Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pam and Family


Just thought everyone would like to see Pam, David, and Zoe's Christmas poster. They've moved to Woodstock.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Movies







During the middle to late 70s my friends Matt , Marge and Kay, my girlfriend Lora and I pooled our resources and bought a camera, editing equipment and a projector. We found a Fuji camera that was basically Super 8 but it had 2 reels so you could rewind it for double exposures.

Our company was called “The Deputies of the Archives for the Library of the Fountain of Inexhaustible Knowledge.” I think I stole most of that from an old Carl Barks Donald Duck comic book.

Matt was already a great photographer and his films were visually beautiful. He has a studio and gallery now in Maplewood.

I was very much into Surrealism at the time and my films were overblown with effects and subconscious double entendre.

I had figured out, if you turn the camera upside down to shoot your scene, when you turned the developed film back around and reversed the sprocket holes, you’d have backwards shots. I was very proud of myself for figuring this out before I took a single shot and it worked!

The first thing I did was pluck rose petals out of the air, build a rose, and present it to Lora.

When I was living with Pam she was able to get a relative to front her money for a play called Cages. She gave me a budget of $400.00 for a film that would be screened during the play. This was actually a lot of money for me. I was only working in 8mm.

I called it my pretentious art film. The art director of Webster College loved it. What was really great was that Matt liked it. I respected his opinion more than anyone’s. The film made the rounds at parties and I never got it back. If anyone has any idea, I’d love a copy.

It was pretty much Pam spewing one of my long winded rants. This was from several angles of course, including her reflection in the bell of a French horn. Another old girlfriend of mine named Josie did a ballet routine holding geometric shapes obscured by a smoke machine and strobe lights. It looked great if I do say so myself.

I worked off and on for several years on my only full length film, Beany and Cecil Demille’s “Birth of Frustration.” I couldn’t finish it because the film featured my buddy Dominic, played as a child by Lora’s little brother Paul. Paul died before the project was finished.

The point of the company was to share resources and bodies. I remember waking up one morning to find Lora stripping purple paint soaked clothing off at the foot of our bed. She had just done a shot for someone. She looked like a nude, painted Bond girl. I was very turned on of course. She said, “Don’t touch me, I feel disgusting!” Oh well.

By this time I’d met Tony Patti and Fojammi. They were also making films. I remember Lora and me running around a train yard with a bunch of other kids for one of Tony’s movies. I think I was there. Maybe it was just Lora. Age has definitely impaired my memory.

I wish I could find all the films and put ‘em on Youtube.

Photo from a contact strip I found is “Cages.” Other pic is Lora.






Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Obligatory Christmas Story


We always did our thing the night of Christmas Eve. It must have had something to do with my folks’ work schedule.

When I was 4 we lived in a 6 family flat off of DeBaliviere. We lived on the 3rd floor.

My parents had a cruel sense of humor. My dad would read stories to us in the bedroom. My mom would bust into the room yelling, “Quick, quick, Santa’s here, you’re going to miss him!” My brother and I would run out and find the front door open. “He just left, you can still catch him!” We’d run all the way downstairs but we’d just miss him.

This was the same year I learned about Christmas stockings. I’m not sure where I found out, probably TV. I took a pair of my dad’s black socks so my brother and I would each have one. I took my dad’s because he had the biggest feet, and nailed them to the wall. In retrospect I should have gotten in trouble, but instead we found a pair of real Christmas stockings hanging in their place the next day.

This was when toys were fun. I got a Winchester rifle. It was probably inspired by the television show “The Rifleman.” It shot real plastic bullets. These bullets also went in a six-shooter.

One of my favorite toys was a bazooka that shot an invisible ball of wind. We soon discovered you could fire rocks and dirt from it. It didn’t last very long on the market. I think it went the way of Jarts, those giant lawn darts with the steel tips.

There was a pattern to the way gifts were distributed around the tree every year. The smaller gifts would be opened and there’d be 2 left. My brother’s always came first. One year it was a train set. I was crushed. There was only a small box left under the tree and nothing could be better that a train set. I was wrong. Mine was a walkie-talkie set. This was the early 60s and we didn’t have high tech toys back then. For the next couple of weeks we were the Man From U.N.C.L.E..

Another year my brother opened his and it was a toy drum kit. I was convinced nothing could possibly beat this. I was wrong again. I got a chemistry set. I wanted desperately to become a scientist. This was where I got the ingredients for my gun powder.

That same year there was a present under the tree for me from my father’s best friend Bill Shear. It was totally unnerving because he had been dead more than a year. It was a really cool electronics project kit. I later found out his wife Georgia had it lying around the house and thought I would really like it. I did!

The Christmas before my dad died my girl friend Jill and I had my folks over for the holidays. I gave him a trumpet and I’ll never forget seeing tears well up in his eyes. I inherited it of course.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On Being Vegetarian


For some reason my vegetarianism is a pain in the ass for some people. I’ve been one since 1979. I had visited factory farms and read a lot about corporate farming. I never tried to change anyone’s mind. I just didn’t want to be part of it.

People tried to convince me I wasn’t going to make a difference. I think the only power we really have is how we spend our money. I think there are others like me and together we might make a small difference.

My daughter became a vegetarian a couple of years ago and my ex is pissed at me about it.

She wanted to get her a guitar strap for Christmas. I told her I would find one that didn’t have any leather in it. I guess it hadn’t occurred to her there were animal products in things other than food. “Don’t you dare put those stupid ideas in her head!” she scolded. She already feels put out that she has to accommodate Chloe’s diet.

I think PETA has set the cause back years. You don’t change people’s opinions by polarizing their passions. It’s like people that bomb abortion clinics. What are you thinking?

We live in the land o’ plenty. There are cultures where eating animal is necessary for survival. I would too under those circumstances.  I don’t have to here so I don’t.

I remember a conversation I had at the Oyster Bar with a customer of mine. I said it wouldn’t be so bad if the animals could live a happy, healthy life instead of continuous suffering before they were harvested. She actually got mad at me about this. She said I wanted to lull them into a false sense of security before their lives were suddenly snatched away. The logic of the world we live in??!!

People are pretty set in their ways but if we could just stop eating cows the world would improve greatly. With several stomachs, cows produce methane from both ends. Methane is worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. The cows people eat now aren’t nutritious anyway. We’ve subsidized corporations like ADM to produce corn for feed. Cows need to graze on grass. It actually changes their chemical composition.

Something like %75 of the fertilizer produced for this corn runs into the Mississippi. This feeds massive amounts of algae in the delta. The decomposition of the algae robs the water of oxygen and nothing animal can live there. There is a dead zone in the gulf the size of New Jersey and it keeps growing. The gulf is probably our nation’s most important fishery by the way.

This entry would probably be more appropriate for my political blog but I’m 50 and I’ve been a vegetarian longer than not. 

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Regrets


Every now and then when my mind wanders I remember things I did that I deeply regret. Things you carry with you your whole life that make you feel like a real asshole.

I was almost reduced to tears with a memory last week. I’m not sure why I feel like confessing my sins but here goes.

When I was 6 and living in Laclede Town there was a little boy who was deaf. His speech was almost unrecognizable but he was able to communicate. I don’t know if he was deaf from birth but he learned to talk. Of course we kids were merciless and made fun him.

He had a parka that had a funny smell. Everything about him was wrong to us. His mother did everything she could to get us to include him in our games. We were total angels around her.

He lost his hearing aid and she offered a reward for its return. Man we turned Laclede Town upside down looking for it. I don’t even know why he had one. He was totally deaf.

I don’t know why kids are so cruel. We were on a hill watching him walk across an empty lot. We threw rocks at him. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes, the terror and disbelief, the betrayal. I was one of the kids that was nicer to him.

When I think of him I remember a really sweet kid who seemed to love everyone. I hope he’s okay and happy.

I have to recognize a basic ugliness inside of us that we have to overcome. Maybe it’s just me.

Don't forget my political blog.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Randy California


In 1976 I went to a KSHE Birthday party at Kiel Auditorium. KSHE was our local FM rock station and hadn’t been totally corrupted yet by corporate interests and musical tunnel vision.

The bands were Quicksilver Messenger Service, Iron Butterfly and the real reason I was there – Spirit. I know what year it was because they had just reunited and were touring a new album, “Spirit of ‘76”.

I was there with my brother Patrick. Between sets he and I walked to the front of the stage. I couldn’t believe it but Randy California was sitting on the edge. He was flattered that I knew and owned all the Spirit records. I even had his first solo record “Kapt. Kopter and the Fabulous Twirly Birds.”

Randy California was given his name by Jimi Hendrix in 1966 when they played together in a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. There was someone else in the band named Randy and California was from L.A.

He asked Patrick if he had any of the records. My brother said he didn’t have any of them. California asked him why and my brother told him he couldn’t afford any. He took us back stage and gave my brother 3 of their records.

The band's drummer and Randy’s step father Ed Cassidy was being interviewed by a friend of mine named Patti Dewing.

Patti was a freelance rock critic who gave my band several flattering reviews. She was practically homeless and barely eked out a living sending articles to the New Musical Express in England.

She shared a home for a while with a good friend of mine named Randy Satterfield. Randy is the most knowledgeable person I’ve ever met when it comes to art. I’ll do a story about them both later. But I digress-----

When we were back stage Ed Cassidy threw the sweetest smile my way and I always wondered if he was gay.

In 1997 Randy California and his son were visiting his mother in Hawaii. His son got caught in a current. Randy saved him but drowned in the process. It’s unfortunate that bands biggest hits are usually their worst songs. I hate it that they’ll be remembered for “Nature’s Way” when their other material was so ahead of its time. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sharon Sent Johnny's Obit

I remember seeing this when it was published. I think people sent it to me then. Click on it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Johnny Rio


Besides my dad, the other great St. Louis faux Indian was Johnny Rio.  They called him the Sheriff of Soulard. He wore a vest and a cowboy hat.

I did some of my growing up in Soulard but never really knew any of the adults until I worked at the Broadway Oyster Bar.

Johnny made a point of introducing himself to me. He was a poker buddy of my dad. I really began to appreciate my dad’s cultural diversity through his poker buddies. They would range from military generals to drag queens.

My dad gave me a U.N. flag from the U.N. building he had stolen with a military buddy. I gave it to Patti Thomas’ daughter for her 16th birthday. She still has it.

Johnny was famous for roasting a whole pig in a hole they dug in the dirt of the Downstreet Cafe’s beer garden. This went on for years even after the bar closed. I saw Trader Bob give Bob Burkhardt a tattoo there.

Johnny used to throw poker parties at his house. I would play at the safe table. It had a .50 limit. Johnny was always at the $5.00 table. This table was serious business and noone looked like they were having a good time.

One day I was tending bar in the beer garden at the Oyster Bar. Someone had given me a brownie that I didn’t know was laced with dope. Johnny came in with his girlfriend Nondis. We fell in love with each other.

Johnny made his living scavenging. When Steve and I were living on Oregon he showed up unexpectedly one day. He found a pedal steel guitar and gave it to us as a gift.

After the Downstreet closed Johnny still lived there. One night after partying with him all night my girlfriend Lisa and I walked out into the winter cold. I saw a glow coming from the top floor of the 1860s Saloon. The restaurant addition was still years off. I could tell it was a fire. I yelled at Lisa to call the fire department and went to investigate.

Later Richard, the owner would extend free drinks to her for saving the building but would never even acknowledge my existence.

Johnny was always somewhere between local character and cultural icon in my heart and mind. I hope I get a lot of comments about him because I really don’t know enough about him.

The photo is from the inside of a Soulard Blues Band CD. It was shot at the Grizzly Bear before the rehab.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tony's 50


Tony turned 50 last week. Valerie will next week. We went to his party in Maplewood. Luminaries like Jorge Martinez, Tony Carr, and Mort Hill were there. Fojammi, Mark Gray, Augustino Patti and others jammed with Tony while his film “Surf’s Up” lit up the room.

Someone said at our age when we see everyone together like this it’s usually a funeral. A few years ago when our friend Tracy turned 50 he talked us all into going to hot springs in the Rockies. When we got back Fojammi confessed that although he couldn’t afford it, he was afraid it might be our last road trip. I think we all felt that way.

Tony and I went to competing alternative high schools. I didn’t realize it at the time but I think his, Metro, was for gifted kids. Mine, Logos, was for druggies with authority issues.

We were intellectual teenagers and we experimented with everything. It was inevitable that we would live together.

When we moved away from each other Tony decided to live under Eads Bridge. To hear him tell it he was homeless and living in a violent world of drifters. I don’t think he was there long and he was always welcome in any of our homes but he made it sound like he was destitute.

Years later he married an Italian girl and moved to Italy. We joked that the marriage would end as soon as they understood each other’s language. Apparently she didn’t tell her folks she was married and Tony had a hard time over there. He tried desperately to stay but when their marriage ended he had to leave the country. (Tony if this isn’t too painful please let me know where I’m wrong.)

Anyway we were all glad to see him come home.

Man, I feel like I have to get all of this down while I still remember.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Macarthur Bridge


When my brother and I were still living at home in Soulard the drinking age in Illinois was 18. Naturally we drove over there when we were 16 to buy booze. We used to go across the Macarthur Bridge to get to the East Side.

Right across the bridge was a place called Leon’s Astro Lounge. You’d knock on the door and someone would slide open a little window to check you out. There was a famous incident in the East St. Louis stock yards where a bar sized up their clients this way. When they slid the window open a gun came through that showered everyone with bullets. My brother and I have both had guns pulled on us over there.

The bridge was built pre WWII. They were supposed to charge a toll until it was paid off. Just as it was becoming solvent the war happened and they decided they still needed the revenue. Needless to say the war ended but the toll didn’t.

My brother always made going to the East Side more of an adventure than it needed to be. He once scaled all three of the bridge arches.

On another occasion he and Danny were coming back when they got the bright idea Danny should surf the roof of the car. They had both of my brother’s dogs in the car too.

I guess they were already drunk because my brother lost control of the car. It flipped and came to rest sticking out over the Mississippi. It landed on top of Danny. I don’t know how close to death he was but when he got back from the hospital he had the most grizzly scars that he has to this day.

The dogs were Cello and Topaz. Topaz was never found. We spent the next few days canvassing East St. Louis. He had been seen everywhere. He was seen under porches, along the railroad tracks, in people’s imaginations and God knows where else.

Tony and I used to say Topaz knew where all the money was hidden. We decided he was helping people less fortunate than us and finally abandoned the search.

Besides the Macarthur the other photo is Mark and Ali with the dogs in front of our Soulard apartment. Topaz is the yellow one. Ali is the older sister of the twins I wrote about earlier. She was a very close friend I miss a lot. I’ll be writing about her soon.







Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Day After Halloween













Anyone who knows me intimately knows my favorite holiday is Groundhog Day. I plan to make the pilgrimage to Punxsutawney some day. That being said Halloween comes in a close second.

I had a friend in 4th grade that was an only child. He was a loner and a little on the nerdy side. His parents overindulged him. He owned everything I wanted. Not the least of which was his 8mm projector and an 8mm print of every Castle and Hammer Films monster movie ever made.

He had all the Frankenstein, Mummy, Dracula, Wolf man, and Creature From The Black Lagoon films. Or as Whoopi Goldberg said, “The Creature From The African American Lagoon.”

I had a subscription to Famous Monsters of Filmland. I remember subscribing to Eerie and being disappointed that it was just a comic book in a mag format. I did get turned on to a lot of the great comic artists through it though. Here’s a link to give you an idea -- www.filmlandclassics.com/01home/home.htm

Halloween of 1999 was the last day I shot a deposition for Mudge Legal Video. I was in the process of getting my Microsoft computer cert and needed to focus on classes. Kim would be supporting us until I got a job. That actually happened pretty quickly.

I spent that week taping monster movies to watch with my kids. Dylan would have been almost 6 and Chloe would have been almost 4. I was still new to the suburbs but already got into the  Halloween tradition of dads pulling a wagon of beer, hanging at a corner while the kids canvassed the neighborhood for candy.

Dylan had said he wasn’t feeling well at the beginning of the night. By the end we were pulling him in the wagon.

In retrospect it was pure dumb luck I wasn’t working at the time. That next day Dylan was worse. He was disoriented and couldn’t walk.

At first I thought he was just trying to stay home with me. After relentless complaints I got scared enough to take him to the doctor. The doctor had him walk down a hall and Dylan couldn’t make it all the way. He became very concerned and sent us to a neurologist.

Before I knew what was going on we were in an emergency room and Dylan was getting a spinal tap. From there we were rushed by ambulance to Children’s hospital in the city. He was put in a quarantined room on the cancer ward floor. The room was designed to suck atmosphere in so nothing could get out.

Dylan had both meningitis and encephalitis. His immune system was attacking the white matter of his brain. There was a team of doctors that couldn’t determine whether it was viral or bacterial. They gave him antibiotics just in case.

Kim and I took turns sleeping in the window for a week and a half. When Dylan was conscious he was screaming. It was the worst experience of my life. I was falling apart and taking it out on the doctors.

When he finally got out they gave him steroids to bring the brain swelling down. He was so pumped he looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I remember watching Gore lose the presidential race and all the monster movies in Dylan’s room.

Dylan’s soccer coach visited and brought a ball signed by all the kids on his team. His coach was a huge, macho man but left almost immediately in tears. He couldn’t bear to see Dylan in so much pain.

They put Dylan in huge scanning machines. They were worried he’d panic with claustrophobia but he was great.

It would be years before he could even get into a car comfortably. The only thing he seems to remember from his stay are the monster movies.

The staff at Children’s Hospital really are incredible. They live with constant heart break and just keep going.

I thought the whole experience had created a bond between Kim and me that could never die. I guess all things pass.

Photos are from that Holloween. Chloe is Snow White

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ollie









When I first met Ollie he was the enemy. Dennis and Donna Jean had just bought the Oyster Bar from Bob Burkhardt. The catch was Ollie still owned the building and he had no intention of selling. It would be years before he did and by then we were friends.

Ollie was famous for traveling the world and knowing every Beat poet that ever lived. His photos were incredible. I remember one that hung at Allen Avenue (The Shanty) of an old African guy playing a homemade guitar. Its body was made from a large square can.

Ollie visited the studio Steve and I shared once. He decided he liked me when he noticed I was reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. We discovered we had the same birthday.

Years later I learned a party was being thrown for both of us at the Venice Cafe. This was before I worked there. I was already out on the town and got so distracted with my adventures I never did go.

When Becky and I took up skydiving Ollie decided he wanted to try. We were a little worried he had a death wish. We also weren’t sure if Ollie was over the weight limit. He was very large at the time.

The day he showed up to jump, Becky and I went up with him. I remember his huge round body climbing out on the step of the Cessna. He stepped off hanging from the wing’s strut. We put him out at 3,000 feet. This is about as low as you can exit safely. Ollie looked straight ahead into the wind. He never looked back for the signal to let go. I don’t know if he was in an ecstatic state or if he wanted to drag the whole plane down killing all of us. He wouldn’t let go. By the time we were at 1700 feet we had the pilot jerk the aircraft to shake him off.

I was a million miles away in my alternate suburban, married universe when Ollie died.

Valerie was at the library and found "Pictures of People" a book of photos by a friend of ours William Stage. He used to do the Street Talk byline in The Riverfront Times. We still see him every year at Dennis’ New Year’s party. I didn’t even know this book existed. There are several friends of mine in it including an old girl friend. Pics of Ollie (hat) and Dennis are from it. The Cessna we're getting into is the one Ollie jumped from.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Women in Simple Black Frames




Soulard has several characters I want to write about. Johnny Rio (the sheriff off Soulard), Bob Burkhardt (the Mayor and creator of every bar in St. Louis), Zeno (the poet laureate), Ollie Matheus (How to describe Ollie?) and David Classe’ (resident artist) are all luminaries.

The first David Classe’ piece I was exposed to was a giant mosaic on the southern wall of the Broadway Oyster Bar’s beer garden. He spent a lot of time on it and I believe he was paid in alcohol.

It was the early 80’s and I was in the middle of my art fever. I tried to talk to Dave about it several times. It’s a primitive reconstruction of Botticelli’s Venus. It’s made from oyster shells, broken glass, and beer bottle caps.

The difference is a black woman standing on the side with her hands on her hips looking at the Venus. She’s a contrast to the uptight Venus who covers her breasts in embarrassment. I always thought that he used this piece to poke fun at western cultural repression in general. Dave said I was full of shit. I think he doesn’t want to have to explain himself. The piece speaks for itself.

Dave had a show in Soulard last Friday. There were a lot of beautiful pieces. There were several references to other famous paintings. The obvious were Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and Magritte. His most recent had photos of soldiers that died in Iraq. It looked like post war German Expressionist graffiti. That’s the picture I’m posting. It’s not the most beautiful piece but it’s my favorite.

I began to wonder if everything he did referenced some icon in art history. I asked him if everything at the show was based on some other piece. He said about half of them were.

The show was called Women in Simple Black Frames. He painted all the frames black. The poster for the show was a woman wearing sunglasses with women in the reflections of the black frames. He seemed to be pleased with himself when he pointed that out to my friend Sharon.

I’ve always wondered if Dave was really an intellectual. There seems to be a great deal of thought in all his work even when he just whipped it out.

We were at a party several years ago and he decided to paint the host’s shower curtain. I was jealous. I’d been trying to get one of his pieces for years. I even offered to trade him my car once. He really needed a car then too. My mistake was I asked for oils and he said he only worked in acrylics.

Dave used to live upstairs from the Downstreet Cafe. This place had the best beer garden in the city. He had an incredible art loft apartment with canvasses everywhere. One winter his mattress caught on fire. He didn’t have running water and had to throw it out the window.

I’m planning a St. Louis art blog and I’m sure Classe’ will be my first post. There are endless anecdotes about him and I’ll try to get to them all eventually. I hope I get a lot of comments about him. Some of my best friends know a lot more about him.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Poverty update

Man that post would be perfect for Reader's Digest. The boxed food was from ADC. This was before they issued food stamps. My mother wanted to point out we didn't go through the entire winters without heat. Boy it sure seemed like it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty


My friend Sharon just sent an email notifying me of Blog Action Day 08. Never heard of it but it appears to be a group of blogsters that converge on a topic. Today’s topic is poverty. I notice a lot of bloggers are trying to get at poverty’s root causes but I believe we get to stick to our own formats. Here goes------

I mentioned in an earlier post that my brother, mother and I spent a couple of years without heat. In 1969 when I was 11 we lived in an unincorporated suburb of St. Louis. My mother worked for the Human Development Corporation. They assisted low-income families. My mother was a single woman raising two boys and qualified for assistance herself.

She was furious that she was making a third of what men earned doing the same jobs. I’m not sure if this was the case at HDC but she wasn’t earning enough to support us. She would borrow money my brother and I made selling newspapers, then buy boxed macaroni to feed us.

We had an oil furnace that winter and couldn’t afford to fill it. We were so cold one night she took us across the street to visit an old couple. We didn’t know these people. They were horrified with our situation and lent us an electric blanket. For some reason we still had electricity. The three of us spent a lot of time in bed together.

In those days there were no food stamps. There was some religious organization that distributed food in boxes. I remember canned meat,powdered eggs and some kind of axle grease in a can called country butter.

I used to enjoy riding around the state in the back of a van with several other boys selling newspaper subscriptions. We saw a lot of people living in over heated homes tucked away from the cold wind swept streets.

Once our boss drove us down into the Missouri boot heel. These folks were really poverty stricken. Huge extended families gathered around potbelly stoves on dirt floors in tarpaper shacks. It was incredibly warm in there emotionally as well as physically. They all bought subscriptions from us too.

On our way back up the state the boys all looked around at each other. Our eyes began to tear. We were choking. I’ll never forget a small bald headed kid that laughed and said, “To you, your own fart smells sweet!”

That same year my brother and I decided to play hooky one day. We knew we were going to get caught but decided we’d live for the moment. As the day progressed it occurred to us that it was our mother’s birthday. What a lucky break!

We found her cookbook and discovered we had ingredients for a pound cake. We would tell her we stayed home to bake a cake.

When she got home that night she had a large box.

Some time earlier she had been speaking with nuns from a local convent. They asked her if there was any one thing that would make her happy. She told them the three of us loved music. She really wanted a Zenith Circle of Sound stereo so we could play our records.

That night we listened to Sgt. Pepper over and over as we ate pound cake. She told us for years that was her favorite birthday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rock Festivals


I was listening to KWMU’s local interview program that Don Marsh hosts last week. There’s a new book written by Steve Schankman and Dick Richmond. It’s the history of Contemporary Productions.

Contemporary was always The Enemy to me and Schankman and Irv Zuckerman were the big bosses. They took outdoor events to new levels of corporate control.

Richmond used to give my band favorable reviews in the 80s.

I never really blamed Schankman personally. I saw him as a carny. Money was his art. In the interview he confessed his crowning achievement was Pope John Paul II’s visit to St. Louis. His biggest disaster was the Axel Rose fiasco. If you’re not from St. Louis or don’t know Google it.

Corporate control of rock events goes against the very idea of rebellion. Just look at the Riverport dinosaur. No coolers allowed with alcohol. Draft beer is $8.00 and you have to rent lawn chairs if you want a lawn seat.

My first show was Joan Baez at Illinois’ Mississippi River Festival. What a great venue! I kept asking my mom what that strange smell was.

It used to be an outdoor festival was an instant counter culture city. A utopian existence defined by drug consumption and free love. We were young and thought we could keep our shit together. We couldn’t of course. Imagine a kid’s first apartment especially if they’ve never had to cook or clean up after themselves.

In 1974 three friends and I hitched to Camdenton, MO for a 3 day festival. I must have been 16. Imagine 4 tall long haired guys hitch hiking together. We had no trouble getting a ride. One of my friends had a father who owned a pharmacy. We had an endless supply of preludens. They were my favorite speed. I remember a loud thump as we stood on the highway. We turned to witness a huge dog spinning in the air. He had just been hit by a motorist. I imagined this was what a human would have sounded like.

I think Camdenton was a town of 2000 that we made swell to 20,000. There were no facilities, no drinking water and no food. We didn’t care much because we were speeding. The show was being held in a rodeo arena and we were herded through cattle stalls. It was appropriate. Young entrepreneurs were selling ice cubes. Wandering around the grounds at night people kept asking me if I’d seen Dave. “I’m Dave,” I told them. I learned this was how people sought LSD. The whole scene was total chaos. The only bands I remember were the 2 openers—Brownsville Station and The James Gang.

Years later my friends Annie, K and I went to a several day event at a place called The Armory. You could get in for canned food donations. Acid Rescue was always set up for kids that couldn’t handle their drugs. I still think this was incredibly humane.

We were tripping on something called Space Tabs. I have a feeling it was PCP. At one point we hitched back to Annie’s to steal a bottle of wine from her mother’s wine cellar. We didn’t have a cork screw so we brought an arrow we found in the basement.

We hitched back to the show. When we were finally exhausted we left. As we stood hitch hiking it began to snow. K still had the arrow in a pocket of her bib overalls. Annie and I watched as a laughing K opened her mouth wide and the arrow’s tip went up into her throat. The next stop was an emergency room.

I guess it was inevitable that society would clamp down on this kind of behavior. I miss it but have to confess I would never want my kids exposed to it.

Check out this list of banned Rock events:

http://www.classicbands.com/banned.html

I found the photo at flickr

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Consulting Spirits Update

One of the Wong brothers used to walk into the kitchen, tilt his head back, cover a nostril with a finger and shoot a snot rocket across the room into a garbage can. He never missed. This was a world class chef!

My brother was so impressed he practiced for years until he finally got it down. Let me tell you it takes years of practice before you hit your target consistently.

Consulting Spirits



Sometimes events in the universe seem to conspire. I got a message on my “My Space” from Sean Havey. Jim and Donna’s child on the photo from my “Breaking Up” post is an adult now. He invited us to meet up with him at the Venice Cafe.

I had my son Dylan. He’s a minor so we had to leave the bar before the band started. Dylan had been after me for a long time to take him inside. He’s heard a lot of stories. Uncle Bill would be working the door but hadn’t shown up yet. Bill’s wife Martha Rose was setting up her table out in the garden. She makes her living reading palms as Madame Rose. I told her I’d flash her card on my blog.

I was wondering what I’d write about this week. I was looking at the photo with my brother and me in the middle of the street in U. City. I was thinking about palmistry and it came to me.

I think it was 1973. I was 16 or 17 and still living with my mother. Pam, Dominic and I were working a Ouija board in my room.

We asked about Dominic at first. It kept telling us in different ways that Dom must never go to New Orleans. It said he would die at a Mardi Gras parade. It shook him up. He wouldn’t even go if the band had a gig there. He hasn’t been there to this day.

Pam was living with me at my mom’s but it was time to for us go. I had to get a job. I asked the board. It told us I had to go to Hi Fi Fo Fum immediately (a local high end stereo store). I blew it off. I’m not superstitious at all and figured we were subconsciously manipulating the board.

Later that afternoon I jumped into Wild Life, my Pontiac, and went out job hunting. I figured, what the hell, I’ll check out Hi Fi FO Fum. The manager told me he wished I’d been there a little earlier. He had a job I would’ve been perfect for but the position had just been filled.

Feeling a bit dejected I drove to U. City. There was a Chinese restaurant there call The Lantern House. I went in and was hired on the spot.

I ended up getting jobs there for my brother and my friend George. George said it was the worst job he ever had. They worked us to death. They had an incredible work ethic and no one spoke English.

I remember once they told me to go down to the basement and get a bag of rice. The bags were a hundred pounds. As I was struggling to drag it across the ground a small woman, maybe 4’2” and 80 years old named Miss Linn, told me to move over. She threw it over her shoulder and carried it upstairs for me.

We used to fill giant bowls with rice and water and skim floating weevils out. You’ve never lived until you’ve scoured the grease trap of an overhead industrial stove fan.

I was the only white person they let cook anything. I made the fried ice cream desserts.

The place was owned by 2 brothers named Ben Roth & Liong Q. Wong. They won several gold medals but they never cooked for the patrons. They would be so offended when someone ordered a hamburger that they would make me go across the street to DQ to buy one. Then they’d put it on their bread. It reminds me of when White Castle was built across the street from the Oyster Bar. Dennis would send me over to buy one of their burgers. He’d put an oyster in and sell it as “The Ultimate Slider”.

At the end of the night, when the Lantern House closed, the brothers would cook for us. The family and employees surrounded several huge round tables. Once they prepared carp someone caught. They loved it but I had trouble keeping it down. It was like overcooked eggplant that smelled like cat food. The building is now owned by the Fritz Root Beer company.

Anyway back to the cosmic events that would unfold leading me back to the Venice Cafe. I never did see Sean but I was able to give my son Dylan a tour. He’s 14 and after introducing him to everyone it occurred to me that we’d come full circle. The reason I left the bar 14 years ago was that I would come home drunk at 3:00am and stare with wonder at my new baby in his crib. It was time to move on.

Photo is Dom and Ben from the Ouija board era. Dom is doing his best Ian Anderson. This was in his mom’s basement where we learned how to be a band. Dominic shares Ian Anderson's birthday.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Politics


Valerie and I decided to stay home and watch the debates last night. Man, what a good excuse to get drunk! It’s funny how perceptions differ among folks. Your candidate always seems to come out ahead. I started thinking about my political experiences through the years.

I remember Nixon being sick during his debate with Kennedy. He refused makeup. Everyone watching on TV thought his sweating made him look untrustworthy. I read the radio audience thought he won the debate.

My first memory of TV was Ike’s bald head filling our little screen. I like to think it was the famous “Military Industrial Complex” speech. You could almost forgive him for Iran and backing the French in Viet Nam.

The next thing I remember on TV was John John saluting six white horses pulling his dad’s flag draped coffin down Connecticut Avenue.

I grew up hating Johnson for Viet Nam even though his “Great Society” agenda did so much for civil rights. I still appreciate Lady Bird’s flowers along the highway.

Nixon was always a crook. My mom was a lefty from way back. My dad voted for Nixon. He would later admit he’d made a mistake.

Dominic was still living in Laclede Town in 1972. St. Louis University was our playground. It was only 2 blocks away. There was a big McGovern rally. Dom and I helped clean up the mess. For helping they let us into a rock concert they were throwing later that night. I can’t remember if we were on stage or in the front row. (Dominic help me out here). It was Taj Mahal, Genya Revan, and It’s A Beautiful Day.

By the 1976 elections they changed the voting age and I was able to. I was convinced the youth of America would change the world. It seemed so obvious that the old farts just couldn’t get along. I was very idealistic and hadn’t yet been exposed to the Young Republicans.

I voted for Eugene McCarthy. He was the first Libertarian candidate, I believe. The Libertarians hadn’t drifted to the right yet. Our band played at a fund raiser for him. It was our first show as Earwacks. It was at the “Peanut Pool”. Any Laclede Town kid will know where this was. Our drummer and Dominic’s brother Ben got his famous silver tooth here as a child. He broke his tooth at the diving board.

Carter won that year. Tracey and I went down to the riverfront to see him. They played West Side Story. I found out that was his favorite music. He won me over immediately. Jimmy kept saying, “I wantcha all to hep me now, hep me now!” He had that great Georgia drawl.

Needless to say when I voted for him the next time around he lost. My vote had become the kiss of death. I didn’t vote for a winner until Clinton. I was almost proud of that fact. I had become so cynical about the American voting public by then.

I can’t even begin to go into all the damage Reagan did that we still suffer through.

Bush was former director of the C.I.A. which made him a criminal in my mind.

I wasn’t exactly happy with Clinton but by then I realized you had to pick the lesser of 2 evils. I’ll never forget Uncle Bill saying, “My president plays the sax!”

My cynicism is greater than ever. Don’t forget to check out my political blog. I will try to keep politics out of this one in the future.

Pic by Matt Oshea of Patrick and me the middle of University City. I owned U. City back then. I’m pointing at Wuxtry Records. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Political Blog

I didn't want to contaminate my life story or scare anyone away with politics so I started a separate blog for that. Check it out http://myviewsdrift.blogspot.com/

Jambox





My brother Patrick, Tony Patti and I lived together in a small Soulard apartment when we were teenagers. I had a fight with my brother once and I couldn’t figure out how his mind worked. He made absolutely no sense to me at times. Tony said something to me that I still think about. He told me my personality was already taken. Patrick had to come up with his own.

When I moved out Tony and Patrick regrouped in another apartment nearby. It was a twenty-four hour a day party. The place became know as "The Funk Lab". My band Earwacks was in full swing and they started one called Jambox. They turned rehearsal into a lifestyle. They never stopped. People would drift in and out. I remember radio personality John Carney jamming with them. It was total chaos but he had a great time.

The door was always wide open, even in the middle of the winter. When my dad died we got a little insurance money and bought P.A. systems for our respective bands. We had absolutely no discipline with money and went through it immediately. Patrick hooked his turntable directly into his P.A.. We had to hang out on the roof because of the volume. Of course if we’d have stayed in the room it would have skipped as you walked across the old bowing wooden floor. His poor dogs looked like they were developing a nervous condition.

Their band was filled with a youthful exuberance none of the rest of us could come close to. It was hard to listen to though. Tony was just learning guitar chords. Danny (Fojammi) found a 1920s drum set that was bigger than he was and became the drummer, reminiscent of the Bonzo Dog Band.

Danny eventually came to my band as a keyboard player. He was way ahead of his time as a synth programmer. He is also one the most gifted song writers I’ve ever met. Danny’s one major musical flaw is he has absolutely no sense of rhythm and he was their drummer.

My brother was the first of us to take up a musical instrument. He started playing violin in 4th grade. I was jealous and got my dad to let me use his cornet for school lessons.

By the time my brother was in a rock band he’d discovered large amplifiers and guitar stomp boxes. He ran his electric violin through a wah wah peddle that was always pushed down to the treble end. Your ears would bleed.

I remember I couldn’t do acid with him anymore because he couldn’t stop drinking. He should have died with the amount he consumed. It wasn’t fun anymore.

Tony sent me a link to his blog. He has Jambox recordings there and I hope he puts the comedy tapes on it. Some of them were almost brilliant. Check it out-- http://changemusicvarietyshow.blogspot.com/

One of the great things about Jambox was that Tony and Fojammi were 2 of St. Louis’ most creative graphic artists. They printed promotional comics and had the best fliers around. St. Louis was getting famous for band’s fliers in those days. We were all featured in the newspapers.

My pics are the Jambox 4 song EP. My vinyl copy is at my ex’s house so I used the CD. The pic on the CD is local appliance legend and funny man Steve Mizerany. They got Steve to pose for their back cover pic in front of several TVs that featured band members. Tony is upper left, Patrick is in the middle. Fojammi is obscured in silhouette below Tony. Joe Ramsey (Ricco DeBool) is lower right. Joe is one of the kids my brother and I lived with as our single moms tried to raise kids in a man’s world. Upper right and lower left are Sue and Josie. Both of them are old girl friends on mine and I’m still crazy about them. I’ll be doing posts on each of them in the future. Lower middle is Dice Mosely. He was actually one of my band’s roadies. And not to leave anyone out Tammy, the prettiest girl in the West End, is middle right. She was Ricco’s girlfriend. The girls were the back ground singers. They were called The Changels. The OuiOui twins were lurking around behind the scenes at the time too.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Veiled Prophet















In the mid 60s Laclede Town, a utopian social experiment, used to look forward to the Veiled Prophet parade. The parade would climax with a float that carried a robed, hooded character on a throne that was the Veiled Prophet himself. This was a big event in St. Louis.

It wasn’t lost on us, even as kids, the guy looked like a clansman. He even held a pistol and a shotgun. Later we would learn that the business elite that threw the party had ties to the John Birch Society. As late as 1987 they would close The Eads Bridge so the black element couldn’t ruin their parade.

In Laclede Town we were very active in the struggle for civil rights. Percy Green climbed The Arch as it was being built to protest the absence of black workers. He was a key member of C.O.R.E. and later ACTION. I remember people thinking he was a militant whitey hater. He would dress in fatigues and wear a red beret. He was as sweet as he could be to us kids. Dick Gregory’s brother and sister were our neighbors too. Gregory was always coming to Laclede Town.

We ended up having a Black Veiled Prophet parade. It was just another parade for us and we loved it.

In those days the 4th of July fireworks were at a ball field at the bottom of “The Hill”. I had almost forgotten that back then it was called “Dago Hill”, St. Louis’ Italian neighborhood. Joe Garagiola and Yogi Berra would always MC the party.

I’m not sure why the event moved, but it was taken to Washington University and eventually taken over by the Veiled Prophet people. The first VP Fair I remember was the bicentennial of 1976 under The Arch.

I think the organizers were aware of the bad reputation of the Veiled Prophet so they changed the name to VP. Kind of like KFC trying to get rid of any reference to fried food. Now they call the event “Fair St. Louis”. You’d never know the link if you weren’t from around here.

I played trumpet in the Southwest High School marching band in the early 70s. We were pretty good. We were always in the Veiled Prophet Parade. We played “When you say Bud”. I found it strange that our school band was playing a beer commercial. They must have donated money. The parade was always on a very cold day. I think my lips stuck to my mouthpiece once.

Photos are from my high school yearbook in ’72. I thought I was a hippy with my Prince Valiant haircut. On the band’s bus we used to put dry ice in the bell of a sousaphone. It made the most beautiful eerie moaning sound. Other pic is a more recent Percy. I couldn’t find one when he looked like a Black Panther.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Breaking Up update

Sharon has told me several times to keep my posts short. It makes them more readable. I think if I wasn’t paying attention each entry could fill a small book. There are a few things I’d like to add to the last post.

Last weekend was Labor Day and I was ready to spend all three days in the studio getting down to business. Saturday evening Rib Tip and Ben’s band were playing at Lafayette Park. The Havey’s came into town. Valerie and I met up with them and Sharon at the park. Afterward a friend of Jim’s talked us into going to a Karaoke bar on south Broadway.

The Haveys decided to stay with us. I spent all of the next day nursing a serious hangover and sharing old stories. I wish I would have recorded our conversation. Jim has enough material to fill several books.

I never stepped foot in the studio last weekend.

The photo I used was us posing in front of a mural of Bix. Davenport was his home town. Bix was to my dad, what John Lennon or Eno is to me.

Breaking Up


July of 1990 we took the last Oyster Bar road trip to the Davenport Blue Festival. Dennis and DJ had split up and the bar had a new owner. Sharon, Joanie, and I had been offered DJs half. I remember sitting in a diner on south Grand as they made their proposition. I never said it out loud but I had absolutely no interest. I knew better than to own a business with a girl friend. I mean, look at Dennis and DJ. Joanie now owns two restaurants that are doing well.

The road trip was a blast. A lot of friends of ours played the festival. Taj Mahal, Marsha Ball and several people we loved played a few feet from us. It was a very intimate setting.

We took over a hotel out in the middle of nowhere. Everyone seemed to have kids all of a sudden. I’m not sure who watched them, but we partied pretty hard every night.

Everyone remembers the Oyster Bar going downhill at this point. To be fair we still had a lot of great experiences.

When the film White Palace was finished shooting the producer bought the bar a six month Sunday and 3:00 license so they could throw a private wrap party for the cast. The set department built a tent over the beer garden with heaters. It was the middle of winter. It later became a permanent fixture.

I worked the outside bar and was totally alone until a crew member came out and partied with me. We found the private, expensive booze stash and got lit. I hadn’t seen Sex, Lies and Videotape yet so I had no idea it was James Spader. Someone had given Susan Sarandon a kitten and she stood in the doorway stroking her pussy all night (so to speak).

The cast wouldn’t leave at 3:00 and a big fight broke out. Our door man Jim Havey thought a threat was directed at Joanie. He was about to do bodily harm to the movie’s producer until he found out the threat was directed at Ed, our new owner.

The bar would close December 31 totally decked out for the New Year’s party. The decorations stayed up and ready to go for over a year.

Anyway this was around the time I broke up with Joanie. I had just started skydiving. I was running around with my new drinking buddy Margaret Bianchetta. Margaret, Steve Martin and I were recording an album that was never finished. Margaret came up with the great name MSD (Margaret, Steve and Dave) for our band. In St. Louis MSD stands for Metropolitan Sewer District.

Quantum Leap, the canopy relative work team, had an extra slot in the plane they were training from. They invited me to spend the day jumping with them down in Sparta, Il. They ended up winning the Nationals that year. One of my landings didn’t go well. My altimeter slammed into my chest and it seemed I had broken a rib or two.

I wasn’t sure if my insurance covered skydiving so I told the doctor I fell down my porch stairs. She said I needed to cut back on my drinking as she taped my ribs.

Joanie and I had already split and I was seeing a girl named Cheri. Joanie came to my apartment. She found out I’d slept with her. Joanie punched me in the ribs and I slumped to the ground. She remembered the state of my ribs and began to cry. The pictures finally came back and it turned out my ribs were only badly bruised.

Later I tried to get her back but she would have nothing to do with me. I learned an expression that was already well known in St. Louis, “You don’t fuck with a Thomas!”

The photo at Davenport shows Sharon, Becky with Cy, Jim and Donna Havey with Sean. You can tell something’s coming between Joanie and me. I’m on the left and she’s in the middle, far away from me. Joanie’s getting married this October.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

70s Post Script

I should have called the post “Music in the 70s” because I have a lot more to say. A lot happened then.

I mentioned that I love people separately and thought I should post an example.

I live in Benton Park. It’s a neighborhood that is becoming gentrified. It’s not as bad as Soulard. I can still afford to live here.

Every morning I explore the surrounding neighborhoods on my Roller Blades. There’s a lot of poverty still around here. There's also a lot of beautiful architecture.

Recently I was skating in an area a little south of me. I was at the eastern end of Chippewa where the character in “The Exorcist” lived. The area is almost blighted.

A frail old woman who must have been in her eighties was taking her rottweiler for his morning walk. The woman was almost running as the excited dog dragged her down the street. He was wearing a bow tie.

The 70s






















My friends and I were born at an interesting time, at the end of the Baby Boom and the cusp of Generation X. I am a product of The Beatles and old Dylan. People just a little older than me are forever trapped in that era. People just a little younger than me will never get it.

My high school anthem was The Who’s Quadrophenia. Dominic and I wore trench coats with a male symbol on the back.

Everyone seems to remember the 70s as the worst time for music and popular culture in general. The airwaves were filled with Elton John’s plastic period and then disco. Everyone was doing cocaine which to my mind is the biggest self centered asshole state of mind there is. I should know, I had a little problem with it myself in the 80s. Rock and Roll was dominated with the corporate bloat of bands like Journey and Styx. Bands factored cocaine into their expenses when they toured. This eventually led to no brown M&Ms.

Underneath all of this was the most creative, diverse period music has ever been through. Miles Davis paving the way for The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Captain Beefheart, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Sly Stone, Funkadelic, Gong, Leo Kotke, Cat Stevens, King Crimson, Mcdonald and Giles, Todd Rundgren’s best stuff, the Bonzo Dog Band, Roger Ruskin Spear, and I feel sorry for people who only know Jethro Tull by the album Aqualung. Most of these people inspired separate sub-genres that were terrible. Jazz Rock Fusion, Disco, the New Romantics, and New Age come to mind.

A side note about New Age music. My band “Delay Tactics” was courted both by Verve Records who was looking to start an ambient catalogue of their own and Windham Hill. Windham Hill was the big New Age label at the time. They suggested we tone it down. We had a suggestion for them. Here I sit still without a label. Oh well! If you don’t have an attitude when you’re young, you’re not taking advantage of your youth.

When Punk, followed by New Wave came around in the late 70s a lot of my friends were a puzzled. We were a little older than the adherents. I was so disillusioned by the dinosaur the industry had become, I reveled in the kick in the ass they were getting. It was funny watching all the knock-offs that came out as they tried to penetrate the market. You could feel the stress from our local Classic Rock station KSHE as they put the movement down. They never got it but of course by this time they were tools of the industry.

I remember my old girl friend Jill confessing to me she thought Devo was a comedy act. She had always been so open minded. She loved Captain Beefheart for crying out loud! We talked about what “Duty Now for the Future” actually meant. Even though a lot of the music was derivative of earlier 60s music, it was a reaction to the pompousness of the industry. It was a real revolution for people like me.

There were moments that were painful though. “Fuck Art, Let’s Dance!” and “Back to mono!” were necessary attitudes for the youngsters but it left a lot of cultural evolution lying in the dust. I had to just get over myself.

People individually are the most beautiful part of living. People together are a mob and should be feared and run away from. Witness two terms of this recent insanity, it’s not George’s fault, that’s who he is. It’s the fault of the majority, no matter how small, that voted him in. “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

Man I miss Walt Kelly.

70s pic of me serenading Lora. 80s pic is the back cover of the 2nd Delay Tactics record. I have the cigarette. This pic was from a session with the photographer I’ve been talking about in the Monica posts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monica Update



I came home from the studio last night ready to crawl under a rock and die. As I was shutting down I checked my email and found the letter from Monica. I was afraid I’d done serious damage to our relationship with my entry about her.

I printed my retraction and braced myself for a confrontation on the phone. I never would have slept last night if I hadn’t.

Her tone put me at ease immediately. We had a great talk. I hadn’t spoken with her since the early 90s.

The only thing she was really upset about was the remark about Bad Company being racist. Not a remark I would have made flippantly. Where did I hear that?

I didn’t realize the photographer that called me a wimpy white boy was Asian so it was an Asian girl at Faces that night after all.

I told Monica about my weird detour into skydiving and she told me about a crash she’d been in. She was flying over the Alps in a chartered plane with Deep Purple. She thought they hit serious turbulence when the plane started to pitch. Suddenly half the cabin was on fire. People were screaming until they hit some kind of plateau. All of a sudden everyone was silent. She said it took the police forever to get people off the plane.

She sent several photos including her home in L.A..

She was attacked by a couple of young gangbangers. I can’t remember what she called them but it explained the drugged state they were in. They crushed her ankles and knees as she pleaded with them not to shoot her. She had to have plastic knees surgically implanted. She was amazed by how far the technology has come in re constructive surgery.

We talked about music and she’s got me worked up about finishing my CD.

The photo was taken a year ago by the same photographer I’ve been talking about. This was after they put her legs back together.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Retraction

A good friend of mine told me I should change the names in my stories to avoid hurting anyone. I haven’t written a lot of stories for that very reason. I wanted the facts to be accurate when I was gone.

I’m beginning to reconsider.

Monica wrote me and I got a lot of facts wrong. She was very upset and I don’t blame her.

The most important in my opinion was the band Bad Company. I said they were racist and didn’t treat her well. I don’t know why I thought she said that or where I heard it. She says they’re friends and great guys. They don’t deserve my characterization. She married Steve Price from the band and they’re still good friends.

The wimpy white boy remark came from a talented St. Louis photographer I’ve actually done a session with. She must have been at Faces that night and I must have just seen Monica talking to the Asian girl. I am sad that the photographer found me wimpy, I loved her work.

The remark about Jeff hiring me because I’d slept with Monica was a joke on Jeff’s part and I naively thought it was flattering to her and me.

Last but not least Monica is only 5’10”--- It must have been the pumps.

If I’d used made up names I never would’ve gotten the truth. I’ve been trying to find Monica for ages and now I have her phone #

I’m calling her now

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Apartment














Kim and I lived with Steve Martin in Soulard while she was pregnant. It was clear this was a bad arrangement. It was a 24hr a day parade of musicians in an out of the studio. Kim was used to a more stable, suburban environment. She’d sink into extreme bouts of depression concerning our new child’s environment.

My friend and skydiving buddy Tom told us we could move in down stairs from him. He had a 2 family flat even farther south in the city. Everything seemed to be falling into place.

We moved in, friends came to visit, and all was well with the world. Tom always had beer in the fridge for me. When I couldn’t pay rent he’d have me paint one of his rental properties or the trim around the top of our building.

My friend Nancy came to visit once and told me how happy she was that I was living the dream. Dream sounded a little funny coming from someone that was bragging about a dominatrix sexual experience she had just had on an elevator downtown. Man I miss her.

Dylan was born and I became a house husband. The two of us would hang out upstairs on Tom’s porch until Kim came home from work. Dylan even had his own miniature porch chair. Eventually Chloe was born.

One St. Patrick’s Day Kim and I were meeting friends of hers at West Port. As we were going in to The Train Wreck Saloon we got news someone had broken into our apartment. We went home immediately.

A pillow case was missing along with all my import CDs. All the fun electronics were missing as well as Kim’s jewelry. This included her wedding ring and her father’s high school ring. In retrospect I find it funny she was wearing the engagement ring that took a year and a half to pay off but not the inexpensive wedding ring.

Our home was robbed two more times after that and Kim said, “I’m moving back to the county.”

We lived in her folk’s rehabbed basement for a month. My spirits became very low.

While we were there Tom put in an alarm system. Kim agreed to move back if we could get a dog. We returned to find a large brass door knocker that read, “The Udells.”

Tom and I finished putting in the alarm system. We tripped something that had the apartment flooded with cops wielding guns.

Kim found a dog at the shelter that was one day from being destroyed. I had always wanted a dog named Fido. Fido must be the male spelling. The paperwork spelled it Pheideaux. Somehow this didn’t stick and she became Sheba.

Kim never liked the dog. It threw up a lot. We were in the apartment less than a year with her. We moved to the county where the dog almost immediately disappeared. Kim’s dad took the dog to some magical place where dogs ran free while I was away. Tom’s next door neighbors wanted her but she was nowhere to be found. I lost respect for both Kim and her father over this. I realized later they were capable of throwing away family members without conscience.

Pictured are Tom, Dylan rehearsing, and Dylan with Sheba. He still misses her.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Valerie's Research


Two years ago Valerie surprised me with a copy of my first LP “Distances” as a Christmas present. She found it on Ebay. The seller, who lived in L.A., wanted to know more about the buyer and why she even wanted it. They exchanged personal info about me in their correspondence. The seller was Dan Holt, my old buddy from Wuxtry Records.

When I opened the present I didn’t have the heart to tell her I still had a thousand copies of it in Steve Martin’s basement.

Dan sent extra stuff with the record including a DVD of the film “Docta Ignarantia.” I played a small part in it.

The movie starred a friend of ours named Mark Secunda. Mark was schizophrenic and committed suicide 20 years ago. A lot of people misinterpreted his behavior as comical. He was even beginning to enjoy success at the Funny Bone comedy club.

I remember one evening in the 80s when I was bartending at the Oyster Bar he came to visit. We were both interested in juggling at he’d just progressed to 7 objects. We stood at opposite ends of the dining room juggling across the customers as he attempted to teach me how to do it. He terrified everyone when he started throwing knives.

Video was relatively new in the late 70s when I worked at Wuxtry. Mark, Dan and I would videotape shows adding our own sound track. They were hysterical and I think Dan still has them.

Dan turned me on the great sound track composers. I still listen to Ennio Morricone, Bernard Hermann and John Barry. When Alfred Hitchcock made “Torn Curtain” he started with a Bernard Hermann sound track. Studio heads thought it was too intense and it was replaced. Dan found a recording of Hermann’s version and edited it back in. He was always a purist.

It just goes to show how easily my mind wanders. This entry is really about Valerie’s luck with research.

She was searching YouTube for St. Louis music and came across a TV show my band Delay Tactics did circa 1980-1982. The show was called “Sound Waves” and this one featured us.

I had totally forgotten about it. The music is pretty chopped up but you can still get a sense of how young we were in the interview. I believe I was 22 and already had it all figured out. One day I’ll collect all the old TV and film footage for a YouTube page.

While I’m at it, my friend Red sent me a poster advertising the 20th anniversary of The Venice Cafe. Jeff Lockheed and Paul Cuba are in the photo. It’s the weekend of August 29. It’s the pic I’m using for this post.

Check out these links-----

Sound Waves with Delay tactics

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNIFHzbZRb8&feature

Docta Ignarantia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig_lFieseG0&feature=related

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Blog List

I've started a blog list of my dear friends. 2 more have come to my attention. Sharon's is "Dreaming Aloud Allowed". It features her art and thoughts. Dominic's is "Elsewhere"-- melancholy and nostalgic-- right up my alley. Check 'em out.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Everyone's First Car


My first car was an old, black Pontiac station wagon with a red interior. I was 16 when I bought it for $200.00. I lived in that car, finally freed from the constraints of hitch hiking.

If you ever drive by the intersection of Tucker and Gravois in Soulard you’ll see an old service station that someone has turned into a beautiful garden. It used to be a used car lot.

Gas was .29 a gallon at Bob Riegle’s Texas Discount gas. Cigarettes were .35 a pack. I sound like an old fart don’t I? “Why, when I was your age!”

We did a lot of drugs and cruised up and down Gravois. We found all the secret ways past the flood walls where we could party ‘til sunrise on the riverfront. I never really started drinking until I was well into my 20s.

There was one major exception. My best friend Lora and I would occasionally buy a bottle of Annie Green Springs Apple or Boone's Farm Strawberry wine. We'd have a marathon session in front of a blasting stereo. I've never had a drunk as good as that since. I guess that's the high I keep trying to relive.

We’d have to drive to the East Side where drinking laws were a little more lax to get it.

Lora and I were lovers off and on for years. In our hearts we were always best friends. She taught me a lot. Maybe I should say we learned a lot together. She was surprised when I told her I was marrying Kim because we were lovers at that moment. She came to the wedding though.

When I was 16 we had no idea you were supposed to change your oil every now and then. It was unnecessary anyway. My car burned so much you just added a quart every other day.

One of my hitch hiking trips to the East Coast with Dominic I lent the car to my brother. I don’t think he was legally old enough to drive it. I gave him explicit instructions to check the oil every day. He didn’t and it threw a rod. Some junk yard gave me $20.00 to tow it away. I watched a chapter of my life being towed away.

Tony Patti and I bought a car together after that. I remember what it looked like but I can’t remember where we found it.

When Marie dragged me away I sold my half to Tony. He gave me a carton of cigarettes for it. He couldn’t even drive yet. He lent it to my mother. It exploded and the engine caught on fire in the local supermarket parking lot.

I almost forgot to mention I named the Pontiac "Wild Life" after the Captain Beefheart song.