Monday, January 31, 2005

Rick Champion Opened A Hot Dog Stand - Nashville Rock Post 1978

The place was named Phranks N Steins. We were too young to ever attend the rock shows Rick Champion soon started featuring there. Heck, we didn’t even know where the place was. Somewhere out on West End? But the legend is that this event kick started a post 1978 Nashville rock and roll revolution. This is where this survey of Nashville’s rock and roll past begins.

Wally Bangs – I called up good friend and once local Middle Tennesse resident Dr. DD Blank and asked him to come up with a list of 20 great Nashville music artists of the last 27 years. I was to do the same. I would then combine the lists with commentary from both of us. That gave us way more than 20 on the list though it is far from including every great local rock and roll act from this time frame. Whether you’re from Nash Vegas or not let us know what you think we’ve missed. Enjoy.

Nashville20+ Part One of a four part series

DD: Jason and the Nashville Scorchers - What a great band that had a string of great releases and in many ways heralded this alternative country movement 15 years before it really became popular. They were the best country band to ROCK the city in ages. No countrypolitan sound from them.

Wally: Jason and the Nashville Scorchers - Live they were incendiary, even when they were borrowing equipment to play at a Cat’s Records Last Chance Dance where they became the darlings of the Nashville Art Posse. Their first EP’s and full length Lost and Found justified the hype and while I can forgive them for dropping Nashville from their name, I could never forgive Still Standing, their Tom Werman over produced 2nd full-length release. My best memory of them was seeing their show in 1986 at Vanderbilt’s Rites of Spring. There were drunks everywhere, even climbing the trees and the country punk was so ferocious that day, the music would even outlast the hangovers. One of the big parts of their success was Jack Emerson’s faith in them. Go here to read the story about Praxis Recordings and the tribute to Jack who passed away in 2003.

BEST YEARS: 1982-1986

Wally: The Dusters - I had never heard a note of their music when they hit the stage at one of the last great free Summer Lights concerts and immediately disliked their image. It seemed like they were going for the Scorchers country punk look. Then they started to play their roadhouse blues and I forgot about their image. We were all “Red, Hot, and Ready to Roll” that summer. They were Reptile Records finest recording artists. Ken McMahan, the guitarist extraordinaire almost disappeared in Cookeville, but last I heard he’s back in Nashville so go see him if you get the chance.

DD: The Dusters - Who can forget that Summer Lights performance when their playing literally burned up the monitors? “Red Hot and Ready to Roll” indeed. Brought energy to the blues in a way not dissimilar from what Jason &The Nashville Scorchers did for country.

BEST YEARS: 1986-1988

DD: Practical Stylists - They seemed to dismiss the “mod” moniker. However, it fit. They were a power pop band with the same influences as the Jam and were probably equally influenced by the Jam. Sounds good to me and it still does sound good every time I pull out their singles.

Wally: Practical Stylists - This trio looked good in their suits and played “New Wave” guitar rock when few were trying their luck with that style. I’ve got that same single on Pyramid records. “General Beat” is pretty nifty. I wish they would have played at my high school. Here’s what Nashville Intelligence Report’s Andy Anderson had to say about them back in the day –

General Beat / My Bed-- Superb, sensational, excellent, amazing, breath-taking, energetic, danceable, riveting -- I could get out my thesaurus and go on and on. Nashville's premier pop band has done it again. "General Beat" is a great rave-up that shows off this band's considerable talents. Scott's voice is in fine form as his bass and Jim's drumming propel the band onward and upward; David's guitar comes through loud and clear to punctuate the melody. The flip, "My Bed", is a bit more deliberate and studied, but maintains the energy we've come to expect from the band. Snappy packaging and a fab pic of the guys make this a must have. If there was any justice in the music business, Practical Stylists would already be signed to a major label and this single would be climbing the charts, but for now I guess they'll have to content themselves with the praises of their many fans until the record company executives realize they've got the next big thing right here under their noses. Let's hope that's not too long. ~~ Andy Anderson, Nashville Intelligence Report, September, 1983.

Wally: Forever Ungratical Corinaric Technikalation - Or simply F.U.C.T. They were Nashville’s hardest working hardcore punk band in the late 80’s and early 90’s. If they weren’t playing, their singer was out handing flyers to upcoming shows. Ramones, Bad Brains, Danzig, Fugazi, Helmet, Melvins, sheesh I saw the dude at every one of these shows. I’ve probably still got some F.U.C.T. handbills in a dresser drawer somewhere. Musically, it was crude teenage crap, but I loved the song where the singer screamed, “Quaff!” at the top of his lungs. They were at the top of the heap of a fertile Nashville hardcore scene.

DD: Forever Ungratical Corinaric Technikalation - I took my 12-year-old brother to a 91 Rock all night benefit at the Cannery back in the late 80's. This hardcore band played early on in the night, probably since their core audience wasn't much older than my brother. However, I remember him standing there in amazement. Tom
had never seen anything like it, but he was drawn to it. The best part of this story is how when he went to school the next week he wore the commemorative t-shirt tucked in tight so that his teachers wouldn't see the name of the band on the back and send him home.

BEST YEARS: early 90’s

BEST YEARS: 1982-1983

DD: Questionnaires - I bought their major label debut and was disappointed. No “Boomtown” and no Smyrna ode “Slug City.” However, it did have a cover of the Flaming Groovies “Teenage Head.” They were a cool band with cooler demos. Every interview with Tom Littlefield revved me up for a week. He must have been a great rock and roller.

Wally: Questionnaires - Their major label releases are overproduced and pathetic. Some good tunes get buried in the usual failed attempts at the hit parade. If anybody has in possession a copy of “Slug City” send it my way. Tom Littlefield turned me onto the Flamin’ Groovies. That’s enough.

BEST YEARS: pre major label 1985-1986

Wally: Dave Cloud - The Springwater dive’s favorite son, Dave Cloud, is said to be an uplifting shock to the system on a good night or a bad drunken pornographic poet the next. He’s like a magic eight ball; you never know what you’ll get. He’s a demented genius who came into his own about eight years ago and he’s accumulated a cult following since. He’s put some CD’s that are well worth purchasing.

DD: Dave Cloud - I have never heard or seen this Springwater mainstay, so I
really probably shouldn't be telling you about him. Yet, Jack front man Andrew once told me that this guy put on the most amazing experience that he as ever
seen. Everyone at the Nashville Scene says that he is a city treasure. Who am I to argue?

BEST YEARS: 1999-present

Wally: Cloverbottom - One the original wave of Nashville “punk” bands whose legend stretched to the late 80’s. I never got to see them play live (the shows are rumored to have been wild affairs) and barely heard a few tunes over the static airwaves. I do have a cut by them called “Battery” on a Praxis 45 ep titled Never In Nashville. The song is pretty traditional hard rock that’s off kilter just enough to pass for punk. “Are you a Duracell?” They helped pave the way for Nashville’s indie scene and for that alone they deserve props.

DD: Cloverbottom - The granddaddy of them all. I only ever heard of these guys. I wish that I had seen them. They helped create a positive rock attitude in Nashville. You have to love a band that is named after a local Nashville asylum.


Next part to probably appear next week.
This post was originally placed at the White Animals messageboard over two years ago. It has been revised.

Mile Davis - My Funny Valentine reissued

There is an interview with Miles Davis conducted by Nick Kent for The Face (collected in The Dark Stuff) in 1986 where Davis is quoted:

Some people, whatever is happening now, either they can’t handle
it or they don’t want to know. They’ll be messed up on that bogus
nostalgia thing. Nostalgia, shit! That’s a pitiful concept. Because
it’s dead, it’s safe…

At that time Miles was being assaulted by the revivalist jazz of Wynton Marsalis roughly as a challenge to the almost total artistic washout of the material Miles had recorded since his 1980 return from his five year self imposed “retirement”.

In 1986, Miles had just left Columbia for Warner Brothers and he took the opportunity in the same interview to let people know what he felt about giving Columbia the right to any of his unreleased material. “Hell, they put the shit out, it won’t sell. There’s enough old shit of mine being issued as it is. I never seen any of it toppin’ no charts. No one wants to buy it. Why should they?” Miles has now been gone for many years and the CD’s are still coming so somebody must be buying them. It’s understandable why he didn’t want the past to interfere with the present, but the past has a life of its own and while it may just be positive thinking on my part; quality usually wins out, if not in the marketplace, at least in history.

The trend in reissues now is to put the album out as it was originally released albeit digitally or expanded to double length. Gone are the bonus tracks that were sometimes interesting, but usually were good examples of why things got left on the cutting room floor. A good example of this practice was the recent Capitol reissues of The Beatles first albums as they were originally released in the US. I still remember the furor that greeted The Beatles CD’s when they were released in the mono British formats years ago. This constant reissuing does create a problem for the music fan: constantly having to upgrade to the latest reissue. You get the usual litany of complaints about a greedy recording industry or that there was nothing wrong with the previous version of the CD. Those people just need to get over it. I’ve never upgraded my Beach Boys original two-fers that were issued by Capitol and I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. My Funny Valentine was released over ten years ago by Columbia as a two disc complete concert and now it is being reissued as a single disc just as it was released on LP in 1965. Should you rush out to upgrade or is going from a two disc set to one an upgrade? The CD sounds incredible for starters. As an historical event, maybe the album deserves to be heard just as people heard it in 1965 with 65 minutes of music sans record needle skipping and scratching.

The reissue of My Funny Valentine will be released on February 1, 2005 and it is a must have if you don’t already own it and maybe even if you have the older release. The album was recorded Feb. 12, 1964 at the Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall. The occasion was a benefit concert for voter registration drives in Mississippi and Louisiana. Miles Davis forfeited the group’s usual performance fee, but he didn’t tell the other members until right before the concert. This created some conflict as detailed by Ron Carter in his added liner notes. Whatever the reason, an incredible night of jazz was captured. The album was hailed as a classic upon its original release and time has not diminished its timeless beauty and power. A vindictive Miles Davis of 1986 may have repudiated his past, but mere nostalgia is not why this music is still appreciated, for with true greatness how can something be revived that has never been out of real fashion?

Miles was joined by Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Ron Carter, and George Coleman. Coleman’s tenor sax almost steals the show with what some consider the most impassioned lyrical playing of his career. The “Memphis Monster” Coleman supplies plenty of swing on each of his solo turns. Ron Carter brings his pulsing strong bass tone to the show. Tony Williams enjoys the freedom drummers get in the Bill Evans Style used by the Davis group during this period. His accents on “I Thought About You” right before Coleman’s solo are a great illustration. The piano of Herbie Hancock is just on another planet, with the open spaces where he doesn’t play carrying just as much weight as his impressionistic notes that sometimes sound like raindrops to the point of visually glistening.

The main attraction is the bandleader, Miles, who begins each tune with solos. There are evocative hints of dissonance edging their way into his sound. His trumpet cries briefly like a wounded animal in the beginning of “My Funny Valentine” before finding its way out a possible avant-garde trap. Miles answers those who might have questioned his power as his limited tonal range bristles with electricity. The opening trumpet blast in “Stella By Starlight” will knock over furniture, but mere power is not what Miles was ever about. It’s moments like his high piercing note near the start of “I Thought About You” that then disintegrates in little melodic ways as the song proceeds. It’s the echo of the blues and bebop in “All Blues”. Cool could also be hot. Try sticking your tongue to a frozen lamp post. C’mon, I double dog dare you.

My Funny Valentine is not likely to go shooting up the charts, but that’s the Top Forty’s loss. Miles Davis and his listeners are blessed that his music still lives. Some might say it is nostalgia and that things are better today. Let them have their say, just as Miles had his in 1986. I don’t listen to Miles Davis out of nostalgia for a world I wasn’t even born into yet, but because his music touches me as all great music does. It doesn’t matter how the music charts, but how it hits my heart.

Ryan Adams Too Prolix?

In my email box last week - the news from Lost Highway that Ryan Adams was releasing three albums this year and one of them is a double abum! Surely, there will be enough quality material to come up with one great album.

De Novo Dahl - The Next Big Thing?

De Novo Dahl sold out the Exit/In when they played the other night. I couldn't attend since we're on super baby watch this week - Liam's due the 6th as if nobody knew by now - but man it would have been cool to have been there. A local rock act selling out the Exit/In is just a major accomplishment. I should have a review of their new CD soon since Theory 8 Records promised to send me one. De Novo Dahl are good guys so it's awesome to see them have some success. Here's to much more, maybe even some time in the limelight of the pop narcotic itself.

The Iraqi Vote - Giving The Purple Finger To The Terrorist Scumbags!

I doubt very seriously that an Iraqi will ever read this small blog, but I just wanted to send some props their way. Would I have the courage to vote in the face of death threats by cowardly power hungry scumbags? I doubt it. Here's to a better day for those who thirst for freedom and may those who oppose this concept be sentenced to listening to George Michael's Faith album for a year on repeat.

Critics On The Sidebar

I've added three fellow blogcritics' sites to my sidebar. First, there is Eric over at Dumpster Bust who's like a younger and smarter version than myself. Next, there is Aaman living in Wisconsin by way of India at Self Audit, always a great read. Last, but certainly not least is Mark Saleski of Mark Is Cranky fame who is like an older and smarter version that myself. Be sure to drop by and tell them Wally sent you.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Power Of Beer

I know Drudge has linked to this, but I just couldn't resist linking to it too. Never underestimate the power of beer. It is a great thing.

I Might Know A Grammy Winner Personally

I'm a little late in posting this, but congrats to my old Phonoluxe homeboy Michael Gray for getting nominated for a Grammy.

The Anti-Society Covers Collection

This will probably be the last post relating to my old fanzine unless I get some outpouring of messages wanting more. Here are the collected front covers of all five issues.






Thursday, January 27, 2005

1,2,3,4 Cue The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Theme

A Ramones Tribute Will Be Held Next Week
it's for a great cause so get yourself there!

Wednesday Feb 9th @ THE END
THE EXOTIC 1-2-3-4'S
Hosted by Nashville's Greatest Horror Host DR. GANGRENE!
Profits will donated to The American Cancer Society on behalf of The Ramones.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Let's Talk About Books, Baby

I was cleaning out some files today and I came across something I posted a few years back on a message board. I thought it deserved exhuming.

Wearing a punk rock t-shirt (I’m obsessed with the sociology of concert shirts) to high school in Murfreesboro, TN in the year 1985 was a mark of incipient coolness that all of the Journey t-shirt wearers could only hope to understand. It's commonly thought that youth are more open to new ideas, but this is not really accurate. Teenagers may be outwardly showing rebellion, but there's a narrowness of thought even in this. I'd try to play a punk tape on the bus in '83 and everybody would scream at the driver to take it out of the player. Along with the music came an interest in books, which was a guarantor of outcast status back then and probably still is today. This post is about those books that helped shape me and the connection with my rock and roll rebellion against the mainstream. This first book actually tells the story of a group that was considered a teeny bopper band so how rebellious was I being? I did go against my own tastes to even read it so it accomplished more open thinking on my part, but most important it paved the way for much of what followed in my life. I can't completely hold No One Here Gets Out Alive by Danny Sugarman responsible for my twenties spent playing in rock and roll bands, but it undoubtedly bears some culpability. The Doors are still big business and much of the credit should be given to Sugarman's book. When the book came out, the Doors had yet to achieve the full icon status they have today, but a groundswell of Jim Morrison adulation was building. At the time I began the book I hated the Doors. Every time I heard Manzarek's organ I turned the radio dial. One day in my graphic arts class, where I spent most of my time playing hangman, one of the juvenile delinquents who barely ever spoke to me slid No One Here Gets Out Alive across the desk to me. "You like to read and you like rock and roll, so I thought you'd like to read this book my sister got," he said. I glanced at the cover and saw that it was Doors related so I turned him down. "Come on, man! It's a great book. I don't usually like to read, but I liked this one." I didn't want to fight with him about it (and there was always the chance that a fight could break out in graphic arts) so I took it from him and told him I'd give it a chance. I read the thing in one night and in a few weeks; my notebook covers saw The Doors added to the front roll call of rock bands that adorned each one. I also was listening to the Doors first album as often as possible as I let Manzarek's organ sound grow on me. Morrison's story had touched me in a big way. I didn't care if it had been embellished or if the Doors had been primarily considered a teenybopper band in their heyday. I've had others who also found the Doors in their sophomore year of high school so maybe the teenybopper tag is still appropriate. I still enjoy the Doors music today, but not like I did back then. The Doors are like a gateway drug. I was soon led to stranger bands, most notably Velvet Underground. So the book got me into the Doors? Big deal, some might say. That was the least of the book's influence, for it was a brief section in the first few pages of the book that had the biggest impact. It was a list of the books that Morrison read. I would draw from this list in my high school days and beyond and get pulled into the world of existentialism, the beat generation, Greek philosophy, and more.

The first stop was Jack Kerouac's On The Road. I remember mispronouncing Kerouac's name at the time. I remember my mother going into the hospital for an operation the night I began the book. I'm a fast reader. I can also read and sing along to whatever is on the stereo and remember what I've read. But On The Road went slowly. I'd never encountered such freewheeling language in a book. The long and exuberant sentences were a wonder to my youthful mind. By the time I got to the Mexican trip toward the end of the novel, I was transfixed. I found out that it was a "hippie bible" but even then I didn't understand this. I recognized the elements of freedom and a rather sedate rebellion, but I focused more on the relationship of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty. I guess Sal shared some characteristics with the hippies because he always had a place to freeload in his aunt's house, but I dug him because he seemed to stand apart from everything around him, which was much the way I felt as an adolescent. I refused to take Nabokov's advice and I identified with characters I read about. As an only child I could find in Moriarty the brother figure I never had in reality. It did save me from imitating Moriarty's laugh, which is what Sugarman reported Morrison as doing. In due time, I learned that On The Road was disguised autobiography, a small piece of what Kerouac was to have dubbed the "Dulouz Legend", the story of his life. Later I saw movie footage of both Kerouac and Neal Cassaday, the real life Moriarty. Even before I knew these things, I regarded the book as one of longing. A longing for a disappearing America, the longing for youth fast fading, the longing for a true friend seemed to be the crux of it. By this point in time, I was trading mix tapes of independent bands with some friends.

One of those friends provided me the next great book of my youth, Frank Herbert's Dune, which happens to be another hippie manual. And it's also a great teenage read. Dune is another slow read. It could be read fast, but like a final cigarette of the day, you want it to last. It's sci-fi on a grand scale that just torched my young mind. Who could have read this novel without lusting for a taste of the spice, mélange? Or wished that their mother was secretly a Bene Gesserit? Dune is another perfect book for a young high school kid. High school is bewildering and strange and it often feels like you're lost in a desert. If you don't endup in the right clique you could end up socially dead and adulthood and college seem too far away to even contemplate. Of course there were sequels galore until now Frank Herbert's son even writes Dune books today, but the original was enough for me.

Another book I found through the list of Jim Morrison's reading habits was Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell. I wasn't Irish and I didn't live in Chicago, but I empathized with the protagonist Studs when he was youthful and still possessed promise. The scene in the beginning where he's smoking a cigarette and feeling so full of confidence because he would soon be blowing the dump of a school he attended still surfaces in my memories almost as if I had been the one to live through such an event. Instead I was late for my high school graduation just because I didn't own a tie and had to find one by going door to door in the neighborhood trying to get one. At least I had some Black Flag cranked up in the stereo as I sped through town hoping I'd still get to walk across the stage. When I got to the auditorium another late student took the parking place I was trying to get. Still, I managed to breathlessly make it to the line I was supposed to walk out with right before the teacher counting heads got to my spot. I walked across the stage and a week or so later I began reading a book I'd been curious about throughout high school.

That book was Catcher In The Rye. There was a sorority at my high school
and every girl that joined must have been assigned Salinger's work about the adventures of Holden Caulfield. It was during the time that the paperback had the blood red cover and the sorority sisters were always carrying the thing around. I wasn't the frat type plus I figured it was a “girls” book, I never asked these girls about the book even though I had a crush on one of them. Then one day I saw I used copy and I decided to see why all of these girls were reading it. I read the first chapter in the store and then I bought and took it home. There's a rock and roll connection as well, but a well known and evil one. Most everybody is aware that John Lennon's killer was hyped up on this novel and in some perverse way saw himself as the catcher keeping the children safe from the ex-Beatle's music My pleasure of Catcher In The Rye then was the sweetness and naivety of Holden and even though I find his character more lazy and more to blame for his own problems now, it's still a great short novel and reading it is a rite of passage.

Time has naturally gone by and the small, insular world of high school has enlarged to include multitudes. One of the most bizarre events in a young person’s life has to be that first time after high school ends when you find yourself running into someday from then that wouldn’t give you the time of day and suddenly they want to talk to you. Identities begin to shift and change, ideas are shared or discarded, and old mysteries are solved. I quickly found out that even though it seemed like just a few kids liked to read books in my high school, when that few is multiplied all over the country and the world it adds up to millions fast. Books that seemed strange, exotic, and underground were actually mainstream best sellers in their day. Even with that knowledge that others have got your back, my taste in books and rock and roll still lets me feel like an outcast 20 years later and no amount of Journey t-shirt wearing squares can change that.

This was also posted at blogcritics and its actually generating some neat comments from some folks that actually saw The Doors play live.

Astrud Gilberto Review Up At Blogcritics

New CD review up at Blogcritics on Astrud Gilberto CTI re-release.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I Am Stressed Out!

I am so stressed out!! Waiting for kid #3 is just brutal.

A Short One About The Dears

The DearsProtest is the concept mini-album for attention deficit disorder sufferers. 500 handmade copies of Protest were released in 2003, but the demand for the Canadian band’s music is almost as high as the demand for Canadian pharmaceuticals, so Ace Fu Records re-released Protest late last year. The Dears were formed in 1995 by Murray Lightburn who has been the one constant since. They are endlessly compared to The Smiths and Blur and their full lengths do explore the same sonic territory, but Protest is a different matter.

The concept is nothing less than apocalyptic revolution and destruction and it all takes place in the course of three songs. The fulcrum of the album is “Summer Of Protest” and the musical cues come from The Doors “Five To One” and Joy Division. It’s heavy and hypnotic and undeniably powerful. The Dears orchestral grandeur and bleak pomp on this disc could be the soundtrack of the next riot or just be a soundtrack. There is ambiguity in this art for just as you’ve decided to run off and join a movement, any movement against authority, the lyrics lead to “start up a revolution, revolution for fools” and the jackboot nightmare is only a shout away. The album finishes with “No Hope Before Destruction” and we’re left with a description I once read of the ending of The 400 Blows – bleakness of the penultimate shot. There is no sweet and chewy center, only a piano flourish at the end that I wish would have become a boogie-woogie riff. That would have been some sweet irony.

Rolling Stone magazine has picked The Dears as a rock band to watch, but don’t let that scare you away from experiencing them. Murray Lightburn and cohorts are definitely on to something. Eschatological music has never been this much fun.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Theory 8 Records

Awhile back I did a Band Of The Week thing. I might bring it back soon, but I'm in such a holding pattern with the upcoming birth of Liam Alton that I've held off on doing anything that is weekly. To make up for not listing a great band every week so far this year, how about a link to Theory 8 Records who are starting to get noticed by even the mainstream Nashville press. They've got a great roster of artists keeping rock and roll alive. Drop by and purchase some of their offerings. And you have lots of money still left, and you're feeling super generous there's always my wish list is always on the side bar.

Smithsonian Recordings

I'm beginning to see something happen that I figured would eventually happen. The Suburbs Are Killing Us had this story about the Smithsonian making a whole cache of recordings available for download. I've said for a long time that everything recorded will ultimately end up available on the web. This is just a start of that future.

I Left My Plastic Bag In San Francisco

San Francisco being full of total moonbats is considering charging people extra for the use of bags. Primarily plastic, but they would include paper just to be fair. I already recycle my plastic bags here in good old redneck Tennessee so I wonder what they'd think of me?

What Is The World Coming Too?

It's No Name Calling Week in the public junior high schools across this great land. What kind of world are we living in when kids aren't allowed to make fun of other kids? I took my fair share of verbal abuse growing up and I also dished out some too. The PC police want to make this country as gray as the Soviet Union used to be. Name calling can be mean, but the world our children graduate into can be alot meaner. Being called names gives them a chance to develop their own social skills, whether it be taking crap or dishing it right back. Whatever happened to that time worn cliche about sticks and stones?

Unmade Beds Rule

Here I was thinking I was just a slob for not making up my bed, imagine my surprise to see that I'm actually being health conscious. Original link courtesy of Geek Press.

Some Recent Blog Reads

Some recent blogs I've been reading that aren't side bar material, but probably will be someday - Trivial Matters - a blog from India that's very well done, Early Modern Notes - historical and intellectual bent, and Southern Conservative - sort of speaks for itself, right? So go forth and visit other sites. I won't mind as long as you always come back to the Stew.

The Obligatory Carson Piece

My initial thoughts on hearing about Johnny Carson's passing were the lyrics from Dramarama's "Last Cigarette" - "I don't have to hear the headlines, I can hear what Johnny Carson said", but the fact that Johnny succumbed to empysema now makes those lyrics all the more ironic. So how about some Brian Wilson penned lyrics from the overlooked classic album Love You: the song titled "Johnny Carson" -

He sits behind his microphone
John-ny Car-son
He speaks in such a manly tone
John-ny Car-son

Ed McMahon comes on and says "Here's Johhny"
Every night at eleven thirty he's so funny
It's (nice) to (have) you (on) the (show) tonight
I've seen (your) act (in) Vegas out of sight

When guests are boring he fills up the slack
John-ny Car-son
The network makes him break his back
John-ny Car-son

Ed McMahon comes on and says "Here's Johhny"
Every night at eleven thirty he's so funny
Don't (you) think (he's) such (a) natural guy
The (way) he's (kept) it (up) could make you cry

Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's the man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.

I really didn't watch much Carson. He was before my time. When I finally was old to stay up late I went straight to Letterman, usually watching the local ABC's stations's syndicated sitcoms before Late Night would come on. I would take WKRP In Cincinnati and Barney Miller any time over Carson. I have to admit tuning in near the end of his run and finding him very humorous. Godspeed.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The slacker files or I was a late blooming skate punk part two


Did I give up skating after breaking my thumb? Are you kidding? I started skating more than ever. I started going up to Nashville to skate various spots there. We found a parking garage over by Vanderbilt and we proceeded to tear through it every weekend. It was at least five stories tall with a handy elevator at the bottom. There were no cars and no rent-a-cops, until one nice day after we had taken our first downhill run we hit the elevator button and to our surprise a security guard was inside. Insanely we got into the elevator. The silence was broken by the guard as he quietly told us to take one more run and then split which was pretty cool. We had worse luck at the unused KOC square pool. We spent one morning cleaning out the thing and had a decent day of skating it although square pools are fairly lame. The picture is Marky, Toby, and me faking an injury that day. We decided to hit it a few weeks later and once again found the bottom full of debris. After a good half hour of cleaning we were about to start skating when an obese blowhard came walking up screaming at us to get out the pool. Then he started telling us to give him our car keys and that he’d called the cops. I guess he thought skaters were stoopid or something. There was no way in hell he was getting our keys. We just ran to our cars and went on our way after sending some nice strings of cuss words his way.

There were plenty of great spots in downtown Nashville to skate like the courthouse and the War Memorial Auditorium plaza area. Toby and I found an awesome downhill curb to do slides and grinds on right off 2nd Avenue under an overpass. There was always the fun of skating the Tennessee Tower which had transition at the base of it. It was a fast ride, but it was a blast to see how high one could climb. The best was riding down the hills beside the Tennessee State Capitol. Keep in mind that these hills were not paved so these were very bumpy and fast trips where we would try to make it to James Robertson Parkway at the bottom without falling off. We once even did some 50/50 grinds on a train track behind some place near the National Guard Armory. It had a sidewalk that ran right beside the train tracks, though it was weird having to keep a look out for trains.

If you’ve ever skated I’m sure you find yourself looking for spots to skate. Toby and I also liked to go creek fishing so we’d always find ourselves riding down the road going – look at that skate spot or look at that creek. Your mind just gets trained to look for the proper terrain. Toby lucked up one day on the most secret skate spot in Murfreesboro over in a section of town with some old factories and warehouses. It was a simple loading dock, but instead of being the usual ramp with vertical sides and no transition; it featured a side running the length of the ramp that was about 60 to 90 degrees of transition at its peak. The maximum height at the top was around 4 foot. Nobody ever seemed to be around the place and we spent many days there just transition riding. Eventually we’d bring our own parking block to put on the ramp so we could do more tricks. It’s the place where I really tore my ankle up good after deciding to put my original “Gonz” deck back together. I just wasn’t used to such a short board.

I didn’t really go through too many decks. I had the original “Gonz” model, another “Gonz” model that had the artwork of the man and woman, a Kelly Rosecrans model, a Steven Steadman that I later sold, a Reese Simpson, and then I ended up with the Mark Gonzalez board that parodied Powell Peralta (the first day I rode it was the best I ever skated – it’s the day I ollied over one of those huge industrial trashcans that are about 4 foot tall). There are probably a couple more that I don’t remember. I’ve got an ancient Tom Knox Santa Cruz that Toby gave me and I sometimes ride down the driveway on it popping little baby ollies.


So what were the Murfreesboro skate spots? The pictures I’ve included date from 1990 and they are from the Wal-Mart parking lot. Wal-Mart had moved so the strip mall was empty except for a couple of stores. We mainly skated around the long abandoned Bojangles since it had the long yellow rail in the lot. The downtown area was also great with lots of good curbs and no hassles since everything closed in the afternoon including the skate shop I worked at for a short time. I’d be around the skate culture all day at work and as soon as I got off I’d hit the curbs. M.T.S.U.’s Peck Hall was great as long as could dodge the campus police who were always up for hassling skaters. Jeff Bailey’s house had the 6 foot half pipe. One kid, Devin, ended up with a bunch of ramps from a closed skate park so we’d sometimes drive out to his house in the country. The greatest spot of all was the pool I’m pictured in on this site.

Jackson Motel pool skating was just a stroke of genius that I wish I could claim. The fact is a couple of M.T.S.U. students I barely knew noticed it was almost empty of water. The motel was selling the small plot of land the pool was on so these guys hatched a plan. First they drained the pool and started to skate it. Some other skater noticed and soon huge snake sessions started even though it was late winter and cold. The plan bore fruit when the first wave of police came to investigate. The students knew there would be no way to hide the skating so they developed this story. “its okay officers, we’re friends with Larry Sims and he said it was okay if we skated here since the pool is going to be covered up anyways.” The Sims realty company was selling property, the guys had never even met Larry Sims, but the police always believed the story and let us keep skating. I’d like to brag and say I could really tear the pool up, but all I did was ride the walls and do some fakies. There just wasn’t enough time to get to where I could match the skills of the youngsters. Soon the land was sold and a Checkers hamburger joint went up on a now sacred piece of turf.

As the 90’s progressed I began to skate less and less. I usually went skating with Toby, but after he started dating one girl exclusively I only saw him on Sundays which was fishing day. I got to a point where I couldn’t progress. I could do shove-its, but somehow I never could apply that to ollies so kick flips and disasters just weren’t happening. I met my future wife in 1994 so the skateboard became a thing just used to get around the M.T.S.U. campus. It wasn’t just me because I noticed fewer skaters on the streets. Skateboarding was going through its pre-X-Games lull. I still kept up with it even if I wasn’t skating as much and I still do today even when the board only comes out once every few months. My poor aching knees can’t take the pounding today, but even at 38 I’m still a skate punk.


Volunteer Tailgate Party

2005's first Volunteer Tailgate Party is up at Big Orange Michael's site. I didn't contribute since I didn't know anything about it. I guess I need to do better at being informed of the RTB's goings on. Be sure and check out some other fine Tennessee blogs.

Fight The Power

Man, I didn't realize my refusal to get a cellphone means I'm fighting the NWO. I just thought it meant I was anti-social, besides the fact that I can't afford one anyways.

Television Is So Inspiring

There was an episode of Joan Of Arcardia earlier this year where Joan learned how to juggle. It subsequently inspired me to learn how to juggle. I have incredible hand-eye coordination so I figured its somthing I can do. So far I've progressed very rapidly and I'm just about ready to make the leap to tossing three items. Just don't expect me to put on any clown makeup once I get the art wired. I've never much liked clowns - except for Bozo - most of them just plain give me the creeps.

So when people say television is a total loss, you can tell them Wally learned to juggle because of it. Maybe I'll make a post soon where I spill the beans on my television viewing habits. I don't watch that much really.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Starting about 7th grade I figured I'd grow up to be a trucker like the Snowman in Smokey And The Bandit. I was fascinated with trucker culture including the CB radio. I happened upon this online dictionary the other day thinking it might be neat if somebody came up with a way to translate sites into CB speak. It might be something a bored tech geek can come up with in their spare time. I got to reading the dictionary and was surprised to see what the term "good buddy" means in today's world. Scan down the list to see.

The slacker files or I was a late blooming skate punk part one

For those who have asked if the picture of the skater in the pool is me: Yep, it is. I was a late blooming skate punk with the scars and bad knees to prove it. Sure, I had skated the old banana boards of the 70’s, but I usually broke them before I could really learn to skate. I guess it was better to break them instead of breaking myself. The most fun was attaching a rope to a bicycle and then letting somebody pull me around. I remember the Murfreesboro police didn’t like that very much, but it sure cut down the time it took to get to the game room where I’d blow ten dollars in about ten minutes on stupid video games. Dang that Donkey Kong! I’d always save a dollars worth of quarters for some pinball machine where I knew I could play for an hour or more on one quarter. But video games and pinball belong to a whole ‘nuther story. Skating was what it was all about from 1988 until 1992 for me. Any free time that wasn’t taken up by playing in a band was spent shredding street and ramp.

One day when I was bored in the fall of 1987 I bought an issue of Thrasher magazine. I liked their coverage of the skate punk music scene and the fashion. But it was the skating pictures that really moved me. Some high school kids worked with me at the pizza joint and they had just gotten boards. I used to borrow T-Bone’s “Gator” deck and tool around the parking lot. I was just flat riding and doing kick turns, but I knew I wanted my own deck. Turmoil followed turmoil at the end of 1987 and the beginning of 1988, so it wasn’t until May of 1988 that I finally got a board. It was the classic Mark Gonzalez Vision one with the face graphics. Now I was ready to sprain my ankle and break my thumb over the next few years. I was also ready to have more fun then I’d ever had before.

The early days with the “Gonz” board were spent learning the basics. The first trick I mastered was a power slide. My Alva wheels were the best. Later when I was about done with skating full time I sold them and I wish I hadn’t. They could really snarl when going from full blast to skittering across the pavement as I tried to hang on. Next I was doing bomb drops which quickly led to the acid drop – and no, I’m not talking about drugs; an acid drop is when you ride off a tall ledge and just drop to the pavement like a rock. Next I learned the boneless although I never could master the one Markey Dave did where he would flip the board while in mid-air. There were 180’s and 360’s variations. I learned a trick out of Transworld called the step off shove it that always impressed others. You just take your lead foot off the board, plant it, and then shove the board around and as the board spins you jump back on before it hits the ground. It was a Mark Gonzalez trick. I learned how to do grinds, but I was still a nobody unless I learned how to do an ollie. I spent a lot of time that summer popping the tail of the board until I finally got the board to lift off the ground properly.

Once I could ollie I was ready to try anything. My friend, Toby Holmes, found a backyard half-pipe in his neighborhood so we just went right over and crashed the place. It was a six foot ramp and was fairly tight. Here I was, 21 years old, and I have to admit I was scared the first few times I tried to drop in. Eventually I got over my fear and I was able to just ride fakie up and down it. I liked the rail slide pipe that was set up in the driveway. I spent a few weekends trying to master sliding the length and also grinding the top. Rail slides soon became a Wally specialty. It turned out that the owner of the ramp was a Riverdale High School kid named Jeff Bailey who happened to know Markey Dave’s kid brother. He usually skated the ramp with Brian Hickman who would one day end up in my band Dragula. Jeff was a very good aggressive skater with his own redneck style wearing old overalls and a Co-Op baseball cap. Brian was originally from California and he was just total smoothness on the ramp with tricks none of us Tennessee boys had ever seen. He was very quiet in his ubiquitous Batman t-shirt. Soon I began meeting many of the local kids that seriously skated. There probably weren’t more than thirty or so back in 1988. Some of the best were middle school age – Hames, Jamie, and Lanny. Hames would later go on to design the skate park at the local YMCA. A few of the skaters around my age were Nelson, Craig, and the great Chuck.

Chuck was great because he had a four foot half pipe inside a shop at this house. So we could skate with any kind of weather. The half pipe had too much flat bottom, but it was still fun. I learned some regular ramp tricks there, but I never had enough courage to try them over at Jeff’s house. It didn’t hurt Chuck’s status that he often invited us into his house to watch skate videos, although I’m sure lots of the guys spent more time eying Chuck’s cute younger sister. We often used to sneak into the building when Chuck wasn’t around to skate the ramp. I don’t guess he would have cared. I quickly went through my first board and it was replaced by another “Gonz” board – this one with some of his awesome artwork. One of our skate rat buddies borrowed it one night at Chuck’s and tried to drop in on the four foot ramp, but it shot out from under him like a bullet. He ended up breaking his wrist as he fell and hit the ramp and the board ended up with its nose stuck in the wall. I broke my thumb later that year just dorking around the public square in Murfreesboro. I was doing ollies to nose bleeds on the Confederate soldier monument, no comply’s over parking blocks, and then on a simple boneless to block slide I smashed my thumb. The local hospital even missed the break when I first went in and it was a few days before I got a call saying they had caught the break. At least I knew why my thumb was still twice its size and purple.

Part two will follow on Friday January 21st detailing more skating adventures including a guide to the spots we skated.

Blogshares and Pinball Fanatics Unite

I noticed this guy has bought up almost all of the blogshares of Soulfish Stew available to the public. I'm glad he has confidence in this little old blog. I wondered if it was somebody I knew so I checked out his blog and did find out we share in interest in pinball. I picked up this link to the Internet Pinball Database from his site. The Buggles sang, "Video Killed The Radio Star", and I guess I can sing "Video Games Killed The Pinball Wizard". I miss the days when there were more pinball machines in a gameroom than video games. My favorite from back in the days when I was a junior high kid was one called The Silver Shack in a strip mall in Murfreesboro, TN. It was a long narrow space with probably thirty pinball machines lined up along the walls. The best was hanging out with no money and watching adults play and them every now and then giving me a free game.

Pat Buchanan Compares Bush To Woodrow

People are often dismayed when they find out I'm a Pat Buchanan fan. The dude just cracks me up - I used to refer to him as Black Pat because he so frightened Republicans and Democrats alike with his fiery right wing isolationist rhetoric. What are my politics? Well, I consider myself a libertarian for the most part, but whenever I take any of those political tests that seem to go through the internet in waves I am usually found right in the middle of the see-saw between right and left. I belong to no party but my own conscience. But I do find myself thinking Buchanan could be proved right in this article, although it is typical of his isolationist stance in that he'll have died long before his views will be proved or disproved.

In My Box This Morning

The invite to my 20 year high school reunion was in my mailbox this morning. But do I feel old? Nope. I'm having a great life so far and I assume it will continue to be great. I might even attend the reunion since it is a gathering - there's a nice Clerks reference for you. I might actually do more about this reunion to be later. It might make a decent subject for some in depth blogging later this year.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Kerry and Boxer

Kerry and Boxer sitting in a tree p-o-l-i-t-i-c-k-i-n-g.

They were the only two on the committee to vote against Condoleeza Rice. Go fgure. I'm surprised Kerry could even find the Senate chambers since he hardly ever bothers to show up. I guess he figured he'd get some television time. When that wolfhound Barbra Boxer is the other committee member to vote no, you know Condoleeza is right for the job.

I Know I Dissed On The NBA Earlier

And I have been fairly true to my word. I've watched snippets of games involving the Dallas Mavs, but that's it. But after seeing this little Fox Sports piece on the state of Steve Nash's back - I've been checking the stats for him ever since the season began - I'm a little bit ticked off by this: "With Nash - the runaway NBA leader in assists at 10.9 per game - at the controls, the Suns bolted to 31-4, one of the best starts in league history. Their style was fast and entertaining, a refreshing change from the plodding half-court game that dominates the NBA. Three-pointers rained from all sides, and lightning-quick Amare Stoudemire created havoc in the middle"

Was anybody paying attention for the last few years as Nash led the same kind of offense at Dallas? All I ever heard was there was no defense. I don't recall anybody praising their wide open fast break game that almost always produced over a hundred points (and if you happened to be at a Mavs home game that meant free chalupas). One reason the Mavs decided not to match the Suns offer had to be the durability question with Nash and I hate to see it proved out like this. I hope Nash's back gets to feeling better. I've still not recovered completely from a severe back injury that was almost two years ago.

Rock Critics Daily Is Dropping The Science

Rock Critics Daily features a great link on the state of MP3 blogging including the legal ramifications. Be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Some Swell Blogs To Check Out

Some other fine reading for you:

Who Moved My Truth - personal, political, religious, cultural, interesting

Anthroblogogy - very good blog, makes me wish I had used my anthropology degree

Mode For Caleb - historian with opinions I may not always agree with, but differences make the world a better place

They will all find a spot on the sidebar.

Monday, January 17, 2005


When I was a small child I figured we'd all be living in geodesic dome houses by now and taking vacations on the moon. Even though it didn't turn out that way it's still an awesome age to be living in. Buckminster Fuller's genius still lives on at the Buckminster Fuller Institute. If you want to readily find things about the man you can also try this site. Why this sudden interest in the man? Well, I've always been interested, it's just that I'm finally getting around to reading a book I bought years in Atlanta - probably at the Book Nook, but could have come from the late, lamented Oxford Books - titled Bucky: A Guided Tour Of Buckminster Fuller by Hugh Kenner. It's a pretty good book. I like that it approaches Fuller first from a literary viewpoint instead of just a mathematics one.

Some More From My Old Fanzine

I guess it’s about time to give the back story of the Anti-Society since I’ve been posting some excerpts from issues. Anti-Society was begun in 1993 by me with encouragement from DD Blank. The title comes from the lyrics of a Suicidal Tendencies song “Two Sided Politics” – I’m not anti-society, society’s anti-me – which fit my mood well back them. I ended up making 5 issues in two years. Instead of standard issue numbers, each issue was given the number of a particular year so there was AS issue 1974, 1959, 1968, 1976, and 1991. There was significance to these years, it was no random selection, but I find it hard now to know why I chose some of them. I believe I chose 1974 because it was the year the Ramones formed. 1959 was chosen because I had a picture of Elvis Presley on the back cover. 1968 was chosen because it was the year that French students rioted – I was heavily into Situationism at the time of AS. I suppose I chose 1976 because of punk rock in England and in America it was the Bicentennial year. I know 1991 was picked because it was a palindrome. The fanzine grew out of some one-sheet pieces I was doing at the time called “anti-society diatribe”. To quote me: AS was a concept in my head, just a way to pass the time. I solicited for other writers and DD Blank, Andrew Conley, Chad Phillips, and John Hudson wrote some pieces, but most of each issue was written by me under various pseudonyms: Wally Thunders, Vincent Van Gogh Gogh, Johnny Cemetery were all just different variations of P. Wallace, just as Wally Bangs is today. I would do the entire layout for the zine first with all of the pictures mapped out. Then the articles would be made to fit the leftover space and these were typed in – I kind of wish I had never sold that electric typewriter, but I knew the world was changing. After all of the gluing, typing, and swearing were done I would make use of a copier somewhere – never paying for the paper of copies – and then go home and staple each issue together. I doubt there were ever over a hundred issues ran of any individual issue. Then I distribute them for free at Lucy’s Record Shop on Church Street in Nashville, TN.
AS was noticed nationally, yet the local Nashville media wouldn’t devote one sentence to my efforts even when they did pieces “spotlighting” local fanzines. Go figure. AS 1991 ended up being the last issue and it was for the most part terrible. I was starting to get promos for review, which was cool on one hand, and AS was looking like it might “blow up” to something involving more labor than love, and it was getting harder to find people willing to let me use their copiers. So I called it a day, not even thinking I would one day get to share bits and pieces with the world. Enjoy a couple more entries from Anti-Society.



Saturday, January 15, 2005

Baby Watch Guessing Game

As everybody knows by now, the wife and I are expecting our third kid soon – the due date is Feb 6th – and lots of folks are now asking about his arrival. I get the standard “is the baby born yet” comments every morning now at the office, which I find weird because if he was born I wouldn’t be hanging out at the office. So in order to have some fun, I thought I’d see who can come the closest to guessing Liam’s actual arrival date. I’m guessing January 30th. Either comment here or shoot me an email at and after Liam comes I can inform the world of your baby prognosticating powers and I might even send you a mix CD if you like.


Friday, January 14, 2005

REM's Murmur Revisited

I wrote this a few years ago, but I'm inspired to post it here after reading the incredible Jeff Clark trashing of REM's last album in Stomp And Stammer. It made me realize I'm not alone in thinking they suck.

REM's Murmur used to mean everything in the world to me. In the days when a punk rock shirt signified a co-conspirator, Murmur might have been from the college rock wing, but it was part of the same left of the dial fabric. Its kudzu draped cover promised a Southern mystery tinged of bohemia. I fell for their Byrds and Velvet Underground laced stew hard. I even embarked on my own trip to Athens, GA in the spring of 1986. It was a "pilgrimage" of the highest order. I bought records in the Wuxtry that Peter Buck used to work at and strolled the streets downtown in an amphetamine dazzle of thoughts. My issues of Tasty World (an Athens music magazine) I had bought in the Murfreesboro Cat's Records sprang to life and for a few days in which I didn’t sleep I felt more than alive, I absolutely felt electric.

College rock was indeed an alternate universe in those days and it felt like a movement was sweeping the cognoscenti across the land. The last of the boomers were finishing college and the eldest of my generation were entering college. Green On Red sang about a "Brave Generation", but the Replacements really summed it up with "Bastards of Young" years before the term Generation X was used. We latchkey children from the 70's seemed destined to always sit at the kid's table while the boomers made their mark, but at least we had great music made by the last wave of the baby boom. For better or worse, it would be my peers that put the alternative lollapalooza world on the map. REM is perhaps the biggest of the groups that escaped the college rock ghetto with hardly a cry of sellout to be heard. Does their music still move me?

REM was one of a handful of acts I worshipped and their influence cannot be denied. One of the great things about being young is being idealistic and having the energy to put those thoughts into motion. Whenever I felt off the path of the future places I envisioned for myself, Murmur became a reassuring soundtrack that re-energized my youth and quieted my fears. When I put the record on now I'm left wondering why the record does nothing for me today. I sometimes question where the problem lies. Did my heart grow smaller? Is the inevitable second guessing (ha-ha) of oncoming middle age the problem? Maybe I can no longer live up to the expectations and hope the record used to inspire. Or maybe it was REM's own inexorable slide into mediocrity, which accompanied their arrival into superstardom that has laid a patina of green (pun intended) onto the copper majesty of their early days.

The fact that I'm not unhappy lets me know my heart is fine. Sure, middle age is coming, but I don't wallow in the past very much. There are times when I do and a few examples of records that still make me feel good all over are the Replacements Let It Be which Pete Buck played on, Minutemen Double Nickels On The Dime, and Husker Du's New Day Rising. Music from the past and music from today can inspire my hopes and expectations, so I don't believe my potential to be touched is suspect. The REM slide into mediocrity is definitely the main culprit in my appreciation of Murmur, but that alone should not be such a guarantee of the feelings of boredom and disgust that accompanied the album the last time I tried to listen to it.

Perhaps it is something as simple as Pete Buck's idiotic escapades or Michael Stipe's overbearing political activism. I'm not averse to people having opinions seeing as how I have plenty of my own, but REM's constant sloganeering since Document just gets on my nerves. I like songs like "Cuyahoga", a political moment offered in song, and not podium speeches or magazine articles filled with ideology. Then they went and kept on after Bill Berry left, which was something they had said they would never do. At what point do words mean something? Judging by REM's lyrics, sometimes never. It makes me wonder if they truly believe the political platitudes they espouse. And if that's not enough of a reason to taint my once fond feelings for Murmur, maybe I should realize it's just music after all. But like the Replacements sang, "I hate music; it's got too many notes." Musically, Murmur goes nowhere. The Byrds laced with Velvets no longer shines to my ears. Buck's guitar work no longer inspires. Stipe's voice has lost its mysteriousness and it only grates. The lyrics sometimes are painfully intelligible after so many repeated listenings over the years. Has mere familiarity bred this contempt? Well, Mills and Berry's work does remain sparkling, but it's the shine of a geode stone. Most folks overlook them, including myself, and there's lots of ugly rock that has to be smashed to get to the pretty part. "Shaking Through" and "Perfect Circle" are the limits to my former love, like getting together with a divorced partner because of the kids can sometimes make one glow fondly.

Murmur may no longer touch me on an aural level, but it still commands respect. Heck, if I had never heard REM, I may have missed out on "Beatle Boots" by Love Tractor. I might never have picked up a copy of Tasty World magazine and been exposed to the twisted writing genius of the man known as Ort (if you've ever met him, you couldn't forget him) whose knowledge of the past gave me a bridge to the future of music. I might never have left the "Athens of the South" Nashville, for Athens, Georgia once upon a time. Seeing a punk rock t-shirt today probably only means you've bumped into a Sum 41 fan and you’re twice their age, instead of a fellow traveler who these days is more likely to be looking dreadfully normal. I hope the fire is still in all of our hearts like it was 20 years ago for those of us who lived through the rise and fall of college radio; albeit tempered with the joy of getting older. Besides, the best moments always seem to about getting there. Arriving is when it gets tough. I think even REM would attest to that.

I also posted this over at blogcritics and it's gotten some response so if you like it or don't like it, go on over and drop a comment.

Best Of Anti-Society: My Visit To See Bozo The Clown

Here's a story I wrote about getting to see the Nashville version of Bozo The Clown at Mercury Plaza in Murfreesboro circa 1971 or 1972. My pen name at the time of the Anti-Society was Wally Thunders and yes the pictures are cute little me.


Best Of Anti-Society: Shemp by John Hudson

Back in the mid 90's I published a fanzine called Anti-Society. It garnered rave reviews in both Flipside magazine and the Beastie Boys magazine Grand Royal so you know it was hot. I'm going to post occasional gems from that old zine here and I decided to start with a piece I didn't write about much maligned Stooge; Shemp Howard. TCM was running Thin Man movies over the holidays and Shemp was in one of them which made me think about this article. John Hudson of those fabulous rockers, The E-1's, wrote this for A*S before expanding it for his own zine The Rewinder. I hope you enjoy.


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Michael Anthony Bass Supreme article revived for Blogcritics

I once posted this to the White Animal's message board, but I figured it needed to be read by more people so I've published it at blogcritics. I can't wait to hear the McCartney fanatics scream about comparing him with Michael Anthony. Beatles nuts never have a sense of humor.

Harper Lee

Since I've put a picture of Emmy up I figured I'd post one of her 3 year old sister, Harper Lee, and yep she is named after the author of To Kill A Mockingbird. She's super laid back. She's got my hair (which must be why mine is all falling out) and my personality. The rest all comes from Mom. It would be a shame if pics of her brother got up here before she did. It was one of the first snaps we took with the digital camera given to us by my mother for Christmas and the flash was set too high. it just about whites out Harp's face, but I saved the picture to the gray scale and in black and white it doesn't look too bad. The weird sunglasses came from the local Sonic. Both Emily and Harper love their corn dogs, which they refer to as hushpuppy hotdogs.


Wal*Martian's Attack

Wal*Mart has decided to attack its critics taking out ads in daily papers all over the country. Yahoo News has more. I worked for Wal*Mart back in 1992 and stayed with them for about a year. I left to go work at Phonoluxe Records - it wasn't a hard choice, but not because Wal*Mart was horrible or anything. I love music so working at a used record store was a dream come true. My memory of Wal*Mart was that they were more interested in getting stock out on the floor then they are in helping customers. It's the turn and burn of retail. I got chewed out a few times over minor things, but management was always fairly cool to me. I did make a little over minimum wage and I could have gotten stock, except I couldn't afford to just working part-time. I worked part-time out of choice since I was going to college. It did seem like the people that got the nice 40 hour a week day positions with maybe a half day on Saturday were the brown nosing type, but that's no different from most any job. I can't stand shopping there just because of the immensity of the place, but sometimes here it's the only choice. I tend to think of them as the Sears of the past today. They're dominant, but just like Sears, eventually they'll lose market shares to some upstart somewhere.

Cronaca - Heap Good Reading

What I love about Instapundit is when he links to some blog I've never visited because it often turns out to be an excellent site as is the case with Cronaca where they are currently abuzz about the inquisition and comfy chairs. I'm also really digging Instapunk. Maybe I should change the name of this blog to Instawally and watch my traffic go through the roof.

For Those About To Be Cut From TennCare

Here's an idea on how to continue getting medical care: become a criminal. Here's a story from the local radio station WJLE here in Smithville on the current budget crunch concerning medical care for prisoners:

Inmate Medical Costs Putting Strain On Already Tight County Budget
By Dwayne Page

Inmate medical costs at the DeKalb County Jail are already over budget with six months still remaining in the fiscal year and that has caused a concern not only for Sheriff Lloyd Emmons but for County Executive Mike Foster and the county commission.

Foster and members of the commission met with Emmons and County Attorney Hilton Conger Tuesday night to discuss the problem and to try to come up with a remedy.

Foster says there are no easy solutions. "The commission budgeted $55,000 (for medical costs for the year) and we are currently at $87,000, so we're already over budget by about $32,000 and we're only half way through the year. Realistically, we probably under budgeted a little bit compared to what it was last year and the year before. We were trying to maintain a really tight budget and stay within it, but accidents and illness involving prisoners has changed all that. Part of the problem is inmates fighting in the jail. I don't know what we can do to correct that, maybe move some of the prisoners out of here and to the state prison, maybe shuffle people around so that they're not with people they don't get along with, but we're limited as to what we can do in that. Working tonight (Tuesday), the commissioners came up with probably twenty eight to thirty thousand dollars that could be cut in the sheriff's budget. We're going to look at everybody else's budget too to see if we can pick up a little money here and a little there to offset some of these ongoing costs. As for the future, we're looking at a plan offered by a company from East Tennessee that does some in-house health care management and we discussed maybe having a nurse practitioner who could come to the jail on a regular basis and screen these people. We're also going to bid some services to see if we can't reduce costs. We already have an agreement with the hospital to cut costs on some things."

Foster says there's not enough fat in the budget that can be cut to overcome the excessive medical costs, so more than likely, the county will have to dip into the reserves and fund balance, which has already taken a hit this year. "We've already had to take money from the fund balance this year because of some prior lawsuits and findings by the federal government, one of which was a fair labor and wage issue, where we had to pay $57,000 (for comp time), then the fund balance was hit for $27,000 because of a lawsuit, and then there was another lawsuit settlement for $12,500, which actually cost the county only $2,500 for the deductible".

Sheriff Emmons says he is doing what he can to address the problem. "We're seeing more cases of hepatitis, HIV, and other diseases, teeth problems, and at times we are having fights in the jail and all of these things require medical treatment. We have had to send prisoners to the emergency room at the hospital several times and the costs have really ballooned unbelievably. We're looking at every way in the world to cut down on these costs including releasing some prisoners on medical furloughs, the people that we feel are not a danger to the citizens of the county. For example, say a prisoner comes into the jail and he has hepatitis and the disease flares up and gets worse while he is in jail, then many times we'll contact the judge and he will grant a medical furlough for the prisoner and the inmate will then seek treatment and pay for it himself or through TennCare, private insurance, etc. Another huge increase is the number of prisoners we take to Moccasin Bend. Many times we get calls to pick up somebody who is totally out of control, usually because of drug abuse, who may be threatening to commit suicide or kill somebody else. In those cases, after we arrest a person like that, we have to take him to the hospital. The doctor will then recognize that the prisoner is mentally unstable and then we have to transport that prisoner to Moccasin Bend, where he will be stabilized with whatever type of drug is needed. Once he is released back to the sheriff's department, almost always he will have several prescriptions and when he comes back into the jail we are taxed with that cost. We must fill these prescriptions."

Emmons says the county has an opportunity to participate in a program to manage medical care costs similar to the inmate dental plan that has saved the county money. "Under our dental program, we pay $375 a month and then we take to Cookeville any inmate that needs a tooth pulled and a dentist there will pull the tooth. They will pull as many teeth as needed. Before, we were taking prisoners to the health department then from there, many times we would have to go to an oral surgeon, where the cost for one inmate to have a tooth pulled would exceed $350 to $400. So our dental program has definitely paid for itself because our prisoners get unlimited dental care for $375 a month. Of course, they don't fix their teeth, they don't give them dentures, they just do maintenance. If a tooth needs to be pulled, they'll pull the tooth."

End of WJLE story.

My father was cut from TennCare in the first purge. He's a 68 year old semi-retired person and he's not even near being middle class. He recently had to have skin cancer scraped off one ear and an eyelid. The good news is that the doctors got it. The bad news is that without TennCare he's in so much debt he probably won't live long enough to pay it back. It seems like he should be a beneficiary of TennCare, especially if there are younger and healthier people still on the rolls. Maybe Governor Bredesen's upcoming cuts will take care of that and only the truly needy will be eligible. I could debate that my father is "truly needy" especially since I'm his only child and I can't afford to give him any money, but I'm also opposed to a system - TennCare - that's bankrupting the state. So I wasn't out protesting last night with the TennCare proponents. If they were healthy enough to be out last night then why do they need health coverage anyways? My disconnect is with our state govenernment paying for prisoner's medical visits. If inmates are fighting, let then suffer through their injuries. If they have a toothache, let them suffer like my wife did for years while we had no dental benefits. Prisoners shouldn't have a dental plan. I understand needing to dole out the antibiotics to prevent an entire cell block from getting sick, but it's ridiculous when the victimizers of society are granted a benefit that doesn't go to the victims.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

How About Those Beach Boys Then?

No Kid Rock at Jenna and Barbara's inaugural ball? Say it ain't so!!! It is interesting to compare this boondoggle to the one over two decades ago when the Beach Boys were initially banned from performing what their annual 4th of July show in the capitol. In that instance, Reagan overruled his nitwit Secretary Of The Interior,James Watt, who had banned them, and then even invited the Beach Boys to the White House if my memory is correct. The question is; will Bush step in and be inviting Kid Rock to the White House? I can see it now, Bush whispering to Kid Rock - make sure you invite some of those girls along. Really, how much vulgar and crass is Kid Rock compared to JoJo, the teenage singing sensation who sings of love in a way that would get her boyfriend arrested.

Weighty Matters

Americans have been obsessed with weight for as long as I can remember - which means I can go back to around 1969 - but it seems like lately we have truly become totally obsessed. Look at all of those weight loss television shows currently glutting the airwaves. 20/20 did a special on two families losing weight which my wife informed was a ripoff of Dr. Phil. The diet food industry that exploded decades ago is still going strong especially with the Atkins diet being the big thing - you ever been around people on that diet? My office is full of people giving it a try so it seems like I'm forever trapped breathing their ketonic breath. I've even started to watch what I eat and I'm exercising more. I don't think I was sadly out of shape or anything, but I do want more energy. The thing that puzzles me is that in a nation so obsessed with weight loss, we continue to get fatter and fatter. It doesn't help when stuff keeps coming in bigger portions, but something seems amiss in our collective psyche on this issue. There's lots of talking but little doing. This is one American who's not going to fall victim to his weight. I'm going to exercise even more tonight - after I watch the latest celebrity weight loss show, eat a bag of chips, and have some beers. Yep that's just what I'm going to do.

Currently Reading

Chesterton's The Everlasting Man. This is right after reading the debut novel Being Good by Todd A whose main character is sex obsessed and doesn't believe in God. I make room for such contradictions in my life to go from non-religious material to Christian apologetics.

It's Stories Like This One

It's stories like this one found at Drudge Report that make me glad I've not forskaen my Luddite ways when it comes cell phones - never had one and probably never will have one. I can see their practicality when it comes to emergency situations, but most people just use them to yak constantly. It's like the whole nation is a bunch of teenagers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Thunderstorm Consciousness

Man, we've had big freaking thunderstorms all day today. Though it's not out of the question in January, it's still a bit odd for Tennessee. So instead of freezing cold and gray days we have rain all day to give us a good dose of the winter blues. It was a bit damp on the morning walk today, but the rain let up just for me. My neighbor has these huge wind chimes on his porch and they sounded great this morning. They give off a sweet sound and not in the least loud. It seems like they only ring as I'm walking by. When the weather gets too crappy to enjoy the outdoors I guess I'll learn how to twirl a pencil or pen. I work for a Japanese owned automobile parts manufacturer and pen twirling is an art in which the Japanese excel. Maybe it's due to the numerous meetings they like to have. It's a good way to pass the time.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Dirty Looks at Lost Bands

Be sure and stop by the Lost Bands site for a great entry on American mod power pop band Dirty Looks who recorded one transcendant album for Stiff Records back in the skinny tie era.

Ayn Rand Redux

Al Barger at has a good piece on Ayn Rand today that's well worth reading. Even better is he provides a link to the infamous Whittaker Chambers review of Atlas Shrugged. It is must reading for anybody wanting to know what is wrong with Objectivism. I know Al takes the opposite side, but debating is healthy. I even agree that Chambers went over the line with his "gas chamber" line, but I think his thesis is correct - Rand's philosophy is just another disguise for power and is disingenuous. There are always going to be those people who get to ride in the limousines whether Atilla the Hun, religious ruler, or capitalist baron. I don't mind being a poor boy in America since I don't confuse the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of pleasure for starters. I also still have a vote and in an Ayn Rand technocracy I'm sure that would be taken away.

The Usual Gripe`

Man I feel old when even the Descendents offer baby clothes. Just scroll down. Of course, one of those would look nice on soon to be born Liam.

New review up at

The first in many jazz reviews this week is up at It's on the Chet Baker compilation Prince Of Cool which is well worth getting, especially with Valentine's Day a little more than a month away.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Added To The Sidebar

Drum roll please: these fine sites have all been added to my sidebar:

Listen Missy,Here Comes Trouble, Gawker, Bill Hobbs, and Todd Anderson's Popshot.

dislocated Part 5

The fifth and final installment of my first band’s story is here. We’d sacked our drummer and gotten a new one at the end of Part 4. We spent some time with Rob learning all of our material. Our first gig with him behind the skins was a gig at B & L Pizza with the Red Jelly Mambos and See 7 States. We would debut all of new material we had been working on with Tim including our acoustic song sarcastically dubbed “Hippie Bus” that I wrote with Mark. “Our hair’s blowing out the window as we drive across the land. Safe inside the hippie bus everybody join hands and sing along.” The show started off with some promise as we opened with the thrash of “Whatcha’ Thinkin’” and a bunch of kids started slamming, but the fun was cut short when the sound guy not affiliated with us, Mark Praytor, told the kids to watch the monitors. They thought he meant “no slamming” so for the rest of our set they just stood against the back wall which really brought our enthusiasm down a notch. We still put on a good show playing more originals and just a few covers. Shrub was awesome on bass in his first live show with us so it was a shame that the ride was almost over. We must have played another show at B & L because Shrub swears we did, but I don’t remember it. We kept rehearsing, but things weren’t the same without Tim in the band. Mike had acquired a steady girlfriend by then so he started missing practices. Mark had starting dating his future wife so his free time for the band was getting slimmer and slimmer. We started playing over at Rob’s house and the family feeling the group used to have lost. In retrospect, I should have taken charge of the group, but I was clueless to any power I had. I was just the guy who had barged my way into a band and I never considered the group truly mine even when they were doing covers I suggested, when I was writing the lyrics, or when I even came up with the name of the band. We were definitely ahead of our time for 1988-89 doing the Descendents covers and writing pop punk – metal originals. The group drifted through a few months of fruitless rehearsal – I remember painfully trying to pull off a cover version of Tommy Tutone’s “Jenny, Jenny (8675309)” over several afternoons without Mike there – until somebody pulled the plug. I don’t specifically recall how it went down, but the Dislocated just quietly expired one day. So what happened to us? Tim married Darlene who had taken him away from us, but later got a divorce and came back to music. He has played in a string of Murfreesboro cover acts and has also played with the famous Cajun Manuel family who I knew from the days back when my father ran Jimmy C. Newman’s ranch (two of the Manuels played in his band Cajun Country). Mark Taylor married Jenny and now has two children. He still plays music every now and then (including one show with one of my future bands), but he’s developed a greater love for computer technology - - which has become his career. Mike Taylor also played one show with my band Michael Landon’s Ghost/Pipebomb before joining up with Brian Hickman in the Reverbians - - a few years ago. He left them before they split up and I don’t know what’s he up to music wise, but I hope I catch him playing on stage again as he really is one of the most talented guitarists I’ve ever heard. Once the group disbanded I lost touch with Rob. Shrub moved to Texas where he started playing in a band called Cool Fork that was full on Green Day sounding pop punk. The guitarist and singer Jaret has since gone on to mega one hit wonder fame after his group, Bowling For Soup, hit it big last year with “1985”. Shrub could have become a superstar, but he went on to play in the more challenging artistic act Wiring Prank - - - - who were inspired by acts like Slint and Tortoise. After that ended he started his own website devoted to horror which is always fun to visit. I went on to form full on punk band Michael Landon’s Ghost/Pipebomb and after that came garage act Dragula - - which I’ve documented before. Currently I’m busy with a wife and two kids of my own with another one on the way. I record songs to a four track and hope to one day play in front of an audience again, knowing that I’ll have a blast, but that nothing can ever top that first nervous show at Jabbs with the Dislocated. There’s no discography for the Dislocated since we only recorded our songs on a boom box. But here’s the list of our originals: Work Sucks written by Mike and Wally, This One’s For Paul written by The Dislocated, Mosh and Slam written by The Dislocated, Complications written by Mike and Wally, Perfect Girl written by Mike and Wally, 3 Groovy Chix written by The Dislocated, Whatcha’ Thinkin’ written by Mark and Wally, Same Circumstance written by Mark and Wally, What Do You Want From Me written by Wally, and Hippie Bus written by Mark and Wally.



God Did It - The Atheists Say

I was flipping through the channels the other night and I caught some of that new show, Tsunami, on MSNBC and they had some atheist lady on saying that the tsunami demonstrates there is no God. Her argument was how could a person believe in a God that would allow 150,000 plus people to just be killed with no discrimination. So the believer is left with worshipping a mean God. It's obvious the lady had never read the Book Of Job. What always gets me (and I'm agnostic if I'm anything) is how atheists go out of their way to try to disprove something that cannot be disproved in order to make themselves feel better about their own non-belief which is in itself a belief. If I truly felt there was nothing beyond this mortal coil I really don't think I'd care what others thought as long as they weren't forcing me to attend a church or face a stake burning, yet atheists are always going on about their rights to a God free existence being violated. If something like God doesn't exist, then how can it violate anything?
I think that within every atheist is a tiny seed of doubt and they're all scared that it will grow into some sort of spiritual awareness. Keep in mind I'm not referring to the unbelievers that just say they don't know about what comes after death, but just to the hardcore group of people that say once we're dead that's it.
My friend DD sent me a link to this Michael Novak column on the whole atheist/tsunami issue and it's much more enlightening than I could ever be. Jeff Jacoby also has a commentary at Jewish World Review on the God and tsunami issue, but with a different take.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

False Alarm Baby

I've been out of the office for most of the day since my soon to be born son decided to scare his mother into thinking he was ready to come. It turned out to be a false alarm, but he's head down and pointed in the right direction so it could be any day now. Then again it could still be a month away. I think I annoyed my wife's nurse since I read a book through the examination. The number one rule of any doctor visit is to bring a book because you know you're likely to sit in a little room for an hour at least before anybody sticks their head in the door and this is after sitting in the waiting room for a bit.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Local Radio Poll On College Football

Man, was that game embarrassing last night for the Sooners or what? The Trojans flat out whooped their asses. Of course, being a Southern boy I can't help but wonder how Auburn vs USC would have turned out. It seems the local populace is all for a college playoff. It's bound to happen as soon as the money is right since that's all major college athletics are about. I'd like the see the schools pay the players and really stick it to the big leagues.

dislocated 4

After the Dislocated played our first couple of shows at Jabbs and at Riverdale High we went back to Tim Baird’s den and started working on material to unveil at a battle of the bands. Mike wrote some music and I added some lyrics and we had two new original songs; “Complications” and “Perfect Girl”. “Complications” was a good three chord hardcore punk song, while “Perfect Girl” was tuneful pop punk of the kind that would later propel acts like Green Day and Blink-182 into the stratosphere. We were just ahead of the curve back in 1989. We played a couple more shows at Jabbs in the meantime, including one where I ceremoniously smashed my first guitar – an old acoustic child’s model with a busted tuning key. The battle of the bands featured us, the Red Jelly Mambo’s, Gotham City, and Cruel Blue. Cruel Blue was an awesome alternative band with all original material. The Red Jelly Mambo’s band was made up all high school kids playing original low key indie rock. Gotham City was an incredibly tight cover band with professional chops. We weren’t the best act, but maybe wearing a t-shirt by local Nashville rock legends The White Animals brought us some luck. The battle was judged solely on audience response and the audience was ours. We made sure the ZUD crew was out in force slam dancing through the night. I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the audience members was a guy from Riverdale’s rival high school, Oakland, who would soon become the Dislocated’s bass player. This person was the legendary skate punk with the deep bass voice and long hippie hair; Greg “Shrub” Rountree who now runs back in Texas. He’s seen briefly in the video we made of the show. After the show we spent the rest of the night doing power slides on our boards at an abandoned shopping center mixing it up with a local wino named Tommy and the local Murfreesboro police who came by to check up on him. They didn’t care about us skating at all.


Jabbs announced they were going to close for good so an event was arranged called Jabbstock and we were lucky to be included in the all star line up of bands that played that show. We didn’t even have to close the show, but somehow we did manage to play the last complete set ever performed there. Jack was scheduled the close the chapter on Jabbs, but just a few songs into their set the owner of Jabbs pulled the plug. I’m probably the one to blame as an offhand comment I made about really wanting the St. Paulie Girl beer light got taken seriously by one of our overzealous fans. I was hanging around by the open side door watching jack play when the fan brought the light to me. Once he did that, the dam had burst as patrons everywhere were yanking stuff off the walls. The whole club might have been cleaned out if the owner hadn’t finally realized what was going on and kicked everyone out. I truly am sorry for me and my big mouth.


 We knew we needed a full time bassist as it was just silly for Mark and Mike to keep switching off between bass and guitar like they had been doing. I don’t recall how Shrub joined up with us. We were probably out skating and asked him to join – it’s all so hazy now. But he quickly signed up and we were on our way. We added more new songs: “3 Groovy Chix”, “Whatcha’ Thinkin’”, “Same Circumstance”, “What Do You Want From Me” and an acoustic track titled “Hippie Bus”. Our days of doing cover songs would soon be a thing of the past at the rate we were going.  A dark cloud named Darlene was coming along to wreck our rock and roll dreams. She was Tim’s girlfriend and she didn’t like him spending time practicing. He missed some practices. Keep in mind the practices were held at his house so things were getting uncomfortable. Finally we decided to sack him. It seems incredibly stupid now and I wish it never happened but we gave him the pink slip. I think he even heard about it second hand. Now we needed a new drummer and a new practice space. Practice space was easy; we just set up shop in the Taylor’s carport when the weather was nice and the laundry room when the weather was bad. Finding a drummer though was not an easy task. We’d placed fliers up at MTSU and had tryouts. but so many people were just weak. We had been truly lucky to have Tim playing with us. There surely wasn’t a better drummer in Murfreesboro at the time. Finally we landed a guy named Rob Marble who was a veteran of some cover bands and we were ready to enter the final stage of The Dislocated.

The fifth and final part will chronicle the decline and massive fall of Murfreesboro’s first pop punk act.