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

Docta Ignarantia

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.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Negative Mohican

In the 70s my friends and I hitch hiked everywhere. When we were 14 or 15 Dom, Kent and I decided we’d go on a camping trip. We had no idea how to prepare for such a trip. We didn’t care.

Very early one morning we threw a little food and blankets into a back pack, ate a hit of STP, and left my Soulard apartment. We didn’t have a cent on us. Dom and I actually hitched to New York like this.

I’m not sure where we got the STP but it had been described as a “Businessman’s hallucinogen.” You tripped for 4 hours, then back to business. I remember a mild speedy effect but it didn’t matter we were tripping on youth.

Jethro Tull’s “Passion Play” had been out less than a week but we already knew it by heart. Every experience along the way was a scene from the album. Our first stop was Washington State Park and its main dirt road was the “Fulham Road.”

From the top of a hill we could see a perfectly cut path through trees. I think they were going to put up poles for some king of wires. We called it the negative Mohican. We laugh about it to this day. I guess you had to be there.

Our first night we found a sand bar in the middle of the river and slept under the stars. In the middle of the night we awoke to strange noises all around us. In silhouette, against the backdrop of glowing embers from our fire, we could make out a raccoon. One of us shined a flashlight into the dark. We were surrounded by hundreds of them. One of them was carrying our backpack. We ran up to it and it dropped our food only to grab it again. We threw rocks but the raccoons weren’t intimidated by anything. In desperation we lit rolls of toilet paper on fire and lobbed it at them. The next morning we inspected the damage and took inventory. We had a can opener and one can of peas left. We hit the road.

We made it to Elephant Rock Park and then the Johnson Shut Ins. I’m not sure how long we were there but at some point we decided we were starving. The three of us shared the can of peas.

I’ve been trying to remember for years where it was that we were picked up by a moon shiner from Arkansas. Dom says he wasn’t with me but I think it was our return from this trip. I think Dom was sleeping.

I had to throw this post together quickly because my son Dylan and I are leaving for a camping trip of our own. I didn’t tell him we were retracing the steps of that previous trip. Now I have all the latest gear and lots of camping trips under my belt. I wonder if he’ll ever suffer through his own learning experiences without the impediment of adult supervision

Photos are a very young Dominic and a camping trip with my kids.