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 again...now 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.

Drag Racing Bass Playing

Ex-Dragula bass boy Drew is celebrating a birthday out in sunny San Diego so these couple of blasts from the fIREHOSE go out to him.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Soulfish Stew Is Trippin'

High school. Damn, it's been 21 years since I roamed the halls of Riverdale. 21 years since I ate two orders of french fries and two chocolate milks for lunch every day of the school week. 21 years plus since I overflowed toilets, kicked bricks out of the walls, and set the fire extinguisher box on fire - this all happened during the difficult sophomore slump year. 21 years since lots of stupid crud mattered. For starters why was everybody obsessed with the slang term tripping?

The reason I'm bringing this up is because I started taking the time to actually look at my old Riverdale annuals this past week. I originally wrote about getting my yearbooks back in the month of May and I doubt very many people saw the post since Soulfish Stew was in the middle of an extended vacation/hiatus then. I promised back then that I would have more on the subject and I'm not one to break a promise to my loyal readers. If you want to read the original Yearbook Staff missive feel free, but for now the first little bit will get me to where I want to go.

My mother, who just turned 70, is getting married again. That's weird and cool at the same time, but even weirder was getting my old yearbooks from her house over the weekend. She's moving so the less she has to take the better. I hadn't looked at the yearbooks in years and I've only given them a cursory glance so far, but their nostalgic voodoo is strong. Feathered back hair, concert shirts, braces, freaks, geeks, jocks, preppies, old teachers, and the living and the dead peer back in black and white along with a few pages of faded Kodak color scenes whose meanings have changed, faded, or intensified. The banalities left by most of the "signers" of my yearbooks will make great fodder for a future post, but for now its only randomness that percolates through the years's filters.

Trippin'. That's what almost everybody wrote in my 1984 junior Lance And Shield. I was a trip. We had some tripping times. Keep tripping this summer. What a trip it's been. It was a term that had vanished from my mind which led me first to wonder how that could have happened. Perhaps the hippie stank of such slang couldn't co-exist with the punk rock credos slamdancing through my head. Whatever the case I had forgotten and now it appears that I'll have some explaining if my children ever start reading the entries left by all of my classmates - who were most of those people anyway. The signings make it appear like we were all drug crazed partiers obsessed with goofing off and having fun at all times. Where are all the entries about how we studied hard and hey; hope you enjoy your summer readings.

The truth is that we were all about having fun and goofing off as much as the teachers let us get away with in those days. And this was a trip. When something broke the spell of boredom we would have ourselves a tripping time. And speaking for myself; all without the use of extra stimulates. I was also, to believe the entrants, always doing wild and crazy things, always bringing in rock and roll magazines, into rocking my life away, a sharer of Willy Wonka candies, a Van Halen fanatic with multiple references to seeing me at their next concert, and just a generally cool dude.

A few entries stand out. The Gonz took up a whole page talking about all of the great times we'd had in the year and how much better it would have been if L.G. hadn't been around. L.G. was the demon spawn girlfriend of the dude with the wicked mullet and the Trans Am, Jeff, who would take us to see Ted Nugent. Not that I would ever forget about going to see the Nuge, but Jeff's entry in my annual is all about going to the concert later that night of April 20, 1984. It was going to be tripping to see Ted so all I needed to do was relax while Jeff drove us all to rocking land. That's a memorable signing with its at the time contemporary event juxtaposing sharply with all of the "wow we had some tripping fun" entries.

The sweetest entry and the one that got me choked up in the usual sentimental Wally way was by a girl I barely knew. She was a senior in '84 and I can't recall how in the heck I even knew her. She wrote that it was almost over for her and that I had another year to go. And that it would go fast. The word trip was not involved in her post. I probably scoffed at the notion then of time going by quickly, but now that it's been 21 plus years since she wrote those words I understand what she meant and I marvel at how her grown up view contrasts with all of the childishness vividly on display. What a trip.

1. v./adv. (derived from "tripping") To act like someone who is hallucinating or on an acid trip. To do something that others find strange. "Girl, why you trippin' . . . he ain't all that!"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tis The Season For Goblinhaus

Now that October has creeped around the corner and knocked September into the gutter there's no better time of year to visit my pal Shrub's website Goblinhaus. There's ghoulish stuff there year round, but it gets no better than the annual Halloween blowout.

Monday, October 02, 2006

From Michael Landon's Ghost To Arch Hall Jr.

When I first met Wes White he was a thrash metal worshipping double pedal kick drummer with hair down his back and an ever present trucker cap turned backwards. Mind you that this was around 1991 or so. Since thrash metal is a guitar lesson or two removed from punk rock we hit it off splendidly with the Ramones as the socio-cultural bridge. It didn't hurt that I was also into Slayer and Metallica. Soon Wes had joined Toby and me in the Didjits loving Michael Landon's Ghost for several months of punk rock fury in the Nashville rock and roll scene. Later, Wes hooked up with the Teen Idols for a long spell of rock and roll glory after a brief stint in the Stray Cats scratching The Cramps mixture dubbed Hellbilly. Wes became smitten with the rockabilly scene and became an expert at the genre to the point that when cult legend (check the movies The Choppers and Wild Guitar) Arch Hall Jr. came to Pittsburgh recently needing a drummer for a gig there Wes was called out of retirement to man the thump thump hell yeah bump. You can briefly catch a glance of Wes in this Arch Hall Jr. Youtube clip. Wes rules!