Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas

It's that time of year again. 2005, the year of no jive, is ending and 2006, the year of kicks, is soon to begin. Time for me to sign off for a week or so to just chill out with the family. Odds are you won't see anything new here until around January 5, 2006. I know that's a long time to go without a helping of Soulfish Stew, but you'll be okay. I promise. Until next year:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Hippies

A self portrait taken with a 110 around 1994 or so. I never would have thought I could grow a ZZ Top worthy beard, but it was fairly long before I cut it in May of 95. The long hair resulted in people calling me Sammy Hagar. At least I've got something to show people when they ask where Harper Lee got such curly hair.It's alot cuter on her than on me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What Would Reagan Do?

Glenn Reynolds is all over the NYC transit workers strike. He's for robot employees, but until that day happens maybe Mayor Bloomberg can take a page from Reagan. Maybe just the mention of air traffic controllers can get the illegal strikers to come to their senses. Or maybe he could just casually remind those picketing that no wall on the Mexican border has been built yet. I'd feel sympathic to those people if they weren't already making salaries in line with those of firemen and policemen.

Backwards Through Time

I looked forward yesterday so today I'm going backwards for an exhaustive look back at the pop culture references I was dropping in 1986 and 1987. From a notebook I titled Everything Sucks. It was a small spiral notebook with 80 91/2x6 sheets. I'd fill two of them up in a year with standard diary issue entries along with drawings, songs, and best of lists. I liked to think of myself as a writer, but re-reading them today I find little real writing. There's also an obvious obsession with consuming the properly sanctioned cool items at the expense of a developing individuality. This is not a horrible thing since I was only 20 when I wrote the stuff.

excerpts from Everything Sucks:

My tape player is blaring out The Kinks and all is well. There's an entry about going to see the White Animals for the first time: clove cigarettes, dyed hair, mohawk Sunday afternoon at Cantrell's nightclub. A drawing of the cover of Pink Floyd's The Wall. I'm listening to 91 Rock. Bob Geldof is now called Sir and Monday's are now an international holiday. "It's Tricky!" Iggy Pop still lives in a trailer park! Charon will ferry me to damnation. Listening to some 70's band wasting time at the gameroom.

There is a list of authors under the heading Def Writers. Ironically they're all white dudes. Kerouac, Snyder, Ferlinghetti, Kesey, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Fitzgerald, Wolfe, Mailer, Keats, Coleridge, Rimbaud, Shelly, Shakespeare, Thoreau, Vonnegut, Heller, Hemingway, Faulkner, Corso, & Nietzsche.

There's a drawing of Tom Waits' Small Change album cover. Listening to Charlie Parker. Sounds like West Side Story. Lou Reed and John Cale are knocking my ears about "Lady Godiva". Singing along with The Clash always makes me feel good. I worked the TV Guide crossword puzzle and boy was my brain drained. There's a drawing of the cover of the 25th Anniversary paperback edition of Jack Kerouac's On The Road. Strongbox full of ghosts reading Nietzsche and laughing at the ladies smoking Virginia Slims and wetting their fingers before they turn the pages. The Black Flag bars on a page where I write that I should move to Mexico like Kerouac and Burroughs.

There is a list of my favorite movies at the time in no particular order. To Kill A Mockingbird, Wizard Of Oz, Woodstock, Pink Floyd's The Wall, The Breakfast Club, Rebel Without A Cause, St. Elmo's Fire, The Big Chill, Taps, The Deer Hunter, Where The Red Fern Grows, Rocky, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Lady And The Tramp, Over The Edge, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Repo Man, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Apocalypse Now, Breathless, Breaking Away, and Weird Science. It's a strange mixture of childhood and teenage movies. I still like most of them.

Punk band logos adorn the bottom of the next page: Dead Kennedys, M.D.C., Minor Threat, Subhumans, Black Flag, Vicious Circle, J.F.A., Suicidal Tendencies, G.B.H., Beastie Boys, Circle Jerks, D.O.A., F Particles, & my own fake band Wastoids.

Even them I was obsessing about the past. Here's the story of my first date in 9th grade. A gas company could have possible exploded on the night of my first date with Elaine. We had to take the long way around to get to the game and dance. Riverdale beat Oakland (I was attending Oakland then), but I didn't pay much attention to the game. I played with a Rubik's Cube while I waited in line with Elaine to get into the dance. I danced to "Flame Thrower" with C.J. and Help Me Rhonda while Elaine pouted because she didn't want to boogie. Some other dude even asked if he could dance with her, but I called bullshit on that. When the slow songs played Elaine was on the floor holding me close. This incident is interesting to me more for the fact that I was a regular disco kid throwing down moves with all of the cute girls than the actual romance with Elaine. I would go on to more romances, but I'd never dance like that again unless you count slam dancing.

It's been almost two years since the Flag was in Rolling Stone, but hey man I get to see the Du on March 3rd (Warehouse tour). Spent my last penny and I may have to go alone, but it "Makes No Sense At All" and it shall be wunderbar. It'll be the first band I've seen since R.E.M. that matters. I'll walk if I have to. This is followed by a summary of Norman O. Brown's 1960 Phi Beta Kappa address at Columbia University. I guess I was trying to throw on a little coat of intellectual paint. It peeled pretty quickly.

"Do It Clean" Echo! No more Buddhist mantras. A drawing of a Foster's Lager can. "I think I'll read alot of William Burroughs and be depressed" - Camper Van Beethoven. Mind on! Get the firehose. d. Boon is proud. Will computers erase our humanity? Multiple unflattering references to Reagan. I plop J.D. Salinger into the mix on a page featuring some entirely crappy short story. One page is devoted to a glowing review of the Family Ties episode where Alex's friend Greg gets killed in a car wreck. If that doesn't prove I was a dork I don't know what could. There's a drawing of The Clash at the bottom of the page, even if Topper is missing. There's a drawing of the Flash.

The last pages of Everything Sucks was devoted to a review of the Husker Du show. The interesting bits are that there were kids in grade school at the show, I got pissed that the band was playing the Warehouse album in its entirety, and that their encore version of "Helter Skelter" was the best live music I'd ever witnessed and heard.

That's the end of the trip back into the past. Back in 1986 and 1987 it was so serious, but it seems all so harmless and lightweight to me now. I'm glad it does.

Monday, December 19, 2005

2006 In My Sights

I like to make lists. One of the lists I have is for used books to look for the next time I'm in Chattanooga visiting McKays store. I would let you know what's on that list, but it would probably just bore you. It's significance to this post is that I rarely find any of the books on my list. I could order them online, but it would take the fun out of it. Sure, I'm disappointed most of the time, but on those ocassions when I find a good used copy on my list I'm ecstatic. I've been known to leap up and down in the store yelling "allright!" like a kid finding money on the sidewalk.

The point is that since I like to make lists I usually go all out for New Year's Resolutions. I don't always write them down, but I remember them if I don't. And just like my book list, I usually end up a little letdown later because I'm like millions of Americans: I don't follow through on most of my resolutions. I accepted that long ago. Because part of the appeal of New Year's Resolutions and lists in general is that they posit an ideal world on paper or in your head. The aura of fantasy is an integral component whether it's something as mundane as a grocery list (you're hoping the store has the brand of coffee you need) or your list of goals you hope to achieve.

I run across old lists from time to time and they're fairly consistent. Read more books with an accompanying array of titles, lose twenty pounds...and that's from when I was in high school and almost 60 pounds lighter than I am now (keep in mind that nobody's running around calling me fat - you can pack alot of beers on a 6 foot 3 inch frame), grow out my hair (which I eventually did until it reached my I'm losing what hair I have), start a band (which I did several times), get a newer vehicle, save money, move to Jamaica, write a novel, and so on. A mixture of daydreams and aspirations collide and provide a picture of who I was at a certain period of time and even if I didn't accomplish everything I've set out to it's an endearing image to me.

Since I'm almost to the annual point of the year where, to borrow a phrase from bmarkey, Soulfish Stew will go dark for a few weeks so I can recharge the synapses and such I figured I'd share my resolutions for next year, however mundane they may seem.

So I'm 60 pounds heavier than high school I think I'll drop 40 pounds this year. I've failed at this pursuit many times before, but I bet you I can do it. We'll revisit this one at the end of 2006. I want to find an old typewriter that works and crank out some poorly written stories. The poorly written part will be easy if I can find a typewriter that fits my budget. I want to buy an old used BMW. I've always liked the way they looked and maybe I can get a deal on one. Those last two iitems might not constitute a true resolutions list, but since this is my list they stay. I resolve to be a better father and husband. I'm pretty great already, but there's always room for improvement. I resolve to be more humble.

I resolve to plant a small vegatable garden in the back yard and hope the mole doesn't destroy it. I want to plant some flowers in the front of the house. I want to get a couple of more trees. I also need to get a new lawn mower which will help fulfill my resolution to stop borrowing stuff from the neighbors. I resolve to do a review on my next door neighbor's metal band at some point since they're good at what they do. I will finally make some demo recordings that sound decent. I plan to go swimming some in 2006.

That's the list so far. There will be more added at some point between now and New Year's. Even though I'll fall short of some of these things I wil have an ideal vision to go toward. Ten years from now these goals will be outdated and perhaps quaint. But they'll still be an endearing reminder of my constant hopefullness and propensity to make lists.

The Shareef Don't Like It

Combat Rock anyone?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

CD Review: The Hypstrz - Live At The Longhorn

Man, I just can't seem to get my head wrapped around reviewing Live At The Longhorn. I've started to do it, but it just never seems to work. The Hypstrz used to be called King Kustom & The Cruisers (The All Leather Stomp Band) and they played Fifites rock. They decided to change their name and move on to the next decade becoming one of the first Sixties revivalists. The Twin Cities band was inspired by The Ramones and local punk band Suicide Commandos to speed up the cover songs they were playing. This resulted in an explosive sound detonation and with few breaks between songs the Hypstrz live set was a wave after wave sonic assault. That's one way I've thought of beginning a review.

I've also thought about telling of my own historical basis of appreciation. I found an old Bomp Records compilation on vinyl and it featured "In The Midnight Hour" by The Hypstrz. I didn't like the misspelled name (what is it with Twin Cities artist and misspellings), but I loved their raw cover version of a song that I really was tired of hearing. I was thinking about having the band I was in at the time cover some Northern Soul classics and hearing The Hypstrz do a soul classic was just what I needed to give me that sort of confidence.

I could lead with a bit about The Hypstrz artistic bravery to play covers instead of originals. The prevailing musical currents in 1979 were disco and corporate dinosaur rock. Punk rock was becoming post-punk, hardcore, or being packaged as New Wave. The big boom in Sixties revival bands wouldn't happen for another 3 to 4 years. Then there's the simple matter that The Hypstrz preferred playing amped up cover songs to their own material which was sure to alienate the less discerning rock writers and fans. They were unlikely to win over fans wearing screen printed Journey, Styx, or Foreigner concert shirts unless they were covering those artists.

The Hypstrz covered a wide ranging group of artists; 13th Floor Elevators, Standells, The Litter, Chocolate Watchband, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, The Barbarians, Shadows Of Knight, Love, The Music Machine, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, The Syndicate Of Sound, ? And The Mysterians, The Sonics, Flamin' Groovies, Barry & The Remains, The Troggs, The Pretty Things, Sam and Dave, The Small Faces, The Yardbirds, The Trashmen, and even The Shangri-La's are all tackled on this disc which reissues the rare Bomp album Hypsterization in its entirety along with the band's first 45 release along with a bunch of unreleased tracks. There are 4 original numbers included and they fit seamlessly in with the cover material proving that The Hypstrz could write their own high quality stuff.

But all of this doesn't do justice to how awesome the band sounded. Turn the disc down to a whisper and it still sounds loud. All is given a Hypstrz sheen where, if you didn't know the orignal songs, you would never realize they were covers. Even more phenomenal to me is that they're still out there doing it. Tracks 35-37 were all just recorded last year at a live show. They still rock out with crazed, amphetamine glee. And I still can't think of a way to make my words capture their glory upon the written page. So this will have to do with the hope that you too will go out and get The Hypstrz Live At The Longhorn and join me in being struck dumb in the glory of rock and roll. Guitar, bass, drums, and somebody willing to scream are all you need for a good time.

I'm Gonna Make You Mine mp3
I'm Not Talkin' mp3

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Stolen Pony Is Back

Yeah! Jones Violet is back with the Stolen Pony blog, except it's now called Stolen Ponies. She's writing under her own name Jenny and she's writing about Ray Davies. What more could you ask for today!

Beantown Bands

I've never been to Boston, but I have liked alot of bands from that city. I stumbled across this site today after googling the Classic Ruins. Maybe something like this will be done for Nashville rock and roll someday.

Get Your Persian Rugs Now

Get your Persian rugs now, while you still can. The Iranian president is just itching for a beatdown like has never been witnessed before. Israeli's have been conceding territory to the Palestinians, but I doubt they'll put up with much more crap from Iran, especially since they'll be facing nuclear annihilation if Iran is allowed to continue with their nuclear "energy" program. Let's hope some intelligent people in Iran decide they've had enough of the religion of peace's fundamentalist wing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Man, I just noticed that my last two posts were prefaced with the word man. I know that I'm prone to redundancy, but a redundancy spanning two posts is impressive to my bored mind. It reminds me of a story, probably only of interest to me, of my friend Bruno. Bruno was a very intelligent guy. He just missed the cut at Princeton and later he went to Vanderbilt for grad school. So he was super smart, but not an intellectual. Which is one of the reasons I was his friend. I've always been a fan of those who can like professional wrestling and Shakespeare (and what's the big difference anyways), and do so without a trace of irony. Anyways, when we were juniors in high school we had college prep English together. College prep was a given for him, but I had been taking lower level English since 9th grade. I blame Oakland High School for this. I had been in higher level classes all through school and then when I started high school they let me sign up for whatever I wanted. So I did what any aspiring stoner rock and roller kid would do; I signed up for the dumb classes. So by the time I transfered to Riverdale the die was set. By junior year I was determined to show that I did indeed have a brain. Bruno and I always had a good time in the class. The teacher was a strange old lady who liked to go against traditional teaching methods. This meant picnics by Stones River, an entire 6 weeks watching M.A.S.H. episodes, and classroom readings of The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter. Nobody would have taken Bruno for a rock and roll hipster. The dude used to wear a sportscoat emblazoned with buttons he got from work and he worked at Taco Bell. On the surface, he was more doofus than hipster. But he was hip, at least to a point. Part of the doofus appeal was his usage of California surfer slang, which is what got our English teacher mad. During our classroom readings he would inevitably begin to put dude on the end of whatever he was reading. So you'd get this: Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart, dude!
Or this: Do what you will. But let none be your judge. There be no higher judge under Heaven than Proctor is, dude. Man, it was almost as funny as when Perez set a girl's hair on fire. Nothing like that ever happened in the lower level classes.

Put Up Your Dukes

Man, am I so jealous of Todd A. Read his post about meeting the Duke boys.

8 Ball Deluxe

Man, if I ever start making some real money in this world I'm going to buy an old pinball machine for my home. 8 Ball Deluxe would be a good one. I spent a few dollars a week at Family Billiards (once the Pizza Machine) in the 'boro on one of those Bally machines. Pinball was such a meritorious game. Play well and you win free games. Play poorly and you might actually get a match and a free games. There were many pinball games out there that I could often play for hours on just one quarter while everybody else was blowing twenty dollars in a half hour trying to conquer Donkey Kong. I'd have plenty of money left for cigarettes and beer. Damn, if I wasn't a cool hesher kid.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Em Hits Seven

Happy birthday Emily!

Emerson Street Tavern over Instapundit

Ryan over at Emerson Street Tavern took inspiration from what was a small part of my post Odds And Ends and really run with it in his post Sand Dollars Over Starfish. Go check it out.

Just When You Thought

You couldn't hate the mainstream music industry anymore than you already do, they've now decided to go after people posting lyrics and tab online. The story broke earlier this week, but I've waited until today to mention it because Slashdot's many commentator's take on it is now up. I have never seen an industry so dead set on alienating its consumers. Go listen to live local bands. Buy from independent labels. Buy a guitar and make your own music. Of course, I better not let the RIAA know I can play music by ear. I'm sure they'll try to make that illegal too. "Your honor, we caught this man playing a song he learned off the radio. He did not pay for the sheet music!" "But I didn't need the sheet music." "Off with his ears!"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Gilbert Giddyup & Speedy McGreedy

I may be a lone voice crying in the wilderness, but I'm sick of this whole big burger thing that's been sweeping the nation the last several years. And now Hardee's has announced some new big chicken sandwich to add to the onslaught of hugeness afflicting our times. I know I'm going against what the market demands, but how about a return to simpler times when Hardee's was just a regional chain that charbroiled their burgers. It's completely selfish of me, but that was when they were my favorite fast food chain.

When I was very little, they only had one restaurant in Murfreesboro and it was located at Mercury Plaza which boasted a Roses, Harveys, and a Cooper & Martin grocery store. This was all the way across town for us so a visit to Hardee's was a big treat. I loved the orange and brown decor. The smell of the burgers cooking over the open flames that would sometimes shoot up into the air like fireworks. Murfreesboro didn't have a Burger King in those days and unless you were grilling the burgers yourself Hardee's was the place to be. They had a catchy theme song that urged people to "hurry on down" to Hardee's.

They even had their own set of cartoon character mascots in order to keep up with McDonalds. The two that I can remember are Gilbert Giddyup, their good guy Ronald McDonald sort, and Speedy McGreedy who was a hamburger stealing misfit like the Hamburglar. I liked the Western motiff. It fit in well with cooking burgers over fire. I figured the McDonalds mascots wouldn't stand a chance if it came down to a cartoon brawl with the Hardee's bunch.

I also just plain liked the Hardee's burgers better. I usually would get a single hamburger, but sometimes I might get a Big Twin - the Hardee's version of a Big Mac. A McDonalds burger was bland in comparison to the smoky charbroiled goodness of Hardee's. The day I learned that a Hardee's was being built on my side of town was a very happy day.

It was built just off the corner of Broad and Lokey Street. It would be within walking distance during the times I lived in town. They had some land behind the restaurant for parking, outside dining, and even better; a playground which would contain the coolest thing I think I had ever seen. It was a robot that stood 3 stories tall with enclosed slides for arms. You had to climb into the robot which had a ladder running through the middle of it. The second level was where you could get into one of the slides. Since there were two slides you'd have to race your friends. When that got dull you could climb into the third level where you could jump around and cause the robot to shake.

There was also a swingset, a spiral slide shaped liked a rocket ship, and some other things. And the ground was covered in sand. Whenever I'd visit, I'd wolf my food down as quick as possible so I could hit the playground with a vengeance. At that point, it wouldn't have mattered if Hardee's food tasted like dirt since I was likely to end up inhaling plenty of sand before I left.

But there are other things in my memory besides the playground. My parents almost always worked at separate times when I was growing up. At this period my father worked a day shift and my mother worked nights. My father wasn't much on cooking so we'd usually stop off at a fast food place after he'd pick me up from the babysitter's house. Hardee's was very convenient so we went there at least twice a week; sometimes more.

Now my father hates the drive-thru. So we would always stop and go in and order our meals to go. When he figured out I could be trusted with the money and our order he would wait in the Ford Ranger while I went in and ordered. I always tried to go through the prettiest lady's line and soon I had made a friend of a young high school age girl. She was so cool she remembered what I'd order (we always got the same stuff every time) and when she saw me come in she would start ringing it up. I always got a plain burger so they'd have to cook it right then and if the place wasn't busy she'd have a conversation with me. I was only in the 5th grade, but I was smitten with her.

She wasn't there very long and I was sad when I didn't see her when I'd come in. Time passed and as is always the case; stuff happens. I recall a walk from Mitchell-Neilson Elementary School on a sunny spring day with my 6th grade class to have lunch at Hardee's. A car would crash through the dining area one morning, and while nobody was hurt, it did precipitate a dreadful remodeling job. I still liked to play
on the playground even though I wouldn't have admitted it once junior high school began. I used to walk over from my house and just hang out there. By the time 9th grade started it was a good place to go and smuggle a smoke in the top of the robot.

The once mighty charbroiled burgers didn't taste as good to me. The quality of the food was declining. Wendy's and Gatti's Pizza were the place to eat in high school. The cartoon mascot characters were long gone. About the only time I'd visit was when I needed to use the restroom. The summer after high school graduation I decided to wear a red bandanna on my head and the Hardee's manager saw me enter the restroom. The next thing I knew somebody was banging on the door. I figured it was my friends so I told them to bug off loudly and profanely. I was a bit surprised to find the manager staring at me when I opened the door. He gave the bathroom a good going over and once he figured out I had only used the place for its purpose he sort of apologized and that was it.

I know I had not been a loyal consumer, but the Wendy's on Church Street was clean, the service was better, and the Flurry topped Hardee's watery milkshakes; but then Hardee's had to really break my heart by doing away with charbroiling. They started cooking their burgers just like McDonalds. The only food I would eat at Hardee's would be breakfast food. Like many of the places where I spent time as a kid, the playground would be removed. The robot dismantled. The rocket ship crashed.

I sometimes gave in to my sentimental feelings and tried the new items Hardee's would offer. But it was always terrible. I tried one of those big Angus burgers not too long ago. It tasted like congealed sawdust mixed with rubber. There's no way they can get me to "hurry on down" these days. The chain now serves as an unlikely
metaphor of life to me now. Fun and innocence, corruption and dissolution, and now an over abundance and indulgence that can never satisfy. I need you Gilbert Giddyup.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Coffin Lids

I reviewed this one exclusively for Blogcritics and I had a little bit of fun with it creating a retrobate drunken critic persona that might have been reality twenty years ago, except I would have been too drunk to write. A summary of the review: The Coffin Lids rock.

Odds And Ends with no parenthetical sense at all

Honey can only come in bear shaped containers in my house. It may just be me, but I feel sad that Stevie Nicks never had a child. I've gotten back to where I can imagine that cold weather is really hot. I've been listening to lots of classical music and punk for the last several days and not much in between. I need to re-read A Separate Peace...damn that film Sideways! Now the wife will probably find me crying at the end of it. My twenties were termed my lost years. I guess my thirties have been my found ones. I wonder what the forties will bring starting next November. My kids got almost as much candy at a Christmas parade on Sunday as they got at Halloween. I'll have to make the ultimate sacrifice and eat much of it so they won't get fat. Oh, the sacrifices a parent makes. I'll take Jung over Freud. Benjamin Orr over Ric Ocasek. Grant Hart over Bob Mould even though I like Mould's solo material much better than Hart's. The current debate about Christmas versus Happy Holidays is linguistically interesting, but I'm much more concerned about those upside down Christmas trees I keep seeing. The reasoning that an upside down tree will better display one's ornaments and that there will be more room under the tree for presents isn't convincing. I like that you have to invest some effort to see all of the ornaments on our tree and I always thought it was nice that the presents are under the shelter of the tree. But an upside down tree was a tradition before Martin Luther came along, you say. Okay then, I just think it looks dumb. I wish someone would buy me a bicycle. The reason why I'm anticipating spring is because I'm going to get a new push mower. The only thing missing from my life(besides a bicycle) is a treehouse.

The Sisters

Both of them named for authors: Harper Lee and Emily Elizabeth. I adore them, even though I caught them climbing into the dryer last night. They got lectured on curiousity killing the cat.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Spidey Sense

Sure, these quiz deals are a bit geeky and perhaps lame to be blogging about, but hey I'm Spiderman and I couldn't be happier about it, although I am a bit disturbed about the 45% Supergirl rating.

Your results:
You are Spider-Man
Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...