Fare thee well to the heartbeat of the Wrecking Crew. Hal Blaine played on “Be My Baby,” "He's A Rebel," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "River Deep – Mountain High," "Hungry," "Kicks," "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies," "Let's Live for Today," "Surf City," "Strangers in the Night," "Dizzy," "Good Vibrations," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Another Saturday Night," "Eve of Destruction," "California Dreamin', "Sweet Young Thing," "Along Comes Mary," "Return to Sender," "Stoned Soul Picnic," three of my all-time favorite albums (Forever Changes, Bookends, and Pet Sounds), and on and on and on... The man recorded an estimated 6000 singles!
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
I was thinking about my favorite songs, and while there's loads of them, this is the first song that I can recall really hitting me in a deep emotional place. Warren Zevon was a genius lyricist/songwriter, who handled his own death with dignity and humor that was breathtaking — if you've never seen it, run to YouTube and find his final appearance on The Letterman Show from shortly before he left this mortal coil. It's a real travesty that he's only well-known for one damn song as he was a national treasure. (Zevon was the first, and only artist I sent a fan letter to. It was a drawing I did of a werewolf eating in a Chinese restaurant when I was a kid. He never wrote me back, but I didn't hold it against him.)
An interesting side-story with the song: Zevon and Bob Dylan seemed to have a bit of an insider trade-off with the lyrics. Zevon wrote: "We made mad love. Shadow love. Random love. And abandoned love. Accidentally like a martyr. The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder," likely a reference to Dylan's "Abandoned Love." Dylan seemed to repay the mention by titling his 1997 album Time Out Of Mind referencing this bit: "The days slide by. Should have done, should have done, we all sigh. Never thought I'd ever be so lonely. After such a long, long time. Time out of mind." Dylan also covered "Accidentally Like A Martyr" live in concert a number of times.
"From a small pushcart to an empire; whether it was feeding the homeless on top of or under the boardwalk; Lula never forgot her days without food. Deno's Snack Bar became a landmark on the Boardwalk. Visitors came to the park for Lula's shish kebob, fried shrimp and cotton candy. Lula and her husband, Denos, eventually bought the park with hard earned monies saved up from selling all that delicious food."
Photograph: Lula and Denos Vourderis in front of the Wonder Wheel, 1983
"What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence — even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!'
Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? ... Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?"
Today I saw my daughter to be with the help of next-level modern technology and it really got me thinking... I’ve destroyed a lot of things in my lifetime — public property, personal property, bones, brain cells, relationships — so it’s pretty mind-blowing to realize that I’m having a part in bringing someone into this world; in a sense, creating. I truly never thought this would be something I’d experience, and I’m enjoying taking it all in and figuring it out as I go. I am pretty sure L knows what to do. (She’s going to be the best mother ever.) Me? I’m happily clueless and trying to embrace it all.
It's crucial to remember that a lack of understanding of people different from you — their collective experiences and culture — leads to desensitization, and ultimately dehumanization. Dehumanization is is a powerful tool which craven politicians use to fool people into accepting what should be the unacceptable, and as history has taught us, the unspeakable.
A few recent ugly events that were recorded on "smart" phones and amplified via social media exposure — Proud Boys vs AntiFa in NYC, Catholic high school students vs Native American activists in DC, etc. — have me realizing how Rashomon was truly a prescient film.
The first time I heard the Germs — via The Decline Of Western Civilization documentary — I thought they were the worst thing I'd ever heard; a joke. Years later I picked up a copy of their debut album (GI), and within one listen my jaw was on the floor — I truly believe it to be one of the very best American punk-rock albums of all-time. And Lorna was a total-bad ass who left us way too young.
A lifetime ago MaximumRockNRoll was a crucial monthly read; through its pages I was turned onto countless underground punk bands and record labels (and I even wrote a few NYC "scene reports" for the 'zine, and sold my own publication and record releases via ads I ran with them exclusively). I stopped reading MRR long ago as I lost interest in pouring through the finger-staining pages for what became diminishing returns, and I also felt that their eventual scene-policing ways, strict rules, and definitions were anathema to the true spirt of punk-rock. Criticisms aside, MaximumRockNRoll was an important publication and I am sad to hear they are ceasing publication.
Avoiding stepping in human waste in the alley near the A-train stop, meeting other graffiti writers from all over the city, copping fireworks, liberating fat caps from Pearl Paint, buying throwing stars and nunchucks... Going to Canal Street in the early '80s was a real adventure for us Brooklyn kids.
Extinction is happening at 1000 times the normal speed with the Eastern Puma being declared extinct, the recently discovered "lost shark" looking like it's on it's way (due to overfishing) as well as nearly all species of lemur, the White Rhino, and English Brown Hares. The growth in toxic emissions worldwide will likely introduce a generation of sick kids (carbon emissions in this country recently hit the largest yearly increase in 20 years), the Joshua Tree National Park is closed due to trees being destroyed and people leaving behind mass amounts of trash (the government shutdown isn't helping matters), and oceans are heating up at a rate that's 40% faster than earlier estimates with rising water temperatures destroying ecosystems, not to mentioned increasing the destructive power of hurricanes.
1. Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt
2. Megative - Self-titled
3. Iceage – Beyondless
1. Boss - Steel Box
2. Sheer Terror - Pall In The Family
3. Crown Court - Mad In England
1. John Coltrane - Both Directions At Once
2. Bob Dylan - More Blood, More Tracks
3. The Kids/Real Kids - November 1974 Demos / Spring 1977 Demos
4. Laughing Hyenas - Life Of Crime
5. Poison Idea - Feel The Darkness
6. Baby Grande - 1975/1977
7. Bob Seger & The Last Heard - Heavy Music 8. Helter Skelter - I Need You 45
9. Blue Cheer - The '67 Demos
10. Kubie & The Rats - Turtle Dove 45
1. Spiritualized at The Kings Theater
2. Roddy Radiation at Hank’s Saloon
3. The Scientists at Union Pool
4. Peter Hook & The Light at Brooklyn Steel
5. Mr. Airplane Man at Hank’s Saloon
6. The Brought Low with The Mighty High,
Moral Panic, and Green Dragon at Hank’s Saloon
“I used to think there was no time like the present. I used to think there was no time but the present. Now I know better — or different, anyway. In the end, the past will always be there. The past is all there is: the present never sticks around for long enough, and the future is anybody’s guess. In time, you always have to hand it to the past. It always gets you in the end.”
"Daylight bent and broken at its threshold, full of Mohawk ghosts."
The sentimental feelings are starting to overtake me as I count down the days until the closure of Hank's, where I've been booking shows since 2013 (and frequenting for many years before that). There's no way to put into words my feelings about the place, and while I am thrilled that we'll live on in a new space, nothing can compare to that glorious pockmarked corner of Atlantic and Third.
I can perfectly recall the day I scored The Buzzcocks' Singles Going Steady and being absolutely floored at a collection of singles better than most band's albums (I must've played "Ever Fallen In Love" a dozen times that day). I had the honor of meeting Pete Shelly a few years back at the after-party for one of their shows. We chatted for a minute and I asked him if I could buy him a drink. He smiled and purred, "a Cosmo please." I endured quite the looks ordering it in that dump of a bar, Lit Lounge. Anyway, he was a gentlemen and truly one of the greats, making music that I'll listen to for the rest of my life.
The top-10 greatest Byrds songs, subject to change at any moment. This is TOUGH to keep to just ten, let alone put in any kind of order.
1. "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better"
2. "Thoughts And Words"
3. "The World Turns All Around Her"
4. "Eight Miles High"
6. "Draft Morning"
7. "Set You Free This Time"
8. "Here Without You"
9. "Just A Season"
10. "Chestnut Mare"
(Not included are massive favorites like "Goin' Back," "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," and "My Back Pages" as they weren't written by the group.)
I won't celebrate his death, and in fact George H.W. Bush seemed to have aged into a decent, caring human being (and he did a few great things like sign the Americans With Disabilities Act into law). Yes, compared to who we've got now, he looks wonderful in hindsight, but how can anyone forget what an awful president he was? Some reminders: the disgusting race-baiting Willie Horton ads, the Gulf War and the utter destabilization of the Middle East, the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructure in Iraq (which some would call a war crime), the escalation of the drug war, and so on. When he left office he had an overall 22% approval rating and wasn't even invited to the Republican National Convention. Oh, and lest we forget his involvement with the Iran-Contra affair when he was VP (and his pardoning of Caspar Weinberger once he was president).
Fare thee well to the one and only Bleecker Bob. Yeah yeah, his store was generally a rip-off and he was a grump, but he was always cool to me, busting my chops in a proper True York style, and he employed a few of my friends (who always hooked me up). For years he told me he'd give me a vintage BB's shirt, but never came through. Then one day he yelled at me as I was flipping through records, "Ay, here's that damn shirt I promised you..." It was a fucking XXL! Thanks, Bob.
"I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people's lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you're able to entertain people, you're doing a good thing."
"Right here, all by myself. I ain't got no one else.
The situation is bleeding me, there's no relief for a person like me."
My entry to punk-rock, hardcore, and "underground music" was via Reagan Youth, MDC, the Misfits, and D.O.A.: A Right Of Passage documentary, but Black Flag was the real game-changer. It's hard to put into words how important the band was to me (and still is), but I know I could not have dealt with the long and depressing train-ride to high school every morning without Black Flag, along with taped copies of Kool DJ Red Alert's Kiss-FM radio show, blasting at an ear-splitting volume on my walkman.
"When I was very young, I admired hardened criminals locked behind prison doors; I visited inns and taverns they frequented; with their eyes, I saw the blue sky and the blossoming work of the fields; I tracked their scent through cities. They were more powerful than saints, more prudent than explorers — and they, they alone, were witnesses to glory and reason!"