Monday, December 10, 2007

2008 Prediction: FOGHAT Revival

2007 is running down with its inevitable best of lists sprouting up like liver spots on an aging man, Christmas specials running so often I'm sick of shows I once cherished, crowded highways and shops, extravagant light displays, and the generalized murmur about the erosion of the Chrismtas spirit. I veer from feeling this time of year is smashing to wanting to smash it. But this brief post isn't about right now or the year that has flown past. It's about the almighty power of the BOOGIE.

The closely guarded sacred scrolls of Smerdly "Tight Shoes" Johnson have been opened (all it took was a 6 pack of Pabst and a carton of Benson & Hedges) and they decree that 2008 will be the year of the FOGHAT revival. All herald the return of BOOGIE rock as we begin a "Slow Ride" to become one perfect Fool For The City as FOGHAT finally gets their critical reappraisal and just due. Can Savoy Brown (from whose loins sprang FOGHAT which makes them the Virgin Mary of BOOGIE) be far behind. 2008 looks to be the year that everybody wants the taste of Humble Pie in their eardrums. Will Wishbone Ash overcome their prog rock leanings to reap the benefit of this unprecedented outburst of the BOOGIE. It might be 40 Years After, but is that the BOOGIFIED relentless strains of "I'm Going Home" I hear on the ghost of festival's past. Lonesome Dave and Rod Price will kick up their BOOGIE shoes and their spirit WILL live on people! Just remember to forward all of my mail to the Boogie Motel.

Friday, December 07, 2007

20 Years Of Phonoluxe

My old workplace, Phonoluxe Records, got a write-up today by the Tennessean today in honor of its 20th anniversary. It's sort of weird that I even found the article since I never read the Tennessean. I had googled Phonoluxe just to get the zip code (I know the street address by heart - 2609 Nolensville Road) so I could send owner Mike Smyth a Christmas card. I spent five years great years there so congratulations are in order for Mike. Vivienne Westwood would be proud of that rockabilly and blues loving lad that used to hang out at Malcolm McLaren's Let It Rock on the King's Road.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Condition Beyond Critical

According to MSN, Kevin DuBrow is dead. The man that the Gonz dubbed "Old Yeller" back in my high school days is no more. I've still got my vinyl copy of Metal Health mainly because none of the local used record stores would take it (not even Phonoluxe when I worked there!), but I've still got a nostalgic spark for the platter. It was one of the first albums I bought before it became a big hit which provided me with that wonderful teenage ammunition of "I told you so" back then. It didn't take long to sour on the band but such is life during those fickle years. Here's to DuBrow who kept on rocking and lest we forget first brought us Randy Rhoads. You were the complete essence of cool if you had a copy of the first 2 Quiet Riot albums which you could only get on import then. I hope they crank up the stereo when DuBrow takes his last ride in a "Slick Black Cadillac."

Number 41

I would really love to get an antique portable typewriter for my 41st birthday. But I'll settle for a big cookie.

Friday, November 23, 2007

In The "Just Isn't Right" Category

This just isn't right. You can commence with the "perhaps somebody will set the building on fire" jokes now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why Buy A Stairway When So Many Are Free?

Who doesn't get a hankering sometimes for cover versions of "Stairway To Heaven?"

John Davis interview

There's a great interview with Superdrag's John Davis and some tasty mp3's at I Am Fuel.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Could Have Been Of Those Danceteria Types

My television always seems to be tuned to Sirius Left Of Center or episodes of House.

Right now I'm grappling with a conundrum that I've seen manifest itself repeatedly in my life. That which I initially hate I eventually love. Current exhibit: Tegan and Sara. Mullets & Canadian; it all conspires against them plus they weren't great shakes when they opened for Ryan Adams at the Ryman all those years ago. But suddenly I'm enjoying them in a completely unassuming and innocent way. I'm not trying to be a hipster. I'm just digging the way they sound together. I've come to realize I pass from obsession to obsession as regularly as the seasons.

I'm also totally grooving to Klosterman's scattershot pop culture philosophy in Sex, Drugs, And Cocoa Puffs. It's one of those zeitgeist type things for me - the right time to be reading something.

Finished it and now I’m over it.

I took the odometer off my bicycle. I've quit caring how many miles I ride or how fast I go. It's enough that I ride.

"Call me Ishmael" is the best beginning line in all of literature.

All of those “simplification” ideas I’ve collected and saved to Word files were slowing my system down so I finally took their advice: I deleted them.

The burn always follows the crash.

Pretty sneaky, sis would make a great album title for Tegan And Sara.

Some days all it is, is Paste Special, Paste Special, undo, and redo.

Things that creep me out: player pianos, music boxes – basically any mechanically contrived self playing musical device, clowns, mimes, helicopters, and computerized voices (just imagine how much I loathed Neil Young’s Trans album).

Some days you wonder: just who can you trust? You’re not really paranoid when everybody is out to get you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Goblinhaus Reviews Nashville's Haunted Attractions

Shrub and Kara from Goblinhaus came to the 'Ville a few weeks ago and hit 6 haunted houses in 2 nights. I hung out with them Saturday. After a visit to Phonoluxe, La Hacienda for lunch, Great Escape, Mckay, and then the Gerst Haus for supper I went to the Demon's Den in Antioch and Death Row off of Harding with them. I had a great time and you can read about it in the Haunted Nashville Weekend write up. Make sure and read all 3 parts.

Octopus Project's Hello, Avalanche out today

Like a fizzy analog electronic adult beverage. Here are a couple of tracks off it:

Bees Bein' Strugglin

An Evening With Arrtha

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Haunted Houses Of Imaginary Splendor or why isn't there a haunted home?

Okay, I'll admit that the first time I went through a haunted house I was scared. In fact; I was so scared that I ran out of it so fast I lost a tennis shoe. I was just a little kid. But since that fateful night at a cheap carnival in the Clarks department store parking lot I've not been frightened in a haunted house. To borrow the title of a great Pursuit Of Happiness song: I'm an adult now. What's there to fear from a bunch of teenagers in masks screaming at the top of their lungs.

Not that haunted houses aren't fun. I recently ventured forth to Nashville with Shrub and Kara from Goblinhaus and visited a couple of them and you should be able to read about that soon here. I had a good time, but the only horrifying part was the lack of an air conditioner at Death Row. While I may not have been terrified I did get to witness others that really were twitchy with fear. They may not have lost a shoe, but they did scamper away like rabbits when the Leatherface impersonators showed up with their carbon monoxide polluting chainsaws. They were the sort of haunted house goers that would never be able to make it out of that house that will give you a refund if you make it all the way through the attraction.

You know the one I'm talking about. It's 13 stories tall and you get a dollar back for every floor you get through. At least that's what my daughter's friend Miranda told her. When Emmy told me this before I set off for my haunted adventure last Saturday I chuckled. I told Shrub and Kara the story while we drank some beers at the Gerst Haus. I told them you hear all kinds of funny stories from 3rd graders. Later while waiting outside at Death Row we heard a variation of the story again.

No; Miranda wasn't visiting Death Row. This time a high school dude told Shrub all about this haunt in Kentucky that offered a refund if you could make it through the entire thing. When Shrub pressed him for the exact location he couldn't tell us. It was just "somewhere" in Kentucky. I suppose for many haunted house attendees this urban legend holds out a beguiling two sided allure. If you make it you're a hero and if you don't you can get in touch with the little kid inside yourself that perhaps once lost a shoe and feel that innocent fear once more. Whatever the reason, every year people will tell you about such haunted houses that are so scary they offer you cash back if you can make it to the end.

A quick trip through Google land and I found this from a Dallas website. Here's is another one about Dallas from Yahoo Answers. I found another one on Yahoo Answers about the St. Louis area posted a year ago. The chimera house has also been spotted in Kernelsville, North Carolina. The poster does say that it sounds like BS to them, but wishes it were true. Later, in the thread another person posts this. They are smart enough to include a link to the Snopes page on this phenomenon. The greater Chicago area also is a hotbed for this as this page from Haunted Illinois shows.

Like they say on one certain show; I think this myth is busted.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Was Wrong - Van Halen Is Back

I didn't think they could pull it off. But I was wrong - Van Halen is back. Losanjealous has a review and some great pics. And Youtube is just crawling with videos shot at the show.

Does Dave say "Nice try there Junior" to Wolfie?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Orphaned Stories

When it comes to writing my worst habit is not finishing what I start. Currently I've got a fantasy novel is various states of construction/deconstruction and a lengthy word text file devoted to ramblings about summer's spent in Ripley, Mississippi that I hope to turn into short stories some day. Maybe I'll break the habit with both of those projects and perhaps they'll join my other orphaned stories where I'll stumble upon them randomly like a chance encounter between two people that used to be friends but can now only fill the embarrassed silences with small talk and coughs.

Such as the case with the following short story excerpt. It's thinly disguised autobiographical in nature and the real folks in it will recognize themselves if they happen to stumble into this stewpot and read it. It takes one small moment in time and pops a hole right into the middle of it for a digression into juvenile memory that seems mean to me now yet still rings true. It's just one page that must have been part of many others, but just this part remains.

It could only have happened in some sweet deathless summer ages lost. Damien Snide, Bruno Gaff, and I got an invite to spend a weekend with Chris London at his aunt's home in Chattanooga with an ever stocked icebox (the aunt froze everything - even potato chips) and a pool table under shady mountain skies. It would be a Signal Mountain holiday!

Bruno drove us down in his Chevy Chevette full of bickering arms and legs cramped and weary of the harsh July sunshine. We fought over the radio dial at a hundred miles per hour down Mont Eagle falling rocks and rock and roll excited about the prospects of of miniature golf parks, Rock City, and record shops with maybe a beer or two tossed back if we got the chance. We were simpler then. Damien and Bruno were fresh off a year at college and spent most of the trip telling the University of Arizona bound Chris what it was like. I rode shotgun as the suspected and self purported mystic malcontent poet and college dropout more intent on finding the castle in the clouds.

The last time I had been under the knife sight of Lookout Mountain was as the guest of an embittered country singer's wife who wore cheap JC Penney gypsy gowns while her fright wig hair curled ominously atop her head with grime scrubbed coloring kit wonder. If you were to peel her skin like an onion dollar bills would fall out. She exploded in a rage from behind her orange shades when she found out she would have to buy my lunch. How was I supposed to have money? It was her husband that employed my father for slave wages to manage his farm. He couldn't even afford a decent coat last winter. I was brought along to keep her bratty grandson company. I felt like she should have been buying my lunch and paying me extra for having to babysit her mopheaded goof of a grandson. He was just 10 years old and I was 15 so I couldn't stand him even if I did feel sorry for him because the witch didn't act like she cared for him too much because he was a step grandson and not a blood relative. The less of that woman's blood in the world the better was what I thought.

My mind was wandering through that past teenage wasteland right before we got to Chattanooga when 4 blonde girls passed us in a Volkswagen Rabbit in a blur of greyblack and beauty. Bruno gave chase. He need no urging. This was an important matter after all. We quickle overtook them. We passed them and yelled with hungry bobbing heads. The girls waved with long slender arms toward us. They were giggling open mouthed and friendly. The race was on 20 miles outside of town when they accelerated by us again.

We played car tag through the traffic. It was if the other cars didn't exist anymore as we weaved one after the other after the other. As we flirted with each other I realized it was much each car's lust as it was the occupants'. We sliced through the air and it seemed to rejoice with our play. The hillsides were giving up the day's heat and dusk smoked in the leaves promising a splendid evening (a mid-summer's?). We arrived at our exit torn between the women in the Rabbit or our plans. Would it be original sin or our original destination? We blew the girls carbon monoxide kisses and waved goodbye. Bruno was amenable to keeping the game going, but Chris and Damien were insistent on it as futile. I could fall in or out of love on a whim so they ignored my entreaties to not give up the chase.

"What would we do if they had stopped," asked Damien which I thought was a perfectly silly question since there wasn't anything other than an empty gas gauge suggesting they would pull over for us. What had mattered was the chase. It was the speed and the pursuit because we all knew that if we had stopped it would never equal the worlds we were all imagining. I'd sit and fume as I'd done countless times before until the Rolling Stones "Sympathy For The Devil" came over the radio and Chris, Damien, and I drove Bruno half mad singing the "woohoo" background vocals.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Free Will

Something in my soul today longed for winter. The cold, the gloom, the short daylight hours, and sweaters, coats, hats, and scarves. I wanted to skip the fall. Send it to Hawaii on a long vacation. The thing that provoked this feeling was related to an internal climate of cold. The inexorable slide toward mortal thoughts; that preoccupation of decay. It was a visit to Murfreesboro that took me down Northfield Boulavard and the old First Freewill Baptist Church at the corner of Sulphur Springs that caused me such consternation that 3 days on finds me longing for winter.

I know the place has been unoccupied for a long time. I don't know if the church went under or if it moved, but the vacant building has stood there on the corner reminding me of earlier days. They weren't even all happy days either. I spent a considerable amount of energy skipping church which often landed me in trouble with adults I despised. But first maybe I should tell how I got involved with First Freewill in the first place.

We lived on Poplar Avenue. The house is still there unlike many of the places where I lived that have been torn down. So I was either in the 1st or 2nd grade around this time. I liked climbing on the roof of the garage and then leaping off it. I played with Hot Wheels cars in the gravel driveway. I rode a cool yellow orange bike with a banana seat plastered over with stickers from Wacky Packs. One day my folks got some new appliance. It came in a box that was big enough that I made a playhouse out of it. I kept it under a tree in the front yard which is where I was playing one day when this lady and man got out of a car and asked to speak to me.

I ran to the front door of the house screaming. I had been taught to not speak to strangers. My parents would let me roam the toy departments of Big K, Clarks, and Roses by myself while they shopped and that was okay. But speaking to a stranger could mean my ass either way. My mother came to the door and spoke with the lady and man. After a few minutes she came inside and asked me if I would like to go to Vacation Bible School where I'd get to play with other kids, have snacks, and learn about God. Thus began my tenure at First Freewill that lasted until 7th grade interrupted for a spell when we lived too far out of town for the church bus to come.

That's how I got to First Freewill. I rode an old school bus painted blue that went all over Murfreesboro picking up children. It was driven by a man named Watson who lived near Bellwood. I remember this now because of two things. I went to a party at his house once back then and I remember the bus parked behind the house and I thought he lived in a really nice home for somebody that just drove snotty nosed kids around in a church bus. He had a son named Jeremy who I really didn't like, but was forced to play with him since we close in age. He went to Riverdale later and there's a picture of him in my senior yearbook spotlighting his 'breaking" skills.

Riding the bus wasn't too bad. It was even exciting one day when the bus got hit one Sunday morning as it tried to cross Allen Avenue. It had just picked me up. We had moved to Lynn Street by this time to a little yellow home just around the corner from our house on Poplar. Mr. Watson was upset in a very un-Christian like manner when the bus had the wreck. It didn't hurt the bus though. It was a big blue tank.

The church was, I suppose, much like others. There was Sunday School which was cool when you had pretty high school aged girls teaching it and incredibly dull and horrible when older ladies with moustaches called the shots. Sunday school was the absolute best part of the day when a pretty girl taught it. When I was 6th grade age I usually skipped the church services, but I never missed Sunday School since I had a mad crush on the girl who taught it. I was way beyond kool aid age by then and if she'd known what was going on in my mind I'm sure I would have served as a fine candidate for damnation.

Sunday School was fun. It was all memorizing Bible verses, coloring, and snacks and it never lasted long enough unless an old lady taught it. Then it was just like the church services. These were terminal, boring, and absolutely nauseating to me. There was a lady (the minister's wife maybe) who played the organ while we sang turgid hymns. When this was over they passed around a collection plate and I hated this because I never had but change to put in plus I was always tempted to take money out and even though I never did this aura of temptation created unfounded guilt in my heart. After this came the sermon and I cannot remember any of the one's heard upstairs in the adult church.

It was all just noise to me. I spent my time idly staring at the baptismal behind the minister who was named Mr. Van Winkle, while he sounded like a teacher from a Charlie Brown cartoon. I wondered if the water was cold and would they get mad if I jumped in for a bath. I learned to tie my shoelaces during one of the sermons. I'd flip through my Bible or poke holes in it with a pencil. They wouldn't let me sit with other kids because I liked to talk too much so I'd squirm throughout the service waiting for the altar call song "Just As I Am" (with every head bowed and every eye closed) hoping it would be over so I could shake the preacher's hand as I walked out the door. I didn't like to shake the minister's hand just because it meant freedom, but I honestly liked the guy. I might not have heard a word he preached or understood it, but he always seemed so happy to see me.

During 5th grade we lived on Manson Pike in a 2 story house with 5 acres. You won't find that house now because a medical complex now sits on some of that land. We didn't live there but a year or so and then it was back to Murfreesboro to live in some rental houses again. My parents would buy a house, find out they couldn't afford it, and then rent something until they thought they could buy a home again. So once we had moved into a home on Murfree the church bus came calling and I was back to Free Will, but the services had been changed. There was now something called Children's Church in place.

I know it was done precisely because the adult service went right over a kid's head. The children's service had sing alongs that were fun, it had snacks just like Sunday School, and it had skits and a more relaxed preahing style. The only thing it had in common was the "Just As I Am" altar call at the end and to this day I loathe that song. I guess it's not that song so much as it was the secetive nature of the "every head bowed and every eye closed" admonition that always preceded it. There was just too much shame passed around for me. Even though the adult service was dull by this time I felt a little too old to be attending something called Children's Church. So I started skipping it with this kid named Danny.

As soon as Sunday School ended we'd make our escape to the parking lot where we'd hide behind the bus. As soon as we thought the coast was clear we'd make a run for it and head across the street. We'd find a place were there was a break in a huge hedge and we'd spend the church hour hunting for crawdad in the little creek that runs beside Sulphur Springs. We'd splash around getting our church clothes dirty throwing rocks and have ourselves a good time. We'd head back to church and then ride home on the bus with no one the wiser. Until one day when we didn't get back to church on time.

Then all hell broke loose. Mr. Watson's wife saw us walking back into the parking lot and she went crazy. She screamed at us "I knew you too were skipping church" and then she threatened to whip us. I let her know that nobody whipped me except for my parents and licensed educators in the Tennessee public school system and it got to be a fairly ugly scene. She calmed down and told us she would let our parents know which was no big deal really. Our parents were the ones who made us ride a church bus every Sunday while they sat at home. It wasn't like they occupied some moral high ground.

It wasn't long after this that I quit going to First Free Will Baptist. I didn't miss it. I probably don't miss it now. But it's still sad to see it will probably soon be replaced by giant drugstore or something similar. Then the people shopping there won't smell the whiff of kool aid and hot dogs cooked on a grill at a Vacation Bible School. They won't hear the laughter of children exploring the field beside the church where an old abandoned silo sat like some alien from outer space. The building will torn down and some will never know that the Sunday School and Children's Church were downstairs and the adult services were held upstairs, but it wasn't really upstairs after all because you could walk out of the service onto a hill while downstairs was level with the bottom of the hill. It will all be gone.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Vomitus Most Atrocious Seriously

The Soulfish wife insisted we DVR the VMA's. Britney was a sluggish mess. And I dare say MTV is done. Finished. The old music industry structure is rotting and MTV is part of that building. The old awards shows had a spirit of positivity about them. I never thought I'd say this: but bring back Stipe and his goofy slogan t-shirts. At least he wore his misguided heart on his sleeves. Now it's all about being gangster and bling this and bling that. Many of the performances were incomplete and held in darkened party suites that put me in mind of Poe's The Masque Of The Red Death. The shows from the past at least made a pretense of celebrating the tenuous art form of videos, while now it is clearly only a popularity extravaganza. (Hey whippersnappers) The rock and roll of our day made rebellion look like fun. The crap paraded on MTV last night makes rock/rap/pop/whatever look like degrading clique riddled Hollywood/Vegas garbage. No wonder all the kids are playing video games and surfing the net. Look past their tattoos and piercings; they’re smarter than they look.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

"gone are days of innocence"

Consider this a truncated Fanboy post. Shadow 15 were a Nashvlle hard rock slash punk slash New Wave slash alternative slash whatever your heart desired band back in the mid-80's rock and roll apogee. They were Scott Feinstein, Shannon Ligon, Barry Nelson, and Chris Feinstein. They released a cassette in 1984 featuring "Time Dies", "A Room With You", "Return", "The Last Forever", "Endless Day", "Trust Me", "So Far Today", and "Just Like Before" and I'm lucky to have an autographed copy. This was followed by an EP produced by themselves and Tom Der released by Big Monkey Records in 195. It was titled Far Away and featured "Time Dies", "Just Like Before", "So Far Today", and "Maybe Tomorrow." They also contributed "The Last Forever" to the City Without A Subway compilation. When pressed to describe their sound I always cop out to Joy Division meets Judas Priest minus the leather and I see no reason to stop now. You can check out their performance on cable access show from back then and make up your own mind.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hipsters, hehe

Saturday Night Satellites

I'm always a contrarian. I say I'm done writing about music and what do I do, but immediately compose a music piece. If you happen to be down the San Antonio way be sure to check out the lysergic garage rock instro beat rock of The Saturday Night Satellites. It's retro rock and roll done right by some true aficionado's who won't let silly things like words get in their way.

I Was Blogging When I Should Have Been Listening

I know; you probably think I'm trying to relive my teenage years since the blogging has been so spotty lately, but it's not the case. Other things have just seemed extra pertinent: family, music (Mudhoney, Nina Simone, and Richie Havens are my faves of this week), reading (Heat currently), story writing (look for The Wayside Bible Club, think Fast Times Of Ridgemont High meets Halloween, to hit Goblinhaus in October), and downright laziness. I also finally got a DVR so I've been watching lots of movies; The Sugarland Express, White Lightning, The Devil And Daniel Johnston (one yeah on the DD Blank 3 yeah grading system), The Matador, and The Squid And The Whale among many.

Plus there's just a generalized anomie working on my head: what should I blog about? Writing about music seems to be not worth the trouble anymore unless I can provide mp3's. There are just so many talented people out there in the blogosphere waxing rhapsodic about their music - just see Hype Machine or Elbo. I've lost that great proselytizing urge, that need to share the music you love. This is a bit sad since I used to really work people over with what I enjoyed. Dig up some of my friends from back in the day and they'll tell you.

There are always current events, but they don't really move me to get really gone if you catch my drift. Translated: I'm no reporter and I'm not after chasing ambulances whether political, military, economic, or celebrity related. I posted a few politically bent pieces in the past and they seem particularly cringe worthy now that I've changed my mind on certain things. I'll keep my views to the voting booth and live my life with integrity and let the dust settle from that in the end.

So what's left? I don't have one specific talent, no expertise to share with the worldwide web. Damn I wish I had thought of the idea to blog about every R.E.M. song or something similar. Maybe there's a thirst out there for in depth B.J. And The Bear episode summaries.

Maybe somebody would like an exegesis on the character of the quintessential redneck shitkicker Bobby "Gator" McKlusky who along with Billy Jack, Batman, and Bruce Lee were all idols of mine when I was grade school age (what is it with all the "B" names). Let’s throw Evel Knievel in there too to bust those “B’s” up a little.

I would do comedy, but we've got Rex L. Camino for that. This leaves me the nostalgia amusement park of prose. I could perhaps do something with that. But it might take awhile. My memory synapses could use some rejuvenation. I once prided myself on a photographic memory, but I think they were all remembered on Polaroid’s and they're fading fast. Nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake isn’t enough. I have to make my material vital in a time machine applicable sort of way. Let the ghosts of the past communicate with today. So now I shall go mediate for some time and try to remember the best stories from the past. But first let me watch the B.J. And The Bear credits and theme a few dozen more times.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vinyl Record Day

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that today is Vinyl Record Day with blogswarm postings across the blogosphere. You can find a summary at The Hits Just Keep On Comin'. Thank you Edison. My love of vinyl began with my mother's Elvis Presley 45's and then the first record I bought was Chuck Berry's "My Ding-A-Ling" probably at the Clark's department store in Murfreesboro. I later ended up with so many records I was able to sell off half of my collection to pay for a trip to London for me and my wife in 1998.

I Probably Could Google This Stuff And Get Answers

Why do people paint tree trunks white?
Why do people raise mules today?
Why did Michael Anthony get the boot from Van Halen?
Why does anybody watch Mtv these days? And yes; I'm not a fan of The Hills.
Why listen to commercial radio in Nashville?
Why does it always seem like I'm riding my bicycle into a headwind?
Why do the junkiest trailers always have vicious dogs chained out front?
Why am I writing this and why are you reading it?

I think I'll go outside and play now....except that the head index is surface of the sun right so blogging seems like the thing to do today.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Here We Go Again

The title would perhaps be more approriate if Whitesnake were reuniting, but the big news is that those geriatric geezers plus a Wolfie, Van Halen, are planning on a reunion tour again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

5th Grade High Murks updated

It's back to school time and with my eldest daughter starting 3rd grade and my youngest beginning kindergarten my thoughts are wandering back to when I was elementary age. This led me to a murky place in my memory called 5th grade Mitchell-Neilson Elementary School. The disappointment I felt at the beginning of that school year is still fresh today. I got Ms. Murks as a teacher who was known throughout the school as the meannest 5th grade teacher there. Even her name sounded cruel. Plus, there was that Ms. in front of her name. Even by the 5th grade I knew it meant divorcee. That just showed me she couldn't get along with people. I figured it was going to be a miserable year.


I quickly figured out that I had been mistaken. Sure; Ms. Murks was mean if your definition was that she didn't allow us to goof off. She was problably considered mean by the classroom troublemakers with whom she always dealt with decisively and swiftly. Her crackpot theory about how potable water was running out and how we would have to recycle our urine to drink did scare me at the time, but I don't think it was mean. Her one avenue of meanness was this: she was mean in the fact that she always expected more than our best. The classroom television show is a good example.


Each classroom had a televsion. We'd watch a few local public television offerings, but they usually cast out blank black screens at us while we daydreamed of viewing cartoons. When spring came my class got exciting news. We were going to produce a news show filmed in a real studio that would be seen by the entire school! We got to pick how we wanted to contribute to the show with the knowledge that Ms. Murks would have final say. Many of the kids were just dying to get on camera, but all I wanted to do was help out with the graphics and art that would needed in the backgrounds.


I was crazy for drawing back then. My parents even sent my drawing of Tippy in to those "Can You Draw Tippy" people. They sent us a brochure, but I didn't get to attend art school. I settled for making up and illustrating comics with my friends and endless doodles of Kiss on stage. I had a blast working on the news show graphics. That squegee sound of the magic markers! The smell of   them too. Construction paper and cardboard scissor cuts. Laughter and expectation were the rule. And then Ms. Murks took me aside and got mean.


I had to put down my markers because I was a marked man. She wanted me on camera. And not just to be a reporter. She wanted me to be one of the anchor people for this production. This was something I didn't want to do. I wanted to be behind the scenes and not powdered with makeup and baking under studio lights. But Ms. Murks was persuasive in her compliments, argument, and her unyielding will. I was fated to become a reluctant star.


The day arrived for our trip to the studio. I had written my lines on the cue cards and practiced at home and in class. We weren't going to have the luxury of multiple cuts. We got in a bus and headed a few miles down the road to the old Critchlow School. A low budget television studio of sorts had been set up in the back. I recall it as a basement, but it might not have been. The thing I remember most is the red hot studio lights. While the segments were short; it was torture being under the glare of those things. We filmed our show, trooped back to the bus, and headed home to Mitchell-Neilson with everybody badgering Ms. Murks about when we'd get to see it.


A week or so later and we got to watch an uncut version. It was exciting to see ourselves on screen. Everybody laughed when I paused to wet my lips while reading a segment. Ms. Murks assured us they would edit that part out. That part was gone when it aired in front of the school later. Ms. Murks also made sure that all of our parents got to see it regardless of their schedule. My mother came after school one day and watched it with me and was naturally very proud of me.


But I didn't want her praise. The person who really deserved it was the meanest teacher in 5 th grade. Ms. Murks wasn't cruel; she was the coolest. When nostalgia really grips me I wish I could stumble across a videotape of that fake newscast. I wish I could hear Ms. Murks as she read us stories again. I have vivid memories of her reading a book about the first ascent of the Matterhorn. How great it would be to eavesdrop on that for just a few moments.  I never have gotten back that little hologram toy she took from me one day when I was goofing off in class, but that's a small price to pay for everything she gave me.

Update: I discovered there was listing for Ms. Murks in the phonebook so I gave her a call. I thanked her for being such a great teacher and we caught up on things. It was a delight to hear her voice again and find that she is doing quite well and is devoted to landscaping her house as a hobby. I learned the book about the Matterhorn is Banner In The Sky in which the mountain is fictionalized as the Citadel. You can bet I will be re-reading it soon. No word if there are any videotapes of the television shows floating around, but she did say they helped the city of Murfreesboro get a grant back then so I'm glad to have played a role in that. So call up your favorite teacher and thank them. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sting Was Screaming In My Ear; Peanuts! a short fiction

I needed to go by the square. DD came along with me. It was like old times. Timeless and aimless. We turned a corner off the square and found the store I needed to visit. Remember when this place used to sell fresh hot peanuts? Not really. It was back in the late Eighties. I didn't think you liked peanuts back then. Sure. Who doesn't love hot peanuts? People that are allergic to them. Man; I'd love some of those peanuts again. Come on. We walked back around the corner. Are you ready to go back in time? What? I'm serious. Concentrate on 1989 and follow my lead. I led DD back around the corner and my only thought was of peanuts.

We could smell it before we hit the sidewalk. The fresh peanut smell wafted up by a summer breeze. The store front had changed. Fake bricks had been replaced by peeling white painted boards. A small sign that simply said NUTS was nailed above the door. It gave off a ring as I went inside. DD remained outside. Inside it was just as I remembered.

It was grungy. The hot peanut smell dominated the place. Snacks hung on shiny steel coils by the cash register. You could see the square from a window behind the counter. Long vanished stores appeared in the shimmery afternoon heat. I strained my eyes to see a calendar on the wall in a corner. August 1989. A tiny Asian lady was behind the counter. I'd like a bag of peanuts. She said okay. And then she began to ask me about my life. Questions such as why was I wasting it? What was my future process plan? At this moment; all I want is a bag of peanuts.

The bell rang. DD walked in. I give up. I'll take some peanuts too. The lady put the bag on the counter. That will be $14. O....kay. Now I remembered why this grungy little store closed. Cheap nuts at gourmet prices. But; I hadn't journeyed to 1989 for nothing. I had a twenty in my pocket my wife had given me for some errand I had already forgotten. I pushed it across the counter top and the little woman looked at disdainfully. That money is not real. The President's head is too big. I'm not going to take that. You better come up with something real or I'll call the police. DD and I threw our American Express cards on the counter. It was no good. We hadn't had them since 1989.

We left the store and the past empty handed. We felt a little nausea as we returned to 2007. Around the corner and back and now the store front was fake brick with a guitar shaped sign above the door. I needed some picks. I browsed the guitars and found an Aria Pro Thor Sound just like the one I had played back in the punk rock band days. It even had some of the same stickers on it: Black Flag, Vision Skates, a mod target, and The Most. The clerks were obnoxious and into progressive metal. I slipped on peanut shells and knocked over a drum kit.

The end.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tour Day France

The title is my little nod to Bob Roll. So what do I think about how this year's tour went down? The surprise. I'm actually fairly astonished they didn't catch more riders doping. I'm glad that Rabobank pulled the Chicken from the race. I know a mountain climber needs to be skinny, but that dude's skeletal physique creeped me out. I really, really hope that Contador rode clean, but his ties to the Spanish doping scandal don't cheer me much. Finally; I'm really happy for Leipheimer winning the time trial today. His mild manners often make him seem to be a rather pedestrian cyclist and his performance today showcased a killer instinque that I knew had to lurk under the surface.

Bad Back

Out of commission for a week due to a sprained back muscle. Damn you, Kelly Clarkson! But at least I was able to go for a bike ride today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fridays Used To Mean Partying Now It Means The Soup

It's Friday night and once upon a time that meant party time from roller skating in 7th grade to shotgunning beers to holding court at a trivia bar the impetus was for excitement and socializing. Now it's about late afternoon bicycle rides, quiet night of reading, and hoping I can stay awake during The Soup. My life is beginning to suspiciously resemble a Dave Barry column.

Before you click away figuring you've stumbled across the usual middle aged lament on faded youth and boredom; DON'T. I like my Friday's as they are now which means that 10 years from today I'll probably be spending them doing something completely different. It's the nature of living. Change is the one constant. My Friday's past are filled with occurrences that I can't ever see happening again. Some of them are truly one of a kind while others are things I've outgrown. So here's a list of old school Friday's.

1. I once sat in a law office on a bored late night with DD Blank probably after running off some Anti-Society copies trying to list every episode of The Brady Bunch. We'd just look it up on the internet now.

2. I used to drive around aimlessly drinking beer with ZZ Top cranked on the car stereo. Dazed And Confused; yeah that was youth.

3. I used to hang out in gamerooms playing pinball extremely well and shooting pool very poorly. The only gameroom I check out now is the one at Chuck E. Cheese with my kids.

4. It was lots of fun to speed through M.T.S.U.'s campus back in the day which made us so many friends with the campus cops. Is there even a thru road there now?

5. Skateboarding all night in Nashville. We'd wait until midnight to hit the hills beside the state capitol building. I might ride down the driveway and pop an ollie every now and then, but skateboarding all night is definitely out these days.

6. One night it was me, DD, and the Wolf as we cruised the 'Boro listening to some Public Enemy when DD yelled at some punk in a VW bug to move his ass. He proceeded to chase us all over town until he finally caught up to his, jumped out of his VW, and then threw a punch at DD as we pulled away. The guy might have been in for a beatdown, but his punch was so girly we were too busy laughing to even think about retaliation.

7. Sometimes back in the Mazzio's Pizza days I'd get off work at 1am, head over to Bob & Ronnie's apartment, shotgun several beers, and then watch The Song Remains The Same until the wee hours of the morning. Once a bunch of the ladies who worked there came over too. And guess what...we did the same thing as usual while they sat on the couch bored.

8. In my much younger days I'd get my mother to take me to the Riverdale football games where I'd spend the entire time smoking cigarettes while wandering around trying to meet girls. Football game? What football game?

9. One truly singular event I'm glad to say has never happened again nor will it: attending the 1988 New Year's Eve party thrown by the infamous Milnars. I still don't have a clue how I got home. There was driving involved.

10. Though this probably happened on Saturday and perhaps it's only apocryphal - it's the party mentality personification. It began in the afternoon with lots of wine and miniature golf. Next up was throwing super ball off the roof of the Hilton's parking garage. Then it was on to the inside of the Hilton riding up and down the glass elevators. Next we climbed up to the roof of the revolving restaurant. This would be enough to satisfy most, but from there we went to Centennial Part and drove around there after hours. Then it was back to Murfreesboro where we climbed the fire tower out on Tiger Hill, watched the sunrise, and then got breakfast at Krystals.

I just can't see that sort of stuff happening again. I've been there and done that. And I don't want to do it again. Time to pick up where I left off in the novel I'm reading and wait for The Soup to come on.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Challenge To The World Series Of Pop Culture

I've been watching VH1's World Series Of Pop Culture with great interest for a couple of reasons. One; because I'm a pop culture trivia nut. Two; because I signed up to take VH1's online quiz to become part of their internet assembled squad dubbed Almost Perfect Strangers 2.0 and when it came time to take the test I was continually barred access by VH1 due to a code typing error. So I'm a little pissed about that deal. Because I know I could throwdown with the teams I've seen this season. So here's my challenge: I'll take on any of the teams on the show by myself anytime and anywhere. As for who I hope wins it: I like the youngsters on Twisted Misters to take the top prize.

Update: The Twisted Misters won it all tonight. Damn, I'm happy when I'm right. Come to think of it; I'm happy quite often.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter Marked For Death

No, I'm not talking about the possibility that the little cretin will get offed in the latest book and it appears somebody leaked the whole thing. The title of this post is a reference to an article that Lester Bangs once wrote about James Taylor. Now that I've cleared up that internal joke let's get on to the meat and potato food fight of this post. I don't like Harry Potter and I'm gratified to find that I'm not the only one. I tried. I checked out the first book from the library after my pal DD raved about this new children's book featuring a young wizard named Harry. Hogwarts sounded like a junior high version of Terry Pratchett's Unseen University setting so I figured I was in for something special.

As usual I was out of step with the world - thank you Minor Threat. I found the book to be derivative, poorly written, and ultimately just downright boring. I couldn't imagine why kids or adults were so smitten with it when there were so many kids lit classics out there. Treasure Island anyone? How about The Hobbit. Taste is entirely subjective so I decided to just avoid the subject of Potter though I did write about the brat once before. But now I've found an ally in my Potter playa hating I can be out in the open about my dislike for the magician.

This might fall on deaf ears, but for you adults out there; unless you have children please put the Potter books down. Try some Terry Pratchett or Robert Rankin instead. Their books are well written, hysterically funny, and the magic in them will last much longer than some pop culture aberration.

A Dando Summer Day

It's true. There was a brief second in the Nineties when I thought the Lemonheads were one of the best bands on the planet; even if they were hardly a band but just a mere a protective shell of a brand name for Evan Dando's wistful alt pop ditties. Here was a guy that could make something as mundane as replacing an old stove seem profound. When they delivered a lackluster and spitefull set at the Exit/In I moved on to other things, but there is still a soft spot in my heart for Dando and his stoner chic alt hippie persona. So I dug this first in an announced 2 part series of posts at Jefitoblog. I'm looking forward to part 2 and the moment Rick James enters the story.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Locals Only - Murfreesboro Punk Redux

Yesteryear time: From the original Soulfish Stew fanzine that never saw the light beyond my own bedroom back in the day. The timeframe is roughly 1987 and it's a review I wrote about the M'boro punk band Inner Circle. Stick around for the humility.

Now for more serious stuff like me reviewing a local M Town band; the Inner Circle. Some young suburban punks had been buzzing in my years about how great these dudes be being so I put my rasta boots in my locker and threw on the old combat booties and prepared for a thrashing evening. Oh; what disappointment lurked around the corner in Jabbs. I got mugged by a pillow. The high school aged dudes on stage were much too content regaling us with original garbage-ola that none us had ever heard nor would have wanted to have heard.

It was not even punk. It lacked propulsion. It omitted the angries. The monotone voiced lead singer screamed in a deathly emotionless way during tunes that seemed to dirge on endlessly with guitar and drum solos added in for bad measure. This from a supposed punk band? C'mon guys; just because your rich parents bought you jerks instruments doesn't mean you have to form a band. You'd be much cooler and impress me if you bought me my personal keg of beer. Imported, please.

The high point of the show was their cover of "Anarchy In The U.K." even though I know I could have done a better job of screaming it. I also wouldn't have jumped around like a banana averse dumb monkey and I wouldn't have written four letter words on my jacket to be so not shocking. Enough of this; back to the usual wail.

I hated this band so much that I jumped at the chance to try out to be their new lead singer and then I didn't get the gig. So there's the humble pie part. But I didn't feel too bad when I found out later that the reason I lost the chance to be their new frontman was because I was too punk rock.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Spruced Up

It's an all new and improved Soulfish Stew with more changes to come. I'm going to redo the links column eliminating some and adding some new ones. And oh yeah...I might start posting some regular irregular junk again.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bicycle runs over dog: no winners

I ran over a dog today. I was on my bicycle. While it wasn't a pretty site it could have been worse. It seemed to happen in slow motion, an inevitable chain of events tied together by the laws of the universe with physics and gravity colliding to make a meat sandwich out of my right palm and cutting my ride short. The dog ran off whining under a culvert. But neither the dog nor myself were the first thing on my mind as I came loose from the clipless pedals and began the trajectory toward the pavement. The number one thng is the bike. Now to the bike snobs out there it might just be a Trek 1000 that's been upgraded just a bit, but to me it's a best friend and my only thought was I hope it's okay. A quick glance over my shoulder as I fell told me it might make it through this trauma. I jumped right up after I hit to inspect it and other than the chain popping off it looked to be okay. I noticed that flesh was hanging off my hand, but it was only 9 miles back to the house so I could tough that out. The chain grease mixed well with the blood and I got the chain back on and headed back for a date with some hydrogen peroxide and gauze. And damn; I was having such a great morning. Not a cloud in the sky and little Sunday traffic to deal with and then, BAM, one stray dog ruined my day...not that his day was likely improved by being run over by a bicycle. Note to self: now you know why all the bicyclists you know wear glovess, and it might be a good idea to pack a small first aid kit in your bike bag.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Obligatory Bang!

I've fearlessly engaged in bottle rocket wars. I've held lit roman candles as they sputtered and spewed. I've used gasoline to start campfires. But I won't play with firecrackers. I can't stand them because I fear them. I distrust their tiny fuses. I don't like their miniaturized explosions. And like many things in my life this fear can be traced back to my summer vacations in North Mississippi. Because my maniac cousins were into firecrackers in a major way.

I spent, from the age of 4 - 18, every 4th of July in Ripley, Mississippi visiting my grandmother and assorted aunts and uncles and cousins. If enough cousins were around it would be both fun and terrifying. It was fun to hang out with Alton Ray, Mark, Tony, and Lisa who were around my age, but you had to watch your back around the older cousins. They liked to tease and antagonize the younger kids and they took special aim at the only child from Middle Tennessee.

It was the usual stuff: they liked to call me names, dangle me over the side of a rowboat and threaten to drop me into a catfish infested pond, beat me up, and I'm sure many other things I've thankfully repressed. One method of antagonizing lives on in my memory every year coming to vivid life with the snap, crack, and pop of whole neighborhoods shooting firecrackers. My older cousins were firecracker obsessed.

They'd load up on them at a tent just outside of the First Monday flea market and spend the next few days with lighters ablaze firing them off on the gravel driveway, on the front porch, in the backyard, and even in the house if all of the adults were gone. These were rarely controlled demolitions. They always gave me the impression of chaos in action with their repeated attempts at lighting the temperamental fuses of the colorful tightly wound cheap firecrackers. They'd scramble away and then warily approach the firecracker if it didn't explode and try again.

This always left me wondering, "Why didn't they ever blow their hands off?" Because this was what was supposed to happen to kids who played with fireworks. My mother and the media were authorities on this subject. Every year you get the same reports of how firecrackers can injure you. You can get burned and mangled. You might lose a finger, a hand, or an eye and be disfigured for life. This wasn't going to happen to me since I wasn't allowed to play with any fireworks nor was I about to since I was even more scared of getting my butt burned by my switch toting mother than of the fireworks.

Obedience is a crime when you're a kid. I was nothing but a wuss to them. "He can't play with firecrackers! He's just a wussy. Hey, momma's boy, does she hold your hand in the bathroom." This; I could handle. I didn't mind my teenage cousins and their taunting too much. Back then; if you give me a Hot Wheels car, a comic book, and a Popsicle I was content. They really got my attention when they started sneaking up behind me and setting their firecrackers off. I did what any sane person would do. I'd leap up in the air scared out of my skin which would bring such laughter to my tormentors they'd end up crying which was convenient for them since they would then accuse me of setting off the firecrackers. If one was to do a film of my life now would be the time to cue up the Benny Hill chase music as my mother would come into the frame carrying a maple switch while I pleaded for the life of my bare legs while motoring around and around grandma's tiny house.

I have to hand it to them. My elder cousins were masters of this sort of psychological terror. This was bad for me, but still not the worst. The worst was when they just let their subconscious meanness come to the forefront. Then I became a firecracker target. I'd be sitting on the porch sipping an iced sweet tea watching the dump people ride by on their odd bicycles trying to make it through another hellishly hot Mississippi afternoon when I'd hear a sizzling sound slicing through the air headed straight toward me. Where there was one, there were more.

Lucky for me I had some factors on my side. My cousins aim was horrible. The firecrackers were also really cheap and a good third of them would be duds. Of the ones that weren't; most would pop before they got to me. I was also very speedy when frightened. But enough of them exploded either on me or close enough to inspire my cousins to send firecrackers launching my way every chance they got. They did it guilt free because once the first firecracker fusillade fell they always offered to give me some so we could have a proper war knowing damn well I wasn't allowed to touch them,

My cousins let me have it over this for years until I took part in their bottle rocket war when I was around 13. By then my mother must have decided I had been obedient enough and needed to cut loose. Which is what I did. I went crazy on my cousins decimating them with pinpoint bottle rocket precision; the woods behind grandma's house lit up with bursts of burning destruction. Once this happened all was forgiven. I never had to worry about the firecracker terror again. Not that I was about to get into firecrackers myself. There were too many miles of bad road there.

So have fun this 4th of July. And please; no sneaking up behind me with a firecracker.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lack Of Action

Yep, I've been noticing a lack of action here too. And I humbly apologize, but life is hectic right now. I'll eventually get back to some semi-regular posts awash in nostalgia and current day angst, but for now: how about a band from Georgia I like:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Paris in the klink and other random things

I will cop to doing one great Paris Hilton imitation: I find something completely inane and say with a falsetto voice, "That's hot" and the room explodes with laughter. Well, I made up that last part. And while I did watch some of the first season of The Simple Life; it's not like I go out of my way for Paris Hilton info. Lately such info has been everywhere. It's in the air you breathe and that air is downright poisonous. My workplace was filled with people chortling over the heiress crying in the back of the squad car when she went back to jail. And as usual I was living out a Minor Threat song. I was "Out Of Step" with the world again because I actually felt pity for Paris. Sure she's a billionaire whose ego surely needed deflating, but c'mon...releasing someone from jail and then hauling them back a day later is uncool.

Other random things:

I never (gasp) watched The Sopranos. But the buzz from the series has penetrated my subconscious - Last night I dreamed me and the wife had to eliminate a couple of gangsters. We got into an argument about whether we should bury them or chop them up.

Our son Liam doesn't talk much at the age of 2. His sisters were chatterboxes by then. But last night at the dinner table after Emily made a rude noise Liam looked at me, grinned, and said "Daddy, Emmy pooted." So he can talk if somebody farts at the table.

So I didn't see the end of The Sopranos; I did see the finale of Ned's Declassified which was one of the most consistently entertaining kid's shows around. You gotta love a show where we're told they all lived happily ever after.

The Dangers Of Being A Critic

In my in box this morning: a comment on an ancient review I wrote for Blogcritics about a band called Ninja Gun. The main man, Jonathan Coody, of the band lobbed this grenade at me:

I don't mean to be the guy who gets a bad review and lashes out at the douchebag who served it up, but here goes...I'm sure your failed attempt at "success" in rock'n'roll could have been the catalyst for your bile, but I think it's kind of pathetic for a hack/failure like yourself who really has nothing to say to write some review to probably impress a small group of nerdy hack friends. If you came to our show looking for a bunch of illiterate punks in cowboy boots trying to pimp out some form of fashion, then I'm sure you were both confused and let down. You see, people of your ilk can only comprehend superficiality. Originality is most likely lost on you. If it wasn't, you would be contributing something to culture by creating. Unfortunately for you, those who can't Oh yeah, Nashville sucks. I would get my lame family and get out of there as soon as possible if I were you. Here's a news flash doesn't live there. Never has.

This is the kind of stuff you get to live with if you dare to voice an opinion. And honestly; I find it incredibly funny.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dragula Music Video

It's amazing the kind of trash one can find on this ethernet thingie: here's a video for my old band Dragula's song "I Drink Your Blood, I Eat Your Skin" made as a class project by our drummer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


When I was a grade school age every afternoon was spent this way: grab a Coke and a honeybun, turn on CBS and watch Match Game before heading out to play until supper. The double entendre jokes went right over my head, but still I loved that show. Rayburn was like a funnier version of my father, Fannie Flagg reminded me of a favorite aunt, Richard Dawson was cool, Brett Sommers was annoying which gave me something to hate about the show, and Charles Nelson Reilly was the absolute best part of the show. Later; the Dead Milkmen would sing his praises in "Serrated Edge" and I have to say that is one of the things running through my mind this morning after learning of Reilly's death. I'm not the only one: you can check out the tune at Soundbites and Heart On A Stick. Who's gonna play the Dirty Bubble on Spongebob now?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Porch Life

I don't have a front porch. I have a stoop, so we sit out on the back deck. I wish I had a porcj with a swing. When I was a kid I would sit out on the porch with my grandmother and watch people walk by, cars drive by, and kids ride by on their bicycles. There would be an iced tea by our side and we could sit for hours not saying anything just watching and waving at the parade. If I had a porch I could bring back that style, because people (even old ladies) don't wave from their front porch anymore. I've learned this from my cycling trips. I usually do at least 100 miles per week and the old ladies won't wave to me from their porches. I'll be friendly and wave, but they just stare at me. Perhaps they all have spandex phobias. I'll keep waving to them though and maybe someday I'll have a porch of my own.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Will Tennessee Be Next?

Florida and Utah are cracking down on the industry that kills millions each year. That's right, I'm talking about used CD sales. Sheesh, if something like this had been in place 13 years ago I doubt there would have been a job for me at Phonoluxe back then. The ridiculous nature of this has to be driven by the RIAA.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Musical Education Of Lynnster

Lynnster posted a 3 parts plus one series on her musical education recently at the Lynnster Zone. Through the use of memory and Youtube goodness they make for swell reading especially if you were a child in the Seventies.

Part one.

Part two.

Part three.

Part plus one.

Hey Wally, Where's The Beav?

Interesting still frame capture of a letter used on Leave It To Beaver over at Shorpy.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Jonny Master & The Beta Klub

Root, root Riverdale! Jonny Master & The Beta Klub were high school classmates of mine that recorded boom box tapes for years during the 80's and 90's. I managed to even jam with them from time to time. Their musical format is hard to pin down. There's some Velvet Underground at their most shambolic. There's some wide eyed Jonathan Richman innocence. There's a touch of Bob Dylan when they pull out the harmonica. There's cheesy Casio riffs galore. If you're fans of Daniel Johnston type twisted pop you should love Jonny Master.

Their line-up was: Chris on guitar, harmonica, and vocals; Tim played keyboards and sang, and Greg thumped the drums and provided harmony vocals. They played a few parties around Murfreesboro, but as much as I tried to get them to they never played a club show. Their band name got them banned from the Senior Talent show at Riverdale in 1984. All that's left are the many tapes they recorded known to just a very few people (they are listed as an influence by shock rock legends Boo Boo Bunny). So why not introduce them to a few more people. Here are five classic Jonny Master tracks. If you like these I'll post more unless the band objects.

Rappin' Billy
Don't worry about the buses because the buses will wait. Jonny Master's rap song about Billy Graham.

Never Before Will It Happen Again
I don't mind to die as long as it's after I'm dead. A funny and poignant song.

Nannie Found A Baby
Based on the true story of Greg's grandmother finding a baby on her front porch.

I Got A Lightbulb
I got a concept in different thinking, I've got a lifetime but it's shrinking. Chris could write miniature masterpieces.

Cat In The Eiffel Tower
He's been there for half an hour. A really strange and transcendent tale about a cat.

Monday, April 30, 2007

I Like The Word Groovy

Maybe I watched too much of The Brady Bunch growing up, but I love the word groovy. I still use it much to the consternation of people with their feet firmly planted in the 21st century. I especially liked to use it during the 80's when it was far out of style I considered it in. This led to a goofy poem called 3 Groovy Chix that later became the lyrics to an original tune by my first band The Dislocated. I chronicled The Dislocated's history in 5 parts which you can read if you like.

Part one.

Part two.

Part three.

Part four.

Part five.

But the real point of this post is to share with the world the boombox recording of The Dislocated's first practice performance of 3 Groovy Chix back in 1989. It's raw and full of potential. I wish we could have recorded it in a studio.

Friday, April 27, 2007

All It Takes Is Los Lobos To Provoke An Existential Crisis

Disregard that I had Los Lobos albums on vinyl back in the 80's. Disregard that they were considered cool by the punkers. They eventually came to be thought of as adult alternative rock to me. Adult alternative was the place where old punk rockers went to lick their wounds and then die. Which isn't fair to Los Lobos. They've not only stuck to their initial artistic vision; they've expanded upon it as they've aged. It's just that the people I would into who were nuts for Los Lobos didn't want to have anything to do with acts that sounded like Black Flag anymore. The comfortable slide into middle age had mellowed them.

It wasn't going to happen to me. I was going to be an anti-authoritarian punk forever. So today the thought crossed my mind that I didn't have any Los Lobos on compact disc and that wouldn't it be cool to go hit the used bins at Amazon and see how much it would cost to acquire the entire Los Lobos catalog. Cue the ominous music; hit the sirens of alarm - I'd ventured into middle aged hipster territory with one simple thought. The next thing you know I'll be jonesing for John Hiatt, John Prine, and John Denver perhaps all at the same time. And like the anti-authoritarian punk I said I would always be I'll do whatever I like anyways.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Enjoy Your Sausage

Just links today so enjoy your sausage.

From the learn something new every day department by way of Arts & Letters Daily; Commentary has a short piece about Kurt Vonnegut whose great-grandfather invented the emergency exit door.

I like Lily's. The flowers are nice, Lily Munster was cool, but most of all I like the band Lilys. And I'm not the only one. More Lilys.

Heavy metal and hippies usually don't mix even though they're kissing cousins. As Bitter Andrew says, "It’s not that long a road from the peace sign to the mark of the beast, if you think about it." He's broke out Savatage, Deep Purple, and Dio for My Spells Cannot Be Broken.

Nashville punk rock legends Cloverbottom finally have their own website so go visit the Godfathers of Nashville punk.

Cloverbottom - Nuclear War

Some days I'm just a corndog.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Phantom Homesickness

Faulkner calls to me periodically and I go to his books in a hypnotic trance. This week I'm wading through the cleansing prose of The Sound And The Fury letting the immensity of Faulkner's achievement in chronicling the Compson's dissolution just sift through my mind like red clay. I find myself caught up in the storytelling every time. It's a combination of artistry and phantom homesickness for me. I can hear the North Mississippi pine trees whispering to me through Faulkner's words so vivid and real.

I lived in Mississippi for only a year right before I began school. That's why we moved back to Tennessee. Because the schools were better. And perhaps because my father didn't get along too well with all of the alcoholic uncle's on my mother's Mississippi side of the family. That year spent in Ripley, Mississippi is impressed into my memories like no other with events piled upon events. Many of them are actually miserable having to do with feelings of abandonment and helplessness as my parents fought, separated, and reunited while I was shuffled off to relatives and babysitters nameless and faceless to me now. Once we moved back to Tennessee I would still go to Mississippi at least once a year for several weeks in the summer until I was grown.

Each year back reminded of the one I had spent there as a small child. They built upon the legends of that year until the events are as mythic to me as Greek legends. Did I really get up in front of all of the customers in Raney's Cafe and dance to "Dueling Banjos", and did I throw rocks from a railroad overpass onto cars streaming below. Did I sit in a car with one of those faceless babysitters under that overpass as a violent thunder storm blew threw; worried that my father would come to get me and I wouldn't be there. Did I hear my first electric guitar in that babysitter's trailer.

There are no question marks on those rhetorical questions since I know they're true. It's just a small sampling of thoughts crowding my head hoping to get acknowledged and maybe some day I'll get it all down. There's a kind of phantom homesickness that nags and inspires me. It's all so interior it's sometimes frustrating. Maybe I need to get back down to Ripley for a spell. When I get some time maybe I’ll do just that. Until then, I’ll be reading Faulkner.

Up In WU

There are copious mp3 amounts of Wu-Tang and Wu-Tang related joints at the Wu-Tang Corp so make like a shaolin and kung fu on over there.

Monday, April 23, 2007

New Short Story Up At Goblinhaus

I had an idea once about a movie featuring street gangs. It was to be an updated version of The Warriors with the main action between two modern gangs called the Ebolas and the Bubonics. They were going to wreak havoc until they come across some weirdos that live in an abandoned industrial park. This gang would wipe both gangs out. The scariest part of this gang was their addiction to some super strength drug that had caused all of the skin on their skulls to fall off. So they were known as the IP Skullheads. Maybe I read too many issues of Captain America and The Invaders as a little boy. I also can't disregard the influence of the Didjits "Skull Baby" on my psyche. The film idea never came to anything, but I did finally write a short story featuring the IP Skullheads and you can read it over at Goblinhaus. The story is set in Texas for a couple of reasons. One: it's just a classic place to put a horror story. Two: it's where Shrub lives...he's the dude who runs Goblinhaus.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Song By Song - Movie By Movie

There are two blogs of note that are mining similar territory. One of them is examining every R.E.M. song and the other one is reviewing every movie released in a Criterion version. Both blogs are written by Matthew's. Matthew Perpetua helms the R.E.M. site called Popsongs. Matthew Dessem runs Criterion Contraption. Could they be the same person? Is Perpetua or Dessem their real surnames? Will their be website devoted to reviewing every episode of The Beverly Hillbillies springing up soon by Matthew Baer soon? I can't answer those mysteries, but I do know that both blogs are interesting in their aims and in their entries. I wonder if there's room for one where I write about every song that's been in a Hal Hartley movie.

For Those Who Love Maps

For those who love maps, Strange Maps will salute you.

Authentic Fake Art

I use to catch a certain amount of grief for loving The Monkees. I've never been too concerned about it. I like what I like and while I do enjoy explaining why it ultimately comes down to very personalized feelings, and while concrete qualities can be extracted from them they still exist mainly in the abstract. The biggest argument against The Monkees was that they were fakes. Hugh Barker and Yuval Taylor have just come out with Faking It: The Quest For Authenticity In Popular Music (ISBN 0571226590) and since I haven't read it yet I'll just make like the character Tom from Whit Stillman's Metropolitan and give you a link to critic Jeff Sharlet's review at New Statesman. Myself, I think the question shuldn't be one of authentic versus false, but perhaps one of artifice versus commerce and their intertwining.

New Old Superdrag

One of the best bands to ever come out of the great state of Tennessee, Superdrag, released an album of rarities this week titled Changin' Tires On The Road To Ruin. If you're into crunchy Beatles influenced rock and roll it's a must. You can get a copy for $10 if you buy it here. There's even a rumor going around that the original line-up may reunite for a concert in Nashville. If you want to hear some Superdrag head over to the The Hype Machine.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thinking Bloggers Award

I’m game to participate in a meme even if I’m not quite sure what it means. I’ve been asked to list 5 Blogs That Make Me Think by Kent Newsome who was kind enough to include me in his list. This is difficult for me since Rex L. Camino and Stolen Pony have stopped writing. I miss his humor and I miss her romantic punk rock vitriol. Plus, I spend most of my time on the net chasing after random thoughts that cross my mind and not as much time in the blogosphere as I’d like. Coming up with 5 was hard, but I think you’ll find great writing, music, and links at the following blogs:

1. Big Green House – B. Markey is one of the best rock and roll critics in America with a wry wit and probing mind. He also writes about his adventures with Science Girl.

2. The Emerson Street Tavern – Ryan writes mainly about his young son Emerson’s adventures as he grows up. Ryan’s love of Heminway style prose shines through as he never lapses into mere sentimentality.

3. Geek Press – If it’s geeky and interesting you can find it here.

4. Armagideon Time – A combo pack of the personal mixed with comics mixed with mp3’s; Armagideon Time by bitterandrew is an excellent way to spend part of each day.

5. Michael Ruhlman’s blog – Michael Ruhlman is perhaps best known for his books The Making Of A Chef and The Soul Of A Chef. His blog is entertaining if you are a foodie or if you’re like me and aren’t. Plus Anthony Bourdain makes guest posts.

Monday, April 16, 2007

From The Fanboy Archive - What Noisy Cats Are We

My dream job in 1986 was rock critic. You'd get in free to all of the rock and roll shows. You'd get a mailbox full of promo material every day. You'd get to praise what you liked and slag what you hated. Consider yourselves warned: the following is an attempt at rock and roll criticism from 1986. I thought I'd shop this review of R.E.M.'s Nashvile stop, of their Lifes Rich Pageant tour, to the local newspapers, but I never did. There's a shelf life to concert reviews. They need to be either consumed right then and there or left to ferment in a shoebox. I'd say this review is ripe enough; plus it continues the R.E.M. trajectory from last week.

9-10-86 R.E.M. at the Grand Old Opry

I thought damn this is gonna be a good night. It better be...I paid $15 for a shirt.

Dayglo windowpanes shined as a gesture of "hope despite the times." The black hush was on everybody's lips; anticipation mixed within. It seemded the house lights had been off for weeks. Reverence mixed with pageantry in this church that R.E.M. would build. The lights shimmered and then the stage became an emblazoned altar as R.E.M. took the stage.

Rapidly I moved as bodies overturned with the seating now an afterthought; just a contrivance to slow the audience down. The fans jumped and somersaulted toward the stage to worship at the feet of the club crawlers turned messiahs of the new American music. Flashbulbs popped like late season fireflies to the strain of "These Days" while our ears and hearts got rearranged. The floor was shaking and pitching. The dancing was contagious. The dancing was ritual.

Michael Stipe looked like a chimney sweep with his frock coat and top hat. He shadow boxed the microphone stand. He stood between songs with his arms flailing. He twitched and swayed - an advert for the amphetamine industry of America. He barked into the mike (Michael at the mike) and jumped into the drunken crowd. He was the perfect showman alive with electric eccentricity and good time fun.

His wonderful voice was in superior form. Especially touching was "The Flowers Of Guatemala" - a song he introduced as "a nice quiet tune about genocide." He exhorted us to worship Popeye and just generally cut up. He was the preacher for the evening while his bandmates played the role of church deacons whose role was to rock.

The whirling dervish stage left was Peter Buck who played and jumped, kicked, and danced all night. The pictures in the magazines don't lie; his hair is now down to his shoulders and he dresses like a rock star in a long, flowing, frilly white shirt and black jeans. Hell, he is a rock star so he can dress the part as long as he plays that Rickenbacker. He's the guitar hero of the American underground and he sounded great even if he did need the help of another guitarist, Buren Fowler, for many of the new songs.

What about the normal one; shy Mike Mills. He looked like he was having a blast. I'd heard that he was the best partier of the band and he made more trips to his beverage container than anybody else to theirs. It didn't hurt his voice as he provided beautiful harmonies throughout the night that sounded better than the records. One of the highlights of the night was when he moved to center stage to sing lead on The Clique's "Superman" at the urging of Michael Stipe, "Shut up and do the song!" Arms pointed to the sky in the classic Superman flying pose; we were all Superman as Mike Mills smiled at us.

There was a running comedic debate between Mills and Stipe about the piece of the Ryman stage included on the stage of the Grand Old Opry. Mills waxed rhapsodic about Patsy Cline having stood upon it, while Stipe snorted and retorted that Barbara Mandrell had also stood there and Conway Twitty had sweated there. Mills grew tired of the jibes and he went and stood triumphantly on it. Stipe later stuck one foot on it with a swift swipe.

Bill Berry let the others provide the thrills while he gave us the groovy beats which drive an R.E.M. show. His attire reflected his workmanlike skills - a simple green t-shirt and jeans. The show would have fallen apart; degenerated into cacophony without his foundation. He was the rampart to watch when you needed a break from all the action up front.

The audience jumped, bounded, danced, pumped, and threatened to tear up the Grand Ole Opry. The band had to request the happy throngs to tone it down. Eventually, the security goons gained a little control and the show continued without any more interruptions, The party atmosphere could not be diminished. This was a church revival with people speaking in tongues in the aisles. R.E.M. delivered twenty-five great songs including some from each LP. They didn't touch Chronic Town and of the albums it was Fables and Lifes represented the most.

Disappointments: No "Radio Free Europe" or "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville"
No cameos from any of the Jason and the Scorchers boys
Highpointments: "Second Guessing", "Sitting Still", "Hyena", "Can't Get There From Here", and "Pretty Persuasion"

They closed the show with "Little America" with Stipe adding the lyrics "Ronald Reagan son of a bitch" and some bomb noises at the end. The Republicans in the audience weren't offended as they chanted for R.E.M. to give us more, more, more. We were treated to two encores with four songs apiece. Sadly, the concert had to eventually end and end it did with a tremendous revered up "Life And How To Live It" and a wonderful evening was had by all. The buzz from my Foster Lager was long gone, but the one from this concert will last forever. Go see R.E.M. if you get the chance. You'll forget about all of your problems and you'll come away from the show liking the band even more than you did before.

What I can remember of the set list:

These Days
Sitting Still
Green Grow The Rushes
West Of The Fields
Driver 8
Fall On Me
Shaking Through
The Flowers Of Guatemala
I Believe
The One I Love
Swan Swan H
Can't Get There From Here
Old Man Kensey
Pretty Persuasion
Little America

Who Made The Bed?
Auctioneer (Another Engine)

Second Guessing
Begin The Begin
Just A Touch
Life And How To Live It

Doggerel written in 1986 by 19 year old Wally

I cringe a little reading it now, but it wasn't too bad. I managed to get an oblique R.E.M. pun into the piece - the "rapidly I moved" line and the part about the old Ryman stage were transcribed well. I just wonder why I couldn't come up with better descriptive phrase. How many times can one use great and good. I wonder why I was so obsessed with what R.E.M. were wearing too. It's not as if they were fashion plates. I guess it was their standard bearer mystique. They were the one band that united the American underground music scene whether people liked their music or not.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Vonnegut Probably Liked Freedom Jam & Skateboarding

I was an avid Vonnegut reader during those impressionable wonder years - he appeared to have developed crotchety old man syndrome in his later years as was his right so I'd sorta dismissed him. The best piece I've read on his passing brings that up too.

The cold, windy weather is keeping me inside this week, but Boing Boing has a link to a British documentary on skateboarding to remind me of sun & fun.

L.J.W.'s comments this week sent me scrambling to my old Lance & Shield's to see if she was in them. I struck paydirt with my 1984 edition and with that mystery solved I leafed through the annual. There toward the back was a picture of the frontman for a rock band called Freedom Jam that had played RHS in the spring of '84. My hazy memory is that they were students from some post-high performing arts school in Florida that toured the country learning how to be rock stars while soliciting more students and promoting a positive image. I googled Freedom Jam and BAM up pops this site called Young American Showcase maintained by former students. They played workmanlike covers of hard rock hits of the day and after doing a mini-set in front of the entire student body they let us know they'd be playing a full concert that night. Even though I thought they were kind of goofy I went to the show and had a blast. My friends and I pogoed to "Tom Sawyer" and I thought to myself: Man these guys would be even better if they'd just change their name.