hollow sidewalks

seeing shows so you don't have to.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Happy Hollindaise!



You think I've got lagtime? Stuff on my Cat is 1st posting Xmas pix. I'd say, Considering the weather we're having, it's the same diff, but they're out in California. Dangit.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Just Another Manitoba's Monday

Yo! Scunt/Blackout Shoppers//Manitoba’s//11/13/06
(Hell, everything's gonna be a nostalgia trip w/me, I guess.)

It’s never a good thing when I get to the subway platform in the morning late, as usual, because I couldn’t get out of bed, as usual, because I’m stressed, as usual, and got to bed late, as usual, because I was at a show the night before, as usual, and find the platform mobbed. Perhaps it was the tail end of a go back to start because the trains aren’t passing go and by the time you get back to start everything would’ve been go.

In other words, everything’s going wrong.

But that’s okay. WWIX and Blackout Shoppers that night. During lunch I tried to find a flyer for the show, heading down 6th until 23rd, but I couldn’t find one. I would’ve taken the one from the window at Passout, but I figured they needed it to promote the show.

And then the email came that afternoon that Dr. Max Strum has fallen ill. Perhaps all the PCBs at New Paltz have caught up with him. Shit, no. I went to New Paltz. Whoever will the opening act be? Maybe they couldn’t get one on such short notice. And besides, I heard about the cops cutting SMUT short because of “noise complaints” (seriously, why live above a bar if you’re going to be such an ass about these things?) so I figured maybe there wouldn’t be one so the Shoppers could go on earlier and finish earlier and besides, it was raining all day, but the show better not be cancelled.

So I figured to stay at work at least a little later before they yell at me for coming in late and “Well, if you paid me decently I’d be able to get some sleep at night instead of tossing and turning and kicking the cat all night,” is never the answer. Well, it’s never the right answer. Of course by the time I got to the subway, there was some previous incident. An R went express.

It was about 7 by the time I got back. Put my stuff down, peed, fed cat, left. Thankfully the F came right away at 74th and ran without incident. Yo! Scunt, from Jackson Heights and (perhaps some toilet in) Flushing, opened. Their drummer wore a shirt that said: No job, no money, no car, but I am in a band. Well, 50% of that is true for me. Then again, Christine said that I should learn to play the drums so I can be their alternate, legal-age drummer. Yeah, but if I’m in the band, I can’t see the band.

“We’re on the Lower East Side, so I assume everyone here is from the Midwest. . . .”

And then I realize that by the end of the night, I would’ve seen 12 bands in 3 days. Lessee, that’s 12 bands in . . . I don’t know, how many hours? 36 hours. No, wait. I know this one. 64. Wait, band’s on.

To someone’s call of “Oi!,” they respond, “We’re from Queens. We say ‘yo.’ ”

Well, I’m from Queens and I say oy.

The Shoppers started off with mic troubles, (“Way to break stuff, ya douche!” someone yelled) and the place got really warm as they wiped the floor with us bastards. All of a sudden I got a strong whiff of I don’t know what it was, maybe air freshener from the bathroom or somebody’s perfume, but my nose started burning and I got a headache. Or the Shoppers were making me sick. (No, when I came back from doing the laundry I started sneezing vehemently after putting in the detergent. My sinuses are still bothering me.)

Justin accidentally spilled his beer on his head and I was trying to get Matt’s camera from him, lest it gets messed up. Still, its better that he spilled his beer on his head instead of on the floor because there’s less chance of him messing up the camera that way. I was trying signal Jon to take the camera and he managed to, so we don't miss this. Beer cans were flying. It was part crowd surf, part enthusiastic winning team hoisting up a teammate, but Seth was airborne at Manitoba’s. I couldn’t get over it. Apparently, neither could Kevin—I wish I’d brought a camera not only to capture that moment, but Kevin leaning over the bar, head in his hand, shaking his head in disbelief. Hell, I couldn’t get over it.

“When are you guys gonna start?”

72 hours. 3 days=72 hours. I knew that. (Yeah, of course I had to double-check that yet again to be sure before I posted this. Y’know, now that I spent an hour and a half trying to log in to the Google version of this and ranting against Google, Blogger, and myself for switching over because I can’t log in anymore and changing my password and then realizing that it was because I didn’t completely activate the new password. What can I say, it was like 1 in the morning.)

I tried to say my good-byes and not puke; raising my voice to be heard over the music made me cough. I did find a larger flyer on 2nd Ave. and while did advertise WWIX, it’s also more Justin Melkmann artwork. On St. Marks, a Save CBGB poster hung in a storefront. CBGB store coming soon! was written on it. A white plastic placard said CBGB store. No. Oh, hell no. You can’t put the CBGB store on St. Marks. I mean, as it is, you can buy a CBGB shirt in any of those stores that are already there. You can walk down to Broadway and get one at what passes for Canal Jean Co. these days. Or you could’ve walked down to CBGB from there. Maybe they’re not really putting the store there. Maybe they figured that the area is full of the people who would be looking to buy CBGB™ brand products and they’re just saying, in general, Hey, there’s a CBGB store coming, so get ready. (Holy shit, the gods are pissed off about this because I went to put the trademark symbol in and I went up to insert and Word fucking froze for a second. I was like holy shit, fuck, I didn’t save, and it kept saying not responding. I thought I was gonna lose the last 2 paragraphs.)

Before I caught the train I stopped to pick up something so the puke could anchor onto something in my stomach. As I waited for the train, a woman came right up to me and started talking to me as the express rattled by. Even after the train left, I had to ask her to repeat herself twice before I even caught the gist of what she was saying. My potato chips looked delicious and could she try one?

“You’ve never had a potato chip?” Of course I’m thinking that she could just be shitting me, playing up the Asian tourist bit. So I offer her a chip and she tentatively bites an end, and then puts the tip of it into the mouth of the woman she’s with, breaks it off, and puts the remainder of it into the mouth of the man that’s with her.

“Excuse me,” says the man. “What is the snack’s name?”
***
Now.

Now I know I told one Bloody Dick of The Band Formerly Known As The Spunk Lads that had he and Nick Knickers called their next band The Freedomhaters not only would I definitely go to see a band with that name but they would have no trouble charming this fickle bitch known as the NYC music scene.

So when I saw a Freedom Haters playing Sin-e at 11 that nite I was kinda considering it, because, I mean, let’s face it—even though I thought that Freedom Haters is 1 word. But the good thing about MySpace, aside from letting bands keep in touch w/fans by cutting out the middleman (as in, the “music” “industry”) and bands keeping in touch w/each other, and yada yada, is that I can further assess which bands are a priority to catch, beyond names/logos. Who/what do you consider your influences? How do you answer those stupid obligatory questions? Are there any guys/girls who look like/come off as assholes in the comments/pix of their “friends”? Do they have cool profile names? Which bands are their friends? All that shit is important to me because if I’m checking out a band on MySp at home where I still have dialup, that stupid player ain’t coming up but all the other stuff is. I care not what you sound like if you don’t pass muster on the other fronts. And if I’m checking you out at work, I don’t have time to listen to the songs or futz w/the downloading. This is what the Freedom Haters have to say about themselves: “Freedom Haters: a unique rock and roll trio, featuring electric violin, bass and drums, with shared vocals and abundant electronic manipulations. Their music ranges from concise noise-spiked rock songs to intricate chamber-punk, with room for spontaneous changes of mood and rhythm according to the band’s whim and collective psychological state; and yes, you may also be inspired to dance with strangers.

Freedom Haters’ music is firmly rooted in the traditions of iconoclasts like Igor Stravinsky, George Crumb, and Charles Ives—composers unafraid to give tradition a swift kick in the nuts simply to enjoy the sound of the screaming. Other obvious touchstones include Frank Zappa, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin and Lark’s Tongues in Aspic-era King Crimson.”

What pretentious bullshit. I was kind of tempted to see them and then start following them around because they’re crawling up out of the primordial ooze and it would be fun to watch and witness, but they played Kenny’s Castaways next and that’s a place I intend to never step foot in.

And yes, it occurred to me that the aforementioned rant does sound mighty snobby, but it’s not snobby if you’re right.

Besides, in their blog report the next day, they mentioned playing to an empty club and they were able to hear the bartenders arguing and that one day, they, too, shall wear Uggs ironically. Though that might just be Sin-e these days.
***
Update (3/3/07): While this post is coming up seemingly apropos to nothing, I figured that since the last one was about a Monday night rock show, and a bunch of free rock in NYC on a Monday night—something that, hopefully, won’t be a thing of the past, which I did not realize at the time and I had this on my desktop so why not, I'd rather do something w/it instead of staring at it all depressed and disbelieving—I’d like to point out, while I’m sitting here at home and not at a show I had plans on going to, I’M NOT MAD AT THE COPS FOR BUSTING IN ON MANITOBA’S. I’M MAD AT THE PEOPLE WHO SENT THE COPS TO MANITOBA’S.

Word.

I DO Like Mondays*

(* liking of Mondays begins after 5pm)

East Coast Scammers/The Wheezing Stumblers/The Tosspots
@ The Pussycat Lounge
Ed Sullivan on Acid & The Umlautz @ Freddy’s
12/4/06

Yeah, I saw that “punk night at the strip club” listed and while there are some bands on there that I did want to see and some bands that I have seen, I was all, 7 bands on a Monday night? Don’t you think that’s a bit much for a Monday night, not to mention a bit, uh, loud?

Besides, I had better things to do. As a music fan with discerning taste, I was going to stay in and watch the Billboard Music Awards and make fun of it. Can you imagine how classic it would be? Hosted by Tweedlemoron and Tweedlemoron-er, and the Post, for some reason, decided that announcing that a certain fading pop star’s partying habits du jour is front-page news. Can you imagine the black hole of stupidity over Vegas when she host the Awards show? The Post asked. Oh, it’ll be epic. It’ll be funny in the way that someone other than you stepping in dogshit is funny. And I have to watch this. I intended to post about it, make my witty little observations, and feel content in the knowledge that I’m so much better than them.

Wait. That’s like shooting dead fish in a barrel. (I almost said “dead retarded fish” but I don’t want to insult the retarded by comparing them to the co-hosts of the BMA because the retarded have enough problems.) And then I saw the commercials for the Awards: “Honoring the artists you made #1: Fergie! The Killers! Gwen Stefani! Mary J. Blige! Ludacris featuring Young Jeezy! The Fray! And did we mention Janet Jackson? Anything could happen!” (Well, I know what won’t happen.)

And then I realized something: These are not “the artists I made #1!”

Must not . . . be in apartment . . . Monday night. . . .

Because you know that if I’m there, even if I’m at the computer I’ll still have one ear on the TV and I will watch it.

What to do, what to do.

The next day I was reading The Onion calendar and saw a pic from Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. Oh my God. UCB Theatre is having a Dr. Katz marathon, and it just so happens to be on 12/4. I’m so there. Then I read the write-up. It’s actually just an informal Q&A w/the creator of the show. Oh. Dammit. But Pat O’Shea is having his stand-up showcase @ Freddy’s! Woo! All is saved!

Uhm, but, y’know, Brooklyn is really far away for a Monday night. And it’s cold. No offense to Brooklyn, Freddy’s, or Pat O’Shea. And Roger’s working that night, so it’ll take me at least 45 minutes to walk out of there.

And then I realized something else: Not only are the artists featured on the BMA not “the artists I made #1,” but what’s the 1 thing that the 3 Skankateers—Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears—have in common? (Besides being alcoholic skanks?)

They’ve all recorded albums.

Hello, punk night at the strip club.

Okay. Aside from the fact that the flyer says “free” and some band sites say free, one says cheap, one says $5, and they all mention strippers downstairs, I can’t find set times. Probably because I can’t read the calendar on the Pussycat site from home, but then again I probably won’t be able to access the site from work. And $5 is a small price to pay for music that isn’t featured on the Billboard Music Awards.

Yeah, 7 bands is a lot for a Monday and while I’d rather see the bands I haven’t seen because who knows when I’d be able to catch them again with my schedule and bands could cancel at the last minute, I figure I’d go and see what I can see.

And then I get an email from Pat. That Monday’s comedy showcase also features the last Umlautz performance until sometime next year. They’re going on at “10:30 or so.”

Jeez, couldn’t you have done this on a night that I’m not so busy?

Ha. Yeah, this from the person who’d planned on staying in and making fun of pop music—I mean, commercial music—all night.

OK. So I thought about scrapping the bands. I need a good larf anyway and now seeing The Umlautz is way more important than seeing bands that are always playing in some bill combination or other. But seeing a crapload of bands was my original plan. I emailed Pat and he said “probably midnight.” Since I cannot screw this one up, I tell myself I have to leave at 10:00 and if I miss part (or all) of their set, I do have it in writing. Though I could access the Pussycat site from work, it hasn’t been updated. Yeah, this coming from me.

And it was a full moon.

It’s really warm in my place. I know this because I’m there long enough to pee, feed the cat, and pick up my camera. Outside the wind slices through me and I want to just go back home, crawl into bed, and lounge with my pussycat.

I make good time all the way down. Every train comes right away at every platform I’m at. I’d considered taking the 2/3 to Chambers and then the 1 to Rector, but figured it would be the same difference so when I got to 42nd and saw the 1 there, I took that. At 10 to 8 we were held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher right outside Rector and I thought, Rector? It nearly killed ‘er!

My arrival at the Pussycat that night—or at that time of night—brought the chick factor up to a grand total of 1, no offense to the lovely bar maiden. Hell, I was probably the only person there that night (or at that point of the show) not in a band playing that night—or in a band, period.

It was kinda hard for me to catch East Coast Scammers’ lyrics beyond their repeated use of the F-word, but then again I wear earplugs. I thought, Ah, to be a 20-yr-old whiteboy in a band and though the singer looked 17, you had to be 21 to get in so I assume that’s how old he is. I sat down in the middle of their set, which led everyone else to sit down. The singer thanked us for making the difficult decision of choosing to see them rather than the strippers, and I’m like, Can’t you read my internal narration? I’m a chick! Though by the end of their set, there was another girl there, but I think she was with a guy in one of the bands. So I think I was the only girl there who didn’t have to be there.

I had a feeling, but I still went upstairs first. Locked, same as Halloween. So in order to use the bathroom, you have to use the downstairs one. As in, next door. As in, down the hall past the naked chicks. Hey, at least in a strip club there is a ladies room, unlike at gay leatherman clubs.

I was starting to worry because while the bands’ sets weren’t that long, in the time it took them to change equipment and plug and unplug and twiddle knobs, another of these bands could’ve played most of their set and if I missed The Umlautz that night, there isn’t going to be a gig until April.

I really liked The Wheezing Stumblers and it was kinda funny seeing them that night because I realized that by the time they played at the Staten Island show it totally hit me where I was and what I’d done, plus how late it was, and what was I going to do about getting home and that distracted me. During the brief pause for technical difficulties and trying to figure out which wire you connect to which, there was stumbling backward (didn’t hear wheezing. Not sure if asthmas counts) off the stage, which is real life and not something you’d see on the Billboard Music Awards.

We were clearly on a talent upswing. The Tosspots are incredible and watching them, I knew I’d made the right decision in coming out—and stopping there 1st. I can’t believe a band would come from Buffalo to play NYC for free, and on a Monday in December. I was all excited, because when they start touring and open for bigger punk bands, I can say that I saw them above a strip club and they came down from Buffalo. Their merch guy also wore a bunny suit modified to accommodate a wallet chain because that’s how cold it is in clubs in Buffalo. And then I had to leave, which was good because I really wanted to see The Tosspots. Like their name, what can I say? And the first O in their name is a happy face.

("The state of today's music industry makes me wanna tear my hair out!")
("Does this rabbit suit make me look cold?")


(Say what?)

So then I thought that it wouldn’t be so bad because Chambers is—what—one stop down, and I can get the 2/3 from there. Uh, nope. Chambers is one stop uptown and then I’d have to head back down, toward Brooklyn. But it all worked out and I got to Freddy’s to find Ed Sullivan on Acid still in effect. The comic who was up was funny and Pat was in the back with his watch, timing the skit. And then I had to wonder. Pat’s a comic also and I wonder if it’s hard for him to have to time the set, and listen and not get distracted. Or would it be harder for the comic engrossed in a story, trying to get it all in and have it have the same impact? Or is it harder to be in a band and come up with a setlist? Because with a band, you also know you have a set time to get your point across and leave an impact. Or maybe it’s the same difference. The last guy up was one of those guys—you know the type—I didn’t know if I should laugh or be pissed off at him. Adrienne was there and she looked like she was trying to stifle her pissed-off expression since she was sitting up front. Must not laugh. Not funny. And then she left abruptly. I, too, am offended. So later after the comedy part I told her that her horrified expressions were classic and she said she wasn’t pissed off, she just had a long day at work and was trying to stifle yawns.

("Uno! Dos! Tres! Suzy Quattro!") People took seats for The Umlautz of course oblivious to the fact that seats go around the table, not in front of it. So I was getting blocked because I was at the front and I couldn’t stand because then I’d be blocking someone and I didn’t want to stand off to the side. And Brooklyn vs. Bush TV was taping them, so they had their own lighting and carrying it around and carrying cameras, so I didn’t know what to do about the flash. Use it? Was their lighting enough, as well as the lighting that’s already there, because I was sitting right up front? Luckily the people in front of me got the hint and moved, so I got a nice view of The Umlautz and tried not to cry. Why must Bleu go to Texas now when they should be working on the band? No, I know it’s for family obligations, but fate is cruel, indeed. And of course with their set being filmed and a music critic present, Pat broke a guitar string. But I don’t really mind. It’s live music, and it was still a great set. Everything sounded great. Hey, if I wanted to see perfect I’d watch the overprocessed musical Cheez-whiz crap on the Billboard Awards.
(I kinda like how this one came out, even though the lighting is bad and the pix were matte even though I said glossy. It has a nice, old-fashioned effect. Then again, I'm the one who did not get the photographer gig w/CMJ, so take it from whence it comes.)

The cold was slicing into me and even with the D train I got in after 2. Why do I do these things?

Oh, right.

Music.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Obligatory Acknowledgement of Pazz & Jop

(The Onion got theirs in right on time, unlike mine. Mine is still on the way. Seriously. And I don't know what you're supposed to do with the "blog this" icon on The Onion site and copy in some code because, well, look who you're dealing with.)

Stegosaurus Is My Second-Favorite Dinosaur

The bones in its face just make it look so cool. It's huge, its knees are awesome, and of course, it has tail spikes. I would be totally remiss if I didn't mention the sweet tail spikes.

But it's not my favorite. As anyone who's read this column knows, T-Rex is obviously my No. 1 dinosaur—that goes without saying. A common choice? Perhaps. But I defy anyone to legitimately deny the raw power of that perfect killing machine. And please, I don't want to hear anything about T-Rex being a scavenger, because I'll go to the mat on that.

However, I'm not talking about T-Rex today. I'm here to give Stegosaurus its proper due. This gentle, awesome giant is easily lost in the mainstream shuffle of Apatosaurus—No. 33—and Pachycephalosaurus—No. 12—and I don't condemn anyone who, albeit wrongly, puts Stegosaurus lower on his list. Plus, other pundits out there will pick the safe route, going on all day about Allosaurus and its thumb spikes—admittedly really cool—or Velociraptor and its claws or whatever. It's just that I'm not going to pad my favorites catalogue with a bunch of obvious carnivores.

Stegosaurus is definitely, solidly, my No. 2 favorite dinosaur of all time. No. 2, mind you, out of all dinosaurs. Ever. Even Ankylosaurus, though I imagine some of the so-called experts out there will find that pretty hard to believe.

Ever since watching Land of the Lost at my fourth-favorite age of five—the original 1974 series, that is, which is the 17th-best television show of all time, easily—Stegosaurus has had a special place in my heart. Granted, that show introduced me to many wonderful dinosaurs: Pterodactyl was No. 2 for a time, Brontosaurus was in that slot for months, and even those reptoid midgets, the Sleestacks, with their big black eyes and pointy heads were ranked second for six episodes until they were disqualified due to a technicality. But Stegosaurus has an undeniable staying power—and awesome tail spikes, as I said—and eventually edged them all out.

Of course, it could never edge out T-Rex. Just look at its teeth! But I've already devoted my third- and fifth-favorite columns I've written about dinosaurs to Tyrannosaurus, so, again, there's no need to get into that. Nor will I dwell on dinosaurs three through 10, considering they're all different types of pterosaurs, and, for now at least, I don't have the space to break down the subtleties.

Anyway, Stegosaurus. Why No. 2, you ask? The obvious answer for this, of course, are the thermoregulatory plates on its back, but that's my distant third-favorite reason as to why Stegosaurus is my second-favorite dinosaur. No, my No. 1 reason is the "second brain"—the coolest brain, by far, in the Stegosaurus—near the base of its tail used for controlling reflexes in the rear part of its body. Reasons two and four are a little complicated and both tail-spike-related, so I'll leave those for another time.

Reason No. 5 for loving Stegosaurus is because it could regularly and easily knock down trees. Huge trees. Which is awesome.

In many ways—well, eight ways, actually—Stegosaurus embodies a lot of things on my various lists that are pretty great but don't quite make the top. For example, the Clash's triple album, Sandinista—the second disc of which is the third-best disc—the 31st-best record of all time, between The Faces' Long Player and Neil Diamond's Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack. To me, Stegosaurus carries on its back, along with those wicked, massive plates, the weight of all the silver-medal winners in my life, including my second-favorite list and my favorite salty snack foods, which are the third-best variety of snack foods.

It may seem a little excessive to a few self-styled experts (who are high on my blacklist—well, my blacklist for self-styled experts) to place so much secondary importance on an extinct herbivore. My answer to that is: No, it's not. However, I'm not so petty as to allow ranking to consume my entire existence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ranking things, like Stegosaurus, comes in second, right behind drawing, and just ahead of my mom, who's currently at a solid No. 3.

She's up from No. 5 after a stellar showing this past Christmas.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Where Eagles Dare

Buzzcock NYC @ The Eagle—featuring SMUT—10/13/06

I was totally okay with skipping the gig if I had to, if the place didn’t want extra cooties and girl germs—aside from those in the band. I even asked them if the place would be cool with me going and told them it was no biggie if I couldn’t go. But Buzzcock encourages those who don’t fit the scene’s prerequisites to come out (and I won’t say “no pun intended” because that’s way too obvious a comment) and support. All the naughty stuff happens upstairs, Cutie said—I guessed the “naughty stuff” being Barber Andy, Jake the Barber, and Dave, the guest bootblack, as mentioned on the flyer. Among other things. According to the NYCP site, there’s going to be head-shaving. I was kinda thinking about asking if they’d just whack 2 inches off my hair since I can’t afford a decent haircut right now, but if it comes out bad I’d be all like This happened when I went to see SMUT!

So if they’d allow girl germs in the place, I assume wearing my Spunk Lads shirt is pushing it. And then it dawned on me, after being the recipient of a botched pickup attempt, at The Eagle there won’t be any married men copping a feel, no guys goosing me hello, no guys poking me in the ribs hello, no strange guys hugging me in the middle of a show, no guys continuing to dance with me no matter how often I back away and then they get thrown out only to come back in, start up again, and then get thrown back out, and no guys hitting on me because they “like their women thick.” And after asking if I had a boyfriend, the guy asked if I’d mind a personal question. I said, “If you don’t mind my fist hitting your face.”

And since we were standing on the corner of 23rd & Bway and of course my skirt billowed out from a passing train underground I said, sarcastically, “Well, now you can see just how juicy I am.” That was how he started w/me, I look juicy. Which could mean fresh and happening, radiant and full of life, until he explained that about my being thick and all. “No, I could tell from your top half.” Well, congratulations. You like big boobies. So do a lot of men. Why do you think Playboy and Maxim sell? You like fatties! How liberating! Let me drop to my knees and blow you right in front of the Flatiron Bldg! On my lunch hour! He told me that women these days look too skinny, but all the women he uses the juicy line on get offended because they think he’s telling them they’re fat. That’s sweet. You tell me you use the same line on many women and they all get insulted. And I’m supposed to be flattered by your honesty? The fact that you’re a liberated guy and don’t like your chicks looking like cadavers? And when I went back to the Eagle site to see where to RSVP for the $5 cover and I couldn’t access most of the site from work, I noticed their promise of the hottest guys in NYC.

Shit, man, you had me at hello.
***
The avenues were getting longer as I headed west, the weather cooler, and the winds picking up. People were hanging out of sports bars and as I headed to 28th, the neon gave way to darkness. As I walked down 28th, I worried that I’d be caught up in some housing complex and the street didn’t go through, which is what happened after the Flogging Molly show at Spirit, but I think it was 23rd St. that does that. Then I realized that I’d probably have to hold it all night, because I don’t know if there would be a ladies’ room in a place like that. After I hit the High Line, I started worrying. I didn’t write down the exact address of the place, other than remembering 28th & 11th, but I figured I’d keep walking and see a bar with a big eagle-shaped sign and that would be it. The street, one I’m never on in the first place, seemed kinda deserted—until I crossed 11th Ave. and saw Crobar, with a crowd in the front, behind the velvet ropes, Scores, and then the Eagle. It’s like a bunch of theme restaurants only instead the theme is clubs.

The heavily facially-pierced and tattooed guy checked my email address off the list; I was in good company with Hipdagger and Hyperrainbow. It’s actually not a bar, per se, but an S&M-themed club. It kinda looked like a garage—there was a tire hanging from the ceiling above the bar—and I’m thinking, Y’know, this is probably just like when The Spunk Lads played Meow Mix, yet totally opposite.

They have a gift shop there. Well, that’s what Xtene told me, anyway, where they sell whips and lube, and, I would assume, among other things. The head-shaving and boot-shining was on the first floor. There was all sorts of porn being shown and breath mints at the bar. And there were cups with The Eagle’s calling cards and pencils. Brill. So if you want to get somebody’s #, you don’t have to scrounge around for a writing utensil. ‘Course if the guy is just not that into the one asking, they really can’t feign the whole “Sorry, I don’t have a pen” routine in order not to hurt the other’s feelings.

The band played across from the bar, along the length of the room, and that was weird at first because I was trapped behind people taking pix and I didn’t want to block John and Mike’s views. Maybe it was because the head-shaving stations and boot-shining stations were at either end and that cut down on the space there, but after their photogs moved I was able to move my spot and had room to run around, so that was good as the SMUT-sters were blazing and the crowd was really into them. So I was happy after the small audience space/good band sitch at the Real McCoy. One of Cutie’s friends kept yelling “Show me your titties!” all through the set and she was like, this is the one place where I didn’t think I’d hear that.

Same here. But even though I didn’t explore the place at all, I went to a queer club and I still saw SMUT.

After the show, there was still a huge crowd outside Crobar and there were construction site-grade halogen lights set up. I crossed the street, away from the crowds, and spot money at my feet. Before I can swoop down upon it, I notice police arresting a guy right in front of me.

I’ll . . . just . . . uh, keep walking.

P.S.: I got an email about the next Buzzcock. “A party for queer Punks and Skins as well as the straight guys who put out after a few drinks.” They probably mean straight guys who put out after a few drinks for other guys—not that there’s anything wrong with that. Oops. Sorry. But thanks for letting me go. Then again, $5 is $5.

P.P.S.: I got an email today that Buzzcock is over and not happening at the Eagle or anywhere else. That’s so weird, because I was thinking about this post and wondering when I was going to post it, because I really needed this one up. I love it when a plan comes together.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

The Most Depressing Day Of The Year

The Most Depressing Day Of The Year
Tim Fite and Marshall Crenshaw/Tap Bar//1/24/07

There was actually a scientific study that found January 24 to be The Most Depressing Day of the Year. Around that time people give up on their resolutions. Winter also hits full-force. I don’t know about January 24, but I’ve still got the same job so I can take my pick of most depressing days. I get paid on the 15th and 31st, so that lets the 24th out. Last year had a few depressing days and they weren’t in January. There were about 4 or so in 2005 and none were the 24th. Wait, I started this in 2005, on the 24th. So it wasn’t January 24 that was the most depressing day of the year. It was in July that I started this. July 24. Still, that wasn’t the most depressing day of 2005. It’s close, though.

I kinda felt like I wanted to go out on The Most Depressing Day of the Year, but where? Couldn’t find anything. And that would be fitting, right? Dwarves? On The Most Depressing Day Of The Year? Marshall Crenshaw? Yeah. And Tim Fite is on the bill. And I said that I’d see Tim Fite again, since finding out that Tim Fite is none other Little T of Little T and One Track Mike. It’ll be good to see a familiar face on TMDDOTY. But I went to Crenshaw’s site and this is what it said: “Crenshaw tours selectively on what he terms the ‘NPR circuit,’ meaning he plays mainly nice clubs that are vacuumed daily with restrooms substantially nicer than those at CBGB. He also plays performing arts centers—venues where people go to really listen to music rather than get hammered by it.” I know: Whatta dick. What, does he assume that those who go to CBGB can’t appreciate his music? People who listen to NPR are more selective and cultured, appreciating the finer things in music—like Marshall Crenshaw? Fuck that. Or are the people who see Marshall Crenshaw older? Where else could I go? Freddy’s? Otto’s? (As in, something in my budget.) Uh, nothing. Appropriate. Still, I’m glad I have a CBGB™ T for such occasions. And Marshall will have the Turbo ACs, Unsane, and the Dwarves on his head. Enjoy!

I went down there to pick up the ticket at the beginning of January and the door was locked. I heard voices inside, from the Tap level. I coughed because I have to and also to let them know that someone needs to buy a ticket. Then again, there were a few shows cancelled at the beginning of the month. I was about to give up when someone opened the door and told me that they were closed. Well, if they were closed why was he there? I try again the week before the show, telling the guy that I needed a ticket for Marshall Crenshaw.

“Which show did you want to see?”

I only knew of one show, the one on the 24th, and didn’t know if there was an early and late show and the December 20th show had come and gone, so I said, “January 24 in the Tap Bar, with Tim Fite.”

“I’ll find it.”

Pause. Nothing. The monitor is sorta angled toward me and I wasn’t sure if I should be looking as well. Though it was a week before the show, was it sold out?

“I’ll find it.”

Pause. Nothing. “Oh. Here it is. 24.”

Holy shit! $24?!

“That’ll be $12.”

Didn’t I tell him I was looking for the show on the January 24, in the Tap Bar? Happy 20th Anniversary, Fuckfaces.

On January 22, 2007 I find out that there’s a formula for calculating The Most Depressing Day Of The Year—factoring in weather, holiday credit card bills, job dissatisfaction (seriously, if you’re depressed by these things, then you suck at denial)—and it changes! In 2005 it was the 24th, in 2006 it was the 23rd, and this year it was the 22nd. Nice. I guess this is what I get for sarcastically telling RebelMart that announcing his gig a day and a half beforehand led me to restart my post to include him. (The backstory, of course, is that I told Matt that the next time we end up in the NY Times it should be for something happy, such as an article entitled “Punk’s Not Dead, It’s Just Regrouping” and the blurb will be something like, “For the denizens of NYC’s Continental—such as the Blackout Shoppers and myself—establishing a new punk order” and I’ll be the one who writes it. He agreed with me and of course it was in that vein that I started.)
***
Turns out that January 24 is Beer Can Appreciation Day, commemorating the first time beer was served in a can back in 1935. There’s even an eCard for it, so it is a real holiday. So I was reading Musto’s “Sarah Silverman Is My Kind Of Cunt” article in the Voice whilst waiting for the 1 at 14th. When I read the line about realizing that Silverman is politically correct being “the scariest thing this fudgepacking wop has heard in a coon’s age,” I just started laughing out loud, the paper almost falling on the floor because I was sitting on the bench and the woman next to me just looked at me. I thought about writing that in to the letters page—about this woman looking at me—just thought Musto would like to know. Then the train comes and the woman wouldn’t sit next to me. I should’ve sat there with the paper just open to pg. 18, with that headline blazing.

The computer outside the Tap Bar has desktop wallpaper that says I Got Wasted At The Tap Bar and while I thought, Wow, don’t flatter yourselves, I told the woman that it was cute as I asked if I could go inside and sit down as I worked on thawing out. Nope. I ran my hands under hot water in the bathroom and then my fingertips were tingling. Heart attack? Then I realized that my fingers were tingling because I’ve got frostbite.

For some reason, I guess because it being the Knit, we’re made to line up against the wall. Those with tickets had to get off the line, get out tickets ripped and our wrists stamped, and then we could go back in line. Those who were buying tix that day then had to buy, get stamped, and then get back on line. Someone else on the line said exactly what I was thinking: What was the point of getting on line, then? Uhm, because this is the Knitting Factory. I mean, how much gear are 2 solo artists going to be loading in? It can’t be the old, “Gotta keep this area clear! Don’t want you getting hurt when the bands are loading in!” song and dance they’re always giving us upstairs. When the woman at the door finally got confirmation on her walkie-talkie that doors were open and announced this, she was so Valley Girl I swear I thought she was going to throw in a “like, totally.”

All of this was forgotten, though, by the time I got to the stage and smelled wood. Like toothpicks or tongue depressors—or Tim’s wooden boom box with the little lights on it that hides his little sampler. Anyway, I was getting completely high from the wood and, most depressing day of the year or not, I was feeling much better. I thought I knew what to expect having seen Tim Fite open for The Leevees, but this time around it was just the acoustic guitar and sampler. Last time around he had videos of himself playing guitar and drawings playing behind him. Don’t know if that was part of the act, since that was my 1st time seeing him, or just because Southpaw was equipped for that, or it was something special for the Jewltide show because there was menorah-related material. And Noah from Sam Champion was on laptop, running visuals and perhaps other sounds. So if I ever get around to posting that one be really surprised. Since there was no movie screen in the Tap Bar, Tim had little books with drawings inside and he called us all closer so he could read to us, and then he sang the songs. There was one When I Die, It’ll Be A Slow Death, and he continued, “When I die, it’ll be a slow death—with rats or ants. Or maybe both.” Seemingly weird/morose/macabre, but when you think about it, it makes total sense.

I don’t know how it started, because I never meant to start it, but pretty much everyone sat down upfront in between sets. I was just sitting down, reading the paper, and there was one other couple, but I look up to see that everyone who wasn’t at a table was on the floor. The other couple moved center-floor and the guy had CD booklets arranged on top of CDs, which were displayed on top of a plastic bag, a ticket envelope, and Sharpie on the stage, in front of him. What a weirdo. Where the hell did he get an envelope for the ticket? It’s one of those envelopes you get at Irving when you buy a ticket at the window—y’know, from a venue that uses Ticketmaster. What, when he bought the ticket at the Knit did he badger them into giving him an envelope just for autographing purposes? Shit, they have those envelopes at the box office at the Merc, but they never give you one and no one’s lame enough to ask for one. You just put the ticket in your wallet neatly and respectfully, not folded, with the stub that gets ripped off anyway sticking out.

And no one budged once Marshall came onstage, not even wearing his hat, and took his seat. He then draped a purple bandana over the mic stand which was adjusted for his sitting down (which I would complain about, seeing as how this is rock ‘n’ roll, but then again Crenshaw’s the one who plays at performing arts centers) and from my vantage-point on the floor, tucked in against the amp, and all I saw was him sitting there with a purple schmatta floating in front of him. Uhm. So part of me is perfectly content with this situation and part of me is kinda pissed. Behind me, a shutter goes off in rapid-fire succession, like how you would think it does at a modeling shoot. I turn around, because what the hell, Marshall’s just sitting down, and the woman waves me off, like, no, don’t worry, I’m not in the way of her shot. I do move a few times to get some better shots from a better angle. Every time Marshall picks up his bandana to wipe his face and under his glasses, I think, Just drop it on the damn floor already, but then I secretly wonder if, from his vantage-point, he’s blocking his view of my CBGB shirt. I also think, If you’re that concerned about sweating in public, maybe “musician” isn’t the right job for you.

Yeah, Marshall Crenshaw goes out lookin’ for a Cynical Girl—who’s got no use for the real world and he’ll know right away by the look in her eye/She harbors no illusions and she’s worldly-wise. . . . I guess he just wasn’t counting on a sarcastic girl.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

The Best-Laid Plans Of Punks And Poets

RebelMart @ Freddy’s Backroom
Blackout Shoppers/Yo! Scunt/Chesty Malone and the Slice ‘Em Ups
@ The Delancey
1/12/07

So I got the email Wednesday evening about the RebelMart gig. The Wednesday of. What, does he think it’s funny to watch me freak out about trying to figure out subway connections? And, dammit, I’ll be missing Chesty Malone & the Slice ‘Em Ups again. But I double-checked and Chesty was going on at 12:30 and if all goes well, I should be able to catch both RebelMart and Blackout Shoppers. But I’d have to miss F-Units. Besides, there was more warning for the Blackout Shoppers show.

“When did you get that email?”
“Wednesday night.”
“You know when I was confirmed for the gig? Wednesday afternoon.”
“Yeah, I thought so.”

I returned from the ladies’ room to overhear RebelMart and the kid in the band in the next slot discussing just how loud it gets in the Backroom.

“Yeah, I’ve played here a few times. . . .”
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how loud does the sound get in here?”
Well, the louder it gets, the more they don’t like it. . . .
“It’s not as loud as, say, The Bowery Ballroom. . . .”

Of course I know the answer, but since nobody asked me I try to figure the best way to answer and not make it look like I’m eavesdropping, which I am. That hardly matters, since I’ve got the right answer. I grab the schedule that’s on the table, turn it over, and write: It goes to 11!

“You know how some musicians start off with an old song because they’re comfortable with it? Well, not me,” he warned.

From the next band at the next table, as they worked on tuning a guitar: “Apparently, there was supposed to be an Irish punk band on the bill, but they never showed up. . . .”

Schoolhouse Rock was on the TV and that gave way to some 60s beach-party/surf’s up/Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello flick. Everybody was doing the shag or the frug for 15 minutes straight. Even the woman in the Audrey Hepburn/Breakfast at Tiffany’s dress. It was literally like what Chris says when he tried to get everyone on the dance floor during Do It Again: It’s like the end of an old Elvis movie where even the stodgy old butler is getting down. And everyone ended up in the pool, of course, during the course of the movie. Then they showed everyone doing the shag in this cantina and there was this guy dancing barefoot and he steps on broken glass and the next thing you know, a fight breaks out. People start going headfirst through walls, headbutting each other. Ha ha, yeah, I’ve been to that show.

After RebelMart took the stage, as it were, I tried to prop up the It goes to 11! note on my glass of water, but I didn’t want to distract him (not like he was looking) and I didn’t want the other band to know I’m making fun of them. And though RebelMart said that his first song, Strength In Numbers, is new, the themes aren’t so new for him. It’s the last verse and chorus in particular that made me happy:

“If everyone hates these bastards so/Why do they rise while we sink low?/We can nail ‘em in the chest if we lead with a left/We can hit ‘em in the heart if we play our part/What happens to STRENGTH IN NUMBERS/When the numbers all run scared?/What happens to STRENGTH IN NUMBERS/When the numbers keep running scared?/What happens to STRENGTH IN NUMBERS/When the numbers all run scared?/What happens to STRENGTH IN NUMBERS?”

I was like, fuck yeah! And though I had the pix chosen for the review, RebelMart gave such a detailed intro for his song Morning of the 3rd—about his gig at Freddy’s the night of the presidential election. The TVs were on and everyone came in with such happy faces, but we were all glum as we left. What a blatant hint about which pix I should use, eh? “And because I’m so self-absorbed, I took it personally.” (To which some guy yelled, “You suck!” Whoever it was, he sure was sarcastic.)

“You know, right before the Christmas recess, Congress passed—and this really flew under the radar—Congress passed the Musicians Responsibility And Burden Act of 2006, obligating all singer/songwriters to write a song about Hurricane Katrina. So here’s mine. I’d just like to add that Kanye doesn’t care about me.”

Shortly after he began The Devil Down In The Water, I looked up to see twin images of fire on the TVs. Next, people were fleeing. I thought it was pretty cool and I wanted to say something, to tell him to turn around and look at the TV, but I couldn’t interrupt and besides, I was sure someone was going to say something anyway. I don’t know who put on the movie, but it was in perfect sync with the lyrics. I don’t think it was one of Donald’s videos because he does the video art installations, but it was downright eerie. As RebelMart and the movie continued, I realized that the movie was some sort of B-rated Godzilla movie, and everyone was fleeing this Godzilla who was destroying a town. Godzilla kept throwing these barrels at the townspeople and I got the chills. Then I wondered if I was the only one who noticed this. I can’t be. As The Devil Down In The Water becomes the devil down in the White House (I didn’t really give away the ending since we weren’t exactly living on Mars), the movie had a scene of 3 people holding a barrel themselves and turning it on Godzilla, charging at him and hitting him in the chest. The song finished as someone on a hang glider sailed just above Godzilla’s head, just out of reach of his outstretched hand. (I’m teary again just thinking about it.)

Godzilla’s rampage continued through Brooklyn Is Dying, chasing the townspeople as he picked up houses at whim like they were Monopoly pieces. When Godzilla ended, the next movie on was some caveman movie. Again the film was started in a random place, but just as he started Garageland it was dark. The moon gave way to sun and the cavemen awoke. Godzilla was every destructive force—nature, George Bush, Bruce Ratner, and even the music industry and now that everything’s been destroyed, we will wake up and start over from the beginning. And though the original version of Garageland is kind of a ballad (well, a pogo-y ballad) and, playing it now as I write this, I can imagine a kickline going to The Clash version. The RebelMart version is tender, poignant, and primitive in the right way, almost a lullaby. And again, I don’t know how this happened, but as he closed with The Town That I Loved So Well, the caveman movie came to a close and The End came on screen and he finished the song in perfect time to the movie.

I wasn’t sure how to get to The Delancey—or even Delancey—from Freddy’s. I was thinking the D to W4 and the F, or the J/M, but the J/M doesn’t run at night and the F was rerouted. I’d have to remember that. I decided on the R to Canal to the J/M, but as soon as I settled on that, I realized the problem. The R is extremely local. Holy shit, just going one stop to DeKalb was a pain. But the Q came quickly at DeKalb and I was making good time until Canal. I looked on the map to see which side I’d need and the You Are Here arrow pointed to Chambers. Huh? It wasn’t one of those stations where the upstairs is one station and the downstairs is another. But the reverse side was correct. Shit, the wait at Canal fucked everything up so bad. But I figured 11:15 for an 11:00 time slot wasn’t that bad and besides, since when is 11 actually 11? Besides, it’s a Frank Wood show so he’ll be introducing band members in between sets, asking when their next gig is, and reminding everyone to tip our bartender, tip her heavy, tip her often, tip her over with cash.

As I stood in the stairway and paid my fare, I was surprised to hear the 80s song coming from the upstairs bar because I knew what was going on downstairs, and I didn’t know people still listened to that song. And by the time I got downstairs to find that the Blackout Shoppers were already onstage, I’d completely forgotten which song was on upstairs. Of course I took that phenomenon as commentary on the 80s song—and all songs from the 80s—and not a sign of my Alzheimer’s. It could be the latter, because it was a popular song that we’ve all heard of. Still, I found my explanation returning to the social commentary of 80s music and the upstairs of The Delancey.

Though when the Shoppers ripped into their cover of Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue it was more than all-too-easy to focus. I pogoed and landed on Christine’s foot. She didn’t notice. It turns out I missed pretty much all their set (dammit) because Everything’s Going Wrong was after that and I found Justin at that moment and we got quite the kickline going, pushing everyone out of our way, and I ended up getting a Pabst shower and my hair was sticky and it was awesome. There was a DJ spinning and you know me. If I had the chance, blah blah. But this was our dance party so dance I did.

I knew something was up by his hair. It came to a trendy/ironic/retro ducktail in the back, tho I was digging the skulls and crossbones with the googlie eyes on his T. The girl he was with was Barbie in Skipper’s clothes and moved like she was either trying to pat herself on the butt or clear away cobwebs. Every time they came onto the floor, they cleared it. They fought the law of gravity and the law of gravity won, falling in a heap at my feet a few times, and then fell at the foot of the stage. I then figured maybe they got off not on public displays of affection but some sort of public displays of S&M activity. A bra hits the stage shortly after Yo! Scunt does, but I think it might’ve belonged to one of their friends doing it to be funny. At one point the guy tackled Hot Topic Barbie to the floor, grabbed her by the foot, and swung her around as she paddled herself in circles. Then they wrestled in front of the stage. Now, the show was 21+ so I assume they came up on emo. See, this is the problem with shitty music. Kids go to shows and don’t know how to behave.

Justin resurfaces shortly after this little spectacle and I tell him, “Its times like this that I’m glad I’m a writer.”

“As opposed to what?”
“As opposed to letting all this hilarity go to waste,” I say without skipping a beat.

They dropkick an empty bottle of Vitamin Water and what would’ve been cool is if there was a spotlight following it and that zooming noise as it plonked me in the head. Toward the end of Yo! Scunt’s set I remembered that my coat and bag were across the room and then I notice a girl sitting on the couch next to my coat, crying. Fuck. I want to move my stuff and I don’t want to have to talk to the crier. Though I kind of want to know what the hell she’s crying about, I don’t care. Give me a break. You’re at a punk show. You’re going to get hurt. Get over it. (Yeah, classic, I get dinged in the head by an empty plastic bottle and I’m all, I got hurt at a punk show! I’m so badass! Woo! I’m punk rock! I’m hardcore! No, my nose was burning after that happened, so I am, thank you very much.) Then Emo Barbie and Ken notice The Crier and go over to attend to her and I figured it was the usual I didn’t want to come to this stupid club in the first place but I did because you guys wanted to and now you’re ignoring me! crap.

After Trish showed up I had more people to dance with. We spun around to Janie Jones, even though I think you’re not supposed to do that do that song, until that scary moment when I either kicked up the corner of the carpet or we almost became airborne and then I was back on my own even though with my back, it probably wasn’t a good idea but I didn’t care. Nor did I care that I was on my own. I never care about the latter. Or, come to think of it, the former.

Chesty Malone and the Slice ‘Em Ups has a song about Digging Up A Date—that’s probably what I’m going to need to do. Badass psychobilly punk influenced by “blood, guts, punk rock, beer, and kitties.” Jacqueline Blownaparte had plenty extra blood to go around. Seth ended up with it. (There’s gonna be blood on the Shoppers, whoa-oh-oh-oh, there’s gonna be blood. . . .)

And it turns out that though RebelMart went to eleven in intensity but not in time, there was a band that didn’t show up so we’re both off the hook. That guy who’s always at Shoppers and Stackers shows has a band. I think they were called New Damage, and since I always see him at shows I stayed for his band. Outside, Trish and some guy who was there but upstairs were trying to find a light. I waited with her while she waited for Justin so we had some time to talk—as did the upstairs guy. He’d just arrived from California and was all oversized sweater and hair gel. He seemed amazed that I’m “from here.” We were just standing there, looking at him like he was crazy. Then, perhaps to both of us, he said, “Throw it up!” and raised his hand. I was like, Throw what up? Am I supposed to make some hand gesture? Wait, which one of us is the Bloods and which is the Crips? “Are you coming back inside?” We were like hells no, but he didn’t seem to catch that. “I’ll see you both inside!”

When Justin came up Richie Rheingold did as well and we got to talking and wondering if you could roast marshmallows in the fireplace (I dare someone to try), I heard it, from inside the upstairs. The very song I arrived to. A Wham! song. Not Careless Whisper or Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go), but the other one. (Which I have since forgotten yet again and while I could look it up the point is that I’m not going to.)

Of course when I got to Jackson Heights they said the F was going local. This was not the case. I get to 71st to find that . . . nothing Manhattan-bound was going local. I had to go back to Jackson Heights, right back where I started from, to wait around for an E. What can I say, at very early hours of the morning, especially after a punk show, “Next stop, Elmhurst” and “Next stop, 71st” sound the same. Though the sound in the subway is really fucked up. Where’s the sound guy when you need him?
***
Look, closing CBGB™ is one thing, but knocking down a bar/venue in Brooklyn for a sports arena? What?! If you're not that familiar with the ongoing Nets Arena battle, there’s a very informative website (that’s not pink) run by a sports fan called Fans For Fair Play that explains everything, and has links to other organizations, such as Develop--Don't Destroy Brooklyn. (Sorry, I was trying to link to them til 2 AM this morning. 1st I kept getting something about input file not found, tonight it's this page can't be displayed but from there they give you a link you can get it from. Needless to say, I'm the dummy those books warn you about. But it's developdontdestroy.org, so copy + paste. Don't I do enough here, seeing all these shows on my own buck, letting you know about cool bands, and since I thought it might be my computer--holy fuck, I've just spent $13.98 at Stinko's. Bite me.) It’s okay if you’re not that big a sports fan, you just have to be a fan of Brooklyn.
***
RebelMart

+ Blackout Shoppers
=======>

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Southside Chicago Schmaltz

Siderunners/Smoke Wagon/The Tossers//Southpaw//9/27/06

I was kinda wavering about this one, for obvious reasons. And I was a little unsure of the dates, having seen different sites give conflicting postings for the Brooklyn show and Maxwell’s. I even considered going to Maxwell’s in order to catch Nomeansno—again, money—but let’s face it: I wasn’t running out to Maxwell’s for this band. For obvious reasons. I was even wavering about going to Southpaw for this band, but they’re on Victory Records, home to a crapload of crappy, post-emo, screamo, whatever bands such as June, Silverstein, Bullet For My Valentine, and The Sleeping. Thursday got their start there. I was on the label’s website trying to figure out about opening acts to help me better decide which night I should or shouldn’t go to, and I’m like, That’s what you named your band? You’re serious about that? Oh, you already got the logo tattooed onto you? Wow, sucks to be you. (To say nothing of Victory allegedly encouraging the Hawthorne Heights street team to go to record stores and move Ne-Yo albums around so that those guys won’t be on Top of the Pops and HH can reclaim the top in the name of rock. Wait, what do I mean allegedly? It said so in the Onion. I mean in the AV section for a HH show review, not the sarcastic, fake-news section. Way to fight The Man—making extra work for record store staff.) So you (or at least I) kind of want to cultivate that tender shoot of grass sprouting out of a stinky, fly-ridden pile of dung.

The Tossers is the band we have to thank for the late-90s wave of Guinness-fueled, Poguesy Irish rock. The inspiration for Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys, (I mean, in addition to the Pogues and the Guinness) but FM and DKM beat The Tossers to the (jug of) punch. It says so right there on the back of the CD single I was handed after a Flogging Molly show. But, rest assured, they play their own brand of Irish music loaded with attitude and alcohol—also as the single promises. So you have to wonder why, if The Tossers—I was going to say “came up with the idea,” but that’s not the right phrase, just the first one that popped into my mind; anyway, you get what I mean—you have to wonder why, if Flogging Molly and the Dropkicks are riding the latest jig-punk wave (no offense to the Prodigals) and have huge draws, why The Tossers really don’t.

But maybe I’m not the best person to review them. Let’s face it, when I was in elementary school I lived on PB&J and now I can’t touch it. On one of their previous go-rounds, I was probably feeling too full of myself to bother to go. Or in the case of them opening for Spider Stacy’s Pogue Mahone, I was busy that night. So why not go? I could be wrong. Besides, they’re featured on the first Shite’N’Onions comp, along with other such notables like The Skels, Neck, Blood or Whiskey, (possibly the Mahones count as a notable as well) and The Devil’s Advocates. There was a reason for starting this paragraph off with the PB&J comment: given the track order of the 22 songs on the comp, to me there’s a “first half” and a “second half,” and by the time The Tossers weigh in with tracks 16 & 17, I’m like, Yeah, yeah, I’m paying attention, that’s more like it. Unfortunately for The Tossers, they’re followed by The Devil’s Advocates version of The Town That I Loved So Well. (Yes, I know, I need to figure out how to put MP3s on this thing.) I’m like, Yeah, The Tossers are good, but this is how its done. The second volume came out last year (as in 2005), featuring the likes of Icewagon Flu, Larkin Brigade, and The Gobshites, who believe that every day is St. Patrick’s Day.
***
For the longest, nobody was there. And by nobody was there, I don’t mean there wasn’t anybody I knew. I mean nobody. With doors @ 8 and the show starting at 8:30, a longshot, I know, and to be expected, but I was like, c’mon give me a break here, it’s Wednesday. The Siderunners (featuring former members of the Tossers) are sorta country, though they probably think they’re moreso since the guitarist had a Pabst-logo trucker hat on. There were some cool moments, but they—the moments and the band—were lost in a venue/on a stage like Southpaw with maybe 15 people in attendance.

Smoke Wagon are a straight-up bar band, and my guess was Hank’s Saloon. Though the guitar player tried to secure whiskey for the drummer, he had to lay off it himself because he had to get back to work—the stagehand at Southpaw, and he’s the guy opening and closing the curtain. Still, even if you’re working at the venue when your band is on the bill, there is no excuse for 3 bands running that late on a Wednesday night.

The Tossers took the stage at midnight, perhaps giving the crowd—which probably reached about 40—ample time to prepare for them, bar-wise. And as soon as the band started, I thought it was pointless to be there. Yes, Flogging Molly’s 1st two albums feature predictable song structures—spoken first verse and perhaps second, dramatic pause, big rave-ups. Yes, they’re Pogues knock-offs, yes, Within A Mile Of Home has more country-ish/ballad-y stuff and even though the album before that one, Drunken Lullabies, sounded like stuff that didn’t make their first album, had they stuck with the formula I would’ve been like, more spoken intro/pause/rave-ups, don’t you guys ever change? Live album/DVD duo Whiskey On A Sunday is no substitute for being at the show, being rightthere, waiting, waiting even though FM has taken the stage to thunderous applause, until the rave-up hits. There’s just something so indescribable and thrilling about being in that throng of people going completely and utterly crazy. That moment was completely lacking from The Tossers’ set.

I just deleted the sentence “It was ghastly” because that may be too harsh, because maybe it’s me. I mean, I didn’t really do the math because I figured I knew what I was getting, just a different band and a different city—Chicago as opposed to DKM’s Boston and FM’s LA. But didn’t Black 47 always go on about the Chicago crowd at Gaelic Park on Memorial Weekend? That littered, disheveled field that pretty much screams “Black 47 was here!” is where the back photo for their live album On Fire was taken. I guess I was more disappointed than anything. The members of The Tossers were glued to the stage and did not budge. (A Jewess may not be the best one to review an Irish band, irregardless of how many she’s seen or how many times she has, but I do know shows.) It would be hard for any band to establish connectivity on a stage like that with a draw like that, agreed, but I was like, A 7-member Irish rawk combo? Seen that. Maybe it’s a Chicago thing and they just didn’t translate.

The first girl to attempt stepdancing fell on her ass within seconds. Soon, the bulk of the crowd gave way to falling on top of each other and shoving one another, in an attempt, I guess, at moshing. This is followed by guys lifting each other at the waist and swinging each other around, legs flying out in front of them. I guess this is what happens at a show by a band like this if you have the room. Because this does not happen at the Dropkicks. It does not happen at Flogging Molly.

“Here’s something I’ve been working on, just for you!” Tony Duggins said as The Tossers launch into a cover of Fairytale of New York. No. You cannot be this band, or a band like this, and cover that song. And without a woman sharing vocals?

“Are you with the media?” a guy next to me asks.

Yes. “No.”

“Are you the band’s photographer?”

“No.”

“Who are you taking pictures for?”

Oh, I get it. Because I’m standing here with my camera and not climbing all over a total stranger for a piggyback ride around Southpaw, it must be that I “have” to be here. It must be my assignment to be here to take pix and that’s why I’m not rocking out.

“This band is so good. They’re my favorite band,” he tells me, putting his arm around my waist and pulling me close.

A few more covers follow. I check my watch and it’s late. I consider leaving before they finish. Maybe just skipping the encore. The rest of the band looks like they’re going to fall asleep as Duggins keeps going. The crowd, of course, also keeps going. Even as Duggins dedicates a song to Steve Irwin, because the guy always cracked him up. The band looks bored as Duggin keeps it up and I think that with his voice, being the singer in a band such as this one is inevitable—that, or a bartender—though it seems like he drops his accent at some points. One of the band members grabs the curtain and drags it across himself, and I think that that’s bad if your band mates are telling you that the set’s up, but no, he lights up. Though he and the rest of the band do look bored. Well, they are on tour. It’s a lot of long nights like this, a lot of long sets, a lot of drinking and partying.

The encores—and covers—continue. This is their first full-fledged headlining tour, Duggins says. And this is your draw? Well, there’s something to be said about playing a Guinness-sponsored tour because at least you get it for free. But drinking a Miller? When in Brooklyn, I guess. And he thanks Steve Irwin repeatedly.

It’s 1:15 when I get out of there. Shee-it. How can a show with 3 bands go that late?

It’s not so much that I decide to try the D and see what happens as I’m too tired to bother with the 2 or 5 and the D is right there with the entrance I use. Next stop, Grand, the sign says. The next stop is DeKalb and if the thing is going local, I will be asleep and back in Brooklyn by the time I wake up and wonder if I’m going to or coming from work. But after DeKalb it does hit Grand. And I can get the E at 7th Ave. Has this thing been here this whole time?

Shee-it.

Staten Island, Baby

(Cutie Calamity, truth in advertising.)

SMUT/The Challenged/The Wheezing Stumblers//The Real McCoy//9/22/03

OK, 1 more thing that was awesome about the Continental: It was right there. Totally accessible. (Yeah, I’d started writing this mentally, before the whole trip ever happened. Because I guess I just knew. . . . And, also, it doesn’t pay to procrastinate/be busy, because this whole episode sounds incredibly dumb/silly months after the fact.) I could’ve taken 1 train to get there and back, if I wasn’t antsy about going local. That’s how I got back from early sets. I could’ve gone local thru Queens, gotten the 4 or 5 at 59/Lex and down 1 stop on the 6. You never had to take a bunch of trains to a bus that ended up going on the LIE thru the nabe you started out from. You also, definitely, never had to take a freaking boat to get there.

I don’t know why I decided to go there in the 1st place. I guess this just goes to show you that I’m nuts. I’m sure you must’ve thought that about me to begin with. Well, yep, you’re right. Good guess. Yes, SMUT is good. Yes, The Challenged is good. Yes, the gig is in Staten Island. Yes, Blackout Shoppers was playing in Williamsburg. Maybe it was the hand-drawn flier from The Wheezing Stumblers, with all the logos drawn on a sheet of loose leaf paper. Maybe it was the fact that this Bay St. looked totally accessible from the ferry when I Mapquested it. Maybe it was the fact that the show was on a Friday, in late September—and not late December, January, or Feb. on a weeknight. Maybe it was the fact that you had to take a boat there. Maybe it was the fact that, in light of how few opportunities there are to do something stupid like this, maybe I just had to go for it.

Yes, I almost went to that Jersey gig with the Shoppers when their email said to meet them at the Port Authority. Turns out that they missed their stop and had to get taxis to bail themselves out and got screwed royally, so it’s a good thing I didn’t go. Yes, if World War IX ever play New Paltz, I’m there—unless they play den-of-skank Joe’s (where they actually had male revues and a shuttle to take the drunken skanks {known as the Drunk Tank or the Tart Cart} back to campus) and I made it thru my college career without ever stepping foot into that place (or the science building) and I intend to keep that streak up.

Every summer I say that this is the summer I take the ferry one weekend and go exploring. Do something different. After all, it’s free. Every summer except for this one, I said that I was going to take the tram and see what happens. It never happened.

Things went well until I hit the ferry terminal a little after 8:30. Next boat out is 8:4— No, that’s the leave St. George in the AM, weekday hours. Next boat out of NYC in the evening is 9??? The flyer said 9! What is this, boats every half hour? Fuck, even the PATH runs better’n that. Approximately 25 minutes to get there? Oy. OK, 1 extra band was supposed to be added. If I get there to find that SMUT is over, I’ll demand my money back and turn around and go home. But the flier had Wheezing Stumblers, SMUT, and The Challenged, so I assumed bands were listed in reverse order. If I miss The Challenged, so be it. I see SMUT and I go home. (Y’know, maybe that punk site should’ve given ferry info. Or I coulda looked it up. Nah, too much work for a show. I never look stuff like that up. I even considered doing a Citysearch on the place for a website with lineup info. Also work I never do. (Well, most times I never do because I know pretty much everything.) I look around the terminal and figure that I’m the only person going to Staten Island for a punk show. Well, except for the guy in the Rancid jacket and shaved sides of his head who looks familiar. Which is why, even though the Shoppers were playing the American Hardcore premiere, I felt it was important to go to Staten Island. Maybe if they see that people will come to Staten Island to see shows, they’ll book more shows, and book more bands.

I realize that doing shit like this is what gets me labeled as these bands’ biggest fan, (or, in this case, #1 SMUT slut) and the SMUT shirt was pointless, but then again I’m not going all that way to be mistaken for a Bon Jovi fan. Besides, I tell myself that I’m doing important work all in the name of music.

It was kinda windy and I wanted to spend the whole trip outside because I’m never on the ferry, but the wind got to me. 25 minutes? I saw where the boat was headed, and it doesn’t take no 25 minutes to get there. We slowed pretty much to a stop at 9:15, but it took 10 mins. to get the boat positioned and the drawbridge lowered. Then when they opened the gate to let us off the boat, it was like the start of the marathon and I thought I was going to be trampled. OK. Now. This Bay St. I figured its like Railroad Avenues in Long Island—it’s always right there across from the RR station and every town has one. I head out the terminal, checking the area map, and there’s Bay St.! Not too far away! I see bus stops and the signs announcing the routes and bus #s say “via Bay St.” See, I was right. Maybe I should take the bus to Bay St. even though I had no idea where it went and at least I know I’ll be headed in the right direction. But how hard could this be to find? It’s got to be right there, by the bay. (By the bay, by the beautiful bay.)

I crossed the street, past the court bldg., and walked. On the map, Bay St. is on the right, so I head right. Uh, nope. No Bay St. Not even a side street was it. I asked a couple hanging outside a bar that was not The Real McCoy. One vote for “This is Bay Street,” one “I don’t know.” “This is Bay St,” the guy informs me. The street I was on, which did not say Bay St., turns into Bay St. 76 Bay Street? Walk 70 blocks and I’ll hit it.

What?

But I was assured that if I kept walking in the direction I was headed, I’ll get there. 76 Bay St. doesn’t mean walk 70 blocks, I point out, but since these people seemed oblivious to that error and I had no choice, I started off in that direction, thinking I’d get there sooner or later, most likely sooner. The store numbers are getting lower, I tell them, but I am told to keep going and this street turns into Bay St. I walk on, telling myself to just go the fuck home, and I pass a police station. I am told to go in the opposite direction and make a right, which is where Bay St. starts. The street I’m on turns into Bay. So I thank them and head back to where I started from, and see a big sign: Bay St., keep right. Arrow. Well, duh. So I hang a right and keep going and nothing says Bay St. All these side streets, none are Bay St. There’s a side street bar, and I think that’s even the name of it. Why couldn’t they be playing there? I keep going right. Buildings are shut for the night and I should go home. I ask again. Make some lefts to the street I started from (I can’t even remember the name, that’s how stupid this was. St. George Terrace, I think it was) and keep going and it veers right and that’s Bay St. So I go back and follow the street to the end, past the courthouse, follow it as it curves right, and there’s the beginning of Bay St.

SMUT is going on first and therefore no bands have gone on yet so I didn’t miss The Challenged, they tell me when I see them outside smoking and loitering in general when I get there after 9:30. They were surprised I came all that way and all, and I was surprised they thought I’m normal. The Real McCoy is a nice place, and I guess because of international waters and all, the whole “No smoking in bars” thing was not in effect. Someone had Fairytale of New York and Irish Rover on repeat on the juke. The “stage” is this small, raised area alongside booths and had couches and is sectioned off by railings, so there was no room for moshing or anything—or even many band members because the band/equipment part is blocked off by a strip of tube lighting on the floor close to the mic stands to the point that everyone kept kicking it up and I thought someone was going to trip. So I just stood there in the shirt of the band I was there to see, but, again, at least I won’t be mistaken for an Ashlee Simpson fan. Of course they have some good, cool new songs and I’m picturing a crowd and a pit tearing it up, but there’s no room there. The guy at the ferry terminal in the Rancid jacket is the bass player for The Challenged. I’d thought about going up to him and saying hi since we were obviously going in the same direction and could we walk together, but I’m shy. I was rapidly starting to get bleary as The Wheezing Stumblers played. As we leave, I notice that SMUT only had 2 scratches down for them and although I don’t want to point this out because it might make them feel bad, one of those scratches is mine.

At some point it was decided that I was leaving with them, Christine informs me. I told them to just drop me off at the boat on their way out, that that would be easiest. Or drop me & Christine off, and we’ll go back to Queens together. Since she said I was going with them, I assumed we were going to be let off at the boat. Turns out they were going to drop Christine off in Astoria, and since I had to be up early to be at my mom’s later that day, I was to take the E at Steinway and Ripley was going back w/Erinn and her boyfriend, John, who drove. Noodle, their new drummer, and guitarist Dave took off separately. We start off a bit lost and then get stuck in traffic and I found out just how SMUT got their name, as Erinn shouted obscenities at passing cars and gives the finger to lighten the mood. How Christine slept thru all this, I have no idea. At one point Erinn spotted a woman giving the guy driving their car a hand job while stuck in traffic. “Porndar,” Erinn explains. It was classic, we all stopped to look and you could tell that that was exactly what was going on by the way the woman was positioned in the seat, kinda leaning in and she had this earnest expression of, Am I doing this right? I’m a real wild child! I hope the traffic moves so’s I can stop this!

It’s getting late. Erinn says she has no problem with the guys with the jackhammers on the side of the road, it’s the 30 guys who stop and watch that’s the problem. The traffic takes its toll and Erinn curses John out for being too nice and giving everybody rides and letting himself be taken advantage of, John alternated between reminding her that he doesn’t control the traffic and why does he let everyone take advantage of his wheels. Christine was still asleep, I think Ripley fell asleep even, and I’m like, whatever happened to giving me a lift to the ferry?

At some point we find Christine’s nabe and Ripley goes home with her. Christine tells us how to get to the Steinway stop and we get lost. I have no idea where we’re going since I don’t drive, I’m not familiar with the Steinway stop, and Erinn and John don’t know where we’re going, even though he consults a map. Erinn starts getting pissed off and I start feeling embarrassed. I made the decision to go out there in the first place and I should be responsible for getting my own ass home. We get to the Brooklyn-Queens border area and she asks if I could just get on a train. I said sure, but she says she won’t let me take the G. At one point we see an L, but I have no idea where the hell we are and it’s late and I don’t know what type of neighborhood this is. Besides, I would have to hook up with the G. She offers me $20 to take a cab, but since I don’t know where we are or how to get myself home from wherever it is that we are, I have no idea what this would cost me and I didn’t have much $ on me to begin w/since I assumed I was taking the ferry back. A cabbie could see a woman alone at 2 in the morning and figure I was desperate to take a cab and jack the fare up. She invites me to stay over, which I would’ve even if I didn’t have my glasses or a fresh pair of contacts, it’s just that my mother expects me over at noonish and I can’t exactly show up in a SMUT T (or any other band’s, for that matter) for the High Holy Days. John’s convinced he knows where we are, Erinn is cranky and ready to kill, and I have no choice but to keep quiet.

We (oh, hell, they) pull into a gas station so John can check another map and ask directions. Erinn storms out, slams the door behind her, and charges into the convenience store. I wisely assume that this is not the time to point out that I could go for a nosh as well. Erinn slams back into the car, ripping into her bag of chips, then screaming and tearing at her hair. Seriously. She then wads up the bag and throws it out the window as we pull out. That’s ok, I wasn’t hungry anyway. I feel terrible because this whole mess is because of me and maybe I just should’ve taken my chances on the L or took the cab. This is an Oscar-worthy performance from her. I am very impressed with the elaborate fit she’s pitching. The tension in the car is so thick and I worry that this is not the sort of incident that will be funny later on.

We hit Laurel Hill, but not the part of it that’s near me. If we hit Queens Blvd. then we’d be fine, except we’re probably parallel to it yet a million miles away. More obscenities and rants against John for being a guy and not asking directions. Shit. Then I realize that Erinn’s on her cell. All of a sudden, it’s passed back to me. I answer and it’s Christine. She asks if we’re okay and I tell her that John and I are. She says not to mind Erinn, and I feel better and less responsible for this mess. She asks where we are, because she’s going to Mapquest it on her end and guide us. By the time I spot the intersection we’re at, I realize that we’re on Woodhaven Blvd. Oh, never mind.

So the moral of the story is that if you’re going to a punk show on Erev Rosh Hashana, go locally.

East Village Boys & Girls, Downtown

Charm School/The Bullitts/The Threads/Kid Casanova
@ The Delancey//1/5/07

I do this to myself every January. I wonder what shows I’m going to see in the coming year, if any, and then a panic sets in as I check every venue website. All these papers have the year-end best-ofs, and while I’ve heard of the bands, I haven’t seen them. I used to live in the Bowery Ballroom—or, at least looking back on it I think I did—and I wonder if I don’t anymore because I’m old and out of touch, music sucks nowadays, I think music sucks nowadays because I’m old and out of touch, or writing this has done something to me and/or the way I see/hear music. I even went to one of Unsteady Freddie’s websites to see if the Isotopes had another gig listed at a future shindig. I considered emailing him to request they play Otto’s again. And then panic sets in as I worry about the rest of the year and the rest of the site and the future of my life as a music fan and writer (ok, maybe music fan and diarist) and, well, we all know what happens next.

Wait a minute. Why do I say “every January?” I do this from time to time throughout the year, whenever there’s a lull in the calendar. It’s really easy to forget this train of thought when I’ve got a week of shows coming up and I decide that even thought a band sounds cool, do I really want to run to Trash for 1 band? And then I worry about why I won’t run to Williamsburg for 1 band.

But I doubt that Zak sat around and worried about whether he was too old to be in a punk band. I doubt that he sat around and worried that he never saw or heard of any of the bands that were on all the year-end best-of lists. I doubt that he ever worried that he never saw The Hold Steady. Or Sufjan Stevens. Or Gnarls Barkley. Or TV on the Radio.

So. The Delancey. Yeah. Haven’t been there in ages and now that I’ll be going I figured why not check their site to see what else could be going on there, besides stoner rock DJ nights. Hey. And I like The Bullitts and The Threads, and The Threads have a CD out and they’re giving out copies, so there you go. And now I see that Charm School was added, so it’ll be like seeing old friends again even though I’m not friends with any of them, but you know what I mean.

The doors were at 7:30 and after being warned that Charm School was going on at 8 sharp, I still felt the need to run home for the CVS coupon for the pack of pix I thought were due back Sunday but were actually in that night, even though I could’ve picked ‘em up the next day. Then I had to go back home again, look those over, drop ‘em off, and then leave. It was on the subway that I realized that someone honked up a furball on my coat and it wasn’t me. Great, now I have to pay to get the damned thing dry cleaned. My year’s gotten off to a great start. Well, at least he picked the week in January that it was in the 60s. And even though pizza’s not good for me, financially or food-wise, I planned at stopping at the pizza joint on the corner of Delancey because it’s the normal thing to do. It’s the normal thing for me to do. Even grabbing the tray and accidentally sending the one on top of it Frisbee-ing to the floor. I meant to do that. I didn’t mean, however, to get there at a quarter to 9, even though I could really take or leave Charm School. But that night, I wanted to be there for their set. I wanted to see them and I really mean it, no snark implied. I get downstairs and feel thrown off, momentarily, by the fact that the soundboard is on my right. The downstairs interior of The Delancey is all red. Yeah, it’s kinda basement-y, but its way too nice to be the CBGB Lounge. I don’t know what to do w/my coat. Charm School is in the middle of a song and I don’t want to walk in front of them to put it down on the sofa because that’s rude, so I keep it on. And I look around and the place is pretty empty. Turns out I walked in on their 2nd song, even though I got there at 8:45, so I felt a little better. What also made me feel out of place is the fact that I didn’t have my camera on me.

I’m coming down with something yet again. I feel like I’m 1 or 2 good hacks away from the TB sanitarium. Well, better the TB sanitarium than the other one. I had to head upstairs, even though the DJ was playing Complete Control. I don’t know how come I’ve never noticed this before, but there is a full-on roaring fireplace in The Delancey. Not one of those Halloween-type affairs with the blowing fabric. A fucking fireplace. In a club. Then I thought, Is this one of those douchebag clubs that sell champagne by the bottle that’s supposedly ruining Manhattan? The bar was fucking stocked. Mad Absolute Gray Stoli, but I didn’t see champagne. There were reserved signs on some of the tables and girls had Dooney & Burke handbags. And the music. It wasn’t DJing as music or art, it was more “let’s have something playing in the background as we schmooze and network.” It wasn’t like club music, whatever your opinions on that genre may be. The facilities sure ain’t CBGB, that’s for sure. Back downstairs, White Riot is on. And there’s a fireplace upstairs. Because that’s part of a normal show experience: Going to a venue, spending $7 to see 4 punk ‘n’ roll bands, hearing The Clash in between sets, and passing a fireplace on your way to the bathroom. Then again, I’d rather pass a fireplace on the way to the bathroom than strippers. (I guess this is what Blackout Shoppers meant by “don’t be afraid of the club upstairs.”)

I lay down on the couch while The Bullitts set up. The place still isn’t that packed and I was worried that the owner or the booker or whoever would tell us to take our live music that has a bad draw elsewhere. Sigh. Or take our quality live music elsewhere, when they could just put some sucktards (yeah, I was totally gonna say “douchebags” again) onstage who gets all of their friendsters to show up. Sighola. Time to stand up for The Bullitts. Their opening song is called Pathetic and I’m thinking, Word, but this is how it starts: We are pathetic/We are waste/We are the future/We are great. And then I felt much better. After their guitarist, Andy, slipped in some beer and fell on his ass and had to tune up, he tried to fill the time by getting Sammy to show us what he got as a Hanukkah present. Sammy said he was going show us his penis. I would’ve taken either. Instead, Sammy takes a dreidel out of his pants and explains that it gets “like, 600x bigger in water.” To Andy, “You wish your dick did that.” It’s January 5. Why do you still have a dreidel in your pants? Or do you just keep dreidels in your pockets in case of awkward tuning pauses? Uh, is that an expandable dreidel in your pants or are you just happy to see us?

“Tell them the name of the next song,” Sammy says.

“Shabbat Shalom,” says Andy.

After their set I went to find out which one of them was handling the email list because they asked for our addresses in order to better keep in touch w/us about the gigs because Myspace was unreliable and I emailed them, yeah, I’m not even on it but I was checking to see when the gig started and I kept getting bounced off their site. Sammy said it was Andy, but I asked him if it really got bigger in water. “I meant the dreidel. I’m not trying to be weird or anything.” So Sammy showed me the dreidel and said yeah, but it takes 3 days for it to happen. (Fill in your own joke here.)

The Threads were set and ready to go, save for Mick. The band summoned him to the stage a few times and I was expecting him to come running from the back of the room and slide to the stage on his knees like a bowling ball. ‘Course had he made his entrance in that fashion I would’ve thought he was being a total rock star.

“Where’s Mick?” asks the band.

“Upstairs.”

“He’s taking a shit.”

I looked at my watch and we were actually running behind time as the band summoned, “Mick Stitch to the stage, please,” and I speculated just what business lead singers could really be taking care of in the restroom right before the set. Jesus. Seriously. What the hell.

Mick finally took the stage wearing a suit and button-down shirt and mirrored aviator sunglasses like some leftover Libertine. What is this, the Lower East Side rocker uniform? Gone was the choke chain and safety pin, now he had a metal record spacer on a chain. And somebody got themselves a new pair of creepers. I guess getting all them big tippers and shot-special orderers into The Continental worked well for him. I had to laugh. I wish I had my camera on me so I could put up before and after pictures. Nah, who am I to make fun of the guy’s clothes? I was wearing the sweater I picked out of the donation box at college. I’m glad somebody’s all grown up. Though I found it kind of funny, I realized that if I wasn’t having a good time, I only had myself to blame and got down off my high horse and set about to rocking out. They have some cool new songs (Get Started, Cold Road), with Mick tearing it up, doing his rawk thang, and ending up shirtless. Then again, he did dedicate a song to everyone in the room, including himself, because he was the biggest asshole there. Of course once I set about rocking out, there was a photog always next to me and it was a little crowded, and I wanted to run around during East Village Boys and had no room. Of course. And the free CDs were really in those halfsie cases without liner notes, of course, but it was a “mastered demo.” Oooh. Still, first CD of 07 and it’s free. This is setting a good tone for the rest of the year.

I know I saw Kid Casanova in Aug. with LES Stitches and I know I didn’t care for them, or maybe with the state of mind I was in, I would’ve hated everyone I saw that night except for LES Stitches. I can’t remember if they had the keyboard player the last time, I don’t think so. I thought they were aspiring to be glam but not hitting it, but not so now. While not my new favorite band, not as bad as I found them in Aug. Mick and Andy jumping onstage with them knocked mic stands over. I told Andy that they were dangerous and he said, “What do you expect when 3 bands that are friends get together to do a show?”
***
There are some good, rousing rawk numbers on the “mastered demo,” but I’m so used to watching them live than sitting here cross-legged on my desk chair listening to it. I’d rather see them live. It’s a little hard for me to make that transition from band-I-see-live to band-I-have-CD-from because I have small speakers in my computer, but I’ll manage.

Mazel Tov Cocktail

The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s—A secret history of Jewish punk
Steven Lee Beeber

(Yeah, I was figuring to put this next since I didn’t know what else to do with it and writing about a punk show at The Delancey is probably as close as we’re gonna get these days. But good segue from The Bullitts, so props. And props for the props. I love it when a plan comes together.)

“Punk reflects the whole Jewish history of oppression and uncertainty, flight and wandering, belonging and not belonging, always being divided, being both in and out, good and bad, part and apart. The shpilkes, the nervous energy of punk, is Jewish.” (page xi) “The punks were sarcastic, cutting to the bone. Their smartass humor made you think—and perhaps change your views—when you least expected to.” (page xii) “Yes, they were the blank generation, but as Richard Hell (Meyers) explained, that didn’t mean that they didn’t care. They were looking for a way to fill in the emptiness, create new identities, and make new worlds for themselves. A quote from British Jew Malcolm McLaren, on the back cover, calls the Jews that birthed punk rock “dysfunctional kids in search of an identity—lonely, uncomfortable, wild-eyed wanderers given to sexy, subversive, and stylish rebellion. All of the characters in this book somehow contributed to a culture that refuses to allow anyone to return to normalcy again. . . .”

What follows is 232 pages backing up these points.

When I first heard about the book, I thought that it seemed so obvious, so why didn’t someone write this sooner?

There are some good points to the book, like the fact that it was written in the first place. Beeber offers character sketches of punk rock characters in the early ages and stages of NYC punk and world history to prove his points, and why the Ramones and Dictators took on identities from other cultures, but it seems overreaching in some places. When I went back to the book to conclude the review, I saw that I had the subtitle down as A secret Jewish history of punk instead of the actual subtitle of A secret history of Jewish punk. To me there’s a difference, but what do I know? And we have to read lines like “If we take out our old copy of The Dictators Go Girl Crazy and gaze at the cover. . . .” which just sounds weird because this is about music. And at times toward the end of the chapter I’m like, I heard you earlier on. What I mean about overreaching is the chapter on “Hotsy-Totsy Nazi Schatzes,” about the history of camp and Nazi imagery, which just slows the book down—a whole chapter of Yes, I heard you the first time. But also problematic is that the chapter starts “According to rumor the following scene is true. While I can make no definitive statement as to its veracity, I heard it from 2 highly placed sources who prefer to remain nameless. Understandably.” Well, if the book is non-fiction, why is rumor and gossip in the book? (Chris Stein & Debbie Harry, Stiv Bators & his Jewish girlfriend, and Cheetah Chrome & his girlfriend had sex on top of a Nazi flag as some sort of punk/reclaiming the imagery statement, if you really need to know.)

Anyway, from that chapter it then goes on to The New JAPS (Jewish American Punks) and he finds 2 obscuro Jewish female-fronted bands, and then includes wacko statements from sudden-Jew Courtney Love and then somehow goes on to include Karen O and Brett Anderson as the faces to emerge in the wake of Riot Grrrl. “None of them is Jewish, perhaps a sign that the changes wrought by that subgroup have finally filtered out to the populace in general.”

Uhm, yeah.

But the freaky part is—aside from learning that Andy Shernoff of The Dictators went to New Paltz and invited rock writer Richard Meltzer to NP to give a lecture that “was cut short when the rock writer staggered offstage after only a few seconds to drunkenly puke behind the curtains. What followed was a bender of mythic proportions, three Jewboys drinking and drugging their way through the remainder of the week . . . As Meltzer recalls, ‘It was one of the best 5-day parties I ever had’ ”—the freaky part is learning just how normal I sound just from this book. It’s a hardcover book so I can’t put it in a jacket pocket and read it at a show, so I finished it when I was out sick from work. It kind of threw me a little and it made it hard for me to post. Here I was, thinking everything I did was because I became an “other,” but I was conforming all along. Or I was just looking for an excuse. Lenny Kaye, quoted in Chapter 1: “Jews have always been a writerly race . . . what is the Bible but an explication of art’s implications . . . and what are Biblical scholars but critics of the Bible? I like to see myself as part of that tradition. I like to think of myself as a scholar of the Talmud of rock & roll.” But what’s this thing about Jews and sarcasm, and self-hating Jews? I don’t get it.

Then he ends with the epilogue “One of Us,” mentioning American Hardcore, going on to point out that “Riot Grrrl and New Punk reflects a continued Jewish presence in rock, though it may seem increasingly unconscious or dilute.” (Sleater-Kinney has a song called I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. I mean had. Which he did not mention. See what I mean.) And the chapter includes shoutouts to Stephen Malkmus, grunge, the Strokes, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, so it’s kinda funny that he missed George Tabb since he seems so name-droppy and eager to prove his theories about how Jews of 70s punk influenced other punks and artists and just about every genre. (“I may be a Jewboy myself, but I’m still cool! Look at all this stuff I know about music! And punk music, at that!”) And the epilogue is followed by an afterward, where he drops his own name by mentioning how he was watching TV at the end of a day of working on the book with a glass of vodka in his hands. He takes some potshots at The Learning Channel’s offerings and hears the Ramones in a Nissan commercial. “Has my radio somehow crossed lines with my television? Have my two appliances gone crazy through interbreeding, like sort of tune transmitted over a teenager’s braces?” (This is a book about music—and punk music—remember?) What else could he do but laugh as he realizes that the Ramones—and the Jews—have won in the end, because now they truly have attained commercial success.

Now, I’m the last person who should point out if someone’s writing rambles because I can only imagine what you have to go thru, dear readers. You probably think, Get to the point already! GTTPA! (G2TPA!) Or, Get to the fucking point already! GTTFPA!—like Dan Savage’s DTMFA for “Dump the Motherfucker, Already” and ITMFA, “Impeach the Motherfucker, Already.” I mean, I also said that Beeber overstated his points and I did as well. But these are the corresponding lyrics from Yidcore’s Punk Rock Chanukah Song:

Here’s a list of people who are Jewish, just like you & me:
Joey Ramone ate matzoh at the seder
Just like Richard Hell and most of the Dictators
Lou Reed danced the hora at his Bar Mitzvah bash
With little Jonny Richman and Mick Jones from the Clash
So many Jews are in the punk rock biz
Sid Vicious wasn’t Jewish
But his manager sure is.


And, like a good punk song should, it clocks in at 2:49. And there are no source notes. Or index.