Sunday, October 23, 2011

Earwacks in Lights

I just spent the last 2 days trying to get to my AVI files I had transferred to an external hard drive Dominic lent me. My PC just could'nt see the drive.
It seemed hundreds of people had the same symptom, but no one's fix did the trick. It had been formatted for Mac but the company that did the transfer said they reformatted it.
I decided to re-install the driver from the drive's web site. They had a download that said, "if you want your PC to recognize your drive, download this." It worked!
Here's an ad from our first single.
When we released our first single "Lauren Garbo" in 1979, either Tracy or Fojammi got The Jefferson Gravois Bank to put it on their marquee. I started my first checking account there when I was a teenager.
When I visited Tracy in the Rockies a few years back, he showed me the first check I ever wrote. It was to him for $1,000,000.00. I wonder why he never cashed it.
This is looking up Gravois toward downtown. In those days a row of street lights went over Gravois every 100 feet. The lanes were reversible. Somehow all the lights made Gravois look more intimidating.
The soundtrack is from that recording and it was engineered by the legendary Oliver Sain.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just an Afterthought

I’ve been feeling guilty about my blogs being just an after thought the last few weeks. I’m in the middle of restoring my old films, working on the Wax Theatricks Live video, recording a new Wax album, and remixing and cleaning up the soundtrack to the video.

To be honest, the films have been the most fun. I’ve gotten a bunch of new audio forensic software to try and make out the words so I can redub the audio. I’m using the same software the FBI uses and I still can’t make out about 20% of it.

I’ve been finding bits and pieces of it in my old notebooks from the 70s. As I’m going through this stuff, I find about 75% of it is embarrassing and self-conscious. The rest is good enough to publish if I could find a market for this crazy sh#t. It would definitely take a little work on the part of the reader, but most of it’s pretty funny.

I took most of my films to a place in Soulard called TVPro to transfer to DVD. They’re cheap and professional.

It took a couple of weeks, but they finally finished it. They owner stayed late last Friday, so I could pick it up after work. Man was I excited! He handed me a huge reel and said he put the films all together on it. My first thought was, “I’ve never seen a Super 8 projector that could handle a reel that large.” Then I thought, “Oh well, at least I have the digital copy!”

Then he smiled, and looking very pleased with himself he said, “Some of your film was upside down, so I flipped it digitally.” I held back a scream because I could see he really thought he went the extra mile for me.

I spent a lot of time coming up with special effects for my films. Most of my astronomical $400.00 budget for my Cages film was renting a smoke machine and strobe lights.

I told the guy the film wasn’t upside down, it was backwards. I was very proud of the fact that I was able to figure out if you turn the camera upside down and shoot your footage, all you had to do was turn the developed film upside down, then flip the film so the sprocket holes were on the correct side. This would give you backwards motion. I figured this out in my head before I shot anything. It worked!

No matter how many times I explained it to him, he couldn’t get it. We finally came to the conclusion that I could re-reverse it digitally when I ripped the DVD to my computer.

There was one scene where I pluck flower petals out of the air, assemble it, and present the finished flower to my girlfriend Lora. Now all you see is me pulling the petals off while she has a surprised look on her face.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to correct all of this but ripping the DVD to my computer is taking forever. I started the process Saturday morning. Valerie and I went camping. When we got back it was only 49% done. It’s Monday morning now. I’m looking at it and it’s still only 76% done.

Speaking of Valerie, she hasn’t had a weekend away from my kids in months. The camping trip meant a lot to her. In spite of that, she could see I was getting antsy and wanted to get back to the studio. She let me cut the trip a little short so I could put in a couple of hours. I was able to finish a mix for Pleasure from Sadness for the video. It’s amazing how much sunnier life is when you accomplish something.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I was just thinking about R.E.M. quitting after all these years. I’ve seem ‘em several times and they’ve passed through my life in other ways too.

I worked at Wuxtry up until 1982. Michael Stipe and Peter Buck worked at our store in Athens, Georgia.

My boss Dan really liked them. He called them the new Southern Rock.

They were part of the cool underground scene, but I never really liked them until (Don't Go Back To) Rockville came out on their third record “Reckoning” in 1984. Man I loved that song! I was alone at the time and a song about a deserted lover in a shut-down steel mill town was perfect. I was still hurting from my girl friend Pam’s departure.

My friends Stephen Martin and Jon Rosen used to play it on a Monday night jam session they threw at 1860s Saloon in Soulard.

One night, after playing the song, the band went on break. My friend Mengesha and I went outside for the break. Soulard was still being rehabbed then. We were drunk and stupid and decided to climb scaffolding at a building under construction. With our cocktails in hand we stumbled up the street to a bar called The Great Grizzly Bear. We were about to walk in when the bouncer informed us there was a cover charge. A young band named Uncle Tupelo had just been signed and they were throwing a record release party.

We stayed outside and heckled the band. Now I love that band and every offshoot. If I’d only known!

Coincidentally their first three records were on the Rockville Records label.

Somewhere around this time my friends Sharon and Joanie and I went up to Hannibal, MO to see a Monkees reunion show. Sharon and I even rode the Clarksville sky lift and watched the last train come in.

After the show we went back to our hotel where I literally bumped into Mickey Dolenze who was also staying there.

Joanie’s young niece Kelly was always part of the hip crowd and we were invited to a big party in the middle of the woods. I think they were using a generator for electricity. We were in our mid twenties and totally out of place with this young crowd. I overheard a kid say, “Let’s get the old guy to buy more booze!” They were blasting nothing but R.E.M. from a P.A. system.

I saw R.E.M. a couple of times at places like the Kiel Opera House.

Years later, in the heart of my skydiving period, my team drove up from Sparta, IL to the Riverport Amphitheater to see them. Michael Stipe had just had some kind of surgery and was apologizing for a few weak moments. The show was incredible. Stipe’s lyrics were so complex he had to use a teleprompter to remember them.

My team was called Muffy and the Divers. Muffy was pretty enough that a group of Hooters girls told us we could get in for free and up close if we said we were from Kansas City. I played the bar manager. I was the oldest member of my team.

I think we saw The Cure that way too.

It’s been thirty years of watching that band go through life’s changes, I wish them well.

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Films

Just before the Wax Theatricks reunion show I went down into Steve Martin’s basement to see what vinyl I could recover. I stored our records down there when I lived with him, but it flooded and I gave them up for lost. Not only were there a lot of records in pretty good shape, but I found a lot of my old movies from the 70s.

In 1979 or 1980 my girlfriend Pam found an angel. She was able to hire actors, a theater, and fund a film I would make.

The play was called Cages and my budget was $400.00. Far and away the most I ever had to spend on a film. It had sound too.

The art director at Webster College personally raved about it. Somehow it got lost along with my other films. I began to call it my great, lost, pretentious art film. It was a lot better in my memory than it could ever live up to.

I had it digitized and began to work on it this weekend. To my great regret, the soundtrack is unusable. I have the best audio editing equipment there is and, after spending the entire weekend on it, I still can’t make out half the script.

Fortunately I saved all my notebooks and have retrieved about three quarters of it. I will overdub my part (a TV announcer) and have Valerie overdub Pam’s part. I’m sure this won’t make Pam happy but it’s the only way to save it. I call it “I Know Why They Caged the Singing Bird”.

I’ll put it on YouTube as soon as it’s finished. Meanwhile the others are being digitized right now.

I have one with Lora Steffen, one with Linda Freeland, and my epic, Beanie and Cecil Demille’s “Birth of Frustration.”

Frustration starred Paul Steffen playing the young Dominic. Filming came to an end when Paul died. I’m going to try to do something with it.

My first and longest film is still missing. I think it made its rounds to several parties and dissipated into the ether like so many of my memories from that period.

Since I don’t really have a blog this weekend I thought I would post a couple of my poems from the period.

My pea brain thoughts roll down the corridor and onto a tray lifted like my spirits on the 4th of July Come open my zipper and we’ll explore my vast and infinite resources

Trip the light, plan spastic tactics
Sodomizing firm and supple plastic romances
Close your eyes and get lost with Playtex Love Gloves
Crack your whip and slip the load unfolding all around you

Pic is from the film. The ghostly dancer in the background is Josie Christen.