Easily one of my top ten favorite bands of all time, The Flesh Eaters remain somewhat of an enigma. Existing on and off for over 30 years, you’d think that this notorious LA band would be a household name by now, but that’s sadly not the case. I remember being shocked when AFI frontman Davey Havok told me that he’d never heard them (check the interview with him in Gearhead #12, it’s in there) but then again, that’s why I’m doing this ongoing series: to hip you to the good stuff.
Forever fronted by Chris Desjardins (that’s Chris D. to you punk!) their early and most famous line-up included John Doe and D.J. Bonebrake of X, Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman of The Blasters, and Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. I really can’t imagine living in a world where this bands first four LP’s –No Questions Asked (1980) A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die (1981) Forever Came Today (1982) and A Hard Road To Follow (1983)– didn’t exist, because like a handful of other bands that sprang up out of the same well (The Gun Club, the aforementioned X, and early Wall of Voodoo) they never get stale.
This video is for the song “The Wedding Dice” from the Forever Came Today LP, which features the later (and less punk rock star studded) line-up of Don Kirk on guitar, Robyn Jameson on bass and drummer Chris Wahl. Less star power yes, but no less great. When I think about this so-called kustom kulture world that we live in, it’s hard to deny the role that Chris D. and The Flesh Eaters played in getting us to here. From hot rods and Harley’s, to hair grease and flaming dice tattoos, these guys were living it before a lot of you were even a gleam in your daddy’s eye. Respect.
OK, I’ll be the first to admit that me and Greta tend to overdo it a bit in the gift-giving department each Yuletide season, but what better way to show someone that you love them then by paying close attention to every hint (some subtle, some not so much) that they drop throughout the year, then getting them everything they want… and more!
I seriously didn’t think that 2007 could be topped, but the proof was right there in this Christmas morning pudding: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. box set (41 discs!) and the Honey West Complete Series DVD’s, a pristine 1963 Mr. Gasser model kit, an original Nauga monster (in my favorite color no less), a limited edition Tim Biskup Yeti vinyl figure, the “Green Siamese” Circus Punk by KOA, a set of mint-in-box Nancy and Sluggo dolls (and a musical Sluggo mug from 1968), a great old hillbilly bobblehead, a whole set of the rare Spanish Munsters “squeaky dolls”, vintage Dr. Doolittle and Korg 70,000 B.C. metal lunchboxes, copies of the hard to find Chrysler dealer in-house publication Bin & Bench, a copy of the October 1964 edition of Life magazine with the huge “Big Daddy” Roth feature, Best in Show: The Films of Christopher Guest book, a Charlie The Tuna shaped transistor radio, some crazy circa-1960’s crying Indian and Eskimo dolls (that I collect on the rare occasion that I can find them) and (not pictured) a print of Emory Douglas’ iconic “All Power to the People” Black Panther Party print (and hand carved wooden fist thrown in for good measure) and… some pajamas! Do I have the world’s greatest girlfriend or what?
Punk rock? The letter “E”? Gotta be Eddie and the Hot Rods kiddies. Formed in 1973, they, along with UK contemporaries like Dr. Feelgood and The Hammersmith Gorillas, were so-called “Pub Rock” bands whose working class image and “rough around the edges” sound served them well during the punk explosion of 1976, where they were propelled into the media spotlight. Their first two LP’s, Teenage Depression (1976) and Life on the Line (1977) are must-owns in my book, especially if you like your punk rock on the rock and roll side.
Arguably their most famous song, "Do Anything You Wanna Do" hit the UK Top 10 in August of 1977, a month where the US charts were dominated by the likes of Barry Manilow, Shawn Cassidy and Andy Gibb. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, in many ways they are way ahead of us over there, and here’s some more proof of that from 31 years ago. What a hook!
Several people have emailed in asking if the copies of the Cole Foster book that are sold at the Gearhead Magazine website really are signed by Cole. Yes, yes they are. Whenever I get a new batch in, I make the 90 minute drive down to Salinas with Sharpie in hand, say “Hiya doll” to Susan, pet their pug Sophie, have Cole sign the books, then head back to Oakland. Why? Because I have to do something to give my poor ol’ website an edge over Amazon.com who sell the book a little cheaper. Cheaper yeah, but signed by me and Cole, no way. So there you go non-believers, and if you don’t have a copy yet, for the love o’ everything sacred, click here and get one… damn!
OK, enough with the preachin’ and back to the teachin’. Dow Jones and the Industrials were a relatively short lived punk band from West Lafayette, Indiana, which is about an hour outside Indianapolis, best known for being the home of Purdue University. They existed in that brilliant post punk, pre-hardcore era of the late 70’s and (very) early 80’s that produced some of the greatest “no rules/anything goes” music ever created. With a very limited discography that consists of only one EP, and split LP with The Gizmos and one compilation track, not too much has been written about these guys, but I bet it’s pretty easy to fill in the blanks… they met at college, saw Devo, and, well… here are the brilliant results. “Can’t Stand the Midwest” is one of the greatest punk songs you’ve probably never heard, until now that is…
Back in the mid-80s, when my life consisted mainly of passing time between Half Life gigs, I remember an ongoing argument that my tight knit gang of Pittsburgh punkers and I often had. One day our friend (and loyal roadie) Brian Corley brought up the short-lived 1970’s TV show Dusty’s Trail by way of asking us if we remembered it. I did, somewhat vaguely I’ll admit, but once he went on to (accurately) describe it as “Gilligan’s Island set in the old west” our little group was instantly split between the two of us and those who thought that he was totally making it up, and for whatever reason, I was in on the joke. Looking back on those pre-internet, “all the information in the known universe is just one click away “days of yore, it does sound like the set up for an elaborate gag. I mean, why would you try to recreate the wackiness of the world's most famous "crew of castaways" 100 years earlier, substituting a lost wagon train for a remote South Pacific island? But unfortunately for us, back in 1973 that’s exactly what Gilligan’s Island creator Sherwood Schwartz did. Jump to the present, where I recently had the misfortune of having one of the Dusty’s Trail discs somehow work it’s way to the top of my Netflix cue, and I’m here to tell ya, he and his son Elroy really should have left well enough alone.
It’s bad enough that the cast is a carbon copy of the Gilligan’s crew, from the bumbling Dusty (played by an obviously stoned Bob Denver, Mr. Gilligan himself) to Forrest Tucker as the “wagon master” who essentially takes on the Skipper’s role. But it doesn’t stop there, you have the rich couple, the smart guy, and of course the two girls, one glamorous and one a plain but loveable brunette no less. But where it really stinks up the joint is within it’s so-mundane-they-actually-insult-you “plots” – if you dare to call them that. During the course of the 4 episodes I somehow forced myself to sit through, they pull out every tired television gag humanly conceivable, from the old “hypnosis gone wrong” to a (Gasp!) escaped gorilla, which, remember that this is set on an abandoned trail in the unsettled west of the mid-19th century now, they don’t even attempt to explain how it got there, much less the fresh bananas that they have at their disposal to feed it. You know me friends, I generally like the TV shows of my youth, and I do have a pretty high threshold for sit-com silliness, from Petticoat Junction right up through the last season of the Partridge Family, but this flat out sucks, there’s really no other way to put it. I’ve read reviews online where retailers try and put a positive spin on this turkey, using phrases like “mirth and merriment ensue” but trust me, Dusty’s Trail is to be avoided at all costs.
The gods of punk (Joey Ramone? Joe Strummer? Jeff Lamm?) have spoken, and so it shall be done: Punk Rock History Lesson is now weekly (and alphabetical) so let us proceed then to the letter C. While visions of posting videos by Chelsea, The Count Bishops or The Cortinas danced in my head, I’ve spend too much time with Roger Miret this year not to have found a renewed appreciation for The Clash. Sure, they achieved a level of success that most punk bands (actually most bands in general) can only dream of, but we can’t let that blind us to the fact that were great. Undeniably great.
As a young punk rocker in 1980, I was blown away the first time I saw the movie Rude Boy. Not by the flimsy plot of course, which follows sex shop worker Roy Gange as he ascends to the lofty rank of Clash roadie, but for the performances of The Clash themselves. Almost 30 years later, all I can say is, “Thank God someone was filming that!” No performance was more memorable of course than the one of the band performing “White Riot” at the now legendary Rock Against Racism concert in Victoria Park in 1978, where they are joined onstage by Sham 69 front man Jimmy Pursey. This is still awe-inspiring, and way too great to be ignored. My apologies to The Cortinas… maybe next time boys.
Part of the reason why it took me awhile to get this new “weekly educational series” going was that I wasn’t sure how to approach it. SO MUCH material to cover, but also so little time, but I think doing it alphabetically is the answer, at least for the time being. Which brings up the letter B, and since we started off in the UK in 1977, that leads us directly to The Buzzcocks of course. I’m sure that by now many of you have seen the promo clip for “What Do I Get?” so I’m avoiding that (although it’s sparse set design and deadpan delivery was often copied by other bands, as you’ll see in upcoming weeks) and going for the less often seen but equally great “Why She's a Girl from the Chainstore” video. If I had to pick between this ageless bands two principle songwriters, I tend to go with Steve Diggle over Pete Shelly most of the time. As a younger man, Steve certainly came across as the more “punk” of the two, I mean, just look at how angry he is delivering these lyrics whilst walking through a department store! It’s like he only had one speed: ON, which endeared him to me quite a bit. I only caught them live once, at the now extinct I-Beam in SF back in 1989, when they first reformed and played only the classic material. They totally lived up to any hype that surrounded them, and were as good as The Clash, Devo, Gang of Four, or any other band I had caught earlier that decade. Enjoy!
Sure, I know what you’re thinking, “MLV, this is a brand spankin’ new weekly feature, replacing the much cherished ‘New Wave Wednesday,’ so why is it part two?” Good question. It’s #2 in a series because awhile back, on July 9th to be exact, I did a post about my mucho beloved band The Professionals that was technically Part 1. So in the interest of accuracy and consistency, this is actually “Part 2”… glad we got that cleared up.
So, where to start? How about the UK in 1977 (seems logical) and alphabetically? Formed in 1973, Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias were actually a “spoof rock” band in the tradition of the Bonzo Dog Band, but when their classic EP Snuff Rock was released in 1977 (on Stiff Records no less) you have to wonder how many people actually knew that. I got a copy in 1986 when then Circle of Shit front man and legendary Philly punk rock character John Brubaker demanded that I buy it when we saw it in a store while record shopping. He was as shocked that I didn’t already have it as if we were talking about the first Ramones record or something, but that’s how highly he regarded it, and after one spin, so did I. I mean sure, these guys couldn’t have been that serious with songs like “Gobbing on Life” but then again who knew? It’s not like we could hop online and look for videos back then, and there was precious little information out there on these guys. Fast-forward to 2006 or so, when my daily You Tube mining regimen basically consisted of looking up bands I liked for years but never actually saw, and these 5 minutes and 36 seconds of pure genius popped up. As the saying goes, you could have knocked me over with a feather, and my interest was peaked once again. Supposedly there is a book about these guys, brilliantly titled When We Were Thin, but I’ve never been able to track down a copy. If anyone knows where I can get it please let me know, but for now, be my guest and enjoy the “comedy rock” stylings of Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias.
I’ll tell you one thing, my gal Greta really knows how to throw a party. Ricky’s Sports Theatre & Grill (voted 2nd best sports bar in America by Sports Illustrated) in San Leandro was the spot, and the Warriors / Bulls game was the original premise to meet up last Friday night, but in the end, it was all about the people. We were amazed that damn near everyone we invited actually showed up, but then again, that’s why we chose Ricky’s in the first place, because nothing repels hipsters like a sports bar! Seriously though, Juan and Jesus from Deadend Magazine came the whole way from Salinas, Scott and Michelle Mugford from Sacramento, Flip and Trish from Santa Cruz, I mean, it’s hard not to feel humbled when you have friends that loyal. It’s a cliché, but a good time truly was had by all.
Operating under the principle that all work and no play truly does make MLV one dull boy, I’m actually having a birthday party tonight, the first one since I turned forty a few years back. It seemed like the right time, but one thing was definitely wrong, and that was that I was starting to resemble Sgt. Pepper-era George Harrison in the hair department. Luckily, I now know Philadelphia transplant Nicky the Barber.
Professional and charmingly loquacious, Nicky is a one-man whirlwind dead set on bringing the old school barbershop vibe back to the Bay Area. Here, an expert cut won’t set you back too much, and you can even get a straight razor shave, Clubman optional. The whole experience is unique actually, as he works in a traditional shop that is actually located inside of a high-end salon, but in San Francisco, one expects no less. If you gotta get your look together, then look no farther than Nicky. He can be found at The Barber Lounge, 854 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA. Getting an appointment is probably a good idea, 415-934-0411.
Whenever you don’t see a lot of activity on this here blog, you can bet that I’ve been up to something. Well, good news for you long suffering Gearhead subscribers, we’ve been working pretty much around the clock trying to wrap up the soon-to-be-legendary issue #18. Why did it take so long you might ask? Well, besides all the usual shenanigans, headaches and heartbreaks, Gearhead #18 is extra unique in that it features not one, but two incredibly in-depth and revealing cover story/interviews. First up was Agnostic Front front man/ Rumblers Car Club founder Roger Miret, but this week it’s been all about Alex Gambino. To say that I’ve been practically living at Gambino Customs in San Jose this week would not be an exaggeration; in fact I even have the daily dog walking routine down to a science. Resourceful beyond belief, as witnessed here as our boy Alex shows off his skills with a George Forman grill, it’s been interesting to say the least. Candid, honest and at times fascinating, the Gambino story reads like a book, or at least it will when I get everything transcribed and laid out, so I better get back to work. All I’m saying is that for a measly $4.95, you are really going to get your money’s worth with the next issue. I’ll post the cover next week to further wet your appetites…
I woke up this morning hearing Ron Palillo's (as Arnold Horshack) voice saying the phrase "Little Juan" over and over in my head. Damn you popular culture for making shows so memorable that even after 30 years they lurk in your subconscious, ready to strike when you least expect it!
It’s been an amazing year for 1960’s spy shows re-released on DVD, what with the Man From U.N.C.L.E. box set and all three seasons of the brilliant I Spy finally seeing the light of day, and at budget prices no less. There is however a gem in the bunch that should not be overlooked, and that is the stylish and mod-as-hell masterpiece Honey West. The show stared Anne Francis, whose resume reads like a list of virtually every show I’ve ever been obsessed with, from Route 66 to Mission: Impossible and the aforementioned U.N.C.L.E., to 70’s faves like Cannon, Banacek and even Kung Fu (not to mention that she was Altaira in Forbidden Planet!) but I gotta say that she played Honey brilliantly, the "role of a lifetime" if you will. Campy and sophisticated at the same time, Honey karate chopped and drag raced her way into the hearts of many an American male in 1965, but sadly, for only one season. Maybe the world wasn’t ready for a totally independent, crime fighting n’ ass-kicking gal in a catsuit with a pet ocelot just yet, but thanks to the modern miracle that is the Digital Video Disc, society can now see the error of it’s ways. Definitely work a look.
All good things inevitably come to an end, and even though these posts will be up on the “world wide interweb” as long as Goggle is up and running, I’m still “making changes babe,” that is, I’ve decided that this is the last “New Wave Wednesday.” Why? Well, the best reason of all: I personally got bored with it. But fear not, gentle (I’m assuming a lot about you there aren’t I?) reader, it is going to be replaced with “Punk Rock History Lesson” which, for the time being (and because you’re so used to exciting new weekly content) I’ll be posting on Wednesdays. So, having said all that, New Wave Wednesday is going out with a bang, with the band that the term was practically invented for: Blondie. Of all the so called new wave records in the world, I’ve heard Blondie’s discs more than almost any other bands, for this one simple reason: I owned their classic releases Parallel Lines and Eat to the Beat on 8-track tape. I probably don’t have to remind the over-40 crowd out there what I mean by that, but for you youngsters it went like this – you would pop a tape in and kind of forget about it, which meant that it played over and over and over, until someone finally pulled it out. So inevitably, you ended up hearing anything you had on 8-track way more than your vinyl, and depending on what it was, that was either a good or (sometimes very) bad thing. In the case of Blondie (and the first three Elvis Costello releases) it was indeed good. “Union City Blue” has always been my favorite Blondie track, but I never saw this video until 2002, when the sadly now out of print Blondie - Greatest Video Hits DVD came out. I love how happy they all look, just goofin’ around on the pier towards the end. We now know they were dealing with all sorts of personal and professional problems pretty much throughout their entire career, but on this day at least, they had fun. Everyone deserves that once and awhile.
Well, last week I was in Las Vegas for SEMA, and rather than vent about the economic circumstances that have the Big 3 (and therefore everyone else in the automotive industry) totally freaked out, let’s concentrate on the positive, shall we?
First of all, I was sent there by Motorbooks to promote the Cole Foster book I wrote (and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that copies autographed by Cole and myself are available for below cover price right here) so that was great, and for once I actually made a bet and won! It was a suckers bet really, I mean, c’mon, the Denver Nuggets by 6 over my beloved Golden State Warriors two days after the big Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups trade? Anyone who follows the NBA at all would know that they wouldn’t be playing with their respective new teams yet, and add that to the fact that Steven Jackson and the boys would be playing at home and… Hell yeah I’ll take the Dubs to cover that spread every time! Luckily Mike Bumbeck was there at the MGM Grand to document the historic moment when your boy MLV actually got paid, which, trust me on this folks, doesn’t happen too often. I would have bet the farm on this one, if only I had one…
For only the third time since I've been old enough to vote in a Presidential election, the guy I wanted actually got in. Amazing.
Mood: cautiously optimistic. Oh yeah, the photo was taken by Jeremy Stoner, a.k.a. "Lil' Obama" in downtown San Francisco. Right on brother, fight the power, etc.
Around here, that can only mean one thing: it's time to groove to Tibia and the Fibias doin' The Mummy, from the greatest Rankin/Bass creation of them all, 1967's Mad Monster Party.
Living in the Bay Area for 20 years now, I've known that Burning Man is lame for quite some time, and Hitler? Well, everyone knows that guy was lame, so this is perfect. Prepare to laugh your ass off.
Ah, Night Flight. Where would the disenfranchised youth of the mid-80’s have been without ye? As any former punk rocker my age will be all too happy to tell you, seeing bands we actually liked on TV was virtually impossible back in the day. Sure, there were some exceptions, like Fear on Saturday Night Live in 1981, but they were isolated incidents. Then USA Network came up with Night Flight, which, while still about 80% square, did turn me on to everyone from Text Department and Cabaret Voltaire to Kick Axe and Madame X. It was a free for all to be sure, but it was our free for all, and we watched it religiously. When I think back on it these days, one band always comes to mind immediately: Yello. So for this weeks edition of New Wave Wednesday, I salute these Swiss nutballs who, lead by deep voiced millionaire industrialist Dieter Meier, sure knew how to made a video. With a look and sound all their own, I must admit I was a fan of these guys, and thanks to the miracle of blogger.com, you can be too, albeit 25 years later.
Sooner or later, I had to get around to this classic track by The Vapors. I guess for many, these guys were a “one hit wonder” if there ever was one, but considering that they only existed for less than three years, it’s kind of amazing that they are remembered at all. Co-managed by Paul Weller’s father John and Jam bassist Bruce Foxton, they certainly aligned themselves with people who could do them a lot of good, especially in the early 80’s UK, and their LP New Clear Days is a really strong debut. Unfortunately they fizzled out in 1981 after the release of their much-darker sophomore LP Magnets. Ah, fame, such a fleeting, fickle mistress, but at least we’ll always have Turning Japanese...
In honor of longtime Gearhead contributor Big Nate's 40th birthday today, this week there was only one real choice for New Wave Wednesday: The Paul Collins Beat. Nate has been a cheerleader for this band, and all Power Pop really, since the day I met him back in 1995. This song is an anthem for him, because it really does capture both the innocence and angst that this genre strives to accomplish. I never knew that these guys appeared on American Bandstand until You Tube came along, but I bet ol' Nate caught this the first time around because it made such an impression on his then teenage eardrums. Happy Birthday "El Nato" - here's to 40 more.
Check this out, we’ve wanted to do an event at the 3 Clubs for almost as long as Gearhead Magazine has existed, but you know how these things are, the stars have to line up just right. Well, after doing a piece on the movie Brittown for our upcoming issue, Gearhead contributor #1 Darv Teare decided that they should have an LA screening of the film, and it all just fell into place. Co-sponsored by our pals at DicE, and featuring an amazing raffle and more cool giveaways than you could swing a severed clutch cable at, I will personally be spinning records between the screening at 7, the rockin’ set by Smiling Face Down at 9, and on into the night for as long as I can stay conscious. Be there or be… well, you know the rest.
Damn, I wanted this to be my 100th post, but it looks like it’s coming in at 103. Oh well, I guess I have a lot to say… which is what this particular post is all about anyway. From time to time I’ve been interviewed for various people and publications, most notably I suppose for Mad Fabricators Volume 5, the trailer for which you can see above (and you can buy right here) but never by the likes of this guy: one Mr. Jason Pettigrew.
Now Jason and I go back a long way, back to the glory (gory?) days of the early 80’s, the era that I’m obviously very nostalgic about. He played a pivotal role in getting me away from Molly Hatchet and into The Damned, and I owe him for that, I really do. In later years I relocated to the West coast and he to Cleveland, where for the last Christ knows how many years, he’s been the Editor in Chief at Alternative Press, which is like The Bible for the so-called “kids.” Between their pages you will find more info than you could image about every band that’s ever graced a Warped Tour stage, but the real action happens on Jason’s blog. There, he has the freedom to vent, expel the demons, bitch about his perceived injustices… basically be himself! A few weeks back, he started a new series called Killer Born Man about people “whose work I've enjoyed to individuals whose lives may have significantly intersected with mine to people who I just think are cool as hell” and I’m proud to say that I was chosen as his very first “subject.” You can check it out right here kids, enjoy.
Well, you can only do a weekly post entitled “New Wave Wednesdays” for so long before this day inevitably arrives… I hinted at it last week, but now it really is time for some B-52’s. They are, with the possible exception of Devo, the band that most people think of first when the term ‘new wave’ was getting thrown around anyway, so we may as well give ‘em some love. That’s not too hard to do of course, especially when you focus on their early years, where they actually were breaking ground. Sure, they became a goofy parody of themselves, but check out Cindy Wilson just going for it in this performance from 1980, until it suddenly cuts off anyway. It doesn’t make me want to dance, but it does make me want to get a bat and hunt down the jocks that made fun of us for liking this… ahem, I digress, but anyway… enjoy.
Wow, what an amazing event we witnessed yesterday. Scarlett James, who I’m sure many of you read about in Gearhead #17, is a very special girl who has Rett Syndrome. Never ones to be discouraged, Scarlett’s parents Bob and Rosa remain determined that she has everything that a girl her age should, and their most recent unselfish act of bravery and kindness included throwing her a full blown Quinceañera for her 15th birthday. Being of Italian and Croatian decent, I’d never heard of a Quince años celebration, but I sure am glad we were invited. After a short ceremony, where Alex and Suzie Gambino were officially made Scarlett’s Godparents, the party really began. It was a great celebration in the truest sense of the word… and the tamales were the best ever! Here is a short clip of the festivities, where you can see Alex hoofin’ it with Rosa and her mom to the sounds of their favorite local Mariachi band… again, what a day.
I’d like to thank Bob and Rosa for inviting us to something so special. It’s like Rosa says “There is the family you have, and then there’s the family you make” and me and Greta are honored and privileged to be a part of theirs. If you want to find out more about Scarlett and Rett Syndrome, check out her MySpace page right here, you’ll be glad you did.
Billetproof '08 Recap, last post. Speaking of youth, meet Zeke. He is the seven year old son of our old friends Arlene and Danny, who many of you know from The Nads. Zeke, who actually is named after the band, is sure to be the envy of every kid, Hell every person that he meets, ‘cause it’s not everyone who has a Dirty Donny Coffinlid skateboard autographed by James Hetfield, Cole Foster and Steve Caballero. Again, with kids this hip at his age on the planet, we’ve got nothing to worry about.
Billetproof '08 Recap, Pt. 5. You know, a lot of people my age, and virtually everybody from the generation older than mine, sure do like to complain about “the kids today.” “Those Goddamned kids” you’ll frequently hear them saying, “have no damn ambition” or whatever they feel like bitching about at that particular moment. But I’m here to tell you folks that we have nothing to worry about. Just look at this crew from Sacramento, made up of the fez wearin’ Will Hall, Anna, Kurtis, and sometimes Gearhead contributor Rob aka D.A. Zomber. This fun loving (and obviously hard drinkin’) car-crazed crew obviously have things under control. So relax already Gramps! Sheesh…
Billetproof '08 Recap, Pt. 4. Speaking of artists, one of the many highlites of our trip to the Primer Nats was meeting the charismatic and extremely talented artist that goes by the boozy moniker 3 Sheets. Now I know the goods when I see ‘em, and this guy’s stuff was so good, it had me reaching for my wallet, which, trust me on this folks, doesn’t happen often. We hit it off instantly, then our boy from Bakersfield said he was making his first trip to a Nor. Cal car show (namely Billetproof) so we made plans to hang out as much as one can when you are trying to run a booth. When we did eventually bump into each other, he laid this thoroughly amazing Gearhead sign on me… what a pal! Look for a story on him in the pages of Gearhead in the not-to-distant future, and for the time being, be sure and check out his stuff right here, I’m sure you’ll dig it.
Billetproof '08 Recap, Pt. 3. Since Steve at AB Supply painted our show table (which was cartoonishly documented for the whole world to see in Gearhead #16) I’ve had people that I admire sign it. So far we have Mercury Charlie, Keith Weesner, Gene Winfield, Dennis Roth, Cole Foster, Rod Powell, and now artist/all around great guy Bruce Gossett. Never content to simply sign anything, this smokin’ bong on wheels that he drew should have been in (or on) every locker in America in 1976, but alas it’s 2008, so we’ll just have to enjoy it here. There is plenty of Bruce to go around though, click here to get started…
Yep, I’m taking a break from New Wave for a week because… well, just because you can’t see Roger Miret and the Disasters on a Sunday, then post like a B-52’s video 3 days later, it just can’t be done. Next week I’ll be back with more stuff that you would have been beaten up for liking back in 1982, but for this week, lets focus on those that DID the beating!
For three solid releases now, Roger and his band have been delivering their straight-up brand of simple & melodic rock and roll, which is of course called Street Punk these days, but whatever you want to call it, it’s just plain good. This track from 2005 is called “Riot, Riot, Riot” and comes from the Disasters second LP, 1984. As Roger himself explains it, Agnostic Front and everything they represent is his life, but this band and these specific songs deal with the time before hardcore took over, hence his homage’s to The Clash, Ramones etc. So here’s to that time in life when a whole new world is opening up all around you, and you’re just fighting to find your place in it. I can certainly relate to that, and I hope you can too.
Billetproof ‘08 Recap, Pt. 2. If you know me, you know I love 3 species of animals: Rats, kangaroos and bull terriers, not necessarily in that order. I’m not sure who owned Zephyr, who is actually a miniature bully, but I’m pretty sure it was one of the Koffins CC. At any rate, this is the best dog I’ve seen since… well, since the last time I saw a bull terrier at the Road Zombies picnic back in June.
My goals in life are simple: 1) Get a new (old) car, 2) Buy a house, 3) Own a bull terrier. I already have the best gal, so if I can just pull off the other three, I’ll die one happy S.O.B.
Billetproof ‘08 Recap, Pt. 1. This is what it’s really all about. Here we see the heroic Cole Foster, builder of more iconic bikes and cars than you can shake a camshaft at, just coolin’ with Skoty Chops, the best of the younger builders on the scene. No egos, no competition, just two guys taking a second to acknowledge their mutual respect. In a way, it reminds me of the old punk days when… wait, we are all still punk rockers and always will be. Sure we grow up, but the attitude and values are still there, and thank God (or Buddha or Lemmy, just insert whoever or whatever you worship here) for that.
Damn, what a weekend! First Billetproof Saturday, then the Dirty Devil “Race to Hell” tour pulled into SF on Sunday. Dirty Devil is my old friend Roger Miret’s clothing company that he does through Lucky 13, and this tour, which also features the Lower Class Brats and Throwrag, was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: 1) Shoot Roger for the cover of Gearhead #18, and 2) finally see Roger Miret and the Disasters. I don’t know why I’ve never seen them before (it could have something to do with the fact that I haven’t been to a show in 2 and half years) but that’s all been corrected now. It was “old home week” let me tell ya, hell, even Sammytown showed up and it was great to see him too. The stories of circa-1984 flowed like cheap wine, I really wish you all could have been there.
For more info on this tour, which is going on through October 2nd (and is vaguely co-sponsored by Gearhead Magazine) go right here. Oh, and if you want to buy one of these shirts, those you can get right here. See you in the pit!
While it would be nothing short than an exercise in total futility to try and rank the 12 Billetproof shows from top to bottom, 2008 would absolutely have to go right near the top of the proverbial heap. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have Cole Foster signing his new book (co-written by yours truly) in your booth, which pretty much guarantees that a who’s who of car show celebs will be passing through all day. I’ll be posting more pics all throughout the week… Oh yeah, if you want a signed and numbered edition of the book for yourself, they are available right here.
Yes brothers and sisters, after what seemed like an eternity, followed by a comedy of further delays, the Cole Foster books are finally here. Which of course means that Cole will be signing copies in the Gearhead booth tomorrow at Billetproof as scheduled. He’ll be signing at noon and 2, stop by and say “hey” if you’re in Nor. Cal. OK, gotta pack… more later.
When I first heard Killing Joke in 1982 or so, they already had three great LP’s out (Killing Joke, What’s THIS For…!, and Revelations) so Fire Dances, the 4th LP and name of the track in the video above, was MY K-Joke record, if you know what I mean. Despite spinning this disc dozens (possibly hundreds) of times in 1983, I didn’t know that this video existed until two days ago. I wonder if I would have played it as much if I had any idea what they looked like? Seriously, the music is much tougher than the image portrayed, in fact I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that it’s wildly disproportionate. I’m not sure what they were going for, but… wow. Enjoy?
It’s hard to believe that a guy with so much energy and ambition is 50 years young, but believe it of not, our boy Alex Gambino turned the big 5-0 last weekend. An elaborate and clandestine surprise party was planed by his wife Suzie, and it actually remained a surprise for Alex right up to the last moment – a small miracle considering that everybody in the known universe seemed to know about it. A good time was truly had by all, but no one had a better time than Mr. Gambino himself, as witnessed by this photograph. Congratulations pal, here’s to the next 50… cheers!
On my recent trip to Pittsburgh, I finally drug the huge box of flyers that I left there when I moved to California in 1988 back with me. OK, so I knew that everything in there was at least 20 years old, but what surprised me was how far back before my time it went, back to the original Pittsburgh punk era, roughly 1978 through 1982. I forgot that many of the first generation “punkers” ––Bill Bored and Reid Paley come to mind instantly–– laid their collections on me at some point, so that along with me keeping nearly everything from my own era (1983-88) it's a great collection that I ended up with.
The fact that many of us, from Tom Scott to Jeff Lamm to myself, went to art school, I humbly submit that the flyers for shows in Pittsburgh are among the best ever made. Just look at this forgotten 1984 gem by Paul Bucciarelli… I mean, no big deal, just another Cynics gig right? But look at the Goddamned flyer, it’s a freakin’ masterpiece! For years I’ve been entertaining the idea of writing a book about the Pittsburgh punk scene, and this box of 8 1/2 x 11 inch Xeroxed greatness just added a whole lot of fuel to that fire… Stay tuned, I’ll be posting a lot more in weeks to come.
Now here is an interesting band if there ever was one, who sometimes reside in the “did they really exist?” category. Well friends, from 1978 through 1983, the Suburban Lawns did exist, and thanks to New Wave Theatre, here is the proof. Fronted by Su Tissue –who was sometimes described as “the female Ian Curtis” largely because of her stoic stage presence I’d imagine– they left behind a small but interesting discography… and if Su looks familiar to you, it’s probably because she played Peggy Dillman opposite Melanie Griffith in the cult classic Something Wild. See, you learn something new every day…
One day last year while I was shopping at the new Nob Hill Foods in Alameda, I found myself doing something that I've done from time to time since the early 80’s: checking to see if they still make one of the greatest foods of all time, Carnation Breakfast Bars. Never being one to rise early (a recently discovered report card shows that I was tardy 28 times in my senior year alone) these things were perfect for a kid trying to eat something as he was running for a school bus. I came to love these crunchy little bars, and I still miss them badly, certainly enough to search for them as I was doing on this particular day. But after my hundredth or so disappointment over several decades, this time I did something that I never did before: looked them up on the Internet. Well, it just goes to show that no matter what you’re into, there is always someone way, WAY more into it, because the first thing I found was this post on Dan Goodsell’s blog. Now Dan is the co-author of Krazy Kids Food (Taschen, 2003) so you know he knows his stuff, but could even he have been prepared for the endless barrage of comments from people all over America who also missed these things on a regular basis? Just how badly do people still crave them you ask? Believe it or not, an actual petition to Nestle USA (who own Carnation) has been created, that you can sign right here, and I hope you do. Because if you ever tasted even one of these delicious lil’ babies, you’d know why we would do just about anything to bring them back. Damn.