Friday, April 24, 2009
First a little surf action. Man Or Astroman? always put on a great show.
Not gonna say much since I'm on the road, but Teen Idols and Jack were two of my favorites from back in the day.
Another great Lucy's Record Shop bill.
My band Dragula and Jack both did two sets that night for our drunken friends and rednecks.
One last flyer...hit the road Jack.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
There used to be a dingy rock and roll club formerly a strip club named variously Pan's Starship / Pantheon and I loved that joint. I played many shows and saw several gigs there before it became a parking lot - I think this is the Superchunk gig where Mac had shaved his head so it inspired me to do the same – what an awesome live band
Bedlam Hour gig was sparse but fun with their bassist in a cow suit and they threw food at the audience – Their song “Grey Sweater” is a classic - I believe this is the gig where I donned a blond wig and imitated Kurt Cobain on a cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” - Soon we would be Michael Landon's Ghost no more changing our name to Pipebomb. Toby and Ratfink made these posters
Letch Patrol were cool guys – my band did “Sonic Reducer” at sound check and the lead singer dude said “We do that song in our show” so I said we wouldn’t do it and he went, “nah, go ahead and play it too” A good afternoon of prime punk rock that only a select few witnessed.
Unrest – I liked the flyer, but still to this day don’t “get” Unrest - Crop Circle Hoax are one of my faves - I shared the bill with them on the last weekend of shows at Lucy - Myself, Brett and Jimmy from Jack played a set - we were called The Most in honor of Donnie Most - I didn't have a clue that Les Shields of numerous Nashville local bands had once been in a band of the same name with a single release to their credit
Jawbreaker – who would have thought they’d be so damn emofluential – I thought they were good not great - but truly anybody who was somebody whatever etc played Lucy's Record Shop back in the day
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The Dislocated Jabbs gig – my band our first show ever in either March or April 1989 - I was shaking when I got on stage – these girls untied my Chuck Taylors – played a couple of Living Color songs, Descendents, S.O.D., Black Flag, the audience was walking out and we launched into Sabbath’s "Hand Of Doom" and they stuck around for more - Gonz and I hung out with the drummer's father before the gig drinking beer after beer - Gonz made the poster - what a night
Summer of 89 Dance – this was a battle of the bands and we won – ditched many of the covers and played mainly original stuff - first time I ever met Shrub who later became our bassist – had mad skate session at Memorial Heights later
Dinosaur Jr. – Green Mind was the album of the year for me so far but Urge Overkill were the highlight for me – their cover of Hot Chocolate’s “Emmaline” really moved me – Dino Jr were loud, very loud
Jack and Brancuzzi’s – wasn’t at this one, but Jack were/are the Replacements south – drunken and disorderly with fistfights and passouts or just pure rock and roll junkie adrenalin ramshackle Faces style – either on or off they put on a pure rock and roll show
Bad Brains – this handbill (dig how it was not cut right) came from a Danzig gig at the Cannery the singer dude Clay from F.U.C.T. was handing them out – I missed the show..I think I was out of town or out of something
Bonus: Not a flyer, but an actual Teenage Fanclub setlist – 328 Music Hall gig Afghan Whigs opened - actual set list I grabbed off the stage at the end of the show (they had access to a copy machine obviously) – Fannies were great soccer ball kicking like a Rod Stewart 70’s concert
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Aaaah..."Skankman" in all his glory! January of 86 right before Cantrells bit the dust – just a handful of punks at the show – a group of them drove up in a car slathered with spray paint graffiti with loudspeakers on top of the car – leather jacket skinheads who looked like Circle Jerks mascot “Skankman” they were frightening to behold – hung out near the back with Zander Schloss while PMS performed – they were good – they ate at the Wendy’s behind Vandy after the show one booth over from us – the Jerks were great lots of fun with such a sparse crowd compared to a year or so later when they played Exit/In.
Jason and the Scorchers – I believe this was the kickoff for their Still Standing tour – man that album blew chunks now Jason is a kiddie music star
Fireplace Whiskey Calendar – I would have liked to have seen the Let’s Active and Alex Chilton shows...saw them both a year or so later at different shows
JFA – afternoon gig was great – I bought a shirt that later got me a date
Monday, April 20, 2009
Riff Raff later Riff Rath (I had their cassette release) – Mark Schenkel led band - he worked at Cats – The Look don’t know lots of bands have used that name I believe – Mordred Lane I wonder what they were like – Blind Farmers From Hell were legendary Lascassas band later mutated into Hank Flamingo – F Particles again – HR and the Audio Blisters – I never saw them, but I heard they were sonically good Tony Moreale of Cruel Blue always bragged about the bass player.
I had to work that day at the Smyrna McDonalds. The show was broadcast over KDF. I listened to some of it in the break room. It was a bummer day since I was stuck there.
Austin band alternative guitar rock I really liked their album Headache Machine
electronic pioneer...Mike Smyth at Phonoluxe said the main dude in Dessau was really good at drywall
perhaps Murfreesboro’s first punk band – Sam Baker. I don’t know if this Youtube footage is from this show. Deacon Feilds was Colin Wade Monk’s group. I worked the door once for the F Particles at the Exit/In which was funny...I was 19 and here I was carding people for entry since it wasn't an all ages show there.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Kesey Week continues!!!
It all goes back to Morrison. I couldn't stand The Doors when I was younger. It was all so melodramatic and with Manzarek’s freaky organ the music seemed anti-rock to me. This all changed my sophomore year of high school when Brad the Lion loaned me his copy of No One Here Gets Out Alive. He’d been trying to get me into The Doors for weeks. He assured me there was more to them than the pop hits I’d heard on the radio. I don’t know why he didn’t just give me a tape instead of loaning me the book, but it worked. I became a fan of The Doors.
It wasn’t only about The Doors. I’ve written on this subject before, but No One Here Gets Out Alive featured a lists of writers and books that Jim Morrison admired. This led me down other avenues of corruption and potential dissipation. I hit the card catalog at Linebaugh Library like a thirsty alcoholic looking for the books mentioned. I grabbed an armful of Nietzsche, Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, a book about Allen Ginsberg, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and I was on my way after the pleasant clunk thump of the card stamp machine.
Now let’s digress, regress, progress to a quick summary of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test: Soon to be famous author Kesey takes part in drug tests which include LSD. His mind gets blown and soon he’s taking trip after trip. Then a group of people coalesce around him and he becomes a sort of spiritual ringleader nicknamed Chief. They paint a bus (Furthur) of many colors and the man who was the inspiration for the character Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s opus On The Road, Neal Cassady, drives the bus across the USA so this group, dubbed the Merry Pranksters, can attend the World’s Fair being held in NYC. A big jug of orange juice laced with acid helps fuel the trip and many misadventures ensue as they shoot a movie of the trip. Kesey came up with a saying, "You're either on the bus, or you're off the bus." They make it back to California and the scene keeps getting bigger and bigger as the foundation of the Haight-Ashbury hippie scene is laid by the Merry Pranksters with their multi-media extravaganza events dubbed Acid Tests. Kesey gets busted and flees to Mexico. He comes back and after serving a few days in jail he gets out on bail and tells everybody they need to go beyond acid. They have an Acid Test Graduation and the book ends. If you want more detail then that you can go look it up on Wikipedia or buy the book and read it yourself.
Now let’s get into the pudding of this weblog post....my impressions of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test through time, space, and memory of my sci-fi life. What did I think of the book when I was high school age? I loved it. I was entranced, enthused, intrigued, amazed, and on the bus with the actions and with Tom Wolfe’s trippy prose which he wrote to give a semblance of the acid mind set. The counter culture icons leaped from the pages with their vivid nicknames and pursuits against the social mores of the time.
This isn’t too surprising considering my age of 16 when I first read it. Neal Cassady’s ex-wife Carolyn Cassady, in her book Off The Road, wrote “...understandably the children all got a big kick from the names as well and from the escapades Neal recited; no wonder, I thought, since most of them sounded on a junior high level.” The freedom and frivolity featured in the book cavorting under the quasi-mystical lysergic glow is captivating to a young mind while the traces of Wolfe’s more jaundiced takes on the scene is so surreptitious to be hardly noticeable to me then.
I dug the camaraderie. The day-glo painted bus and anything else the paint would adhere to were a cosmic kick to a kid that felt like high school was a prison gray world. The LSD portion of the story was another part of the appeal. It provided an undercurrent of fear. It had been drilled into our heads at an early age that drugs were bad and the initialized drugs LSD and PCP were the absolute worst. You’d find yourself jumping out of a window thinking you could fly or microwaving a baby if you took them. There were enough bad trip scenes in the book to lend credence to such admonitions. So it was all thrilling rebellion to read. Was this thrilling rebellion sustained for me when I read the book again about eight years later....read on and you’ll know.
I signed up for Dr. Gentry’s counter culture lit class for a few reasons. I had read every book on the syllabus so I knew if I need to I could slack off on the readings. I figured it would be an easy A and I thought I might learn something new even though I was familiar with the topics. I actually read each book again. It was an easy A, but I didn’t gleam any new insights from the class except for my re-appraisal of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and that this was the class where I became friends with Michael Gray which ultimately led to my 5 year stint at Phonoluxe Records which is a whole ‘nuther topic I’ve covered before. Right now it’s just the retroactive kool-aid drinking that matters.
The second time around through the book was something else. The Merry Pranksters came off as buffoons this time. They were just a bunch of clueless hippies only interested in sensory things with no real accomplishments or contribution to society. I had gone from open eyed sophomoric youth to punk rock veteran with a complete disdain for the co-opted baby boom Sixties fads and fetishes. It’s there in the book too. The justification for such an attitude is right on the pages when you read about former activists who had been doing great things for civil rights growing their hair, wearing beads, taking drugs, and basically walking away from it all to end up in nasty crash pads to burn out. And the way I saw it in my mid-twenties was that the ones that hadn’t burned out had become megalomaniacal yuppies and much the shame they weren’t all still on LSD. I may have even written a paper in this line and if I can find it I’ll be sure and share it with you.
The summary cliche of life is that you get more conservative as you get older or as they said in The Breakfast Club you lose your heart. I tend to disagree. When I was young, oh so young, I was open minded and ready to taste the freedom promised by the Merry Pranksters. I reached my mid-twenties and I was filled up with ideas and was set in my ways. Now I’m at the midway point of life I’m like a cracked vessel. I’m full of ideas, but the vessel is leaking and the elements are getting in. I read Wolfe’s hippie masterpiece again last week and my ideas have gone all Charlie Brown on me. I’m ambivalent as hell about its contents (read wishy washy).
The acidized text gets old and tiresome after awhile, but Kesey’s story is still compelling...perhaps even more compelling now that I've got a much clearer picture of what he perhaps gave up to become a champion for LSD. Unlike my college era critique, I can see some worth in the Merry Pranksters and their boundary pushing antics. They did add some color to people’s lives and I suppose their pioneering efforts in multi-media paved the way for better things. Even the mystical acid bent doesn’t seem too bad these days. The one thing above all I can give them is that they seemed earnest about their aims of a rather aimless life. You don’t run across much real innocent earnestness these days.
So I haven't turned a full circle regarding the non-fiction New Journalism classic or even place Kesey back on the high school pedestal. I guess you can boil it down to this:
high school - I wanted to be on the bus
college - I wanted to scrap the bus
middle age - I wouldn't mind seeing the bus rolling down the freeway. I might even get on it if I really need a ride.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Twenty four years ago I loaned Ken Kesey's Garage Sale to a dude that worked with me at McDonalds. He was another grill jockey like me, but he was older and cooler and he dated assistant manager Linda. Linda came in to work once that summer of 1985 singing "Walking On Sunshine" and that made everything all right for a few fleeting moments. She threw a party later that summer and I came to it dressed in green slacks and a golf shirt I had purchased at Friedmans. It was my one attempt at going preppie to impress Lisa Whitmore and even though she wasn’t go to be at the party I figured I’d give the outfit a test run.
I also brought The Beatles's Rubber Soul album, the British Parlophone import, and put it on the hi-fi. The crowd grew restless after a few tunes and took it off to be replaced by Prince's Around The World In A Day album which is ironic as hell since it was his blatant Beatles rip/homage/whatever record. So my choice of music was crap, but I did have several people ask me if I played golf. Linda and her boyfriend were perhaps only two or three maybe four years older than me, but at that moment in time fresh out of high school they seemed vastly older, more worldly, and mature than me. Her boyfriend was a cool dude, but I never got my book back.
I had purchased it at the Outlets Limited Mall when I was a junior in high school. There was a little book kiosk in one of the halls that sold remaindered stock. I got an Evergreen Review compilation book there too with some Gregory Corso poetry and drawings inside. After I loaned and lost the Kesey book I'd look for it, but years had gone by and I gave up wandering upon it at McKay or some other fabulous used book shop.
So I broke down last week. I ordered a used copy off of Amazon. It was more than I had paid originally, but it was still well under $20. Not too bad for a quasi-collectible hippie generation artifact. It arrived yesterday along with the Lester Bangs penned Blondie bio I had also ordered. I had hoped that the Kesey book might even bear my name...I used to always write my name on a book back in the day, but it didn't happen. Man, that would have been supremely cool, but it was still awesome to have the book back in my hands.
It's not a great book, but it is a fun volume of essays and fiction. The best moments are Kesey's praise of Faulkner, his pro-life stance stated elegantly and forcefully in an interview with Paul Krassner, and of course lots of stuff about Neal Cassady and the rest of the Beats. Opening it up was like seeing an old friend again. Sure, you've lost touch, but just moments in you're synched right back into all of the old social graces that made your life richer and better for knowing them.
So to celebrate this reunion I’ve decided to make this Kesey Week. Each day I’ll post some blather about Kesey and The Merry Pranksters and their trajectory through my little old life. Tomorrow I’ll examine Tom Wolfe’s tale of Kesey, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and how the book’s meanings have changed to me through my readings of it over the years.
“We don’t take our trips on LSD” – Merle Haggard