Sunday, July 29, 2007


In the late 50’s early 60’s my dad would occasionally take me to the space he lived in before I was born. It was a giant loft space they called The Garret and it was over the Woolworth’s at the corner of Debaliviere and Delmar.

He had lived there with Bob Koester whose record store “Delmar Records” was just downstairs and Paul Schueltz. Paul was a painter and bassist. They rented it from a painter named Bill Fett.

The Garret was filled with half finished canvases, washtub and stand up basses, World War II audio equipment, and a thousand empty or mostly empty Falstaff and Stag bottles. My father was famous for leaving the last inch and a half of beer at the bottom of his bottle. I don’t believe there was even a separate space in the loft for a toilet.

Paul was a prolific painter and I still have quite a few of his canvases, including a portrait of my father.

There was quite a scene on Debaliviere in those days. The other end of the strip from Delmar at Pershing was the famous “Stardust”, a burlesque club that featured Evelyn West and her $50,000.00 treasure chest insured by Lloyd’s of London. I always wondered if they were insured against gravity.

Although Nick Jakovac’s bar on Manchester was known for Jazz (this is where I had the personal solo performed for me by Chet Baker) Nick played cello in a Tamburizza band at a Greek bar next to The Stardust. His son Knez is still active in the St. Louis music scene and I run into him occasionally.

Koester moved his store to Chicago, renamed it Delmark Records and started a respected Blues and Jazz label.

Iggy Pop mentioned living in Koester’s basement in his autobiography “I Need More”.

When I was 20 Tracy Wynkoop and I stayed with him for a few days. He took us to really hard core Blues clubs on the south side. We listened to the funniest stand up comedy recordings I’ve ever heard in his studio. They were from the 50s and too blue to ever be released. He also showed us movies in a private theater setup he had in his home.

Years later, after I married, I took my wife and a couple of friends of hers that live in Chicago to visit Koester. He seemed impressed that I had become an avid skydiver. He took us to a Jazz club, got drunk and compared me unfavorably to my dad. I think he really loved him and probably still hadn’t gotten over his death.

There will be more on this I hope. So much for keeping my entries short.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


My next installment was going to be dedicated to Laclede Town. I wasn’t thinking there was a whole lot I could have observed before I was six years old. Then I started thinking and memories started flooding in. I now realize this is going to take quite a bit of research.

Before I lived in Laclede Town I lived in the Skinker-Debaliviere neighborhood. There was a thriving Beat/Burlesque scene happening. I actually remember a lot of it so I’ll come back to this subject later.

In the meantime I’d like to go through my transition from my Wuxtry days to the Broadway Oyster Bar in the 80s.

Between 1980 and 1983 I lived in a huge six family flat on Pershing behind Talayna’s. I lived there with my girlfriend Pam and another couple, Kent and Sherry.

These were the days before cable television had come to the city. It was already in the county however. Across the street (Skinker) was University City. We’d go to Blueberry Hill to watch MTV and believe me in their first year it was good television.

Kent turned me on to a few new bands including Nigerian Juju rocker King Sunny Ade and early U2. I wasn’t crazy about hair styles at this time but I loved the music. I had finally cut my hair myself. Now my hair is long again!

One afternoon Pam called me at Wuxtry. She was hysterical and in tears. The police had barged into our house with a warrant. She said the house was full of cops and they were tearing the place apart.

Kent had been bartending at a popular Clayton bar that featured live music and sports on a big screen TV. An undercover agent spent 6 months getting to know Kent.

Apparently the agent asked Kent to score some cocaine for him. This actually was not such an easy thing for Kent to do. The charges were finally for Sports gambling and sale of an imitation controlled substance. I don’t think Kent really knew the person he bought it from, he was just doing a favor for a friend. At the trial I believe the cop apologized to Kent.

All charges were dropped but in the meantime there was a great fund raiser. Everyone showed up and we all had a blast.

Anyway it was a big scandal and Kent lost his job. The funny thing was I had 4 hits of LSD in the freezer the raid had missed.

Kent went on to own his own very successful bar and is currently involved in some off-shore venture. Nothing ever could keep him down.

In 1982 I lost my job at Wuxtry. Dan Holt had a beautiful wedding at Forest Park’s Jewel Box and moved to L.A. to become a movie makeup artist.

I applied for a job at the Broadway Oyster Bar. Soulard entrepreneur and legend Bob Burkhardt had just sold it to a couple that became good friends of mine, Dennis and DJ. I’ll print their last names after I get permission. I think Dennis knew my dad as a poker buddy. My band used to go in for beer after rehearsals.

It has just been pointed out to me that my blog would be better if my entries were shorter. Any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated. I’m juggling historical accuracy and personal impressions but I’d like it to be entertaining.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Punk Rock in St. Louis

This is a subject I’ve been putting off for a long time. It’s just seemed too huge a task to even scratch the surface of the St. Louis Punk/New Wave scene of the late 70s early 80s. A lot of water has passed under the bridge. A lot of folks are gone now.

In 1976 I was living in Soulard with Tony Patti and my brother Patrick. We shared a 3 room flat and had 2 large dogs. Rent was $50.00 a month and we never seemed to be able to come up with it even though we were all working. We lived over a store front that was being used for revival meetings.

We raged through chemically enhanced music marathons that included King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, Roger Ruskin Spear, McDonald & Giles, The Beatles, Funkadelic and many others.

We loved listening to Jockenstein ranting over his Parliament collection on East St. Louis’ WESL. One of the great local radio stations.(Boy do I miss them!).

One day Tony came home with The Ramones first record. I thought it was a put on with songs like “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” and “Beat on the Brat”. I had no idea it was just the beginning of one of the most important genres of the record industry.

I moved back to the Central West End and started working at Wuxtry. Blondie’s first album came out. Dan Wall (Wuxtry’s first owner) and I went to a small club in the Bevo Mill area called River Daze. We saw a spectacular 45 minute Elvis Costello set. My friend Marge was also there. “What was that all about”? she asked. I was totally sold.

A whole new music scene was beginning to build. We had great rags like the short lived Noise, everybody's favorite Jet Lag, Carrie Lindsey’s NoisyPaper, and Reverb. There were tabloids like Metro that I believe predated Interview. Tony wrote a brilliant essay about cockroaches in Metro. The Riverfront Times was just starting out too.

There seemed to be a renaissance of art. John Linton produced 2 plays – “Mall Children” and “You Look Egyptian, Dear”. I remember being in a small theater in the basement of the Chase Park Plaza and laughing as Mort Hill introduced “You Look Egyptian, Dear” by waving at the audience and calling it his “New Wave”.

Jet Lag would print any review we submitted, no matter how lame. I sent one in that made absolutely no sense at all. Don't get me wrong, I have a great deal of respect for John the Mailman and Steve Pick!

Carrie Lindsey and Timothy Tyme published an issue of NoisyPaper with a flexi-disc insert of my band Earwacks. Eva-Tone, the people that manufactured the disc, took it upon themselves to censor our punk rock song “Ronald Reagan”. The word fuck appeared 3 times but they beeped the song 4 times. One of the words was fun. Timothy Tyme’s great response to this was the quote, “We’ll have no fun under Ronnie’s rigid rule”.

The Reagan era fueled the fire for a lot of us . The book “Fire on the Mountain” was published with an inside look at the revolutionaries in the hills of Nicaragua. What a fiasco. Charlie Langrehr wrote a song called “We Don’t Want a War in El Salvador.

We were all getting a tremendous amount of press from all of the media outlets.

We were finding all kinds of alternative venues like bowling alleys, VFW posts, etc. Who can forget American Legion Post 555 off of S. Kingshighway?

Everyone was doing regional tours of all the college towns complete with a pre-show interview at the local radio station. This always packed them in.

Alan Kalina booked us opening for John Cale at the Casa Loma Ballroom. We partied with the band until dawn in a swimming pool a friend owned. Alan also booked The Oozkicks as the opening act for Iggy Pop.

A Who cover band named The 6 O'clock News changed their name to the Strikers started playing Ska and got involved in the "Sid and Nancy" movie.

As far as indie records go, I think The Dinosaurs were the first. Dominic Schaeffer and I saw them at Wash U's Gargoyle. We heckled the band calling them the "Dinah Shores". Their front man Bob Rueter thought it was funny and we became friends. He let us in on the details of producing our own record and soon everyone was doing it.

Bands I remember off the top of my head were The Raymillands, The Felons, The Strikers, The Dinosaurs, Antimation, Blammo, White Pride, The Zanti Misfits, The Murder City Players, The Philosophic Collage, Max Load, Brown & Langrehr, Dear John, The Welders, Trained Animal (my favorite), and let's not forget Jambox and The Oui Oui Twins. I'm sure there are many others and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, leave a response and I'll update the list.

I just spoke with Tony and it seems to me that this topic will require several entries. I’ll come back to it soon!

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Wuxtry Related Experience

In the early days of the Euclid store I lived nearby in a six family flat on West Pine. I lived with a friend named Marge. We were making films, batiks, audio recordings, writing poetry, throwing parties, and growing mushrooms under the tub.

One night two of the seediest guys I’ve ever seen were pounding on a door upstairs. They wanted to buy drugs and their dealer wasn’t home. They knocked on our door. Marge ran out on our porch to hide somehow knowing they were trouble. I opened the door and they asked if they could use our phone. I let them in and one of them said he knew me from Wuxtry. He assumed I was the owner. He then pulled a gun and asked where the store money was. I told him I was just an employee and he hit me on top of the head with the gun’s butt. His friend came in from the porch pulling Marge by the hair.

This reminded me of an incident as a teen-ager hanging out at Marge’s house. I was listening to Mahavishnu Orchestra records with her sister Kay (IF U C Kay, tell her we said hello).

Marge was taking a shower. Her mother flew through the room into the bathroom dragging out a naked, wet Marge who was kicking and screaming. “You’re a whore for taking a shower with a boy in the house”, she yelled. She did mellow quite a bit before she died I must say.

Anyway back to the robbery.

The friend dragging Marge in by the hair made some remark about how pretty she was. “A strange time to be flirtatious”, I thought. “Where’s the dope”? the gunman asked. “I don’t smoke”, I said. He looked at my long hair and hit me on top of the head with the gun again.

(A brief aside here) I’m not going to pretend I’ve never taken drugs. If fact I’ve tried just about every psychotropic substance known. I have never had a tolerance for marijuana though. A couple of hits, a mild buzz, third hit rooms spins- David vomits. One advantage for me is I experience a psychedelic effect. A sense of “standing outside looking in” objectivity. Music’s shapes and textures are incredibly vivid. A deeper understanding of life’s tragedy, that death is certain. Understanding the language of art and all human experience. This on only two and a half hits. Most people I know only use it to get fucked up. It might as well be alcohol or barbiturates.

Anyway back to the robbery.

The gunman’s partner found an ounce Marge had in her purse that I knew nothing about and threw it on our dining room table. “Liar”’ the gunman said. Another blow to the back of the head. The next thing we knew we were being rolled up in two Asian carpets. One of them said, “Count backward from a hundred before you come out, that'll give us time to get to our car”. So that's exactly what we did!

Right about this time St. Louis’ Punk/New Wave scene was beginning to emerge.

More on this next time

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Wuxtry Records

Having found the Jet Lag blog. It’s come to my attention that there is a lot of misinformation about the history of Wuxtry Records.

Wuxtry was the first used record store in St. Louis (if you don’t count Spectrum’s Akashic or Bob Koester’s Delmar Records in the 50’s). This was before Vintage Vinyl or Euclid Records.

It was started by a guy named Fred down in Carbondale Illinois. His partner Dan Wall went solo up here and I was his first hire. I was very young and had extremely long hair. I followed a pretty girl into the store and was amazed that the store specialized in my two favorite pastimes, records and comic books. The girl was Carol, Dan’s girlfriend. I ran into her years later. She was as pretty as ever and didn’t seem opposed to the idea of our getting together on a more intimate basis. I hated myself for years for not pursuing it.

We bought records for a dollar and sold them for two. People would walk in with their stolen library records and scold us for our greed at making a hundred percent profit. I would have to give them a brief lesson on the economics of overhead and non-moving merchandise.

The store was on Euclid.

Dan would sometimes pay me with an amp or saxophone.

We would sell independent records including locally produced ones. My band Earwacks sold all our records this way.

After several years Fred went off to start a store in Denver. Dan had me open one for his brother in Charleston, Illinois called Mazuma. We opened store two on Cherokee but our only customers were kids that came in with plastic bags that had rags soaked with some kind of industrial solvent. I was always getting a contact high. Store number three was on Delmar.

Right about this time Dan and another friend opened a store in Athens GA. My friend Dan Stefacek went down to work the place for Dan Wall. There was an abandoned church there that Danny lived in with Cindy from the B-52s. I believe REM and the Swimming Pool Qs rehearsed there as well. I think members of all these bands worked at this Wuxtry. Dan tried to convince me there was a thriving music scene down there but I didn’t believe a small college town would do us any good. Dan’s partner opened another store in Atlanta.

Employees that came in included Dominic Schaeffer, Dan Stefacek, Dan Holt, Mark Secunda, Ron Bowman and others. An employee from the Carbondale store named Howard bought out Dan Wall and brought Dan Holt to St. Louis to run the stores. Dan Holt and I became great friends. He eventually went to L.A. to pursue a career film make-up.

I’m sure I’ll remember much more later. I’ll follow up as memory returns.