passed February 14th at 57. I was given a hand me down copy of that first LP in 1982, and my idea of pop music was never the same.

Goodbye, Doug....wherever you are, keep it just as catchy and just as sweet and nasty as you always did......

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DIGITAL DAB'LL DO YA: Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs



If you are a fan of fun horror movie theatrics, (you can't beat blood-stained white clothes and roller skates) raw-assed guitars, and ripping howl at the moon vocals,

this edition of "Digital Dab" is for you.

What I've come across, upon recommendation from a great friend, is a group who took the spirit of Alice Cooper, the Misfits, tossed in the added touch of "la femme" growl, and created a voracious beast,

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs...My 15 year old boy says they "bring it fuckin' old school".

They've released an EP available on Lala and Itunes, and a freshly minted version of "Cherry Bomb".

People, show your support for a true original in a couple of ways....

Visit ScaryCherry.com, which has the all important Itunes link where you can vote for their cut of "Cherry Bomb" as held up against the original Runaways version and the cut from the upcoming movie about that classic band. (Bang Bangs is easily the best).

You can also vote for them to get a crack at making a record with Velvet Revolver's Slash, something they're truly worthy of at the same Scary Cherry Website.

The link to their website is to the right and up.....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

AMERICA'S PREOCCUPATION WITH THE "ACCIDENT"

It's been said before. "I just couldn't stop looking at the accident". That's the way this country (and others) has become regarding celebrity.

And if pisses me the fuck off.

Corey Haim and Corey Feldman had another one of those "celebreality" shows that seem to be sucking more brain cells out of the heads of Americans, and on a moment by moment basis.

Haim died last week. Tragic as young as he was, but outside of the rehashing of his youthful glory days some 20 years ago thanks to the reality show, which apparently ended with the two principals parting ways, what did he do to deserve adulation?

Yes, I'm not heartless, and we should pay respect and feel grievance for the loss of one of our own, it is indeed what separates us from the animals. But I am a huge fan of the seminal "skinny tie" power pop band, The Knack, (as readers will know) and I didn't know until almost three weeks after the fact that lead singer Doug Fieger passed after a brave and grueling 6 year battle with that fucking C word.

Fieger and the boys wrote, performed, and recorded one of the most successful debut records, and certainly debut singles, with "My Sharona" of all times. After the dissipation of the Knack a few years later, he continued to work in the music biz and even worked with the development of other acts. The Knack reformed a few times to record some quality albums in the 90's and 2000's. He continued to produce and assist in producing.

He was, as I'm told, a bright light, and engaging presence in a rather dark world. He will be missed. I love Doug Fieger for how he changed my perception of rock music.

But back to the Haim thing. Look at all of these "washed up" celebrity reality shows all over cable. People who haven't been in the public eye for decades acting like assholes for a few bucks....and people watch this. A lot, I guess for the crap still surges anew every renewal season. The messes these people create, usually grouped in with other complete messes of people to add "spark" rival an accident for viewability. Do we have such low self-esteem as a country that not only do we want to see the mighty fall, but watch the ones that already fell, crawl around on the ground in a drunken stupor?

Fuck me.

I'm sad. For Doug. For us.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

BEING AN ELITIST IS EXHAUSTING

Who needs cultural martyrs?

Having a variable personality, I have been able to hang with many different types of people from all walks of life. I can make small adjustments to my mindset to the conversation's direction and stay with it comfortably. Yet, I felt like a fake, a taskmasker, doing so...

I'm well read and can speak in an informed manner about a broad variety of subjects, as a result, on most subjects I piss very few people off. Unless it comes to music and movies. Politically, I'm a moderate, able to see both sides of any coin realistically and with empathy. I keep friends that way, and it's honest, not fakery to avoid losing friends and acquaintancs.

But I've been through many phases of music adoration, from oldies, to metal, to hair metal, pop, thrash, big band swing, hip-hop, etc., and not in that order....

But I've grown tired of scoffing when someone brings up something I don't care for....which is a lot. The reasoning for this is that I realize I enjoy and sometimes downright LOVE a lot of music and flicks that many would look down upon as trash. I don't want to go into specifics for there are far too many....

But, I've found myself very much in enjoyment of Jean Claude Van Damme's recent work....before you laugh, see "JCVD", "Until Death" or "In Hell". Watch "Assassination Games"....besides the machismo, there's a story, and true emotion there... You may be surprised.

I'm unapologetic about my love for the Knack. Many hate them. Their loss. Some would call me a nerd for my love for "Mystery Science Theatre 3000". Oh, well.

I've come to a conclusion, that if a form of entertainment throws a switch somewhere up in that cranium of mine, who am I to deny myself that enjoyment because some of my punk rock fan friends, (and I'm there, as I type this, my Spotify playlist is unleashing the Replacements, Government Cheese, Clockhammer, and Chevelle) and may not dig my love for the song "I Remember You" by Skid Row. Should I be ashamed to love a good Harlan Coben novel, because people I know that dig the existentialist prose frown on that "burger and fries" format? Hey, I also read Elmore Leonard and John Connolly...hip enough for ya?

Fuck That.

Trying to cover my tracks to keep those people I like impressed with my tastes is eventually a futile and tiring affair. I see no point in doing it anymore.

Unless the band you're digging on is Nickelback. Fuck them.

Friday, March 12, 2010

ACHES AND DRAINS

My jaw is killing me from clenching my teeth all day. I don't even realize that I'm doing it, until I'm safely in the womb of my car surrounded by the amniotic fluid of Replacements, Nirvana, Norah Jones, or Big Star. Once I relax, the ache sets in. Feels like I was popped in the side of the head.

My feet are killing me from repeatedly kicking myself in the ass. Come to think of it, they hurt from continuously shooting myself in them, too. There's blood everywhere.
I can see the floor through the holes.

The car door creaks when I open it as I get out to go to work. Come to think of it, my knees creak too, my shoulder pops. My toes crack as the pressure of walking exerts it's force downward onto my feet. I haven't recovered from yesterday yet.

My ears rush, the sound of blood as well as the static side effect of my anti-depressants. It's all a lot of minor bullshit that adds up to an intense desire to get home.

That's really what my one and only goal is in this day and age, this fog-bank ridden state of mind I'm in......

Home.

Stronger than any prescription...

Home.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Breakfast with Asshole

Dana stumbled into Wallace's place feeling the need to puke and the absolute desire to repress it. Hungry and nauseous at the same fucking time. Did anyone else go through this shit? He rubbed his chin scruff and crawled into the nearest booth. He did not remove his sunglasses, for that would be impossible and suicidal. It was too Goddamn bright in here.

His corneas would melt.

Wallace's looked like one of those 50's theme diners with the red vinyl cushy seats in the booths and a mini-jukebox on the menu side of the formica table tops. It wasn't themed though. Nothing had changed since the mid 60's. Same old Sinatra, Bill Haley, and Frankie Valli records in the jukes, they just didn't work anymore. Duct tape abounded on the seats everywhere. Dog-eared menus that needed replacing were tucked haphazardly between the jukes and the antique sugar holders. Wallace was either lazy or a cheapskate, but damn, if the food wasn't good.

This was absolutely without a doubt the worse hangover he had ever experienced. The liquor was flowing a little too smoothly last night and without restraint, as it always did when he was nervous as social gatherings. As a direct result, Dana lost roughly the last two hours of the last evening's gala. No big deal, typically, but he was in the hopeful process of trying to restart something. A relationship he had kinda botched (kinda was a kind way of putting it) three years ago, and was unable to leave in the past. Racing, nah, nix that, careening toward 25, he felt it was time to get his love life in some semblance of an order.

So that brings him to Wallace's diner on an explosively bright Sunday morning.
Waiting for Perry.

Against his better judgment, he ordered a small stack of pancakes and some sausage and prayed for the best. Perry had just swung through the door and sat opposite Dana in the booth, who didn't see him, because Dana's face, glasses on, was buried in his palms. He looked up as the exhale of air from Perry's ass compressing the archaic cushion surface of the booth seat, defying the laws of physics, blew it's 50 years of smell history over the table top and straight into Dana's face.

Yeesh, Murphy's Law appears to apply ten fold when hung over. He gagged quietly.

Perry flashed Dana a blinding smile and wink as he gave him the "hold on a minute" index finger gesture and began flirting with the waitress that had just sidled up to the table upon Perry's entrance. Propositioning and ordering O.J. at the same time. Smooth as asshole yogurt. Dana sighed behind the shades. Put on hold by his best friend, only no muzak to listen to while boiling in the murk of impatience. He ran his hands from his forehead through his long brown bangs, and sighed again. Damn it.

Here in the early AM waiting to discuss what happened last night with Perry. Good old Perry, Dana's best friend since the third grade, when he stepped into a dispute with Sal Amato and beat his ass for Dana. He'll never forget the relentlessness Perry flashed in that fight some 13 years ago. It took Dana a full two minutes to pull him off of Amato's shocked and bloodied face. Dana's own shock was quickly turned to dismay when he saw the jacknife Amato had pulled laying next to him on the ground.

Dana never saw it come out, Perry did.

Ever since, inseparable.

Perry was good looking in a roguish way. The waitress he was speaking to was obviously appreciative of that. Right now he was wearing a black Pittsburgh Ben Roethlisberger jersey that made his medium length blonde locks blonder, and jeans. Somehow he made that simple shit work. Jerseys were complimentary on a 6'3 frame, and the smile always rounded out the look. The soft appearance and wry smile didn't associate well with the sometimes cocky and hardened soul contained within. Perry wasn't the best at matters of the heart.

Or heart on the sleeve, in Dana's case.

Finally, Perry's dick in check, and the waitress' phone number scrawled firmly on the back of the receipt, Perry winked at her, said his goodbyes , and turned his attention the hung over and near death Dana Felder.

"Doesn't look too good, does he? The weary drinker, beaten and nauseated comes to this loooooooooowly state." Perry said in his best Darrin McGavin from "A Christmas Story" voice. Dana couldn't believe this. Perry was enjoying this shit! Now he would continue. "He's a mere shell of himself, and one has to ask, the age old question, 'does he deserve to live?'"

"Fuck you, Smartass", snapped back Dana, with absolutely no life behind it.
"Witty repartee! A smidge bitchy today, aren't we? Surely a side-effect of the Screwdriver bath you took last night. Damn it, I forgot to order a Coke."
"Fuck You." Dana uttered, with a mild purring groan. The world was on fire.
"Now I'm concerned. Redundancy is a sure sign of it.", said Perry with mock overinterest. He was displaying cocked eyebrows, and "Person in Thought" goatee rubbing.
"Of what?" Dana said exhaustedly. "I hate fuckin' games.", he breathed, rubbing his temples.
"Repressed homosexuality brought out by binge drinking."
Dana stared at Perry for a long time before raising his sunglasses over the top of his head.

"Funny cocksucker, aren't you?" Dana scolded. "If you have nothing to bring to this table, I'm going to have to ask you to leave." Dana windedly sputtered between gasps of air. He was now performing the breathing technique you do when trying to avoid vomiting.

"Are you going to puke before or after you drag me out by my scruff?" asked Perry with a precocious grin.
Dana was winded and emotionally exasperated. "Come on, man, cut me some slack, I'm dying here." he muttered through his dried lips and flushed face. As he spoke his begging proclamation, sweat began to run into his eyes, causing them to burn, and in turn, tear up.

Perry stiffened up, scowled, and said, "Alright, I'm serious as a heart attack, man. What's the matter?"


TO BE RESUMED///

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FROM THEN 'TIL NOW: Buck Pets and a fulfilled path



In the spring of 1991, I was a misguided, malnourished, and somewhat ideologically lost individual.
I had the good fortune, as a member of Kenosha, Wisconsin’s “Video Whiplash”, to interview The Buck Pets on a Milwaukee swing-through. As big a fan as I was, I was a tad nervous of that “fall from grace” that can happen when one discovers their heroes are assholes.

That. Never. Happened.


Being 18 years old didn’t help one bit in the nervousness department, but at least I had that musical connection that all fortunate youngsters have with a band to latch onto. That artist or group that echoes the sentiments, becomes a conscience of a sort, a comforting guardian angel of the musical variety perhaps making it an easy interview for one who feels those things.

Somebody out there gets it, feels that youth.

When you’re a teenager, and you have that to hold on to, it literally can be a difference between life and death, and in this case meant a difference between a joke and a solid Q & A.

I love the Replacements, and see Paul Westerberg as a deity. That being said, by the time I discovered the Placemats, they were recording “Don’t Tell a Soul”, and all my friends had been into them for years, knowing more than I did, and joyously rubbing it in my face. As much as I loved Paul and the boys, there was a bit of a distance there.

By the time “Nevermind” smacked the world upside the head, I was engaged, and preparing to start work on a family. So, in short, for my formative years of 17 to 19, when it all “went down”, the Buck Pets were My Nirvana.

That’s not an overstatement. Make no mistake.

I met Chris Savage, Andy Thompson, Ian Beach, and Tony Alba (I hadn’t had the pleasure at that time of meeting Ricky Pearson, the drummer who had taken the stool behind the kit for “To the Quick”. But I can tell you in hindsight, aside from his multiple instrument virtuosity of musicianship, he’s also one hell of a photographer) in Milwaukee in the winter of 1991. I won’t ever forget it.

Having seen the condescending jackassitude that can emanate from established rock acts, especially the ones I had dealt with, I was refreshed to find none of this with the Dallas foursome that emerged from the musically fertile whirlwind of vigorous youthful vitality that was Deep Ellum around 1988.

The Pets first record, a self-titled debut, didn’t so much emanate from the speakers, as it did violate them. It was a double-barrel blast with buckshot soaked in spit, rage, hurt, longing, lust, and ...love. “Inamorata”, “Good Day”, and “More and More” ran parallel to my state of mind at that time.

The second LP, “Mercurotones”, was a step, slightly drastic, into a different direction. This was a band progressing rapidly, evolving quickly, a whiplash snap into more mature territory, but do not be fooled, it still rocked. I can still get weepy hearing “Five o’clock or Thursday”. “Moon Goddess” blows the doors off the joint(especially that double feature tempo change at the end). ”Hey Sunshine” is a beautiful piece of acoustic song craft.

So I was prepared and excited for the interview. I had been burned by previous interviews in the past, so I had an understandable timid streak. That was immediately disarmed from me by these guys. They charmed me that quickly.
These kids were close friends, and family-minded. In the liner photos of “Tones”, Chris’ dog, Walt, is in full view. That’s right, hard-rocking six string slinger puts his pooch in the artwork. In and amongst the packaging was a boy and his dog. How un-grunge, unpretentious. How REAL. The Buck Pets looked out for each other, I found that obvious, not just because they had to, but because they wanted to.

In my interview, I found them hilarious, quick-minded, and damn, if not in complete opposition to their peers in the “genre”, Goddamn smart and self-aware.

Humble.

The interview went well, as well as any could considering the fact that due to my age, the club owner refused to let me interview the guys inside Shank Hall. Because of his stubborness, really the Pets were off the hook, and had no obligation to do the interview…..

They did it anyway.

Andy and Tony decided to bring it into the cramped Winnebago they were touring in, sat us in the small but usable space, and as I like to remember it, one hell of a fine interview came off. Under the scrutiny of a plastic Godzilla. The kicker to this story isn’t the question and answer session that had me tickled pink. It was Andy’s reaction to the fact that I wasn’t allowed in for the gig either.

Thompson and Alba quickly made off to find Savage and Beach, and they instantaneously engaged in what looked like a football huddle minus 7 guys. This went on for several minutes before they pulled in what appeared to me to be the driver/ road manager.

The original plan was to boycott the show because I couldn’t get in. Unreal…..I got the interview I came for, I was thrilled, but because of my efforts, my fanhood, they wanted me to see them play. I was touched beyond belief. I, of course didn’t want to see that happen, a nightclub mutiny, people were beginning to file in to see them, and I had spoken to the leader of the opening act earlier, a big Pets fan, and he was geeked to be taking the stage before the Dallas foursome.

The show did go on,.

But that didn’t spare the owner of Shank from getting dirty looks from the guys behind his back, and noticeable attitude.

The Buck Pets, looking out for the little guy. A true deviation from the norm in the music biz.

As we drove away, I was looking over my shoulder to see all 4 members of the band waving good-bye…..I thought to myself, perfect….just perfect….."and he drove off into the sunset, a moment cryogenically frozen in time, that he would never forget".


If this was a movie, right now is where a sound effect would come in, with car brakes screeching, or the ripping sound of a needle being scratched across the vinyl of a LP record.

There’s more to this little tale.

Through a bizarre and wonderful twist of fate, Chris Savage and I have become close friends. He’s a person who means a great deal to me. A guy who is an infinitely patient listener, particularly when being subjected to the idle complaining of a broken human as myself. He treats me as an equal, values my opinion as much as I do his, and always has advice, and answers to questions, not about music necessarily, but life in general. He is indeed, a special person to me.

Chris is still in Texas, as is Ricky, the other two are spread out across the country…..as I mentioned them being talented and intelligent lads, they’ve gone on to start businesses, grow families, investigate unique endeavors ranging from culinary arts, the restaurant industry, motorcycle renovation, teaching, and photography, making unique music, and in some cases, all of the above.

But all have retained their senses of humor, humility, and likeable nature. Damn it, I love these guys.

They’re still funny and smart, yet they lack the superficial ego of many who’ve accomplished what they have, yet they’re still aware, sometimes self-deprecatingly, of their gifts.

And now, we come full circle….

On April 10th at the Trees in Dallas, Chris Savage, Ian Beach, Andy Thompson, and Ricky Pearson will take the stage again, after some 16 years, as the Buck Pets.

And I will be there……No, I won’t miss it this time.

The Buck Pets covered more ground, stylistically and emotionally, in their brief 3 album oeuvre than many bands with decades under their belt do in their careers. That’s varied, beautiful, crunching, eclectic, primal stuff. And eye-opening more is on the way.

That says a lot about what’s upstairs. Minds of differing thoughts and cultures, who when put together create something unique and powerful. Minds that are more than just music……

The Buck Pets are real.

Fakeness need not apply.

What happens next after April is anybody’s guess, but under those lights, bathed in sound, the circle will be completed for me. And maybe start a different one for them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DOWN

Inconceivable. 311 is huge....

Monday, February 22, 2010

STIGMA




"The photographs of God I bought have almost faded away"--Jesus & Mary Chain



Mental Illness.....

I saw "Shutter Island" this weekend, and it may have been one of the more difficult to watch movies I've ever viewed. Not because of content itself, but because of how I've seen and read of all the various psychiatric maladies that many in the film suffered.

Including myself.

I'm wrapping the cloak around myself again.

The guys I work with see it. They don't care, but they see it. They think I'm crazy, not "wacky", "nutty", or "different". Insane. Gone.

I know where it comes from. I'm unreachable at times. I hate the "snap" reaction to questions, and when it happens, I often "shudder". A defense mechanism. When my mood makes a slight upswing, I get silly. That's not acceptable to them, either. I'm not falling in line, they don't understand me, therefore I am to be looked upon with disdain or even ridiculed for it.

In short, at my 8 year place of employment, in no way, shape, or form, am I allowed to be me. I can only do that at home.......

Do you know how confining that is? The weight that puts on a person? There are others like me out there, somewhere.

Where are they?

More talk, more meds, more......worry.

Now I've been told,  it's just work, and co-workers, their opinions shouldn't matter. And really, when it comes down to brass tacks, it doesn't. But my co-workers are the only people I see on a day to day basis.....

The world's a quiet, cold place when that happens.....and then I bring out the cloak.




I'm gonna be quiet for a while.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

THE STALL

The funeral had been painless so far. Comparatively.

He had barely known the deceased after all. A kid he had known in grade school.
How did he end up a pall-bearer? Christ.

Standing in the arched doorway, David thought about the look Sherry gave him on his way out the door. That soft look of acknowledgment that he was doing the right thing. He had tried to talk himself out of this a thousand times. She though he needed it.

A trip 2500 miles to attend a funeral for someone he hadn't seen in 25 years.

David rubbed his eyes until they hurt, and the blackness that accompanied their closed nature sparked with electricity from the pressure. Perry was a good friend in the fourth grade, no doubting that. Pick up baseball games, stay overs, board games, sure. It was all there in the past, but did he feel anything now.

Fuck.

An odd nausea started to set in as he remembered something Perry had said all those years back. Late one night as they lay in the dark in the bunks of Perry's room. The question had come from below David just as he dwindled toward that goal line of slumber, at first he thought he imagined it.....

"David, does your Dad ever hit you?"

He didn't answer. But now, in the rigid awareness that came with adulthood, those pieces came crashing together.
The black eyes. Perry's occasional limp. The infrequent but common absences.

Funny what you miss when your 10. As David looked up to the table where all the trimmings and hors-d'ouevres were located he saw Perry's father, standing there, shoving finger sandwiches down his throat, and yes, laughing with who David believed was Perry's uncle Frank.

Suddenly the nausea exploded.

Running to the basement, David's vision blurred, he turned the sharp right and slammed his left shoulder into the door, swinging it open. Weakness had begun to permeate David's body, and the wobbling legs held it together long enough for him to stumble into the stall and vomit hard.

As his system purged itself, the tears came. Huge pounding sobs, that gathered air deep into his lungs. The weeping was immense, as he slid to his rear end, swiveling his weight to his left to reach for the stall door and swing it shut.

He never cried this hard before.

He never felt this guilty before.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

LAUGH 'TIL IT HURTS

I've written before that my favorite thing to do is laugh.

It really is. That statement is probably looked upon as bizarre by most people I know, who read my blog, and most certainly by the people I work with. All understandable, really, when you consider the consistent state of melancholy I am in the bulk of the time.

But people who know me, REALLY know me, dying breed that they are, find me to be a card. I'm a funny guy, a nice guy. So they say. I've been that since grade school, when people starting joking around with me and girls decided to start using my shoulders for kleenex and nothing else.

I have always liked making people laugh. "You should be a comedian!", they've said. Great idea, only problem with it being that I can't write material for spoken word performances. Oh, you get me in a group, and I can riff off conversation like it's no tomorrow. I can go all night.

If I get in "the zone", there's gonna be some sore stomachs in that group. And their laughter is a gift to me. Especially that infectious, bent-over, tear-down-the-cheek roaring. My sister, Dee, for example, has always been my favorite target. Not because of any favoritism, or anything so arbitrary as all that, just because of the sound of her laugh. A full-bodied crack-up that's an addiction for me. I just have to keep that thing going until I am no longer able.

Because I know what a wonderful feeling that is.

That "pants-crapping" variety of laughter is few and far between for me. I can only remember a handful of moments that brought about that out of control, loss of function laughter that renders one incapable of even breathing.

One was in the 3rd grade, when in parochial school. The story I like to call "Be Careful with that desk, Eugene" is a simple one. A husky kid, the titular Eugene, was sitting across the room from me. I just happened to look in his direction and saw him attempting to wheel his legs out from under his desk. The desk was one of those old school one piece units, where a balancing piece runs down to the floor from under the writing surface then to the underside of the seat.

Now, as Eugene was swinging his legs out, the feet became entangled in that crossbar. Unfortunately for Geno, his upper body did not stop with his Keds-encased tootsies. He started to fall out of his chair, but since his lower body was held up in a purgatory of metal and corduroy, the tipping of Eugene over the side was a long drawn out process that involved the "big E" battling in an eternal losing battle with gravity, the front of his desktop, and the back of his chair.

Two hours later, the huddled mass that was Eugene, lay with his back on the floor, feet coming to a complete stop on the chair that long ago held his buttocks. By now, he had everyone's full attention. Most were looking at him in shock, a few asked him if he was okay. Our uppity teacher, told him to dust himself off and get back into his seat.

I, on the other hand, was breathing into a paper bag that had at one point held my lunch, for I was hyperventilating with maniacal laughter and in danger of fainting. I also had to urinate so badly that I left the room without the teacher's permission for the first time in my life.

My father had died about a year earlier, and this was absolutely the longest I had smiled and hardest I had laughed since before Dad passed.

It felt so good, so freeing. By God, with a simple accidental pratfall, a page had turned in my life.

Going home that day, the sun seemed a little brighter, a bit warmer.

If I can give someone a fraction of that, waking up that morning was worth while, and a gift.

TIRED OF ME

When conversations with yourself
END IN ARGUMENTS
Half of what you said, You've no idea
WHAT YOU MEANT
Is there love from up above
AND IS IT LEGITIMATE?

And when you've had enough,
IS IT TOO SOON TO QUIT?

Because I've grown so tired of me
the fatigue sets in
as I begin to see
My act getting old
as my flesh grows cold
Because I've come too far to be
so goddamn tired of me

So I'm already feeling the pain
BEFORE I EVEN FELL
I'm too young to call it quits
AND TOO OLD TO RAISE HELL.......

So Tired indeed.....

Sunday, January 31, 2010

LABOR LOSS

I have wondered for months what it is that makes me want to crash my car into a tree on the way to work, to avoid 12 more hours in the hole.

I've said before that I don't fit in there, I'm not going to tread down that path again, readers, you don't deserve that kind of redundancy.

In the world today, there's a lot of dislike. Republicans and democrats. Conservatives and liberals. Talk show hosts. Neighbors unhappy with the guy next door. Drivers in traffic, not happy with being cut off.

A maelstrom of conflict. From the door in the morning to the pillow at night.

That's the way it's always been and always will be, yes? But I've come to an understanding of this that relates to my workplace.
Yes, my occupation is contained within a compressed microcosm of everyday disdain.

From 1st shift to 2nd shift these guys don't like each other, and it weighs on me like a wet blanket after 12 hours. Like some kind of warfare being waged in the trenches of disharmony, I'm caught up in it, in a foxhole between two sides, not wanting to load my rifle anymore. It's exhausting, it takes a toll, it's a tremendous draw on my body.

It's black weight.

Finger pointing, guys trying to set each other up for failure or a harder day. Name calling, ignoring, ad infinitum.

I used to partake in this, now it's too much even for me.

I'm tired of trying to be an emotional Jason Bourne, seating myself in the corner of a restaurant, back to the wall, as to be able to case the whole place. You have to see your existential exits and your metaphysical entrances, needing the broadest view possible to avoid that next soul-sucking attack.

After enough time of dealing with this, it starts to become a physical malady. A pain deep in the stomach (or maybe buried in my soul somewhere), I can't sleep at night if I have to work the next day, I am mortally drained of all want to do what it is I have to do.

Now, I fully understand that in this economy I should feel fortunate to be hanging onto a job with decent pay and benefits, but I'm not like these guys. I don't like working with my hands, I'm not mechanically inclined, despite being a printer for 18 years. Am I that good of a liar, or just smart enough to accomplish something I hate doing for the greater good? The answer to either question is not a good one.

And I certainly don't want to be part of their complaining, name-calling, desultory disdain, or scheming negativism.

I'm right brained, working in a left-brained facility and it's killing me. I'm not asking to be president of the United States, but there's no one to blame for myself. For I made the collegiate decisions, and faulty base-covering in my youth that put me here.

Here on Earth, savoring every glorious moment at home as if it were the last, every note of "Don't Change" by INXS, every single frame of "Fight Club", for those are the things that really matter, not this over-pondered and all too seriously taken production industry where paperwork, sweat, sometimes blood, frustration and anger, all go into making a giant roll of what will soon enough be landfill. (And don't think that that hasn't crossed my mind either)

Here on Earth.