Thursday, November 27, 2008


I turned 42 yesterday and its welcome to austerity on a level I haven't seen since my childhood days of butter and bread sandwiches. It's enough to make me feel like a kid again. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Lame Duck Roast

"Honest to goodness, the bars weren't open this morning. They must have been voting for the president or something." - X

Good luck America, and stay tuned for tomorrow's post: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Shrub and Kara Hit The Haunts

I missed out on the chance to hit the haunts with Shrub and Kara this year, but through their website, Goblinhaus, and through their new video posts I feel like I'm there.

Denizens Of The Top Five

What is the only thing from my youth that I would love to get back besides the usual youthful physical attributes? I wish I had kept my Top Five lists. I only compiled my Top Five lists for a season or so when I was in 8th grade. I typed them out on an ancient Royal typewriter in the converted den of the house we lived in on Prindle Drive in Smyrna. I recall yellow shag carpet and dead flies scattered by the sliding glass door that led to the covered back patio of pebble stones. This room was oppressively hot during the day, so I didn’t use the room except late at night. This made it perfect for compiling my Top Five lists.

I would compose them once a week right after I arrived back home from an evening of roller skating in Murfreesboro at Jack’s. Roller skating was one of the major ways to socialize in an extracurricular way and for many of us this was a weekly ritual of delight. I’d get home around 10:30pm, since my parents never let me stay for the late skate which lasted until midnight, and I’d head for the den in an excited state to put the latest Top Five’s into posterity. What were the Top Five’s? It was quite simply a list of my favorite songs and girls of the week. Some weeks there might be no variation and then there might be a chaos of changes depending on events. I might meet a new girl at the roller skating rink or maybe at a pick up baseball game (that happened once) or perhaps a new song like “Another Bites The Dust” would come out and shoot straight to number one without ever being in the Top Five before. I took it as a serious task, but somewhere along the way the documents were lost. Maybe they’ll be found in an archaeological dig somehow preserved and the names of Pam Gilley, Christy Davenport, Jennifer Taylor, Lisa Sowell, and Sharon Bevel will be judged great since they were definite denizens of my 8th grade Top Five lists alongside such musical luminaries of the day as Pete Townshend, Queen, Kenny Loggins, AC-DC, and John Cougar.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Living For The CTI

It was back in the mid-90's when I first started buying old CTI releases. They were abundant in the dollar bins of Phonoluxe and Great Escape and at the local Nashville thrift stores. They were not regarded highly by the jazz snobs I knew who felt that jazz had died the moment Miles Davis released Bitches Brew. They felt jazz had been corrupted by rock and roll and commercialism. But they held an allure for me and fellow Phonoluxe co-worker Chad for many reasons. Artists like Bob James, Grover Washington Jr., Patti Austin, and George Benson were the sound of radio jazz during the 70's so there was a nostalgic appeal. Then there was the fact that many of our most beloved rap records from the 80's had copiously sampled the CTI catalogue. Keep in mind this was before the internet had completely taken off so we had to rely on word of mouth to find out what records had the sweet samples that made the difference in an okay hip-hop record and a great one. Plus rap records from the 80's didn't have to list what they had sampled back then. So when we would crate dig the CTI releases were always high on our list and often we would hit paydirt with them. Another thing about the CTI releases was their cover art which seemed like a total break from the cover art of the jazz that came before. This can be attributed mostly to the incredible photographs of Pete Turner. I've sold most of the CTI albums I purchased from back then. They, along with lots of other records and compact discs, helped pay for a vacation to London and other bills over the years. But there's no shortage of CTI on the web. You can find CD reissues here. If you're not too concerned about the legality, there's also the blog The CTI Never Sleeps which is in the process of providing download links to the CTI and Kudu discography. So pay them a visit....for sampling purposes only.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Beard Time

Well, actually I almost always wear a beard. BUT with the world in tumult I think it's time I grew myself a prophetic beard.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cue The Merle Haggard

Welcome to the upcoming financial collapse of America. When times get tough, I get to listening and playing music just as I've always done. This leads to small memory sparks that are soon zipping and booming like the 4th of July and I find that I've stopped worrying about what might come tomorrow. Hence this piece called Cue The Merle Haggard.

"are the good times really over....."

Just a little lyric snippet from a Merle Haggard tune I usually refer to as SNOWBALL headed to HELL. Actual title is "Are The Good Times Really Over (I Wish A Buck Was Still Silver)". It dates from that brief window right after we moved to the Jimmy C. Newman farm in the spring of 1982. We moved into a tiny ttailer with a kitchen floor tiled like a zebra. My parents bought me some shit kicker boots because the place was supposed to crawling with timber rattlesnakes. It was, but the boots weren't necessary. I wore flip-flops most of the time.

This was the 3rd big dislocation in just as many years and my identity was in complete teenage free fall. I had flourished when we moved to Smyrna for 8th grade. I had floundered after we moved back to Murfreesboro for 9th grade at Oakland High. It's a wonder I didn't kill myself or become a criminal during that year of purgatory. Now we had traveled to the outer reaches of Rutherford County so my father could manage the farm of a Grand Ole Opry star I had never even heard of before. Which meant yet another new school to attend in the Fall. I spent a few days exploring the huge farm and never felt so alone or adrift in my young life. I almost wrecked my bicycle the day I met the accordion player's son by the creek that ran beside the mile long road slash driveway.

He had yelled "hello" as I rode by. I quickly learned that his name was James, he was in 8th grade. his father played accordion in Newman's Cajun Country band, and that he lived just around the corner. Most important, I learned that he also liked to smoke cigarettes so we adjourned under the wooden bridge that ran over the creek right after a hairpin turn which made it easy to almost run big Impalas over the side if you weren't watching what you doing closely enough as I was to find out a few years later, but was also very convenient for sneaking smokes as long as the copperheads cooperated by staying under their rocks. Soon James introduced me to his older sister Paige, and a dude from down the highway named John. They were all Cajuns, but they referred to themselves as coonasses.

It was all so new and even sorta exciting. After just a few weeks around them I began talking like them subconsciously dropping their Cajun accent into my speech. I tried to hang out with them as often as possible, but soon after the novelty factor wore off on both sides it became very apparent that if our lives had been a Sesame Street song; I was the one of those things that didn't belong here. I loved the country, but I wasn't a country boy like James and John. Paige was cute and I thought I'd dig hanging around her, but her personality was ugly with a capital U. So now I was even more lost and adrift than before. The loneliest person isn't sitting by themselves. The loneliest person is always sitting in a room full of people feeling like they are invisible and powerless to change this.

This was how I felt when I was around the Cajun kids. Not only did I lack the requisite country boy skills, but I was an ethnic minority around them. They weren't above throwing in some French patois, pointing at me, and then laughing. If there was any kind of dispute it was always two, or three if Paige was around, against my one small voice. Knowing I would never become the buck knife toting redneck they seemed to aspire to be, I did the one thing I knew might lead to some common ground among us and perhaps lead to that first pleasant novel stage again. I started listening to country music radio only. Which is not as drastic as it appears. I might have preferred Kiss, but I did grow up watching Porter Wagoner and Hee Haw.

This experiment lasted maybe 2 to 3 months. It was a blur of mainly Alabama, Hank Williams Jr,. David Frizzell, and Sylvia at the time. Only two songs really stand out for me now. One was by Janie Fricke where she sings she's gonna love you till the cows come home. The cows never really came home at Jimmy's; they just sort of ambled around the acreage so I guess Janie would have have had her work cut out for her there. The other song was Merle Haggard's "Are The Good Times Really Over (I Wish A Buck Was Still Silver)" which had been released in 1981. I knew Merle from a greatest hits collection my father owned and he stood out from the cosmopolitan country flavors Nashville was shoving down everyone's ears.

It didn't take long to realize that an appreciation for country music wasn't going to make me visible to the Cajuns or to anybody else. It wasn't long till my Cajun friends sold me out to a bully and I would learn that I wasn't so invisible, but now wished I had been. I went back to the heavy metal and punk music I truly loved. I slowly made new friends at Riverdale High. I took advantage of knowing Jimmy C. Newman and attended countless Grand Ole Opry shows and ran around Opryland by myself for free until the park closed. I'd ride the Grizzly River Rampage with a raft full of strangers and somehow it was okay. We were all snowballs headed to hell, right.

Friday, August 15, 2008

4 Years Of Blogging The Past

4 years of blogging. And this is the best I can do.

The very first post. I figured if DD's brother could do it so could I.

Brushes with greatness, the Phonoluxe years. I used to work at a record store in Nashville. Sometimes I miss it.

It took me 5 posts to tell the story of my first band. We were initially called Dalai Lamai Death Squad, but after I dislocated my thumb we had a new name. If you went to Riverdale in 1989 you probably saw us create some slam dancing mayhem. Our brief fame was Jabbstastic.

The Dislocated part one.

The Dislocated part two.

The Dislocated part three.

The Dislocated part four.

The Dislocated part five.

I obsess over things. Especially R.E.M., the White Animals, Mr. Zero, and The Replacements among many others including R.E.M. yet again.

The Nashville Rock History posts got more notice than anything. DD Blank came along for the ride for those 4 missives.

Rick Champion


A Hot

Dog Stand.

I did sometimes write about other things. Like peak oil. Seems rather quaint.

I sometimes wrote about awesome things like the birth of my son Liam. He'll be four years before early next year and he just gets cooler by the minute.

He got his first skateboard a few weeks ago. Maybe he'll write about being a skate rat one day. The skating days were truly some of the best days of my life.

Those days culminated in the skate punk of my second band, Michael Landon's Ghost, when we actually played at a skate park. It took me three posts to tell the tale and you can actually hear some old MLG recorded on a boom box if you're really brave.

It all comes back to rock and roll. Which can be traced to my Neanderthal upbringing raised on Elvis P, Coca-Cola, and Hardees.

And then there are those high school days. Maybe it's because I've never attended any of the reunions. Maybe it's because I really hated it until just about the last minute. Maybe it's just because I live on nostalgia - the pure junk food of the soul. Whatever. I've written about the nickname Wally, about the mixtape from HELL, yearbooks, and the glories of parachute pants.

I've written about Toby Holmes at least a couple of times or more and probably will again.

I've paid tribute to the Taylor's living room and Ms. Murks. Mitchell-Neilson Elementary represent!

I've binge drinked and went back to North Mississippi in spirit and for real.

The nicest thing I've ever read about this blog can be found here.

And that's about it. Cue the Little River Band.

Eventide Riots

Vortices, voices, and a general clamoring -
Jackson Heights late night parking lot frisbee club -
Team of '87 and '88.

Hiram and his house of blue lights -
Stamping out litterbugs -
Especially Doug.

Red Mustang love no reaction-
Zulu Detective Agency was put on the case-
Memorial and Clark.

Exhaust, signs, and a Beetle-
Cutlass and run-
Pursuing pursued.

Fistfights, Eventide riots-
Hippie kid swings like a girl-
Street lamp obscure.

Monday, August 11, 2008

4th Anniversary

4 years ago I began this blog. I was planning a big retrospective today, but it'll have to wait until later this week. So stay tuned.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

We Were The Kings Of Noise

Found this in a box the other day: a flyer for the first show I ever did with The Dislocated. It would have been either March or April 1989. The Gonz made up the flyer at the last minute since we were a late edition to the gig.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Back To School!

"The teacher preaches class like you're some kind of jerk"

My daughters began another school year yesterday. Emmy is now a 4th grader and Harper Lee began the 1st grade. It's been a school supply scramble the last few days, but everything will be all squared away once Harp's backpack arrives from L.L. Bean. It's only natural for the grown-up's thoughts to go back to their school days during this time. So let's go back. Way back to those troglodyte times during the fall of 1983.

Feast your eyes on one of the heavy metal slash pesky new waver notebooks from my junior year at Riverdale. I believe it was for the basic math course I took that year since the back has the slogan "Michelle DeWitt was here!" emblazoned upon the back. She was a cute little brunette that would flirt and joke around with me during the terminally boring class. But I'm not here to go on about schoolboy crushes. No, we're not doing that Average White Band thing here even if the breakbeat in "Pick Up The Pieces" does take me back. What is of interest is the front of this paper folder with its glorious roll call of band names and logos screaming off the cover who I was circa September 1983.

First, the non-band stuff:

Presidential campaign stickers came later.
San Francisco 49'ers #1
Take off you knob, eh
Eh? Take off! You hoser
5150 - as this predates the Van Hagar era it was either a Mob Rules reference or perhaps I had picked it up from reading about Eddie Van Halen's home studio.

The groups:

Ozzy Osbourne with a tombstone reading RR RIP - Ozzy was just not the same without Randy Rhoads, but he was still one of the top dogs of metal in 1983 - a combo package of goofiness and evil.

Black Sabbath - One look at my devil dude artwork and you could tell that I didn't have a future as an artist.

Twisted Sister logo staples - I always did like cartoons and Twisted Sister were a heavy metal one.

Motley Crue - I took German so I always loved umlaut bands. I'm html challenged so there's none in this post. Maybe I should have paid more attentiion in school instead of writing band names all over my folders.

IRON MAIDEN with the obligatory attempt at drawing their mascot Eddie below - Big and bold. Black ink with a ruler. I made an Eddie button once in high school. I brought in Powerslave my senior year so we could play "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" in English class. I picked disc jockey as my profession for the marriage project in sociology class. When Mr. Van Zant asked me what kind of music I would play I told him heavy metal like Iron Maiden, specifically "22 Acacia Avenue." Somebody snickered so he asked what the song was about and I replied in deadpan, "prostitution." The subject was then closed and I made an A for the project. One last Maiden memory: Kirk Faulkner rode his unicyle during the senior talent show to my favorite Maiden song "Revelations."

VAN HALEN #1 - 'Nuff said.

Ratt sucks - Back then I thought they were a bubblegum metal band. I still think they're bubblegum, but I'd much rather hear them now instead of Twisted Sister.

The Doors with a tombstone reading RIP JDM - James Douglas Morrison, how many children did you corrupt with your liquor, poetry, and doom schtick. Like the "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop" I guess we'll never know.

Boston - Smooth rocking. Too bad I couldn't draw their guitar spaceship logo.

Molly Hatchet - I had outgrown my Flirtin' With Disaster tee shirt by then, but I was still representing.

Michael Schenker Group - Flying V's, cutout bin cassette Assault Attack, Graham Bonnett, Rudolf's brother, former Scorpion, and a cheap tee shirt bought at Port o' Call records. Thus endeth my knowledge of Michael Schenker then and now.

Billy Idol - First of the New Wave interlopers. I mainly liked him for "Eyes Without A Face" and the line "reading murder books and trying to stay hip."

Blue Oyster Cult symbol - I had their first album, Agents Of Fortune, and Fire Of Unknown back then and all were on cassette. Later, my appreciation of the band would grow to "Godzilla" size.

U2 - "Sunday Bloody Sunday" still rocks.

Talking Heads - This one was a head scratcher back then for my friends. U2 and Billy Idol weren't heavy metal, but they did feature guitar as a lead instrument, but the Talking Heads just didn't seem to belong. I begged to differ then and now. "Psycho Killer" is an awesome paranoid masterpiece and the entire Fear Of Music album is heavy in its own sort of way.

Dokken - Rhymes with rockin'!

Y & T - Yesterday & Today are probably the leading candidate for lamest act on this notebook. Now I've ticked off a couple of Y & T fans. Sorry.

Kick Axe - Dead or Canadian?

DIO - Another attempt at a logo. I think if you look at it backwards it will spell gullible. I'm referring to the devil stuff and not the music, because I still like me some DIO. Did you catch Anthony Bourdain rocking the DIO tee shirt on No Reservations the other night?

Manowar - Ridiculous. Over the top. Leather and fur wearing beasts. What's not to like about Manowar.

Motorhead - The greatest umlaut band of them all. Sorry B.O.C., Lemmy and the boys just nip you at the finish line. I would talk myself hoarse back then extolling the praises of the Iron Fist album. Just ask the Gonz.

Thin Lizzy - The only argument about Thin Lizzy was how to pronounce the name. Was it Thin or Tin with the H silent. There was no arguing their greatness.

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - The Gonz and I agreed. We could forgive Stevie Ray for doing that Bowie album.

Saxon - Harry Shearer cam along for their tour in 1981 and the rest is history. Yes, without Saxon their might not have been a Spinal Tap.

White Animals - Nashville homeboys! Might not have been metal, but you could still slamdance to them.

RUSH - They were mutating into something not as heavy at the time and we were mutating right with them. Imagine the "Neil Peart is the best drummer" conversation starters at schools all across America. I bet there were millions every day.

Pink Floyd - I've never gotten off the Floyd. Heavy metal couldn't get me to dislike them and neither did punk. Just accept it. They are a decent group even if the alarm clocks always wake you up after you've nodded off listening to Dark Side Of The Moon.

Tokyo Blade logo - I'll admit I didn't remember this right off. I knew it was something Blade and that they were a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band. So I looked it up on Wikipedia and the mystery is solved. I wish we had the internet when I was 16.

Sweet - I'm actually a little bit surprised that I was into them back then.

Judas Priest - They were riding high back then. As for Halford's orientation - none of us had a clue. Would we have cared? Maybe.

Queen - But then again, we didn't have any doubts about Freddie Mercury and we still liked Queen.

Riot - Sort of obscure back then and I guess they still are, but most will agree that Restless Breed is a classic.

Whitesnake - The pre-Tawny days. All you needed to sell albums was a giant snake entwined around a naked woman on your album cover and a vocalist that sounded like Robert Plant who wasn't Billy Squier or Ann Wilson.

Journey - They were a guilty pleasure even back then. Plus you needed to have a few bands that girls liked on your folder or you'd really be a social zero.

Venom - From dinosaur corporate rock to Satanic thrash in less than an inch of paper. That will make one's head spin.

KISS - Just a few years previously they would have been at the top in gigantic letters. I just hope Gene Simmons doesn't come sniffing around wanting me to pay for the use of their name on the blog.

Black Oak Arkansas - I got into them back then because David Lee Roth had been compared to Jim Dandy, and because the drummer on Ozzy's Diary Of A Madman, Tommy Aldridge, had also played drums for Black Oak Arkansas.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Play "Freebird!"

Led Zeppelin - I never considered them the pinnacle of the rock universe like so many others. I always preferred Sabbath. Still, anyone who would deny a place on their folder to Led Zep would probably be struck dead by some spell cast by Jimmy Page. Imagine the "John Bonham was the best drummer" conversation starters at schools all across America. I bet there were millions every day.

Sammy Hagar - The Red Rocker. Ain't it funny how pedestrian his solo work is considering he can't drive 55. That first Montrose album is one for the ages though and Sammy seems like he's a decent guy.

Scorpions - We all went ape for the Blackout era Scorps and the great "No One Like You" Alcatrazz prison video.

AC/DC - If it had been 8th or 9th grade Angus and company might have held the top spot, but they were flickering like a faulty wire by this time. They came back though.

Deep Purple - Peer pressure....that's the only explanation. Maybe Blackmore.

Joe Walsh - The "Life's Been Good To Me So Far" Joe Walsh. Not the Eagles Joe Walsh. He was held in high esteem as one of those guitarists that had a sound you could instantly recognize like Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Randy Rhoads, Angus Young, Ace Frehley, Brian May, and Tony Iommi to name but a few,

The WHO - Imagine the "Keith Moon was the best drummer" conversation starters at schools all across America. I bet there were millions every day. Is there a bloody echo in this blog? The Who should have been more prominent on this folder.

Ted Nugent - The Motor City Madman was waning in popularity from mega-star to a mere star in the rock world, but to us he was still mega and is to this day.

Bronz - Another New Wave Of British Heavy Metal entry. If I'd only had Diamond Head on this notebook I would have really been cool.

Jimi Hendrix Experience with a tombstone reading RIP underneath - The rumour was he once played some gigs in Murfreesboro at a place called the Weeping Willow Lounge just off College Street. It should have been made a historical landmark but it was torn down to make way for the Medical Center Parkway.

ZZ Top - Another group who were at the peak of their fame. I'd get to meet Billy Gibbons years later and get his autograph for the Gonz.

Krokus - More Gonz fun. My old Dislocated bandmate's first name is Mark. So when Krokus made it big he swiped their logo and started signing his name as Markus. The refried AC/DC boogie sticks out to me now in a bad way, but back then I didn't care preferring One Vice At A Time over Headhunter.

Queensryche - Man, this last little bit is turning into the Gonz hour. But one does have to give props where it's due. The Gonz lived north of Murfreesboro and on a good night he could tune into Vol State's student radio station which played a steady diet of hesher music. That's where we first heard Dokken and it's also how he found out about Queensryche.

Big Country - Guitars that sounded like bagpipes! Worth a spot on the folder.

Some triangle logo - it might stand for a band and it might just be something I made up.

Notable absences:

Def Leppard - Pyromania came out in January of 1983 and I was one of the millions who bought it. Maybe I was getting sick of them by September.

Cheap Trick - There was a girl in my graphic arts class who thought Cheap Trick were the greatest band in the world. The boy she was dating even looked like Robin Zander. She would always mark up my folders with the Cheap Trick logo, but somehow this math class one escaped her.

So what can be learned from a 25 year old folder. Perhaps it was a way of expressing my identity in an oppressive world of parents, teachers, and all of those other kids that only liked what they heard on Top 40 radio. Mayber it was a way of trying to be visibile in a world in which I felt invisible. Or it was a tiny tremor of rebellion in a sedate setting. It was definitely an attempt to seem cool. Maybe it was a cry for help. I don't know myself since I've lost touch with the 16 year old Wally ages ago.

Most likely, the folder was the product of a bored teenager amusing himself by writing the names of the bands he loved and some he barely knew and some he barely liked on to a yellow thirty cent folder. I'd come home after school and crank up the stereo and my parents would tell me to turn the music down and how could I stand such crap and that Black Sabbath were evil and they lamented over what would become of me.

Well, I've got two daughters ready to start another school year and a son who wishes he was old enough to go and Harp's backpack came during lunch. I hold down a job, been married for 12 years, and I've got a few friends here and there. I coach Junior Pro basketball. I can play guitar and sort of play the drums. I blog. I get to travel every now and then. I think I've turned out fairly decent. And I'll bet those high school kids of today marking up their folders with their favorite bands that make the adults cringe will turn out all right too.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Original Hugs

I was looking for my old baseball cards the other day and while I didn't find them (they must be up in the attic), I did find this handbill that my boy Chad did back in the crazy 90's. I didn't put the backside up since it just tells you that you could see MK2, John Doe, and Chek spinning Hip Hop, Acid Jazz, and Jungle at the Red Geranium on Fridays for $5. It's the art of Hugs that the people want to see.

Ray Underhill RIP

Ray Underhill died a few days ago. He had chordoma which is a rare cancer. Say a prayer for his family and the skateboarding community. Ray might not of attained the fame some of his peers did - remember he was part of the Bones Brigade, but he kept working in the industry his whole life. Last I heard he was Tony Hawk's webmaster.

Ray was always a big deal to us in Middle Tennessee. The only skaters from Tennesse we knew that were professional back in the mid to late 80's were Bill Danforth and Ray Underhill. There was an article in Transworld Skateboarding back in the day with Ray as he took them around to all of the skate spots he liked in Nashville. Thanks to him, us Murfreesboro skaters were able to skate the Knights Of Columbus pool by the airport (and get kicked out by a grouchy KOC member once), and the transition at the base of the Tennessee building downtown. We were proud that Ray was from Tennessee and now we're sad that he's gone.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ring, Ring Goes The Bell

Subtitled: Clang, Clang go the jail guitar doors.

So I wrote this, like, many months ago. I suppose I was feeling sorry for myself and I figured the following tale would make me feel better. Things could be much worse. The days of smuggling smokes under bridges and skulking through the halls during lunch period weren’t really all that great. Nowadays I don’t smoke and I get to go home on my lunch hour and watch the Adult Swim cartoons I taped the night before. Keep reading and join the pity party below.

It's the beginning of a new age...thus goes a line in one of my favorite Velvet Underground songs and lately I've been feeling like I've entered not a only a new age, but old age as well. I'm losing my hair. My energy is flagging. All those years spent listening to and playing loud music has left me reaching for the closed caption button on the television remote. It could be worse on that front. My cousin Chris, who's only a year older, has to wear a hearing aid due to years working in a machine shop. All the weight I took off two years ago is trying to come back thanks to my love of ice cream and cookies.

I'm not going to let it get to me. I've got to listen to Johnny's advice to Pony Boy in The Outsiders and "stay golden." I watched that film again awhile back. I just got this urge to see it. It was perhaps better than I remember it, but then again when it came out in the spring of my sophomore year I really took to it. I was a writer just like Pony Boy. Maybe I hadn’t been on the run from the law, but I had been busted once. I don’t think I’ve ever really written about that incident so here goes.

It was the fall of 1982. My family moved again so I switched schools for the third year in a row. I actually looked forward to this after a disastrous freshman year at Oakland. Riverdale was to be the place where I would reconnect to long lost friends from Central Middle and forget about all of the bullies across town. Eventually this did happen, but not until my junior year after I grew almost 6 inches in height and finally got into some classes with my old friends. Sophomore year at Riverdale was perhaps even worse than that freshman experience at Oakland. There I had merely been an outcast, but I became something worse at Riverdale: a class skipping criminal.

It began the first day I got on the bus to go to Riverdale. I headed toward the back since that was where all of the cool freak kids sat. This was where I sat when I went to Oakland; not that I was cool but through some circumstance or other the older freaks took a liking at my attempts to smoke cigarettes at the bus stop in the morning. I basically got a pity pass. This was not the case on bus 29 headed to Buchanan School and then on to Riverdale. I sat about 3 rows from the back and the spitballs began to fly.

I threw them back. I may have been a dork, but I didn’t take crap on the bus. This was what led to a ride in the back of a police cruiser one fine autumn morning. One of the spitball throwers was a guy I had known back in 1st grade, let’s call him the Herc. I had even attended a birthday party for him at the Dipper Dan Ice Cream store in Jackson Heights Plaza. I remember this event because it was the first time I had ever eaten bubblegum ice cream. The Herc knew me too (we used to run into each other at Hot Wheels skating rink), but by this time he had developed an attitude and the usual barbaric bully code of: I can throw crap at you and you have to take it, but if you dare to throw stuff back then I have to kick your ass.

So I was told to meet him at the cement slab that afternoon after school. I didn’t do it. I didn’t know where the cement slab was located. It turns out it was on Arnold Road just off of Big Springs Road. Once the Herc drew me a map I was once again told to meet him, which was something I didn’t want to do. If it had been a chance fight on the bus or at school I would have gladly thrown down with the dude, but I wasn’t going to willingly seek out a fight. So I decided to go play basketball instead. (To clarify: if the Herc had thrown punches at me I would have defended myself, but as you’ll soon see he never raised his fists at me.)

I made the mistake of telling two kids who lived down the road that I was going to a little country church to shoot some hoops. I had mistakenly thought they were my friends, but they only wanted to see me get my brains smashed in by the Herc. So when I made it through the woods to the church he was there waiting for me. In fact, he had already kicked out several basement windows of the church and made a mess of the inside (country churches used to leave their doors unlocked) whiled waiting for me.

I wish I could say that I then beat the Herc and my two supposed friends up and then reported them to the cops, but that is not what went down. The Herc said, “You know why I’m here. Let’s fight.”

“Why should we fight,” I replied?

“You know why. You threw spitball at me on the bus.”

I answered, “That’s because you threw them at me first.”

Herc said, “That wasn’t me.”

“I don’t want to fight you,” I said as my eyes began to tear up. This was quickly seized upon by the Herc as a sign of weakness.

“You know I could kick your ass right now,” he chortled.

And that was it. It was a bad scene of humiliation behind tearful eyes on my part and triumph for the malevolent Herc. He stomped off and I was left with the two Judases. They helped me to clean up the inside of the church. I knew I would catch hell for the crying, even if it had been misinterpreted. It was fight or flight. Adrenaline pumping. And I wasn’t running from the Herc.

The next day I sat in the middle of the bus and endured the taunts of the Herc. He made sure everybody knew what a wimp I was and I did nothing to change that opinion. Time dragged and dragged like it does when you’re 15 and bitterly alone among hundreds. I started skipping classes. Man, it was easy to skip at Riverdale back then. You could hang out behind the gym or the industrial studies building and smoke cigarettes and probably what ever else you wanted to smoke and never see a teacher. But the best way to skip was to just hang out in the hall in front of Mr. Herbert’s office. I drew rock band logos on my notebooks filled with fake heavy metal bands and really horrendous lyrics and I dreamed. I dreamed of a day when the current would become the past and all of the people that disliked me got what was coming to them. The Herc was found to be a crybaby when his time came.

It was a gloriously warm fall day. It was a Saturday and my cousin Freddy had spent the night Friday. We went hiking around the woods so we could smoke a cigarette in peace and I decided to take him up to the church and back around. We cut through the forest and found people at the church. We said hello and kept walking. We could hear the whine of a three-wheeler in the distance. There was an old wooden bridge on the gravel road leading back to the trailer where I lived and we decided to take a break there.

After some time had passed we decided we’d had enough lethargy so we got up so I could go show Freddy the old cemetery in Mr. Lowe’s cow pasture. A county cop car pulled up the road. I thought he must be lost or something. So we ran back to the road to see what was up. The next thing I knew we were in the back of the car heading to Murfreesboro. We heard over the radio that they had another car sent to question the kids on the three-wheeler (my so called friends).

The cop recognized Freddy. He had been busted a few months earlier for breaking some kid’s ribs in a fight that had its genesis in a Junior Pro basketball game from the spring. We were told we were being brought in for questioning for vandalizing the church. Freddy certainly had an alibi for that one since he lived in Smyrna. But my goose was cooked even though I didn’t commit the crime. Failure to rat in this case was enough to convict. Even so, I kept my mouth shut. I only told the police that I didn’t do it.

They got the information they wanted from the guys I had once thought were my friends. They were brought into the station just as my mother came to get me and Freddy. Later, I was told, they brought the Herc in crying. I wish I could have seen that, because even as scared as I was I didn’t cry. And the fear I had while riding to Murfreesboro in the police car was nothing like the fear I had of what my father would do to me when he found out.

He did nothing to me. I repeat nothing. Perhaps this is even scarier. There was nothing to do but to face the judge and his punishment. That would be enough. I was a huge disappointment to my parents and I was ashamed. But really, I was less ashamed of the bust than I was of the fact that I should have given the Herc a black eye. I thought perhaps I would attack him during juvenile court.

Once played out in my imagination I let it be and the court proceedings went on without any fistfights. Herc was actually almost contrite, maybe realizing that he was the one to blame for this anyways. Even so he received the same punishment. We all ended up with 8 hours of community service. If we kept our records clean, the incident would be wiped off our record once we turned eighteen. I worked off my debt to society one Saturday at Oaklands Mansion by raking leaves with another young criminal who kept trying to get me to go smoke pot with him. I really didn’t think that was too good an idea.

I didn’t need anymore trouble. I had also decided to start dipping Skoal that day and it was making me so sick I would never do smokeless tobacco again. It was a dispiriting and miserable experience and it didn’t really benefit the community at all. The grounds of the mansion were fine. It was the caretaker’s yard that needed raking. It probably hadn’t been done in decades. We’d rake through the muck while the caretaker would poke his head out of his house every ten minutes or so to scream at us and tell us that if we didn’t work harder and do a better job we wouldn’t get credit for our 8 hours.

He was all talk. He signed my paper and I was done. My debt to society was paid in full. Herc stopped riding the school bus and never troubled me again. The two guys I had thought were my friend both apologized to me, but I didn’t cross paths with them much after sophomore year anyways. My cousin Freddy and I never got into any more trouble with the law. I stopped skipping classes and high school got better. And I’m still golden.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Patty Duking

I always love it when Joe Stumble old schools it. Hip hop over to Last Days Of Man On Earth for some education about the Patty Duke featuring among others the Metro Politician Spoonie Gee.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Down The Rabbit Hole

Or maybe just down into a grave dug by Richie Hebner. If you want to understand that, just go by and visit one of America's best writers, Josh Wilker, at Cardboard Gods. Just find the link to Hebner under the Pirates and enjoy.

I've also found myself visiting I Found My Childhood On Ebay alot lately.

Punk rock and heavy metal. That's what my old friends would tell you if you asked them what kind of music I liked. But thanks to a soft spot in my head I also have an appreciation for disco. I think it comes from all of the roller boogie I did in junior high.

And my typewriter lust is unabated, too.

The Taylor's Living Room

I once barfed all over the carpet in the Taylor's living room. It was the in the early morning hours after the One For The Sun concert at Hermitage Landing in 1984. The sun drenched day I spent there watching Alcatrazz, Kick Axe, Duke Jupiter, Peter Criss, Greg Allman, Ratt, and many others had become a sun burned and sun stroked sick bed for me. I was weak and perhaps still disturbed by the sight of the drunk women on the boats at the rope line committing lewd acts with whiskey bottles. Maybe it was all too much for my teenage mind and naive soul. I remember well the look of disgust that the Gonz's father, Bootie, gave me when he discovered the congealing vomit. I never was invited to spend the night at the Taylor's again.

But the Taylor's living room still became a home away from home especially when we laying the groundwork for what became our first band The Dislocated. If Bootie wasn't at home sleeping in the La-z-boy we took over and watched movies like The Toxic Avenger, Decline And Fall Of Western Civilization, D.O.A., and Heathers, or we listened to the big stereo. The Gonz felt like the clarity was best at around the 9 spot on the dial. This would rattle the windows and you could feel the air shift around you with sonic waves pounding against your chest.

We mainly listened to compact discs since the Gonz was a very early convert to the digital world. We would crank up some Stormtroopers Of Death, Metallica, Danzig, Primus, Megadeth, ZZ Top, and Van Halen. The Taylor's also had the Radios Appear album by Radio Birdman. It didn't fit into their collection at all, but yet there it was nestled beside what little vinyl they had bought as children and a small stack of albums their mother had purchased when she had probably been around our age. It was those records of his mother that interested me the most.

There were Elvis albums. RCA original releases along with some of the repackaged Pickwick label ones. She had Beatles albums too, but only the first wave. I don't remember her having anything after Rubber Soul. Which makes sense since the Gonz was born in the Summer Of Love. You don't keep up with the teenage music scene once you become a parent. Anyways, she also had alot of blues albums. My memory is hazy on some points: was there Muddy Waters records, surely (and you could call her surely since her name is Shirley) there were some BB King LP's. But there was definitely some Jimmy Reed ones. She really dug Jimmy Reed.

Which was all right, but it wasn't the best of her records. The cream of the short stack of albums,and she did keep them stacked on top of each other (I had to educate them on how to properly store record albums), was an album by Bo Diddley. I was familiar with Bo Diddley, but mainly just for the shave and a haircut beat. The moment I first heard the lines, "I walk 47 miles of barbwire..." leap out the speakers with all of the sizzles and pops of a well worn and listened record I was floored. This platter out punked anything I had been trying to peddle to the Taylor brothers in my attempt to get them to form a punk rock band. Like Bo Diddley sang, "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover."

So this latest week has been kind of a bummer what with Bo Diddley cashing in his gunslinger chips. He was a rock and roll, rhythm and blues poet of the greatest magnitude. He was "500% More Man" than most. The world is a grayer place without him in it. I hope he's been reunited with Jerome and the Duchess. I just wonder if the Taylor's would let me come by and sit a spell in their living room again. Maybe the old record player still works.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Look Liam Prefers

I, too, like Fire Joe Morgan do not think that baseball is lame and boring, but I can't say that I had ever heard the term Donald Ducking before. Whoever originated's sheer comedic genius.

"...your friend is wearing a shirt and shoes but no pants," and I'm like "He's Donald Ducking it, bra -- it's classic!"

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dodger Blue And The Kansas City Powder Blues

I got an L.A. Dodgers cap the other day. My wife said that I was really fickle when it came to sports teams. Perhaps, but in this instance she is mistaken. When it comes to major league baseball I have a favorite American League team and a favored National League squad. They are the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Dodgers with the Royals taking an edge in a head to head competition. How I arrived at these teams is a small story and it goes accordingly.

I grew up in Middle Tennessee. There wasn't any professional baseball within a couple of hours and that's only if you count minor league teams. The Nashville Sounds didn't arrive until 1978 and the closest major league teams were Atlanta and Cincinnati. The Braves did have Hank Aaron going for them when I was little, but that was about it. The Reds just seemed bland to me. They played in a cookie cutter multi-purpose stadium on artificial turf. I may have liked Johnny Bench and the way that Joe Morgan would twitch his arm before hitting the ball was sort of cool, but they were part of The Big Red Machine. They were mere isolated spirits lost in an automaton headed by the loathsome Pete Rose. Sure, Kansas City also played on artificial turf, but you could hit homeruns into waterfalls at Kauffmann Stadium where the Royals played.

The point is that I didn't feel an allegiance to the nearest major league teams. As it was apparent that my chances of ever seeing a major league baseball game back then seemed to be absolutley zero, instead of basing my loyalty on proximity and attendance I chose two arcane methods: history book and Topps. I've found that reading and bubblegum are often reliable guides. I came to the Dodgers through reading books about baseball's greatest players. There were the great Brooklyn teams featuring Jackie Robinson which were amazing to read about, but what hooked me was the exploits of Sandy Koufax pitching for Los Angeles in the Sixties.

The dude was mild mannered looking, but dominant on the pitching mound. He was the NL MVP in 1963. He also won the Cy Young that year and also in 1965 and 1966 and this was when only one award for both leagues was given. He led the National League in ERA for 5 years in a row and he had a 0.95 ERA in 4 World Series. He was the World Series MVP in 1963 and 1965. He pitched 4 no-hitters and he's one of 17 pitchers to ever throw a perfect game. He probably would have done even more, but he retired at the age of 30 due to arthritis. His story was compelling and appealing. So I became a Dodgers fan due to history, but even this is no match for the Topps talisman inspired love of the Kansas City Royals.

It was a 1974 Topps team card that did it. I had the 1975 George Brett rookie card, but even now it's not as cool as the 1974 one of the Royals team. The simple reason is because it was the only team card I got that year. I turned 8 in '74 and most of my disposable income was in the penny bubblegum range, but my parents would usually give me a dime for a pack of baseball cards. We'd walk over to IGA on Memorial Blvd cutting through the back way where I once put a nail through a foot. I felt like it was destiny. The Kansas City Royals becoming my favorite team and not the nail through the foot part.

Two years later and the Royals would meet the Yankees in the divisional playoff series only to lose when Mark Littell gave up a walk off home run to Yankees first baseman Chris Chambliss. The Yankees then went on to be dismantled in the World Series by the Big Red Machine. The Royals were back again in 1977 only to lose to the Yankees again. I was devastated again, but this time there was hope for the World Series. The Yankees would have to face the Dodgers. There was no way they'd be able to beat the freaky fro of Don Sutton or the massive teeth of Steve Garvey. But it was not to be. 1978 would see the same story play out. First the Royals went down and then the Dodgers.

Both teams would go on to World Series victories in the 80's, but later both teams would see changes in ownership that would destroy their winning ways. My interest became less fervent as I grew older. I had rock bands to play with and then a family to start. The deluge of baseball programming made me need the sport less and less and when the World Series was scrapped in 1994 I figured I was done with ever watching the game. But the kid who once spent hours tossing a baseball up into the air and then hit it while imitating different major leaguers' batting stances couldn't stay away. The lure of the box score column was too much.

But, like I said the Royals and the Dodgers I had known and loved had been sold and their lack of competitiveness was not endearing even in a “dem Bums” sort of way. So I was seduced by the dark side. I began to root for my father’s favorite team the Yankees. It wasn’t an unprecedented thing. I had actually bought a Yankees cap when I went to see Atlanta take on the Pirates one weekend in 1990. The Yankees were not that great a team then, but least they had tradition and cheering for them was a connection to my father and to a childhood long past. The fact that they started winning like mad soon after didn’t hurt.

Still, it never felt right. I knew I strayed from my true nature. The real connection to my father was cheering against his beloved Yankees while I usually got my hopes dashed. It was like a representation of what would have happened in reality if I had tried to kick my father’s ass when I was in elementary school. It would have been impossible unless in a strike year like in 1981 when the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the World Series after a shortened season. It perhaps would have made sense to join my father in cheering for the Yanks when I was a kid, but not now.

I’m around the same age as he was when the Yankees were making mince meat out of the Royals and the Dodgers. I shouldn’t become a fan just because my father’s getting up there in years. He doesn’t need any homage or pity. He probably would prefer me to stick to my boyhood favorites. Maybe this would make him feel younger, not that I’m sure of this or anything. I just know that it never truly felt right to be cheering for the pinstriped Evil Empire. There was always some Dodger blue or Royals powder blue visible on the horizon.

So I bought a Dodgers cap. I might even buy a Kansas City Royals one too. Both teams are hovering around the .500 mark right now. So not only are they connected in my consciousness they are connected in their current mediocrity. But I have hope they will both improve now that I’m cheering for them again because my renewed now non-fickle support has to count for something.

That is unless my love is predicated on less sturdy ground. Have you ever noticed the Dodgers and Royals logos are similar? On a subconscious level maybe my whole fandom thing can be traced back to that fact. Fonts and graphics aren’t too far removed from bubblegum cards and history books. It’s probably just a coincidence. Why shouldn’t my two favorite teams share some sartorial elements? Besides, I’ve been on the road too long. I’m glad to be home.

Go Royals!

Go Dodgers!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


I've been digging S.E. Hinton, the LA Dodgers, Top Chef 4, long bike rides, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, and Pavement.

Before I can move forward I have to take twelve steps flashback.

Mike E's Top Ten Punk Rock Artists

Mike E's top ten punk artists. I can dig Shawn Kerri since I always loved the Circle Jerks skanking dude, but I also dig BLack Belt Holmes and his take on Bert and Ernie.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bee Gees vs. Kiss, sorta

When I was a young lad toiling away at Mitchell-Neilson Elmentary School my music teacher was a young lady named Miss Kidd. She rocked the Dorothy Hamill haircut and had the obligatory amount of folk singing fervor and enthusiasm that was the hallmark of elementary education music instructors perhaps the world over. I don't remember much about what we actually did in the class that met a few times a week. I believe there were xylophones involved. And those dread recorders that all children are made to suffer with, I've never met anybody that could actually play those plastic flutes well. The thing I do remember is that she gave us a poll on what bands we liked the most. Once the results came in she would then devote one class a week to the history of the artist and we could bring records to play of their music.

The most popular band was the Bee Gees. So I learned all about the Aussies and how they had this awesome Beatles inspired early success singing about mining disasters or shipwrecks or something or other before they got all falsetto'ed and Stigwood'ed out. Did I care alot for this? Nope. I was bummed because the band I voted for didn't come in first in the elementary world.

Kiss came in second in Miss Kidd's demographic survey. So I had to wait a week before I could bring in my Destroyer album and play the class "God Of Thunder" and "Beth." Miss Kidd gave us the history of the band which I knew by heart, but instead of praising their music or success like she did the Bee Gees, she disparaged them.

So I'm always up for a Kiss versus Bee Gees throwdown. WFMU details a showdown between tribute bands Mini Kiss and Tragedy. It makes me feel like I'm back in elementary school all over again.

The Kid Brother I Never Had

punk ass former deli junction wannabe graf artist moved to NYC and I guess, well he can make it anywhere check out his righteous mellow romantic blog chadkrobot also check out his better half's blog: wonting. Much love to both.


I've run across three great live bootlegs in the mp3 format in the last few weeks which is always a treat since I'm not one of those bit torrent types.

First up: The Replacements from July 1st, 1985 in their hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can find it at Pop Headwound. It's a sufficiently rowdy and robust document of a band during 7th Street Entry gig. It's known under the title "Simply Unacceptable."

Next we have James Brown in Zaire playing a music festival in September 1974. It's quite funky and fast, but what makes it special is that this music festival happened right before Ali knocked out George Foreman in the "Rumble In The Jungle." Ickmusic has this polyester treat for all of you Maceo fans.

Greg at Captains Dead recently welcomed another future Pavement fan into the world so he shared one of his favorite Pavement shows from a June 26, 1995 Cologne, Germany show. So congratulate him and enjoy.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's 1992 Up In Here

I've run out of things to write about. I'd like to think it is but a temporary lull, but even if I had some ideas I don't have the time. So to keep this dead horse on its feet, let's stuff it full of things found from one of my old notebooks circa April 1992. You see, I once fancied myself as a creative type - rock and roll songs, fanzine creator, and just general mayhem maker. I'd get these spiral notebooks from M.T.S.U. and keep these quasi diary stream of consciousness babble junk food language feasts.

This entry will be drawn from one I titled Wally Thunders Shangri-La. I wasn't a Bangs then. I only flattered myself with pretensions to heroin chic rock stardom in those days. So lets journey back to more innocent days and see how 1992 was treating me:

Rock and roll is our epiphany. Sound the trumpets, spring is here. Shake the sleep out of your eyes and dance to the tune of romance. Hand in hand the lovers go while I sit at home alone. What a lousy movie, what a lousy life. But meanwhile on the bright side, the Manic Street Preachers are soon to arrive. The days count down like the sand through the hourglass, like a mainline heroin injection time rushes by. "Nothing gold can stay."

Nothing could stop me. Nothing will. It's a movie, a ball game, a coffee maker, red Corvette, it's a pop culture genocide. We're all looking for a little shangri la, longing to find out what's never been told while all the artists hope they die before they get old but end up as fashion suicides.

Reinvention? Most types of people bore me, ignore me, or deplore me. But like W.C.W. I am the happy genius of my household, stranglehold of the senses - creation desperation. Clothes make the man so let's get fully clothed in the know. Books mean knowledge. Reading takes meaning. I'm in a band baby...let's go out.

So there's the first couple of pages. It appears I didn't have much to write about back then either, but somehow I found the time and energy to much ado about nothing. Hmmmm. It may not be much on the blog post richter scale, but it makes the now me feel a little better.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Sidebar Blues

I need tips. Some sidebar tips. I've been looking through my links and I've jettisoned some. I think I'd like to get rid of some others, but I don't want to be the hatchet man. I'll leave that to you. Suggest some for the delete pile. But also suggest some links I can add. If you want to promote your own blog I'll even trade links if I dig your site. Either email me or add your twenty cents (man inflation is killer now).

Man, When I Think About Classic Rock I Think About Neal Schon

This veers off into territory unexpected somewhat. Just remember to be careful when you're on Anderson Road near Percy Priest Lake.

Now if we all know Sukie was a girl and she liked to hang out in the graveyard, then we should also know that all of my Riverdale High School memories revolve around the rock band Journey. They were already icons to me way before The Sopranos elevated the group to the pop culture zeitgeist firmament. My close personal friends, if there are any of those even left, are probably shaking their heads and muttering about me going on about how dinosaur rock wasn't that bad. They just can't reconcile how the first person to ever play them Black Flag also has a soft spot in his heart for beak nosed frontmen and white Afro wearing guitarists, not to mention former Babys members.

The reason is simple and it comes down to two things. School buses. I had to ride school buses and Journey were all over the radio my freshman and sophomore years. So their songs are sonically imprinted upon me. The ghastliness of "Open Arms" or "Faithfully" will suddenly spring up bubbling from my subconscious and the nightmare image of couples wearing identical Journey concert t-shirts flashes up. Because this is the second thing: the feathered hair Farrahs of my roller rink days all loved Journey. No amount of punk rock sneering could disguise the fact that if they had wanted you to take them to see Journey you would have done so gladly making sure to pack an extra Bic lighter for her so that when the house lights dimmed while the ballads echoed through Murphy Center she wouldn't feel left out of the flickering worship.

But I didn't ever see Journey in concert. I actually did and do like some of their uptempo songs and Neal Schon is a shredding guitar player. But really. I did once buy a Journey tape for a girl I liked and after she was killed in a car accident I've always wondered if there wasn't some connection. I'd hate for my final moments to be spent singing "when the lights go down on the city." Suffice it to say: I have a few hangups about the band.

So perhaps this is why I sent the following quasi fictional scenario to DD Blank after this article about wrinkled rock stars.

Circa 1983:

Hold those lighters in the air as the house lights dim and squeeze your lady tight while Steve Perry sings "Faithfully." You'll tell everybody tomorrow that "Stone In Love" was your favorite while others will say "Don't Stop Believing" hit the stratosphere when Neal Schon launched into a solo that would put his old employer Carlos Santana (what has that guy done lately) to shame. Then there will be that one weird girl in Basic Math that surprises everybody when she walks in wearing a Frontiers tour t-shirt and then claims she only likes Journey because of bass player Ross Valory's sexiness. The two people in class who've actually heard The Clash's first album snicker while the heavy metal kids won't admit to being at the concert even though they've kept the ticket stubs in their biker wallets that are chained to their jeans.

Dickens To Frozen Cats To Where Did Toby Holmes Go Again?

How my mind works, sorta:

I've been reading through Charles Dickens of late. I just started Our Mutual Friend this morning and encountered a character named Mortimer. I finished the first couple of chapters and in came Lola the pet cat of Wally Manor. This confluence of events reminded me that I once knew a cat named Mortimer. He belonged to that crazy Zorlac skateboarding riding miscreant Toby Holmes back in the day. I think I may have even named the cat Mortimer. He was just a stray that decided to stay and he must have been there awhile. Then he went missing. As he was a tomcat it wasn't surprising. We imagined he was out doing what came natural to a stud named Mortimer. When he didn't return after some weeks we figured he was gone for good.

This was back in the day when Toby and I went skating almost every day regardless of the weather. There was an office complex just down the street from the trailer court where Toby lived and one cold and frigid night we rode down looking to do some ollies and curb grinds. There was where we found Mortimer on his back frozen solid. Did we feel sad? A little. Did we give him a proper burial? Nope. We took turns ollying over his corpse. It was the kind of thing Mortimer might have liked.

I lost track of Toby over the years, but a couple of years ago he contacted me. We went and had some pizza and beer and sent emails back and forth. He was the same old Toby. But now I've lost track of him again and I wonder if I might find him one day frozen solid on his back. And if I did; would I try to ollie over him before I notified the authorities.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Review: R.E.M. Accelerate

Kick it out on the dancefloor like you just don't care!

After spending an inordinate amount of time writing some sub-Meltzer piece about how Accelerate is the perfect mid-life crisis album reflecting how time speeds up as one's metabolism slows down I decided not to inflict such weirdness on the world.

Supranational history lesson:

1984/85 discovered this hot combo from Athens, GA by way of magazines, David Letterman, and Jason & The Scorchers (Stipe gets co-write and sings back-up vocals on "Hot Nights From Georgia")

1986/87 made a pilgrimmage to Athens, GA went to both Wuxtry's (bought Boomtown Rats Mercury debut, Police Outlandos D'Amour, and a Pandoras record), bought any and everything with the name R.E.M. emblazoned across it, and saw them in concert. Started having some doubts when Document didn't do much for me.

1988/90 didn't purchase Green, didn't go see them play Murphy Center, but lots of high school and junior high kids did because I saw them when I'd go skateboarding

1991 bought Out Of Time after hearing "Radio Song" in a Sound Shop, brought it home and found it dull, and after R.E.M. swept the MTV Music Video Awards I began a long loathing of Stipe.

1992 - 2006 still listened to older stuff and liked "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?", wrote a piece about how I once loved the band, but it got to the point I became so disenchated with the band that I couldn't even bear to listen to Murmur and I sold all of my R.E.M. vinyl, the only thing I kept was a couple of cassette bootlegs from the Tyrone's days

2007 tuned into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame awards ceremony mainly to see how Bill Berry was doing and like all televison show ads claim now: It All Changed - the moment they launched into "Gardening At Night" I forgot all my former hate and just remembered all the joy they had once given. I went to Amazon soon after and bought all of their old great albums and then I picked up the later stuff in the bargain bins.

Which brings us to 2008 and Accelerate. It's heralded as a return to rock. A retreat from the blandness and lack of focus that had afflicted the three legged dog from Athens, GA. If you've read to this point you're either about ready to put me up against the wall and scream "Well, is it?!!" at me or perhaps smirk and say "I know it's not. Lots of other blogs have already told me so." I'm hip to this jive.

So let's first address focus. The album clocks in at 34 minutes and 39 seconds. With 11 tracks there's not much room for meandering. The album is succinct, to the point, brief, curt, and as many other adjectives you want to throw in there. I appreciate this. Just because you can pack 80 minutes onto a CD doesn't mean you should. Too many bands today suffer from bloated albums that you can't listen to in one sitting anyways. Hence the IPOD shuffle supremacy. So focus is confirmed.

Is Accelerate bland? That's a big negatory good buddy. While the album does tend to blur somewhat with such buzzing guitars that haven't been heard since New Adventures In Hi-Fi, there is enough sonic variety to tickle the eardrums especially if you've got your earbuds in place. It sounds like real people playing musical instruments this time. Gone are the sub-lounge singer keyboards. Stipe's voice may have lost range, but he sounds impassioned. Isn't passion one of the ingredients needed for good rock and roll.

Which is what Accelerate does. It rocks. And I didn't expect it to. Just because I had found my long shelved love for the band didn't mean I would accept whatever they did. I'm a big fan of Bill Berry and his contributions to the band. Plus, I still remember things like them saying they would break up at the stroke of midnight of the year 2000. It was a coming to terms over those types of issues that let me love the music again. So I wasn't sure if I would like the new material, but I do.

Accelerate is a solid album. Something they should be proud to put their name behind. Will junior high school kids want to go see them in concert (if they could afford to) - who knows. Not only are all the fans from the Murmur era, from the Document era, or the Automatic For The People era different so is the music industry. There's no way R.E.M. can ever reach the highs of the past. Their own success acts like an anchor. The impulse is to say how this album stacks up in the catalogue. I think this wrong to a certain extent.

Shouldn't we let some time go by before making grand assessments like: is Accelerate as good as Document? Hell, I don't know. I barely liked Document during the 80's. That album had to grow on me. How about Life's Rich Pageant? How does Accelerate stack up against it? Man, it was such a completely different world when Pageant dropped....weren't R.E.M. already being accused of being sellouts. Let time decide such comparisons. For now; I'll just dig Accelerate. The three legged dog has finally learned how to run.

Now if you want to read what I think is the best review of Accelerate I've found (and the main reason I didn't do any song analysis since it's here) check out Annie Zaleski's one at Riverfront Times.

Ghosts Of Surfing Past

I had an email from Future Me in my inbox this morning. I almost deleted it as spam, but I opened it out of curiosity. Here's what it said:

Dear FutureMe,

It's been four years since I wrote this. I hope everything is going
well. One word of advice for the future me: cool out. Seriously, chill.
Read some books and play some music. Play with the kids. Take the wife
out for a night.


That was some good advice from my younger self. I'm surprised I didn't put in "Stop living like a Repo Man."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mississippi Pics

I visited some familiar ground a few weeks ago. I went to Ripley, Mississippi to attend my Aunt Ermie's funeral. She had run a sandwich shop for 42 years selling the most delicious slugburgers in all of North Mississippi. It seemed like she was closed during each of my infrequent visits over the last 20 years or so and I had planned on a visit this month, but she died a week before. Maybe her grandson Bruce will keep the place going.

I took some snapshots of the courthous and of the public library. The Ripley Public Library has a special place in my heart. It's the first library I can remember. It's where I got my first library card. I don't recall the title of the book, but I vaguely remember a yellow race car was on the cover. I never had any business in the courthouse, but I visited the square often as a child. There doesn't seem to be much there now.

It was strange being in Ripley. I know the town as if I had lived there my whole life, yet I only lived there a year and then visited once a year until I was around 20. When I visit I feel like such an outsider, yet I'm filled with a flood wash of memories and love for the place. I want to tell everyone I see, "I'm not an intruder, I'm as much a North Mississippi resident as ya'll." Yet, when it's time to leave I know that I am truly a Tennessean to my core. Some things can't ever be recaptured.

Like 6-10 cousins and 5-6 adults all sleeping in Grandma Bridges's tiny 4 room house. It's still there on Cooper Street with its tin roof and front porch. When I was a child I thought this porch was massive. Time has shrunk its dimensions, but not my memories.

I'll visit Ripley again. I'd like to come check out the First Monday flea market again. There will undoubtedly be more funerals - a sad, but mortal fact. And I will likely go through the same emotions - excitement at traversing familiar terrain as I barrell down through Bolivar, TN heading toward the Mississippi state line (oh how tremendous it was every July when my mother and I would drive down) and then through Walnut and Falkner on Highway 15. And then the natural regret of leaving when I come back to Tennessee. Here's one last pic taken through the car window since I didn't want to disturb or freak anybody out. It's the house I lived in when my parents ran Raney's Cafe on 15. It was right down the street from the Cafe next door to a smoke belching shoe factory (it's now the Ashley plant).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Goathead's Unite And Maybe Get Into A Fight

Since I'm in a full on Eddie Haskell mood at the moment: there's a swell interview with John Darnielle over at Sixeyes. If you're into The Mountain Goats or even, maybe especially if you're not, you should check it out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Video For R.E.M.'s New Single

Amazon has the video for R.E.M.'s first single for their new album Accelerate. It looks like R.E.M. has gotten revitalized. Go check out "Supernatural Superserious" for yourselves.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Man, I Haven't Blogged In Awhile

Maybe, I've just been going too much Jimmy Valiant know - caught up in the boogie. I'll have to try and visit the internet a little more often. For now; here's some links I've dug lately:

The isolated David Lee Roth vocal track at WFMU.

The Popdose guide to Material Issue.

Boing Boing hipped me to this Orwell essay about working at a used book store. Just substitute record for book and it's very much what it was like to work at Phonoluxe back in the day.

Working in a record store didn't kill my love of music. I question it more these days as its importance is diminished in light of the gang I run with now: the Soulfish wife and my three kids, but I won't ever get off the stuff. Here's my top tracks of the week. And yeah, I know this isn't an mp3 blog, but if you click on the Hype Machine link on the sidebar you're likely to find versions of all the stuff listed.

The top tracks for me whilst working in the office this week:

Super Furry Animals "Neo-Consumer"

Bend Folds Five "Underground"

Superchunk "Cool" from an Alley Catz 2003 performance

Janis Joplin "As Good As You've Been To This World" yeah I know I used to hate on her, but things change as you get older

The Mountain Goats "Lovecraft In Brooklyn" one of those rare tunes I wish I would have written

Minor Threat "In My Eyes" live from Chunklet magazine online ...damn those boys were ferocious

New Pony Club "Grey"

Belle And Sebastian "Me And The Major" and "Your Cover Is Blown"

Arthur & Yu "There Are Too Many Birds"

Field Music "A Gap Has Appeared"