Monday, December 18, 2006

Verbose Stoic

I would like to become tight lipped. Stoic. A man who says little, but when he does speak people listen. I do have my moment. I can clam up during a car ride for hours. But I usually prattle on like a little kid. It's comical. I will rarely speak to people at social events, but get me out of that context and I will blab so much you'll never want to run into me again. I blame on the only child. Myself. I rarely had anyone to talk to so when I did make a friend I tended to be overly effusive. One example from way back:

I was around 5 years old and we had just moved back to Murfreesboro from Mississippi and had rented a cheap mobile home on Manson Pike. The L&N railroad was a few feet from our door - the trains would rattle the trailer as they roared by night and day. I thought that was cool, but when my parents found lice in the place we were forced to move quick. So we trudged a couple miles down the road to another trailer park off Old Nashville Hwy by the National Guard Armory. We hadn't even unpacked and I started making friends. The trailer park was full of scruffy kids who'd swarm and slide down the kudzu covered hillside, which was part of Fortress Rosecrans, across the highway. I was telling my life story to everybody within minutes ecstatic to have an audience. The next day none of them would play with me. I had told them about the lice and they must have thought I was eat up with the bugs even though I wasn't. I spent a miserable few months in that dump all because of my big mouth.

I've never gotten so bad that people run away when they see me, but I'm always afraid they will. I don't want to become one "those guys" that never shuts up. So this coming year I'm going to be more thoughtful with the words I speak. I will be contemplative and deliberate. It may turn out that there's really not much worth saying out loud. Maybe if I shut up I'll find that I've got more to write about, that I'll want to write more, and hopefully better.

On the subject of writing: I'm teaching myself to write on paper again. I've always been partial to notebook keeping; intrepid journaling, but I have fallen out of the habit. So I've decided to analog a portion of my life again and I learned that I was writing all wrong. My fingers have been doing all the work instead of using my arm and shoulder. I've been drawing my letters. So if you see some dude writing letters in the air or sitting on a park bench with a Big Chief pad it'll be me. I've ordered a Moleskine planner to use next year in the office. I think I'll even start sending out letters next year - a revolution of the personal.

I laid out a list of goals toward the end of 2005 and I accomplished the most important one. This year I'm not going to make a list of resolutions. I'm tweaking the format to one big blob. This is to make qualitative improvements in every aspect of my life. I've lost the weight so now I tone up. I need new pants so I get good quality ones. I screw something up - I will apologize and try to fix it. I get the urge to blab or scream and yell - I will chill out and bite my tongue. I don't want a moment of zen. I'll take a whole year.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

From The Fanboy Archives: White Animals redux

Wally digs through the rock and roll debris. As always; click on the images to make them bigger.

This installment is all about one of Nashville’s original New Wave rock and roll bands: White Animals. Some of this material has been posted here previously and some of it has been posted over at the White Animals website, but this will be the first time on the internet for most of the archival material.

The classic line-up:

Kevin Gray - vocals, guitar
Steve Boyd - vocals, bass
Rich Parks - guitar, vocals
Ray Crabtree - drums, vocals
Tim Coats - dreadmaster

The White Animals were one of the biggest bands in Nashville until they called it quits in 1987. Along with Jason And The Scorchers they landed music videos on MTV and for awhile it looked as if the White Animals might grab a major label record deal. They toured the college rock circuit with their mixture of Sixties flavored rock, Seventies punk, and splashes of dub reggae and won praise from coast to coast. They were sometimes faintly damned for being a frat band, but their genius won most of the critics over. The White Animals would play frat parties and they could play whole sets of cover songs if they wanted, but it was never their focus. It ended up creating a rock and roll multi-subcultural fan base. Frat boy accountants to be would stand shoulder to shoulder with future alternative rockers while punk rockers slam danced in the background. Through it all the White Animals exhibited a casual cool with a total love for playing music. A White Animals show was always an event and after the song "Ecstasy" dropped their shows became patchouli soaked events because of the line, "that patchouli that you wear." You’d wake up the next day bleary eyed and spent from all of the dancing and your clothes would just reek of patchouli.

I was first exposed to their animalistic fever via a local Murfreesboro television show called Saturday Night At The Video. They interviewed the boys between clips of “Don’t Care” and “This Girl Of Mine” and I was hooked. The next time I visited the local Port ‘o Call Records shop, instead of just culling the discount import records, I made a beeline to their local section. The White Animals shared most of the space with Jason and The Nashville Scorchers. Soon I became a local music fanboy with the White Animals at the top of my pops.

I started attending as many of their all-ages shows as I could. Their recorded material just couldn’t do them justice like their live gigs did. It was loud, raucous, and transcendent. Tight; yet loose with Kevin at the center of it able to make hippie tie die, bandannas, and party beads seem immensely hip to my punk rock sensibilities. Kevin would smack his fist against his face while the dub rolled over us as sweet as the clove cigarette smell which always seemed present. The show would end and instead of splitting the White Animals would hang out and talk to us. I felt like one of the chosen in 1985 while Kevin talked smack, “Our next record is going to kick Huey Lewis and Billy Idol’s asses.”

How about a quick snapshot of their early days from Kevin Gray himself:

--- in our embryonic days, when WA was just me and Rob Jackson, esq., [note - Rob already had a background in “club-opening” with Mississippi Whiskers – named after a Phil Doss poem. Doss – who was our 1st bassist – was the mgr, while Rob put together the Full Circle Band as the house band to get the club going, the band signed, fame and fortune for all in the best Nashville tradition] WE went down to Herr Harry’s Franks n Steins – a dark and dingy little pub for music row nooner trysts 2 blocks from my apt – and persuaded Harry to try music. WE got “discovered” by the Vandy Law school, and before long the place was packed every weekend, Harry moved out the old Volkswagen-sized big screen TV, and was having bands play on weekdays. Along the way Rob and I added Doss and Joe Loftis, OFA, and the WA “Frankensteins” crowd got so packed and out of hand that WE began casting about for alternative places to play, and after the Olde Tyme Pickin’ Parlour proved too seedy, WE lucked upon the Burger Boy “expansion” 1 block from my apt. Apparently noting Harry’s success, the long-time mgr had put up a cinder block side bldg lined with sawmill log trash that he was gonna call Kickers or some such – they had picnic tables with red-checked tablecloths and some nasty fake-hurricane drinks served in boot-shaped glasses. WE opened the place on NYE to a devoted if bewildered and semi-sparse crowd – and that was the nite Rob quit the band, citing “creative differences” – I believe this was now 1/1/81 dawning --- we added Nashville superpicker Willie Drew Collins, were contacted by Dave Cannon asking to manage us and getting us into the Bluebird on a trial basis as the Monday “ROCK NITE” house band for 2 months to hone our “new” lineup – Despite the regular presence of Don Shlitz [fresh off “The Gambler” acclaim] and other West-side celebs, the powers that be decided that Animalism was waaaaaaaaaay too strong for the Bluebird and the club returned to the present-day format – meanwhile, Terry Cantrell had bought out Burger Boy and so WE opened Cantrell’s – and remained for months as the regular weekend house band, leaving only when Tony Moon began to get us Campus gigs across the SEC thereby spreading the WA gospel far and wide ---- So… WA broke ground and paved the way for others to follow, and did it all in a DIY spirit of musical joy – there was NO DOUBT in our minds that WE would keep on rising up to that big record contract in the sky and that folks around Music City would all say “Dang – those are some good boys – they made this whole scene so nice for all of us and we’re shore glad to see them have the success they worked so long and hard for…” Except it never happened that way and history is indeed written by the winners – and sadly it seems WE are not actually relevant to the condensed summary evolution of the Nashville Scene. A pity --- folks forget that there was a lot of harmony, and so it would have been nice to at least have a level playing field – with contracts for all, Stones trying to knock pals Beatles or Who off the #1 chart spot. WE learned too late that show biz is not a meritocracy and maybe somewhere my own unwillingness to abandon medicine for a career in music doomed us as much as anything – always looking over my shoulder, waiting for the clock to strike midnite and the fun police to come and take me away. BTW – MY favorite local band of all that time was The Actuals, though they only played about 3 gigs before exploding – leaving me with only my Young Nashvillian records as consolation… xoxoxo

Their original material was as good if not better than the cover material they did. Kevin Gray and Steve Boyd were Nashville's version of Lennon and McCartney, each with a different style that complemented the other. They were like The Beatles to me. Gray's songs tended to rock more while Boyd tended to play the injured romantic crafting darker more complex material. They were rock and roll classicists doing their own Chubby Checker twist on things creating one of the most original sounds of the Eighties. They evolved over the course of an EP and several LP's which were released on their own Dreadbeat label.

WA’s Dreadbeatology:


It's Not Right/I'll Be Her Fool 1979...A New Blood records release. The flipside was written by Phil Doss.

Be-Bop-A-Lula/You Don't Send Me 1980...also not a Dreadbeat release, This is the single with just White Animals on the label. Original drummer Joe Loftis, who would later form Joe Loftis & The Pinks, sings Be-Bop-A-Lula.

Old Jazzmaster/I Need Somebody To Love Me 1981...the first official Dreadbeat release #DB45-282A,B The General Willie Collins sings “Old Jazzmaster”

These Boots Are Made For Dubbing 1982 12 inch single #Dub5182 one sided, blank side had legs etched onto it

It was while figuring out which side of Nashville Babylon was the first side that I discovered that the White Animals liked to leave cryptic messages in the inner grooves of their records alongside the side numbering that is usually present. I went through all of their thirty three and a third releases and found statements on most.

This one-sided 12 inch single’s inner groove message was an homage to a Stanley Kramer film. "It's a dread, dread, dread, dread world!"

Don't Care/Boots Again and Again 1983 #DB4583 the A side has Video Soundtrack printed on it. It sounds the same to me as the album version.

This Girl Of Mine/Seasons Change 1985 #DBS 6184...I have a yellow label version that was handed out at an all ages show in 85 (autographed by the White Animals too) and I also have a red label version with a picture sleeve. This Girl Of Mine is given a special radio re-mix. Kevin: WE TIGHTENED THE FADE-IN UP FRONT MOSTLY, MASTERED IT AT FRANKFORD-WAYNE IN NYC, OUR BASIC IDOLS WHO CUT ALL THE SOULSONIC FORCE, RUN-DMC, WHODINI, ETC DANCE TRAX - THIS IS ONLY CURRENT LIVING SOURCE FOR "SEASONS CHANGE" STUDIO VERSION - WE'D HAVE PUT IT ON THE X RE-ISSUE IF ONLY WE COULD FIND THE DAMN THING...

Help Yourself/She's So Different 1986 12 inch single #DBRS1185...from the press release I'll share a quote from Kevin Gray about Help Yourself, "Help Yourself is ritual dance music. The them is sort of King Kong meets Molly Ringwald at a dance in Oxford, Mississippi. Tear down the facades, the world is calling." I HAD HER PICTURE PINNED UP FOR DAYS WHILE TRYING TO IMAGINE ROCKING THE PRETTY-IN-PINK CROWD DIZZY There were no secret messages. It was just the names of the songs inscribed in the inner grooves.

EP & LP releases:

Nashville Babylon 1981 #DBLP 91681

The EP Nashville Babylon's messages are:
that side "vulgar, animalistic, nigra, rock & roll, bop..."

this side "I can still use my snout!"

The message on side one, that side, is just a description about what lays in the grooves using the standard putdown response of the rock and roll haters back in the Fifties.

The “snout” reference is to the Zap Comix character Wonder The Wart Hog

Lost Weekend 1982 #DBLP1052 Has the awesome “I Must Have Been Hypnotized” cover and it has these inner groove testaments:
side one "What am onion?!?"

side two "Mimi's favorite band"

I never knew Mimi, but she had good taste. Kevin sez, Mimi was-is a debutante in Dallas who had us play her ball that was written up in Time magazine.I don't know what the onion bit is about. Maybe it was an inside joke, or perhaps some pop culture reference that's too obscure for me. Kevin said it may be in reference to a club owner.

White Animals New Beat From Nashville 1983 not a Dreadbeat release, four song ep with polar bears throwing snowballs cover issued on West German label Pool

Ecstasy 1984 #DBLP's where the serious WA collector can have some fun, there were two different back sleeves and inside sleeves for this lp. The first one has band photgraphs on the back and inside, the second does away with the band photos for some cheeseball art. In my book the first version is preferable to the second, the photos are awesome especially the inside sleeve ones. Rumour is that the album had to be changed because the WA's weren't ponying up the cash they owed the photgrapher OR they were just using some pictures without permission. Hey, it was the heady days of the 80's. SORRY TO QUASH THE ROMANCE, BUT... WE LOVED THE FIRST PACKAGE TOO, AND WHEN THE 1ST PRESSING COMPLETELY SOLD OUT, WE HAD TO GO WITH A "BIGGER" DISTRIBUTOR, REPRESS, REPRINT, ETC. -- UNFORTUNATELY, WHEN HUNTING AROUND THE OFFICE FOR THE MASTER ARTWORK, THE WHOLE INNER SLEEVE AND BACK COVER WERE "MISSING" [!!!] WE HASTILY TOOK A HANDY EARLY PRELIMINARY COVER IDEA WITH SOME RE-WORKED LYRICS AND THANKS FOR THE INSIDE, ALONG WITH ANOTHER PRELIM COVER IDEA WE HAD FOR THE BACK. THAT "NEW" BACK COVER WAS OUR FIRST BLUSH WITH THE LEGENDARY HUNGRY DOG STUDIO, WHO DID THE "LIVE" COVER AND 3,000 NITES -- PLUS RUN-DMC PAPPA CRAZY, ASSORTED ROLLING STONE MAG STUFF, ETC...

side one "Virginia is for lovers" plus there was a drawing of a heart

side two "pocket full 'o hope in the ninth"

I assume the reference to Virginia was because of the many shows the White Animals performed in that great state. The side two script is about a race horse that Steve Boyd placed a winning bet on at Churchill Downs.

White Animals 1986 #DBLP3186 also known as the purple album,drums in's the album cut in Memphis with Busta Jones producing. Always thought there was a scrapped album between Ecstasy and this one, but Ray put me straight and said no, but I still wonder if there aren't at least some demos of this album laying around, always felt the production was overdone.

Side one "Hossman you're the greatest"
Side two "Bustamup"

Hossman was a reference to Hoss Allen, the legendary WLAC deejay who helped spread R&B and black gospel throughout the eastern US. He's heard at the first of the song "Caught Up In The Dread" saying "so sit back and the let the spirit commence."
The second side inner groove is obviously a reference to the producer Busta Jones.

There were no inscriptions in the inner grooves.

In The Last Days 1987 #DBLP 4157 last Dreadbeat vinyl

The next inscriptions would be on the album In The Last Days.
The A side "The old order changes..."
The B side "...yielding place to new"

In The Last Days was the band's last album, until they released a CD of new material recently, and the messages were quotes from "Idylls Of The King" by Tennyson that fit the mood. Kevin Gray gave a lengthy interview in the Nashville music paper of the time, Metro, about rock and roll being for the young and that it was time for him to step aside and go back to medical school which is just what he did. You can read the article at the end of this post. Just click on the pics to make them readable. The entire In The Last Days album is available on mp3 at the White Animals website. He now practices medicine in Texas. But luckily for us White Animals fans, the lure of playing rock and roll was too much for him and he got back together with his bandmates in 1999 for an incendiary pair of shows at the Exit/In. They've played a handful of shows every year since proving that you don't have to be young to rock. If The Rolling Stones can still do it, the White Animals should be able to also.

many of these albums, if not all came out on cassette also
Other Dreadbeat Releases Young Nashvillians-Metropolitan Summer 1982 #DBLP1252...I love this record!!!!!
also a 45 release by Victor-"Amerikan Dread/Amerikan Dread" (N.Y.C. Dub) produced by Aashid #DBS 1286, probably came out in 1986.

The White Animals were one of my main inspirations for forming a rock and roll band, right up there alongside Johnny Ramone. The first time I saw them at Cantrells was a touchstone event for me. The smell of patchouli and clove cigarettes, the graffiti covered back wall of the club where we begged for autographs, Bruno slam dancing with some bruising dude, teeny bopper girls popping gum on the front row, preppie kids pogoing, my astonishment at how good the WA's were, at how much passion and heat they were generating on that tiny stage. This may sound corny, but it was tender magic - sheer exuberant rock and roll fun with a hint of danger from the punkers in the crowd. Then the most amazing thing was that it was like that everytime I saw the band. They always delivered the goods.

The White Animals Metro article:

A few words and a link from Instapundit.

If you need more Old School Nashville Rock And Roll you can visit these old Soulfish Stew posts:

Fanboy Archive on Lee A. Carr

A post about some old Nashville rocker's Myspace sites

and the one post gateway to the 4 part Nashville Rock series featured here and at Blogcritics.

If you write a comment it may take some time for it to appear since I have to approve them which I usually do unless its SPAM or filled with lewdness.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Great Punk Fanzine Link

Operation Phoenix Records has a whole slew of old punk fanzines available in pdf form. So click and go forth and read.

Livin In The Past

Okay, so geez I promised all of my loyal reader(s) - "Hi mom!" - that I would blog about the present this time around, but what if the present tends toward the dull, the Prozac prosaic, the uber personal null of things. To jazz this up you'll have to read it in a nasal whine ala Rammellzee "B-boy making with the freak freaks" which should be almost as much fun as that night that the Franklin cops tried to bust the Gonz and I after an F.U.C.T. and Intruder show, but that's in the past so you'll have to read about that in the future. Because today is the present day. The synapse exploding NOW that's not made of Top 40 pop schlock, but composed of things like Harper bumping her head after falling out of her chair at Ryan's, Emily hosting her 8th birthday party, and Liam getting his hair punk rock styled with gel. The present is getting beat down by a 5 year old UNO wiz. Kurtis Blow's "Christmas Rappin" gets me in the mood to dole out the presents, but that's not the present I promised so let's discuss current events. We're at war, the holiday season is upon us like a ravenous beast, Britney is single, House has been ruined by the mad policeman sub-plot, it looks like Mel Gibson is going to have the last laugh again, and how about the weather. The present is having a dryer vent connection that is too long so you can only dry like 2 items of clothes at a time. I need to chuck the dryer into the yard and let it rust and become an appliance eyesore in true redneck fashion. The present is the everyday dread of the everyday banal - "I always wear a smile because anything but a smile will make me have to explain" - year end wrap-ups and crap-ups and best-of lists, waiting around in the cold while my skin flakes and cracks wishing I was riding my bike but not missing the smell of the roadkill and there's been lots of roadkill these days; raccoons, kitties, deer, and dogs. The present is about staying relevant, but what is relevant to you might not be relevant to me and vice versa reverse it and since it takes a minute amount of time to process information don't we all live in the past anyways. Next time around I'll bet back to the old school Wally back in the day type post. It's what I do best.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mayhem Trafficking Subliminially Until

Back in the day I liked to think I was a writer. I'd fill up these little MTSU notebooks, 9 1/2 by 6 - 80 sheets - college ruled, with wack poetry, drawings, lists, and just random thoughts of the day. It was sort of like a blog except that nobody read it but me. There was that time that one of friend's mothers read one of the notebooks and then told me I was such an artist, but I think she was just trying to be nice. Anyways I figured I would go through one of those notebooks written in 1986 and see what I could dredge up from it. I hope the following either makes you go "Damn that boy could write some poetry" or makes you laugh your ass off at the lameness of it all.

Art is nothing and a punch to the face,
Perplexing thoughts ill thinks
This memory mortal shift.

Everyone's looking for their halos
Beneath umbrella protection skies
Lightning peals and shines
Sinister flashes from the postman's leather pouch.

Black mood in like fog
Out of lives.
This black mood overwhelms the only
Sound of noise.

How did that one grab ya? Don't worry and don't get happy because here's another untitled throwup.

Between the gates,
Among the snakes,
I can do anything.
I can walk the wall over the polluted waters.
Fall into the emptiness
Fatigue bleached blanket of sorrows

Cast a shadow upon the breaking pane's
Hide under the mattress waiting for the
next attack.
From dust to animate intensified desire.

You know I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV either. I don't know what that has to do with these proceedings, but it takes up space before the next piece of 1986 penned debris. I wrote this after an F Particles show at the Exit/In.

Work the door for the F Particles -
Ecstatic punk rawk menace slamdancing public service announcement I got my -
Priorities straight.

I drive parking lots to their destination (destined nation)
Pogo to the beat of the rain.

I threw smoke bombs at the patrons and gave the money to that dude that looks like -
Keith Richards.

I didn't really throw smoke bombs, but I did have fun keeping under 21's out when I was just 19.

Walking brotherhood
Smelling distrust
Scattering the paranoia
Like pixie dust

Use the flag as a bulletproof vest
The bullets won't pierce your chest

That was some lyrics from a punk rock song filled with angst and anti-military sentiments. It would have made a good song for D.O.A. or maybe the Dead Kennedys. Lets's move on to some super goofy trash.

clifftop caravan
I can breathe freely on a ledge
in the sky
above the city

perched with the middle class
studying for the breakdown to come

but the apocalypse don't matter
when you're on top of the world
the heat rises and I'm in thrall
perched precariously in freefall

If you think that was bad, how about this bit from one I actually gave a title to:

Change Of Scenery

Philosophy is revolt -
Anger is protest -
Gothic bells signal death -
Images flicker and fade -
Spring breaks across the winterland -
The scenery changes once again.

I must have been listening to a little too much Bauhaus and Sisters Of Mercy that week. I'll bet I was wearing my beret when I composed such deep and thoughtful lines. I can just see it now. I was nursing a Mountain Dew laced with vodka, the stereo booming, Spin and Rolling Stone magazines scattered about my room. I was probably wearing my sickle and cross shirt purchased from those capitalist pigs at Raven Records. Yep that would have been the view. One more blast from the ignoble past. I actually still like this piece of doggerel.

Wastoid weekend wuza wuz
my mind is no longer is
I want...

When the moon is in the river
sometimes that's America.

Spray paint burners tags and pieces
you can't be shakey.

When the moon is in the sewer
sometimes it's the US of A.

Waiting at the gas station
with nowhere to hide florescent lights.

I guess I'll spend my quarters in the Tempest

Enough I say! I'll try to find something in the present to blog about next time.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Junior Pro

I've been away for a few days rocking that tai chi style. Just imagine me in jogging suit while "Beat Bop" rocks the boom box contemplating a sub zero Celsius jog and you'll get part of the picture. Just forget you saw that Snickers bar in my hand. Lately its been a heavy metal, punk rawk, and hip hop diet that my ears have been feasting on. I have to turn it up really loud since my hearing seems to be going to the same place that the hair atop my head has split for so I've been thinking about talking like an elderly dude all the time. "What's that you say sonny? The early bird special is at 3 PM."

But I'm still a few years and maybe decades before that so I can just chilly chill while I enjoy watching Emmy at her Junior Pro basketball practices. There's more traveling there than I saw all summer vacation, but her team is no worse than the older ones. Em's 2nd and 3rd grade squad managed to tie a 4th and 5th grade team during a scrimmage last night. There was lots of fouling, walking, and double dribbling, but there were times when they got in the flow and you could see the promise of future basketball stars out there on the court. Em is a coach's dream - a blank slate who had barely picked up a basketball before playing who has shown nothing but improvement since the tryouts. It'll be cool when the games begin in January.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Anti-Society #1991 The Last Issue

I used to write and edit a fanzine called Anti-Society. I've posted previous issues here, but I'm way too lazy to find them today so if you're curious you can go through the archives. Today is all about the last issue. It's ultra rare and ultra crummy. The front and back cover's rock - I'm pretty sure the back cover is a Robert Frank photo. I didn't feel like writing much so the issue is eat up by Situationist goo gah and a Lucy's flyer, some record reviews and an actual ad for some lame punk band. One notable about the record reviews: I review a band named Coolfork from Texas. My pal and former Dislocated bass player Shrub was playing for them at the time. They later mutated into some little band called Bowling For Soup. So I was a Shrub away from greatness once. Enjoy. As always you can click on them and make the pics bigger.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Well, I'm a middle-aged punk now. The big 40 oz malt liquor (was it Olde English or Colt 45) went upside my head. I was feeling good over the weekend, but now I'm depressed and gloomy like the goth girls that hang out at Hot Topix at the mall.

Before I ran out of dopamine I did have a wonderful weekend:

The wife threw me a roller skating party and it was a blast. DD Blank showed off his rusty roller disco skills and everybody got a piece of the big birthday cookie. I fell on my rump once, but I got props for keeping it real. My kids had a great time. Once the 21 month old Liam strapped on skates he never wanted them off. I also managed to get in over 50 miles on my Trek the last 3 days.

Tonight I'll take Double E to her basketball practice and then I think I'll clean up my music area. That should fix the middle age cobwebbs nicely. And if it is all downhill from here I always did like rolling down hills as a child.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I had an Aunt Thankful

Thanksgiving! I think about food and Pilgrims. I think about growing older since my birthday sometimes falls on the holiday. This year it's on Sunday, but I expect I'll get a birthday gift or two tomorrow. I think about what I'm thankful about. And then I think about my Great Aunt Thankful. She was a little pecan shaped lady who lived in an old house in Murfreesboro. She owned another house across the street which was filled with antiques. I don't really know much about the lady other than that various family members were always plotting to get their hands on her antiques and money since she had no direct heirs. I would be paraded around to her every 6 months or so and was told to act right. Which I never could do. I didn't care about her money or her antiques. All I wanted to do was get the heck away from her shrewish shawl covered presence as soon as possible so I could get home and watch Mork And Mindy or some other classic sit-com. I'm sure she was a perfectly cool elderly lady, but little boys as a rule tend to shy away from old ladies on principle. I guess she finally died and somebody got all of her stuff. All she left me was her interesting name that triggers her memory every 4th Thursday of November.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Punk Rock Comedian Doesn't Believe In Barter

This little old blog's content used to be full of music reviews. Then I went on hiatus and I told people to stop sending me stuff. I kickstarted back into action and I recently decided to throw my hand into the rock critic world again. So I solicited promo's from indie labels throughout this great land. I sent a short and simple request: You've got CD's that need to be reviewed. I'll review them at my Soulfish Stew blog. It's as simple as that. Once reviewed you'll get the URL to use as you see fit.

I got this response from a label today: "You've got money. Send me the money and I'll write a review of the money and send you CDs in return." I laughed so hard I think I've pulled a muscle in my back again. I can dig somebody not wanting to barter in this cold, hard cash world. Of course, you'll never see any of that label's releases mentioned here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What's Your Pleasure Trans Am?

"What's your pleasure Trans Am?" That's my favorite line from Smokey And The Bandit. The Bandit has pulled into a gas station where he's asked the question. More people should ask what's your pleasure. You just never hear it these days. Can I help you? What do you want / need? What will it be? But never what's your pleasure.

Who cares about that you say - what's up with you being a Smokey And The Bandit fan? It's part of my heritage dude. When I was growing up my role models were my hell raising uncles and older cousins. They were prototypical beer drinkers and hell raisers; redneck to the core. Feathered back mullets and muscle cars were the coolest. Then there was the General Lee, and a knife attached to a cowboy belt with a big silver or gold buckle, this was the ideal I was given so I naturally rebelled. Punk rock was the dividing line.

More random thoughts for the day:

I'm really digging Rob & Big on Mtv. "It is what it is" is the best catchphrase since "Dyno-mite!"

Leonard Pitts has an excellent column about Gerald Levert and why it's a good thing to beg sometimes.

If you're a fan of old school Nashville rock and roll circa early 80's then you need to visit this website chock full of MP3 goodness. You can even make requests.

The great economist Milton Friedman is dead. Now the great director Robert Altman has joined him. I wonder who'll be next.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Toby Got Beat Up At A Metallica Show And DD Showed He Was A Heavy Metal Rocker, Too

Whilst rocking out in the car to the now old skool Master Of Puppets (a burned copy too...take that Lars!) my mind wandered back to the Damaged Justice tour and Metallica's Nashville stop on August 16, 1989. I was there with the skateboarding gang of Gonz, Toby, and Mike while DD Blank was there with his cousin Jimbo having purchased their tickets late in the game at our urging. Metallica launched into the first thunderous thrash of "Blackened" and Gonz screamed out, "I wonder how DD likes this" perhaps thinking the music was too loud and metallic for his super smart math geek tastes.

We glanced over to where DD was seated and he was on his feet pumping his fists into the air screaming at the world just like the rest of us. It was at that moment that the skateboarding gang figured out something that I already knew; that DD wasn't just some supra intelligent goodie two shoes (he was most voted most likely to suceed, not most likely to rock), but was just as depraved and human as the rest of us. Metallica were awe inspiring gods of rock that night with plenty of glory for us all just as they had been 6 months previously.

Gonz, Toby, Mike and I journeyed to Hunstville, Alabamy with banjoes on our knees to see Metallica rock the Von Braun Civic Center on February 8, 1989. It was cold and the snow capped peaks of Lynchburg were treacherous, but we all made it down while listening to New Order and Anthrax tapes (what a weirdo Wally combo pack). The show rawked in a must pleasing speed metal / thrash way (the Damaged Justice is regarded by many as Metlallica's live concert peak) and when the crowd began to mosh during the encores the security guards starting throwing people out of the show. This pissed us off to see the no necked weightlifting thugs roughing up kids so I threw a penny at the skull of a security goon who was grappling with a slamdancing scoundrel while Toby spit at the dude's gorilla cranium neither of us knowing that a second trailing concert security enforcer was following who witnessed your loogie rebellion while missing my penny assault and I nailed the bastard too.

The next Gonz, Mike, and I knew Toby was swept up into the goon's loving arms and promptly shown the door. I think Toby even had a broke body part at the time - an arm or wrist or something because I can remember talking about saying that the security guards did it? Did we bail on the encores to go check on Toby? Hell magnetically great was Metallica's pull. We did discuss it quite earnestly, but it wasn't like Toby was gonna' freeze to death in 15 minutes or so. What a night.

Monday, November 13, 2006


What to write today. A short rhetorical sentence like that one should be enough to warn you that you're in for a tedious time so I apologize in advance. A friend of mine from Texas once asked me how I kept coming up with stuff to post here and at the time I shrugged his question off humbly. It was no big deal. There was always something to impart whether it be the usual banalities or perhaps something of more substance. It was fun.

And now? It's just blah. Not just this blog either. I'm in a total state of blah the likes of which I haven't seen since I was a teenager when I'd come home from school in a total funk, slam my bedroom door, crank the stereo up to 10, and listen to Motorhead, Van Halen, and the Crue until Late Night with David Letterman came on. A shrink might tell me it has everything to do with turning 40 in thirteen days. I have been listening to lots of heavy metal again so maybe this is true, but I would think losing over 40 lbs and getting into bicycling would have defused that bomb.

So I think I will just go with the flow for a week or so. Indulge myself in this blah feeling. See where it takes me. Maybe a book will leap off the shelf and tackle me as I cross the room. Perhaps I'll think up some great new invention that will make me millions of dollars I could then blow on old pinball machines. Maybe God will decide he's bored with people like Moses and Paul and stop by for a chat. I could finally clean up all the old junk cluttering the house. I could just sit in an easy chair and contemplate nothing. Once I've done something I'll be back. So, maybe I'll see you tomorrow.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sesame Street Old School

Sesame Street made its debut today so how about a quick review of the recently released Sesame Street Old School DVD collection. It covers the years 1969-1974 with the premiere episodes from the first five seasons. It has its share of really cool moments, but the lack of Roosevelt Franklin except as a sideman in a couple of bits is disappointing. Maybe he’ll get his own DVD someday.

Disc one has a good share of things that time traveled me right back to my pre-school youth. The first episode ever is a trip with the introduction to just a few of the characters that would forever be etched in children’s hearts and minds. Oscar The Grouch is orange and Big Bird has a little head. An undercurrent of animosity seems to lurk behind Matt Robinson’s portrayal of Gordon, but I’ve always preferred his edge to the later bald Gordon.

Big Bird singing “ABC-DEF-GHI” is a classic illustration of the characters numbskull genius. “I Love Trash” by Oscar was my own personal theme song when I was a child. Ernie’s “Rubber Duckie” is on it as well as a couple of the classic Baker number counts. The original pitch film is included too.

Disc two unveils some more classic Muppet sketches. Cookie Monster sings “C Is For Cookie” and has the starring role in The Great Cookie Thief. Yep, yep, yep; the Martians land in Martian Telephone. The Mad Painter attempts to paint the #3 using picnic condiments.

Johnny Trash; I mean Johnny Cash sings “Nasty Dan” to Oscar on disc three. The Count makes a couple of appearances, ah ah ah. Bert gets angry about his Lost Paper Clips while John John looks on. I always thought John John was Gordon’s kid. The fabulous Jim Simon’s Wantu Studio’s Bread, Milk, & Butter cartoon is a most pleasant way to spend around a minute and twenty seconds. Fat Cat with Bip rocks and Super Grover tries to save a little lost girl, but Bert steals the show with “Doing The Pigeon.”

I don’t remember which disc, but I also was captivated by an animated bit about the changing of seasons with a little boy with an oddly pig shaped nose and the “Everybody Sleeps” song – I wonder where that baby is who was asleep on the train. It’s a great nostalgia journey for me and a wonderful introduction to youngsters of a time when Sesame Street was Elmo free, a far superior time in my eyes. They used to churn out over 100 episodes a year too compared to the 26 they make per year now.

If you want the thrill of classic Sesame Street without having to fork over your dough you can visit Folded Space for plenty of Youtube Sesame links. There’s still lots of great clips at Youtube, but who knows for how long. If you can't get enough of hearing about Sesame Street Old School you can go to Muppet Central and visit the forum.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rex In '08!

I really thought Rex L. Camino was gonna' pull it out. I had imagined the newspaper headlines this morning: blogger wins governorship and senatorial bid or perhaps Camino shoots ultimate political smack, but alas it wasn't to be. Perhaps the voting public realized that jobs like governor and senator would be beneath someone of Rex's talents. There's only one position deserving of Rex's greatness - as future President Hillary's First Man. I'm sure Rex's present missus won't miss him for 4-8 years and I bet the former President William Jefferson would like to be completely free. Heck, that Britney girl will be single again really soon. So Rex in '08!

Monday, November 06, 2006

This Is A Political Survey...

There's just one more day I'll have to hear that recording, "This is a political survey, please hold on the line." One more day of finding my mailbox stuffed with Bob Corker, Harold Ford Jr., Mae Beavers, Bob Rochelle, Frank Buck, and Terrie Lynn Weaver ads. One more day I'll have to avoid the news networks and their talking heads prattle on about the Democrats chances of winning the House and Senate. Tuesday will come, the people will vote (I voted early), and then we'll wake up Wednesday and "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" while the Talking Heads sing, "same as it ever was."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Big 4-0 Vulture Gets Ready To Land

Black Belt Holmes recently mused to me, "Remember when 40 was old? I do." Now the big 4-0 vulture is set to feast on me like I was a Black Plague victim come November 26. I can't say that I dread the day. I'm more perplexed and slightly vexed at the onset of official middle agedom. How can I be hitting 40 when I still act so childish. The woefully underrated Anthrax - Sound Of White Noise came roaring from my car speakers yesterday as I turned on to a side street where an elderly guy sat waiting behind the wheel of a truck. Thoughts came fast as I wondered if I would still be cranking metal or punk rock when I reached 70 and would it be silly if I did. I suppose I will have to crank anything up to hear it, so the question's real heft comes from the sociological side. Will a 70 year old headbanger be silly and would this person even care what anybody else thought. To paraphrase Shakespeare, old age begins one's second childhood. I'll have more on this subject suddenly so near and dear to me as my last month of being 39 proceeds.

Wally's World Of Work Part 6

Wal-Mart model courtesy of Emmy.

This installment of Wally’s World Of Work brings me to the couple of years I spent at Wal-Mart as a sporting goods/automotive associate. Because you’re never an employee there; you’re an associate. Such euphemisms for employee are just dumb to me, but there probably are some people out there that buy into this psychological claptrap; most likely the higher ups in an organization. I don’t know what Wal-Mart currently does, but I even had to pass a Wonderlich test to get hired in 1993.

There was no real thought to where I was placed. I didn’t know anything about guns and hunting, but there I was selling rifles and hunting licenses. I know very little about automobiles, yet I helped customers install batteries. I also got to make keys and sometimes I got to venture down to the paint department and mix paint. If the toy department guy wasn’t around I got to dip goldfish out for folks. Finally, I would have to sometimes go up front and be a cashier.

I quickly learned you didn’t want to go up front. You’d end up stuck on register and that did not make for a fun shift. So when I’d get called to go up front I would just tell them I was swamped with customers so I’d get to stay put. Most of the time it was a fun job, which will sound horrible to all the Wal Mart player haters out there, but it was true. I wasn’t asked to work off the clock. I was always given the required work breaks. I suppose I was lucky enough to land in a store that was well managed.

Not that I didn’t clash with management from time to time. I got yelled at a few times. Once because I walked away from a customer after he asked me a question. The reason I walked off was because I needed a ladder to get the truck box down he had asked about. I guess the dude was hard of hearing since I clearly said, “Cool. Let me go get a ladder.” The store manager heard my side and he took my side.

So I won that one, but I lost the gun one. A lady came in wanting to get her hubby a rifle for Christmas. By this time I had learned quite a bit about guns and the rifle she was describing had nothing to do with the one she wanted to purchase. I told her she would be getting the wrong gun and I didn’t want to sell it to her if it wasn’t going to make her husband happy. I also didn’t want to be stuck with the paperwork if the gun was brought back. So she went crying to the store manager about how this mean boy wouldn’t sell her a gun. I hadn’t flat out refused to sell it to her; I had just tried to talk her out of it, but the store manager made a big deal about it so she went home with the wrong rifle. I got to do the paperwork for its return the day after Christmas.

The most exciting thing that happened while I was there was a bomb threat one Sunday afternoon. We had to evacuate the store for an hour or so while the police went through it with bomb sniffing dogs. We milled around outside in the garden department area wondering if there really was a bomb and who had called in the threat. There was no bomb and I don’t know if they ever figured out who had phoned in the threat.

Catching shoplifters would enliven an otherwise boring day. The store had this unassuming little old lady that patrolled the store. She looked like just your average grandma shopping, but she was tough. She’d find some suspects, trail them, and if she saw them grab the goods a special code announcement was made and then the bigger male employees, oops associates, would exit the store armed with Polaroid cameras. When the shoplifter left the store with the goods they got to say cheese. There wasn’t any dollar cutoff that I knew of; the store prosecuted shoplifters with a vengeance.

I don’t know why you’d want to shoplift when you could get stuff for free if you hollered loud enough to the home office. An elderly man brought in a battery that had fizzled out on him wanting to exchange it. No problem; I’d just pro-rate the item and he’d pay the difference for the new one. That wasn’t happening for this dude. He wanted an all new battery for free. He started cussing up a storm so I got the assistant manager who backed me up. He left grumbling. A half hour later the assistant manager came up to me and said the home office had called and that we were going to have to refund the guy all of his money. We had to also give him core charge money since we were taking his battery back without selling him a new one. So if you want free money; call Bentonville, Arkansas.

Back in 1993 they would take anything back. The front service desk would always holler at us over the PA to come get our returns. They’d get really snotty too if we didn’t come running as soon as they finished their announcement. I made a girl at the service desk cry one night after she got on the PA multiple times calling me out personally to come get the sporting goods returns. I really had been with some customers and I didn’t like my name ringing out like I was some lazy chump. So I told the girl off in a most emphatic, but polite way which made her cry.

Wal-Mart is a cruel jungle of personal and professional relationships. People were always dating, mating, and then breaking up. It was like being in school at times with cliques formed up between areas of the store. We played softball against rival stores. Part-time people clashed with the full-time crowd. Lifers grumbled about the direction the company was headed. There was an internal controversy when Wal-Mart changed the dash to a star in their name. It didn’t bother me; all I knew was that the elderly lady in the fabrics department was mean as hell and should have been beat with a stick since she never helped us zone at the end of the night.

I got to work for a Wal-Mart that didn’t stay open 24 hours so we had to do something called zoning at the end of our night shift. Zoning was a euphemistic way to say straighten the merchandise up on the shelves. Maybe there’s something to this euphemism thing. Zoning might take 10 minutes and sometimes it would take hours. I’d try to just hang out in my area. You didn’t want to end up zoning toys or soft goods unless there were pretty girls in those areas.

It was a good job for a single college student to have. I don’t know if I’d have dug working for them full-time, but most of the full-time people seemed to like it and many of the part-time people were hoping to become career Wal-Mart associates. I liked the discount I got on merchandise. There’s not much more for me to say about the monolith that is Wal-Mart. It was a j-o-b. The only reason why I left is because I got a better one.

The next time I drag this tired carcass of a series out I’ll spring some more wisdom about what it was like to be a record store clerk at Phonoluxe. Until then, stop eating that Halloween candy!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Pumpkin Smash Music Treats

Friendly Fire Recordings are releasing some primo David And The Citizens music with Until The Sadness Is Gone. David Fridlund writes wonderfully mopey yet musically bright songs sure to make all the indie-pop college kids look dreamily out their windows on a leaves falling autumn afternoon whilst contemplating that guy or gal that got away.

If minor key Swedish rock and roll isn't your thing or perhaps if you believe that if it's not Scottish it's crap then check out the first stateside release of Scot rockers Terra Diablo on Nocturnal Records. You'd swear it was the late 80's or early 90's again with Terra Diablo's wall of sound guitars evoking the best of Ride, My Bloody Valentine, and Swervedriver. It's a good mixture of Brit rock, psychedelic shades, and classic rock radio influences.

Speaking of classic rock, the Kissology DVD set arrives today which should make every Kiss fan smile and bootlggers across the world groan. Four often bootlegged shows are included in the two disc set along with plenty of extras like Kiss's appearance on The Mike Douglas Show and The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. But wait...isn't it a three disc set? Yes, it is out for a limited time as a three disc set, but here's the Gene Simmons mad making money deal: the bonus disc will vary from retailer. Best Buy will have a bonus disc featuring most of a show, Wal-Mart will have a different one, and then everyone else will have something else. So buy them all and help Gene pay for all of Shannon Tweed's extravagant purchases.

Friday, October 27, 2006

November Project (Free Wally Songs)

Free to my loyal Soulfish Stew readers: 15 original Wally Bangs songs over the course of 25 days starting November 6th. All you have to do is send me your email address and you'll receive musical demos done the night before by yours truly. None of that overblown studio stuff from me. I did something similar to this last December and it went over real well. Only a handful of people begged me to stop sending them tunes. I like to include bonus material (usually not performed by me) so you never know what sort of treat you'll get. You can contact me by going to the profile page, find my email address, and then send the request. I hope to be annoying your ears come November. Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog.

The D.O. double G is B.U.S.T.E. double D

Snoop Dogg is arrested at a Cali airport. Now, who's gonna' fly the Soul Plane?

Political Crank Calls

Why is it that the political cranks aren't subject to the Do Not Call List? I'm getting sick of getting calls from the Corker campaign. Especially those ones taped by his wife. She sounds like she's trying out to be a phone sex operator. Word to the political campaign workers out there: if you're gonna call my house, at least have the guts to talk to me live otherwise you won't be getting my vote.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I Wonder, Does Bigfoot Eat Frogs?

The boogeyman, the devil's eye...what will I be scared of in this installment of my fear series? Could it be the fear of making a speech, of holding your first girlfriend's hand, of having to take that hand in a spotlight dance or even dance at all, the fear of getting beat up by the school bully, or maybe a more adult fear like missing a mortgage payment, the kids getting hurt, of gaining back all the weight you lost, or the fear that I won't be able to come up with anything worth reading in this post - now that's a fear you should take to heart kind reader. Be very afraid.

I'll start with frogs. I'm not scared of them. Maybe if I was somewhere near the Amazon and I came across some day-glo hued hippity hopper clinging to a tree my heart might skip a beat, but I don't forsee that happening anytime soon. But there was a night long ago when I lived in a two story farm home on Manson Pike when the frogs came for in the night. I was upstairs in my bedroom getting ready to go to sleep. I kept the light on all night, but not because I was scared of the dark. It was because I typically fell asleep reading a book.

This night was like any other one. I had the covers pulled up, a book in my hand, and my transistor radio tuned to WLAC-AM listening to the Top 40 of the day. Then I heard a sound. I turned the radio off to be sure it didn't come from it. I heard the sound again. It was a low, gutteral, groaning type of sound. It was a bit unnerving to me so I got out of bed to see if I could locate it. I peered out of my window and saw nothing but shadows of the night and then the noise came again. This time it was louder and it seemed to come from my toy box which was beneath the very window I was peering out of.

I didn't waste any more time. I ran downstairs where my father was watching television, probably a sitcom I wasn't allowed to view like Soap, and I told him that something was in my room. He came upstairs and by the time he got to my room where he could hear the groaning sound he began to chuckle. "There's nothing in your toy box," he said. But I didn't believe him. I made him thow the lid open expecting to see some loathsome creature from hell charge out at us, grab our ankles, pull us back into the toy box, and then the lid would shut with a satisfying clunk and that would be the end of us both.

There were only toys in the box. So what was making the sound? "Frogs," answered my father. The abstract fear of the unknown was made concrete and I felt like a 5th grade chump. I was scared of freaking frogs. Maybe that explains my future poor performance at the game of Frogger. Maybe that incident is what led me to take such glee in dissecting frogs in the 7th grade, and then spread fear on the school bus ride home when I put the dissected amphibian in some girl’s hair. There’s nothing abstract about that.

Let’s forget about frogs and talk Bigfoot. Like many young kids of the Seventies I was first exposed to Bigfoot via The Six Million Dollar Man show. I saw the episode and enjoyed it as usual. The trouble started when I went to sleep that night. I dreamed about Bigfoot. He was hanging out on the front stoop of our little house at 405 Lynn Street in the ‘boro. He started scratching at the door wanting in and I freaked out. I woke up, ran into my parents’ bedroom and I wouldn’t return to my room that night. I was a 9 year old scaredy cat.

The Bigfoot appearance on The Six Million Dollar Man was well received that he even got a cameo on Bill Cosby’s variety show. I tried to watch it to get over my fear, but as soon as he strode across the stage I panicked and fled from the living room. It was silly. I knew that Bigfoot was just Andre The Giant in make up, but something irrational had been touched in my soul. So I set about conquering my fears.

I became a Bigfoot nut. I checked out every book I could find on Sasquatch. If a National Enquirer headline boldly proclaimed that Bigfoot has been spotted I bought it. I started watching anything on television that had to do with the monster. I might have been terrified by the Patterson film of the purported Bigfoot striding around in Washington, but I sucked it up and soon my fear was gone. So, like with the frogs I then spread the Bigfoot fear to another one a few years later.

My family had moved out into the country again when I was a sophomore in high school. My mother’s best friend came to visit us with her son who was 4 years younger than me. He was really into horror and science fiction films. So I told him we had a family of Bigfoot, or would that be Bigfeet, on the property. I told him they would roar at night and climb the trees. You could even see them shaking the treetops. I barely noticed how nervous my talk had made him. Years later he told me he had not been able to sleep that night. That was funny enough, but then he asked me, “You were just putting me on, right?” Oh, to be gullible and young that would truly be scary.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Fanboy Archives: Lee A. Carr - Rocker!

First: why is this called fanboy archive? Because that's what I was circa 1980's. I was a fan of the local Nashville rock music scene. I didn't play in any of the bands. I didn't even live in Nashville. I was a half hour down the road in Murfreesboro buying the records, listening to WRVU and WKDF, picking up the local music rags, and sometimes journeying up to Nashville to see a club show. And it was a journey then. Everything was new and exciting and nothing seemed impossible. That said; it wasn't an uncritical time for me. I held strong opinions on just about everything, but especially music, which is a great privilege and responsibilty almost of youth. Which brings us to the second question you might have: what is the purpose of the fanboy archive? The purpose is to share some of my thoughts about the music and players from that time and what it meant to me plus provide some historical relics from that time. This first installment is about Lee A. Carr. If you want to add anything to this or send me some Mr. Zero mp3's it would make me very happy.

Lee A. Carr was one creative and restless guy. I was first exposed to his genius via his comics in the 'zine Weasel Weekly (Published Monthly). I picked up a copy at a White Animals all-ages gig at Cantrells. It had the "mange" strip which was later reprinted in the Fireplace Whiskey Journal. Next, I learned he was part of The Enemy. Their song "Jesus Rides A UFO" was burning up the airwaves that summer of 1985 when WRVU increased their wattage, but I was late to the party when it came to Joey "Offbeat" Blanton and crew. Lee's cousin Kelly Butler had left The Enemy behind and so would Lee as The Enemy was busy morphing into Royal Court Of China.

The next I knew Lee had picked up a gig as Raging Fire's bassist. I dug Raging Fire more than The Enemy. I was building up Lee to be my rock and roll hero. Not only was he a funny cartoonist, but the dude got to play with two legendary mid-80's Nashville acts. But like I said, he was a restless man. He left Raging Fire and I don't recall ever hearing why. I suppose he wasn't content to be a sideman forever. He had grandiose ideas hip hopping into his head thanks to his cousin Kelly.

Mr. Zero would come charging out of Gallatin intent on melding hip hop and rap into one seamless trunk of funk. . Rock had been no wallflower at the hip hop dance before; check out Blondie's "Rapture", Run-DMC's "Rock Box", and the Beastie Boys, but Mr. Zero was close to being, if not the first, straight up metal/rap mix to firecracker into consciousness with Lickster Lee, Machine Gun Kelly, Slick Chris, and Grandmaster E. Their shows were gigantic parties with Grandmaster E. coming "into the place, kicking over chairs, people get mad, we don't care" urging the crowd to burn the roof off the mother while giving us white hillbillies a lesson in race relations at the same time. Maybe their high spirits had something to do with the "Terror Twins", Kelly and Lee, making sure their van was always stocked with Boone's Farm and Busch.

Maybe this was why Mr. Zero only lasted for a short time. Their antics had even gotten them banned from Cookeville, TN. The band disintegrated mutating into the Hard Corps, a rock/rap hybrid led by Machine Gun Kelly, who landed one of the first record deals with Interscope where they released an album Def Before Dishonor which featured a well received cover of "Back In Black", but they never could win me over like Mr. Zero had. All I know is that the Limp Bizkit's and Linkin Park's of the world owe some mad props to the cousins from Gallatin.

I don't know what Lee did after Mr. Zero. I've got an mp3 of him doing a song titled "Tanya", but I don't recall when it was recorded or who even sent it to me. It reminds me of Peter Laughner for some reason. I wish Lee was still around, but he committed suicide a few years ago. I bet he would have gottten a kick out of all of the attention being focused on the Nashville rock scene all of these years later.

I'll leave with you a quote from his sister Joannah Carr:

"Lee loved every minute he spent creatively whether it be music, writing, comix etc. He was truly one of a kind."


Coming this week to Soulfish: some more tales of terror, my experiences working for Wal-Mart back in 1993-1994, and a new series I'm calling Fanboy about the Nashville rock and roll of the mid-80's. To tide you over until this stuff goes up; how about some cool rock groups with chick singers. Enjoy the Rezillos, X-Ray Spex, and Holly & The Italians thanks to that phenomenom Youtube.

Friday, October 20, 2006

B. Markey To The Rescue

The best rock critic in America doesn't write for the mainstream media. He doesn't toil for free at Popmatters, Pitchfork, or Blogcritics. He writes for himself at Big Green House. His name is B. Markey and his heartfelt passion for music (when I first spin a new CD, I want it to be the best thing I’ve ever heard) is evident in most every line of "I'm Gonna Burn Your Bongos Tonight" in which he tells us why much of the music today just doesn't do much for him. Here's a snippet in which he takes on the nuevo folkies:

One hears a lot of music of the sort I’ve grouped together as Quiet Is The New Loud (or QITNL, as I will refer to it from here on out) being put forth as the crème de la crème of what’s happening now. The umbrella of QITNL covers a multitude of sins: Sufjan Stevens, Devendra Banhart, Bright Eyes, My Brightest Diamond, Joanna Newsome, Clap Your Fucking Hands Say Why Bother… the list is much longer than I care to type out. It is, on the whole, a very passive music. Utterly asexual, it is devoid of the faintest spark of humor or verve or spunk or, indeed, life. There’s nothing that grabs the ear and makes them pay attention. Rather, it trickles from the speakers in dribs and drabs, clotting on the floor without ever once engaging the listener.

And he can't leave out radio:

Radio, of course, is next to useless.

I sometimes grapple with whether criticism in general is a wasted thing. Whether it's not better to just art live without words written about it. But then I read something like "I'm Gonna Burn Your Bongos Tonight" which makes me think about what rock and roll is and what listening to music can do for you and I see that criticism and art are like partners at a dance. So go read a great bit of rock and roll criticism.

WFMU's Virtual Dollar Bin

Ever wondered what the Five Man Electrical Band is up to these days? Are Martha & The Muffins still cooking? Is Mungo Jerry still having fun in the summertime? Take a stroll through WFMU's virtual dollar bin to find out.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mississippi Scaredy Cat

On our second trip to the scary town that was my fearful youth we have to get on I-40, head to Jackson, turn south on Hwy 18 journeying through Medon and Bolivar, take Hwy 125 where we'll flash by Middleton before we cross the state line into Mississippi where the road becomes Hwy 15, and now with my young heart picking up its beat we slow down for Walnut, Falkner, and Tiplersville until we reach the end in Ripley, Mississippi where I lived briefly between kindergarten and 1st grade and the place I would visit every year after moving back to Murfreesboro until the age of 21. Now if that sentence wasn't convoluted enough to scare you away I'll proceed with the tale of the devil's eye.

We were living next to a shoe factory in a clapboard house which was across the street from a few other clapboard houses; paint peeling, screen doors broken, no trees, little grass, lots of red clay, and a junkyard which was next door to the diner my folks were running at the corner of our dead end street and Hwy 15. There was a field beside our house by the shoe factory and it was filled with debris and discharge from the factory. So between this area and the junkyard full of old rusting cars that harbored snakes and rats I chose to spend most of my time in the diner.

I could have my pick of songs on the jukebox or eat my fill of hamburgers and fries. I could also avoid the kids that lived across the street from us. They were evil, mean, and nasty things; a couple of boys, one older than me and one younger, and their sister who was my age who loved to torment me when they weren't too busy tormenting each other. My parents probably worried that I preferred to spend my time in the restaurant around adults instead of playing with those kids, but they never got to see their bad sides.

They liked to throw my toys into the shoe factory field. They liked to spit and curse at me when the grown ups turned their head. If one of them struck me and I dared to fight back they all jumped on me at once. They were straight out of Lord Of The Flies. So I spent as much time away from them as I could even though the promise of gettting to play with one of their new toys, or get free candy was often enough to make me forget about their past transgressions. It was like that with the devil's eye.

They had done something to really make me mad and I had avoided them for weeks. I would ignore them when they invited me over to watch Popeye or come see their new pet dog. But I couldn't ignore them when they said they had seen the devil's eye staring up at them from a hole in the ground beside their house. It couldn't be true. That's what I told them as I crossed the street to their yard. It is so they all sqawked like angry baby parrots.

They took me around to the side of their house which put me on edge. This was one of the places where they could pummel me without their parents seeing. They coaxed me on like a little puppy until I was standing beside a small hole in the dirt. It was almost a perfect circle just big enough to look into with one eye. "That's where the devil lives," they said with what appeared to be sincerity - a new concept for them. They told me to look, but I wasn't going to.

The chants of scaredy cat rang out with sing song repetition, but I wasn't scared of the devil. I was much more scared of them leaping onto my back when I bent down to peer into the hole. The little girl who was my age and usually the most sympathetic of the bunch finally convinced me to do it. I dropped to my knees and stared into the hole. At first I saw nothing. It was just a gray blankness. I started to get up, but the older kid pushed me down. "You've got to give it some time," he said.

A minute maybe passed and then it happened. The inky gray depths began to sparkle slightly. A moment later and a blinking eye was staring up at mine. I didn't know what the word incredulous meant back then, but that word best describes it as long as you ladle on copious amounts of sheer terror. I jumped to my feet and ran out of their yard in such haste I barely heard their laughter and cries of "We told you so."

Do I believe I actually saw the devil's eye? I did then, but the years have a way of rationalizing things. It had to just be groundwater or an old septic tank reflecting my own eye back to me. At first you couldn't see into the hole, but after awhile I grew used to the amount of light and my eye would stare back at me. Except there is the one part that's unexplainable (cue the spooky music) to me and its this: if it was my own eye reflected back at me; how come I saw it blink?

C'mon Back To Bowling Green

And listen to the original New Wave Kentucky band Sgt. Arms. They're suddenly popping up at KBD and on Myspace too.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's The 1980's Nash Vegas Out There

Old school Nashville rock greats Shadow 15, Raging Fire, and Jet Black Factory all have Myspace sites up. Shadow 15 were one of my all time favorites with their Joy Division meets Judas Priest sound. Raging Fire's first EP A Family Thing is one of the killer artifacts of noise and melody from the 80's local scene. Their site even has a song heard only on 91 Rock back in the day. I never completely got Jet Black Factory, but there are lots of folks who really dug their Southern goth darkness.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Boogeyman Scared Me Good

Halloween is a mere 2 weeks and a day away so I'm going to devote some posts to fear. Fear that makes your hair stand on end, your pulse race, and your mind to question its sanity. Welcome to Wally's spookhouse; a land of shadows and fog, shifting realities pulled and mixed from memories and dreams. And frogs. I can't forget the frogs. But first, let's pay a visit to the boogeyman.

I was around 4 years old and we lived on Manson Pike which at the time was well out in the country. I spent my days in the usual pursuit of youth: played with my Tonka truck, climbed trees, explored the dark cobweb filled corner of the shed where my rabbit, Bloody, lived, played golf with the walnut shells scattered over the yard, watched Captain Kangaroo and Walt Disney on our black & white televsion, or dozens of other activities that were certainly important in my imagination. Since we were in a rural area I was allowed to play outside with no adult supervision. The rules were simple. I couldn't play in the front yard because I might run out into the road and I couldn't climb the back yard fence since old Mr. Johnson kept cattle in the woods behind the house. And I had to come in when my parents called because if I stayed outside at dusk the boogeyman would get me.

This boogeyman was described to me as an old black man who carried a big sack over his shoulders. He would come out when it got dark and scoop up children and put them into the sack. When he got home he'd pour the children into a big pot, cook them, and eat them. I figured my parents were full of it even though I was only 4. If there was some dude doing that he'd get sent to jail. So I always stayed out until it was dark. Until that day when the boogeyman came for me.

What's really funny is that I wasn't even outside. I was in the back room of the house playing with my Hot Wheels cars since I could send them skittering across the plastic tile at super speed. The sun had just gone down when there came a knock on the back storm door. I jumped up and ran to the door since it was my thing to go open the door whenever somebody knocked. This was something my parents didn't really like. I was about to cured of this because as I threw open the door there stood a black man with a sack over his shoulder. He started to speak, but before he could get a word out I began screaming so loud it caused my mother to drop her glass of sweet tea.

I blindly ran into her, bounced off, and headed toward my bedroom stammering and crying about how the boogeyman's after me. It took some coaxing from my parents, but eventually I learned that the boogeyman with the sack was really my father's friend, Andrew, who had come to go night fishing with him. The bag was for the fish they hoped to catch. I don't know how my parents explained to Andrew why I acted in such a way. I doubt they said, "Well, our kid was scared of you because we taught him that the boogeyman was black", but it better have made them think about how stupid it was to tell such a story to a little kid.

Results of this fearful event: I was never scared of the boogeyman again, not that I was scared before at least until I opened the back storm door. My father and Andrew remained friends until Andrew died a few years back. I never rush to open any door. And when I told my own children about the boogeyman he wasn't a black guy. He was just a generally malevolent spirit. Which scared my kids so badly it made me feel as ashamed as my parents should have back in the early 1970's.

Dag Nabbit

I recently posted about music I didn't like and I included a bit about most of the Dischord Records catalogue being lame except for Fugazi and Minor Threat. I was recently reminded about another band on the label that I really liked; Dag Nasty. So I stand corrected.

Sidebar Adds

Some excellent sidebar adds for the discerning MP3 bloggage fan:

Armagideon Time

An American Punk In Suburbia

Last Days Of Man

Friday, October 13, 2006

Happy Birthday!!!

It's no jive, this Harper Lee is 5 today!!

Skate Up Your...

Finish the phrase Shrub! I know you can. When I think about the years I spent skateboarding and singing in a punk band there is one song that comes to mind: "My Weakness" by McRad. You can hear it in all of its glory on Chuck Treece's McRad Myspace site. Hot damn!

We Didn't Have Lemonade Stands; We Had Pain Stands

The place was Lynn Street, Murfreesboro circa 1974. I would go to the edge of my gravel driveway. Ricky, from across the street, would go to the edge of his driveway. We would then have rock fights that sometimes lasted for a half hour or more. We weren't mad at each other. We just liked hitting each other with big chunks of limestone. Somehow our parents were oblivious to these gravel grudge matches.

Dirt clod fights were also a staple of my youth. It seemed like there was always a convenient construction site nearby with lots of choice dirt clods to chuck. The trick was to spit pack the dirt around a huge rock for a potentially lethal dirt clod rock combo. It was brutal and bordered on ritualistic, but we all loved it. If there was a big mound of dirt there you could also become the "king of the mountain" if you could endure the commanding dirt clod pummelling you would get trying to gain the summit.

Which makes me wonder? There are wiffle ball, kick ball, and dodge ball leagues for adults these days. Why isn’t there any adult dirt clod fighting leagues. What’s the matter with us grown-ups? Are we all too soft for such a sport? I’m sure there are plenty of us that could use a good dirt clod to the face, but it I guess it just wouldn’t make us feel as nostalgic and happy as the other things mentioned. Plus my neighbor across the street always runs away when I go to the edge of my driveway and start throwing rocks at him.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Prefer The Powder, But This Will Do

Another of Youtube's current virtues is you can find lots of classic Sesame Street clips there like this one:

As for the present day Street? It's so bad I don't let my children watch it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Post #666 Artists I Just Don't Get

This is the 666th post here at the Stew so why not make it a hate-filled one.

Marah - I really tried to love their Springsteen imitation 1st album, but after force feeding it to myself for several years it's just gruel

Flaming Lips - proof to me that longevity will eventually get you a hit (the Butthole Surfers principle), but their Okie lysergic emanations are as dull as a dust storm

Coldplay - leaves me asking why the world needs two Radiohead's?

Aaron Neville - sure the dude could lay me out with one head butt from his enormous skull, but his girlie falsetto is just plain weird - Yma Sumac territory.

Black Crowes - always struck me as a sub-par bar band imitating Humble Pie.

Love / Arthur Lee - Arthur's Lee's recent death inspired loads of tributes and glowing praise for his work. I liked Love's take on Bacharach, but beyond that it leaves me cold.

Janis Joplin - I never liked her because of her infernal screeching, the obsession with whiskey, and becoming an icon when she died young of stupidity.

Nine Inch Nails - Trent Reznor was seen as some sort of goth/industrial God by the 90's Mtv set while I saw just another opportunistic heroin addict.

Yo La Tengo - Another band I really tried to love, but I just can't appease the cognoscenti that adores them. To me they are so deathly dull and completely smothered under the weight of Kaplan's own rock critic cred.

Pearl Jam - I'll give Vedder props for publicizing artists that are much better than him and his cronies in Pearl Jam, but musically they've got to be tops on this list. They are the worst.

special: just about every band on Dischord Records save Minor Threat and Fugazi
emo although it is better than screamo
the San Francisco sound of the late 60's

Album Art Shootout

I stumbled across a link to this piece of Youtube genius through the WFMU blog.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bloggers And The Decline Of Western Civilization

Niall Ferguson's recent Vanity Fair commentary "Empire Falls" takes as its main thesis the parallels between the Western world of today and of the later Roman Empire. So there are several quotes from Edward Gibbon's The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire used, but this bit stood out:

The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same level, the fire of genius was extinguished.… The name of Poet was almost forgotten; that of Orator was usurped by the sophists. A cloud of critics, of compilers, of commentators, darkened the face of learning, and the decline of genius was soon followed by the corruption of taste.… This diminutive stature of mankind … was daily sinking below the old standard. —Gibbon, Chapter II.

"A cloud of critcs, of compilers, of commentators" sounds like the Roman Empire was perhaps eat up with bloggers.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Wally's World Of Work Part 5

Another installment where Wally takes us through his wonderful college era part-time jobs. When last we met I had just been laid off by Cummings Signs.

After getting laid off by Cummings I didn’t work for some time. I concentrated on college and my punk band The Dislocated. I gave up my Toyota truck; at least some kind people came by in the middle of the night and got it. When the unemployment checks stopped coming I took a job delivering phone books. I got to drive out to the boondocks and brave homicidal dogs and crazy rednecks that preferred to not get their phonebook. I passed out what I could over 2 days time, collected my money, and returned to the ranks of the unemployed.

Here’s where my memory grows sketchy. Did I work at the skateboard shop before going back to McDonalds or was the skateboard shop a job I took in between 3rd and 4th go around at the golden arches. Either way the skateboard shop was a dream job. Business was slow, but I got to work a job that revolved around my favorite hobby of the time. Young skate rats would get out of junior high school and come hang around until I closed up at 6 pm and then my crew of Gonz, Black Belt, and myself would thrash the streets of Murfreesboro until midnight. I only saw the owners on payday. The rest of the time I was completely unsupervised.

Which was not the case at McDonalds. At this point you’re going to want to ask me why in the world I would go back to Mickey D’s. Glad you asked; here’s why. The skateboard shop had closed due to lack of business so I was unemployed again when my punk rock buddy D.D. Blank asked me to go to New York City with him. All I needed was food money. So I needed a job and I needed one fast. The late, great Smooth Gray was now an assistant manager at the McDonalds where I had gotten my first job.

So it was a cinch getting on there again. Smooth was raking in the dough since he’d been smart enough not to accept their offer of going salary. He was putting in lots of overtime while attending college, but the dude was a joy to work under. There was also a cute restaurant manager named Stephanie and another of the assistants was a girl I’d gone to high school with named Rhonda E. So I wasn’t too bummed out about being a fry clerk again. I knew it was just temporary until the big trip.

This McDonalds was a zoo. The employees didn’t seem quite as serious as those back in 1985. There were lots of harsh words between workers including one night when this really big girl stuffed a smaller guy into a trash can. There was also lots of dating among the workers. So I got stupid and started dating a little punk rock princess named Iva. It was such a scene that even Black Belt enjoyed a spillover effect as he started going on dates with some of lovely co-workers. It was during this go-around that the naked guy came through the drive-thru one night.

It was very late and only one drive-thru window was open. An older lady was running it. I was in the back doing some pearl diving when she came running to the manager’s desk. “A naked guy just came through the drive-thru,” she exclaimed. The story: he drove up and requested a coffee while pointing toward his seat. He opened his coat to reveal nothing on underneath. He then asked my co-worker if she saw anything she liked. She just snickered and told him that she’d seen better. The dude gets embarrassed at that, turns red and drives off. I was just glad I wasn’t working the window that night.

Most of the time that’s what I did. Once they figured out I was unfailingly accurate at the cash register I rarely had to flip a burger. I would get to sit at the first window, collect money, and fold Happy Meal boxes. It wasn’t too bad except for the occasional jerk customer or too. I was accused of shortchanging a dude once after he tried to pull the “I gave you a twenty instead of a ten grift.” The owner’s wife who liked to pretend she was a manager was there that night and to her credit she pulled my register, counted it, and found that he was lying. He was irate, but not so much as the dude who’s Camaro got hit one night.

This proud mullet wearing dude was in a white Camaro with his wife and kid and was waiting for the line to move. A car came around to the speaker and tried to order something, but I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. After a couple of attempts he puts his car in drive and pushes the petal to the floor slamming his car into the barrier pole in front of my window, bouncing him into the Camaro. This was shocking enough to me, but when the guy and his passenger get out and push their now smashed automobile away from the Camaro, jump back in, and then haul ass out of the parking lot we’re all in disbelief. The Camaro driver is steaming and I get a great story to tell now when I drive through a McDonalds.

I went on my NYC trip, but since I was seeing Iva I kept working at McDonalds. As the summer wore on things went wrong with me and the pet rat loving waif and our relationship hit the skids. Just as that soured so did my working relationship with the restaurant manager. Things were still cool with Smooth, but he cut back his hours so I didn’t see him much. I finally quit over ketchup. Ketchup packs to be exact.

Customers in the drive-thru always asked for more which would slow the line down. When I was running orders, instead of taking them, I decided to expedite matters by throwing as many ketchup packs as I could into the customers’ bags. After being admonished for such a high level of customer service by Stephanie I decided to call it a day. This time I swore I’d never go back and I’ve kept my word.

Next on the list of crappy jobs are a couple more restaurant gigs. First up is Demo’s in Murfreesboro where I was hired on as part of the original start-up crew. I didn’t want to wait on tables and I didn’t know how to cook much so I went for the busboy position. I made it through one day of training and never went back. They were nice enough to mail me my check. One food I could cook was pizza so I landed a position at one of the many Middle Tennessee Sir Pizza restaurants. I toiled there for a few miserable weeks under the thumb of a couple of older women that liked to smoke cigarettes while they made the food. Food service as a part-time job was beginning to seriously gross me out. Retail was calling my name.

The next installment will be all about that corporate behemoth Wal-Mart since for two short years I was a Wal-Martian.