Saturday, September 27, 2008


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


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--

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.