Saturday, August 4, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Get off your butt and finish the project Tony.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Saturday, May 5, 2012
I almost forgot, speaking of Keyboard Magazine-------
In 1984, Keyboard gave my band, Delay Tactics, a rave review for the album Any Questions?. In particular, they loved my synth work on Hands On Fire. Keyboard is so prestigious that I was really flattered.
The problem was, Walt Whitney did the great syth work. I played the small hook melody. When they asked how I wanted to be credited, I said, "Just say synthesizer." I didn't want to build up my contribution because it seemed so small. Keyboard assumed I did it all. I guess it proves what Mies Van Der Rohe said----- Less is more!
Skin Stretched Taut as a Wire Between Moons
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Time really does seem to speed up as you get older. For me, it’s a mad dash to the finish line to finish all my projects. Danny didn’t quite make it, so his material gets added to mine.
To really hammer in the point, my little boy just turned 18. He’s a full grown man now.
It seems like last year I bent over his little red, newborn body and rubbed his wet head. My whole world had just changed.
When I think about how much my friends and I had been through by 18, I’m astounded. We had long since left our families behind, well on the way to making our mark on the world.
Two weeks ago Dylan, his mom and I went to Webster University for his orientation. I feel like I grew up on this campus. I didn’t recognize anything. The old buildings are just a façade, hiding a huge complex.
The recording studio looks amazing. It has “state of the art” everything. I’m trying to convince Dylan that’s it’s just a glorified version of my studio. Everything is computer based now. When I was there, we were deep into multi-track analog recording. For all the technology of the day, the sound was terrible. The kids kept tweaking parameters they had no business playing with.
Dominic told me Go Dog Go recorded their CD in the new studio and it was hell getting a decent sound out of it. I guess some things will never change.
After our visit at Webster, Dylan and I drove to Chicago. Our birthday present to him was a day at the Chicago Art Institute. He’s wanted to go for years after listening to my stories. There are so many iconic pieces there, you really feel like you’re surrounded by history’s great moments.
Danny and I have always had a love hate relationship with Facebook. Some of our closest friends seem to live there, forsaking actual human contact.
In his last days, Danny’s wife Laura was trying to explain his disdain for it to a friend. “I’m sure Danny would have loved it, if he weren’t too sick to use it,” she said. “No, no, he hated Facebook before that,” Laura insisted.
The great thing about FB is the good friends I’ve found that had been lost over the years. Not to mention, I can spread announcements.
When I got the idea to take Dylan to Chicago, I knew I could only do it on the cheap. I’ve been there many times, but most of my friends have moved away. I posted, “Does anyone still live in Chicago?” on FB, not thinking I’d get a response. I ended up getting a few responses. My friend Susie Nicholson posted, “What about Terry?”
Marion and Terry Boyd were a couple that used to be regulars of mine when I tended bar at the Broadway Oyster Bar. We discovered we were kindred spirits sharing our love of the same bands. The Oyster Bar was an incredible place for music in the 80s.
With Facebook, I learned Terry was an old Laclede Townie too.
I hadn’t seen them since the 80s, but I wrote Terry asking if we could stay with them for a weekend.
“Absolutely!” he said.
It turns out Marion and Terry are members of The Art Institute and The Field Museum. We didn’t have to pay to get into either place.
The four of us ran through the museums like kids in a candy store. It was so fun to be with people who share my love of art and science. Dylan loved every minute of it too.
It turns out Terry taught an art class at Webster. Reality seemed to crystallize into the inevitable.
The knowledge we shared about artists and movements went on and on, but the Field Museum was the real surprise. The first thing you see when you walk in is the skeleton of Sue, the world’s largest T Rex. I had read 2 books about her and felt I was in the presence of a movie star. The museum also had the hundred year old, taxidermied remains of two lions that terrified South Africa. They found a cave with their collection of human remains. A whole train was filled with Great White hunters. When they were killed, rugs were made on their skins. By the time they put them back together for display, they were much smaller. I had read all about them with fascination.
We spent one evening watching home movies on YouTube with Marion’s sister and the inevitable Chicago pizza.
We also visited my dad’s old buddy Bob Koester. He’s a Chicago music luminary. Dylan wants to learn everything he can about my dad. He wasn’t disappointed with Bob’s stories. Dylan was also impressed by the fact that Iggy Pop had once lived in Bob’s basement. There was a T-Shirt in Bob’s record store signed by Iggy that said, “The most generous guy I know!” Iggy said Koester was always attacking him in his autobiography I Need More.
We left Marion and Terry from The Field Museum on Sunday afternoon. Marion actually cried.
I’m going back with Valerie. I’m also going back with my daughter Chloe. She loves dinosaurs.
I took the pic of Marion, Terry and Dylan with my phone at The Field Museum.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
I knew something was up when I saw several people hanging around the front door. I asked why they were out there, but I knew the answer. There was no reason to be inside now. My brother, Danny Stefacek, had finally died in the middle of the night.
I walked in and found his wife Laura. She took me upstairs to see Danny who was in her bed. He had been in his own room through most of the ordeal. He had gotten so small, even his smallest daughter could have carried him there.
Danny’s eyes were open. I kissed his cold forehead and told Laura, “neither one of us was very emotional.” We both almost cried.
I had been planning what I was going to post for the last year and a half, but when it finally happened the wind was totally out of my sails. I’m having trouble talking about it now.
There were many Facebook entries about it and for some reason it made me a little angry. I felt like FB should have shut down in his memory. I know everyone loved him and felt compelled to share it. Maybe I just didn’t want to see his death confirmed.
About a month ago Danny had finally gotten fed up with the needles in his arm and pulled them out. It was a turning point. The hospice nurse said his body was already in the process of shutting down and he could only last a few days. Laura came the closest I’ve seen to crying.
Danny’s sister took me up to his room to see him. His face was barely exposed under the blankets. He said something I didn’t understand. I asked, “What?” His sister said, “He said he loved you.” I knew he did, but my mind wouldn’t let me process it.
I wanted to talk about the adventures and trouble we’d gotten into over the years, but I can’t. Every morning I start the day thinking, “Danny isn’t seeing this.”
Danny was incredibly lucky to have found Laura. I can’t begin to describe her sacrifice and devotion. It’s truly humbling.
Our last adventure was the Wax Theatricks Reunion. Tony Patti video taped it, and I’m assembling it right now. Danny had already produced about four songs and I’m picking up the project from there. It’s going well and I hope we have a party for its release.
Our original intention was to use it to promote a prog rock tour in Germany. There seems to be a market for it right now.
I was getting excited about being in a band again. So was Danny. I can’t believe we let all those years slip away.
Danny was the best song writer I’ve ever known. My son has been discovering his lyrics on the Name Magic LP. It was really a Wax Theatricks record, but we were breaking up at the time. Danny even described it as the sister record of the last Wax LP.
Danny left behind a huge body of work including graphics, literature and music.
I was able to get him to lay down piano tracks for unfinished Wax Theatricks songs. I hope we can finish them.
He was in the middle of 2 CDs. Tony got him to lay out the order of the songs and even found the lyrics on Danny’s laptop. I couldn’t believe the luck. Danny had already recorded the music tracks and he had a habit of incorporating the melodies in his piano parts. I thought this would be a cinch!
Danny’s studio is still up and it feels like his specter is in the room. His laptop was on and in the middle of the room.
Someone has stolen his laptop. I can’t tell you what a personal tragedy this is. He labored over his lyrics more than anything else. I found 2 songs printed out and he’d finished his voice work on one of the songs. I’m going to search his other computers, but Laura assures me they were all on the laptop.
I’m going to do my best to finish the recordings and start web sites for his art and prose. He was incredibly gifted and his work should be out there!
When he pulled the needle from his arm he was supposed to only last a couple of days. He lasted two weeks. His blood pressure was 120 over 60. He had the heart of a teenager. He had the heart of a lion!
He donated his body to St. Louis University Hospital. He insisted there be no funeral. Unfortunately the chemotherapy rendered all but his retinas useless for transplant.
Our friend Dan Holt posted his film Doctor Ignarantia on YouTube. It was made in 1982. Danny and I play Ignatz’s friends who freeload and steal his beer and food. We’re also in the dream sequence. My friend Sharon pointed out how great it was to hear Danny laugh. We were 23 or 24. We’re about 8 minutes into the film.
Check it out-------
Everyone’s been thinking about what would be a fitting tribute. I intend to get his work out there which should speak for itself.
I would like to propose “Perform a random act of kindness for Fojammi” in whatever way works for you. Danny would not have approved of anything that caused stress.
Something small and beautiful------ like Danny.
Pics are----Danny's original referee profile pic for the St. Louis Arch Rivals---- Wax Theatricks plays Webster College Halloween '81 or '82---- the back cover of our last LP---- Danny's groomsmen at Graham Chapel-Wasington University. I think this was late '80s. Check out the flare bottom tuxes. Left to right---- Tracy Wynkoop, Dominic Schaeffer, Jimmy Voss, Fojammi, 2 guys I don't know (one of which is Laura's brother), and me---- Fojammi, Joanie Thomas, Stephen Martin and me circa 1985.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Eighteen years ago this past Friday, I hunched over a small table in a dark room, rubbing the head of a small, wet, bloody creature that changed my whole world. It seems like last month.
Dylan and I are going to Chicago next Friday. He’s always wanted to visit the Art Institute.
Most of my friends who lived there moved away years ago. I’m not really a big fan of Facebook, but there’s no arguing its good points. I’ve found friends I haven’t communicated with in years.
I simply posted, “who still lives in Chicago?” on the wall and got a lot of responses.
Dylan and I will be staying with my old buddies, Terry and Marion Boyd. (Thanks Suzy!)
The first time I went to Chicago was for my 8th grade graduation. I sat on the bus with my friend Ronald. At about 3:00 in the morning he pulled out a shaving kit (like he shaved!). He produced a can of warm beer which exploded upon opening. I thought we were going to be busted for sure.
My old girlfriend Pam used to argue this point with me, but Lake Michigan was my first experience of the ocean. The water’s horizon stretched across the whole skyline and was over my head. I fell backwards on the beach thinking the water would come crashing over my head.
Our class spent most of the day at the Museum of Science and Industry. It had taken on mythical proportions in my mind because I remembered stories my dad told me about the captured German U- Boat.
The submarine lived up to my wildest expectations!
My son has those same expectations of the Art Institute from my stories.
I’m pretty sure Terry worked at the local store in Laclede Town where I spent 8th grade, though I didn’t know it at the time. I got to know Terry years later when I tended bar at the Broadway Oyster Bar. His wife Marion invited my girlfriend Joanie and me for dinner because she wanted to test her cooking prowess on a couple of vegetarians. I remember we had black bean chili.
It seems like every time I’ve been to Chicago as an adult I looked up my dad’s old buddy Bob Koester. He a big deal record producer up there and he’s always been good for a great time. I’m sure I’ve posted about him earlier. He started in St. Louis with Delmar Records.
By the time I was 18, I’d already gotten into most of my trouble. Maybe Dylan skated past all that.
I can only hope!
Pics are my 8th grade graduation class and the card Valerie made for Dylan this year.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
I finally got an acoustic guitar I’d been waiting for this week. It took 2 months of shopping to settle on it. It ain’t easy finding a $500.00 guitar that’s worth recording.
There are a lot of cheap guitars that play well. Seagull, Simon & Patrick and Alvarez really stood out, but they all used composite woods that just didn’t really have the tone. For that matter, even Martin makes a cheap composite.
Epiphone makes a dreadnaught with a solid mahogany body, spruce top, and rosewood fret board for $500.00. I did something I swore I’d never do; I ordered one from Guitar Center. These supermarkets cater to parents who want t o spend a fortune on their kids, but have no idea how to do the necessary research.
I didn’t want to buy one on EBay because I wanted to play it first. Sure enough the strings buzzed when I ran through a few scales. I had their tech adjust the neck and all is well. The D string is a hair flat at the 12th fret, if anyone knows how I can adjust this, please comment! I think it’s only noticeable with a strobe tuner though.
My search began when I transferred my old 8mm films to digital. I found footage I took of my girlfriend Lora in the 70s.
Last year when we did the Wax Theatricks reunion, I dedicated the song Conversations to her. After the show Dominic told me he didn’t know I’d written it for her. Fojammi jumped in, “He sure did!” Danny was there during that whole period.
At that time, Danny, Dom and I were taking trips out to Sullivan to visit. She was dying.
The great thing was, we all had a chance to tell her how much we loved her. I just went through that experience with Danny, but Danny said it first.
Last fall we had a service for Lora in Forest Park. My friend Kay gave me 2 books I’d made for Lora as birthday presents. I posted The Oddity earlier and uploaded a flip book that ran through it on YouTube.
In the back of the book were the lyrics to Conversations. There are a few differences from the version the band did that were interesting. We recorded it for our last LP, but it was too fast. The band had a very excitable chemistry. Sometimes we wouldn’t even notice how fast we were playing. The performance was great though.
We’re thinking about rerecording it, if we do a studio CD. I’m in the process of recording a personal version for the film. That’s where the guitar comes in. I wasn’t happy with my guitar, I borrowed Danny’s daughter’s guitar, and I even borrowed my son’s Alvarez. Nothing worked!
My plan today is to finish the song. Tony Patti has agreed to help me finish the video. Danny was going to, but he’s dealing with other things at the moment.
Pic of Lora by Matt O'Shea
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Last night Valerie and I drove out to Old Town St. Charles to go to a surprise party for my old boss at Quantum Leap Skydiving. I was swept back into a family I had almost forgotten about.
There’s a Quantum Leap FaceBook group. The pictures everyone posts are from back in the day. In my mind, everyone still looks that young. In person, I almost didn’t recognize a few dear friends.
I’m constantly amazed by how much can change in a few short years. From 1990 to 1993 my life was a total adventure. There was never time to look back. In 1993 I got married and my whole skydiving world changed.
I remember being invited to a hot tub party by a couple I was jumping with. It didn’t occur to me I couldn’t bring my infant son. Looking back, I’m embarrassed by how incensed I was.
I think the best way to illustrate the effect is to look at how much the Beatles changed from 1965 to 1967.
Right now my friends and I are facing a lot of looking back. We’re asking ourselves if our lives meant anything really. Some of us are gone and some of us are going. The important thing is we’re still there for each other. Maybe this will pass and we’ll start looking ahead again, the next round.
Something in me feels guilty for living on. I almost want the rest of my life to fizzle into emptiness so I can say my friends didn’t really miss anything.
The big question everyone was asking last night was, “when’s the last time you jumped?”
Archway Skydive Centre is closing because of legal problems. I started with them in Sparta, Illinois. I worked there for years. My skydiving wedding was there when they moved to Vandalia.
We’re having an Archway reunion in Taylorville, Illinois in August. My buddy Dan Cunningham is organizing it. He’s had to warn everyone there that will be a bunch of old timers who aren’t current. There are going to be some crazy large formations!
I earned my Jump Master rating up there. I’ll never forget the wild dancing around a bonfire as a pretty girl poured schnapps down my throat. The following night, I partied with her at the local bar and found out she was 17.
Everyone I knew in Taylorville is dead now.
The surprise party was for Jim Cowan. He and I got our J ratings together in Taylorville. He and his brother Scott were in the world champion CRW team Quantum Leap. They were world champs for years. From that, they were able to get the first SBA loan for a skydiving operation. They made skydiving legit.
Their dad Curly was also an old friend of mine. He was a regular when I tended bar at the Broadway Oyster Bar in the 80s. He used to run a drop zone in Washington Mo called Ripcords West. I know quite a few world champs and they all grew up on DZs.
I’m 54 and feel like I’m just now middle aged. I’m looking ahead as much as I’m looking back.
Pic is Quantum Leap over Busch Stadium back in the day.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Last summer I was at a birthday party in the Central West End. The conversation turned to “where are they now?” and the subject of David Parker came up.
David was one of the Laclede Town kids I grew up with. His stepfather Jack Parker ran O’Connell’s Pub in Gaslight Square. Now it’s at Shaw and Kingshighway.
The Parkers lived in the first circle on Lawton in Laclede Town. My family did, too.
David’s older brother Tommy was my age and I ran with him. David was my brother’s age and they ran around together. It seemed like most of the Laclede Town kids came in pairs like that. Dominic and Benet were part of that.
The Parkers left town once, and my brother and a bunch of his friends got into their house. They somehow caught a rug on fire. He must have been 5 or 6. Geo Ramsey was part of that group. David’s mom Pat decided my brother Patrick was the ringleader and banished him from their home. I’m not sure why she thought Patrick was their leader, but several years later when the Parkers moved to the Central West End, he still wasn’t allowed in the house.
She would always refer to him as “that troubled child of yours” to my mother.
Tommy is a vet now. Years ago, he put down my brother’s dog Saloon who had a severe case of heartworm. My brother ended up with the dog when my dad died.
The day it happened, Patrick bought Saloon a steak and played with him all day before he took him to Tommy. It was heart breaking.
Anyway, when we were talking about David at the party, it came out that he was in prison in Nicaragua. It had something to do with psychological abuse involving his wife. Knowing David, it didn’t seem that hard to believe his behavior might have been taken that way by someone who didn’t really know him, but his wife?
There has always been a bit of arrogance on David’s part. First of all, what’s he doing in Nicaragua? I guess it might be a natural place for an old lefty like him, but you take your chances in a foreign culture.
Before I moved away from home, he was visiting my apartment in Soulard. To show me how meaningless money was to him, he tore up a twenty dollar bill. I could only think about the rent we were having trouble paying.
Local televangelist Larry Rice was preaching late one night on TV to the homeless people at his New Life Evangelistic Center. I saw David in the audience. I’m pretty sure David’s a trust fund kid, at least he’s not hurting financially. He was there to be part of the cause. I myself have sent Larry money for attorney’s fees for certain causes.
I left a phone in my name when I moved out of an apartment in the 70s. Dominic and David moved in. David ran up a bill calling his biological dad in Europe. It was hundreds of dollars and I had to pay it off. Right about that same time, he fronted us money to complete our first LP!
He used to wear half a mustache, completed by half a beard on the opposite side of his face.
He became a jazz pianist and I ran sound for his group once at St. Louis’ City Hall. It was on a landing of a huge cascading set of stairs. It sounded like they were in a cave. It seems like every sound gig I’ve ever had was like that. I had to run sound for Patty Thomas’ benefit at the Casa Loma ballroom. The place was not meant for electricity!
So here’s why I’m recalling all of this; I got a call from a prison in Nicaragua two days ago.
David told me he wanted to find my brother. He had heard he wasn’t doing well. He didn’t have time to go into the details of his incarceration because his phone card was going to run out at any minute. We had quite a lengthy conversation anyway.
He wants everyone to know he’s innocent of the charges and that he loves and thinks about everyone in St. Louis.
I asked him how long he’s going to be there. He said they won’t tell him anything until he goes in front of the judge. He can’t see the judge until he gets an attorney. He says Nicaragua is so riddled with corruption, he can’t afford an attorney. The U.S. Consulate is corrupt, too.
When he gets out, he intends to expose everyone. I hope he’s being quiet about all of this right now or he’s never getting out. I can’t imagine he is though.
A couple of weeks ago, when Fojammi was still capable of talking about anything, I told him about Pat Parker still holding a grudge against my brother. He told me Pat had died, but she had married a second time. He was some kind of Celt and an unapologetic folkie. I love that description. Apparently he’s dead too but Danny really loved him.
Anyway, this is the public announcement I promised David.
I couldn’t find any pictures of David. This pic is from Parade Magazine circa 1966. It’s the first circle in Laclede Town. My house was the first, just off picture to the right. The 2 story behind the VW was my friend Raymond’s place. The 3 story next to it on the left was where the Martinez’ lived. When my friend Rommy was being bathed as a baby, I learned the difference between boys and girls. To the left is where Geo Ramsey lived. The 3 story to the left of that is where the Parkers lived. This is the place my brother and his pals set on fire.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Anyone with a teenage child will recognize the horror in this photo.
My daughter Chloe turned sixteen on Valentine’s Day. Two days later, she called to tell me she got her driver’s license on her first try. Two days after that, she called to brag about her new car.
My son Dylan and I both failed on our first attempts.
It didn’t really sink in until Dylan called to tell me he and his sister were going to the grocery store. I said, “Remind Chloe, her soda contains a flame retardant and try to find some healthy vegetables.” “No, you don’t understand,” he said, “just Chloe and I are going!”
A sense of dread almost left me breathless. Chloe was driving. I imagined her texting while driving through a red light into a group of pre-school pedestrians.
The time span of her first driving experience is pretty similar to what mine had been. The difference is, I had already been working for two years and had to buy my own car.
“Wild Life” was a black
On one of my hitch hiking journeys to the east, I left her with my brother. “Don’t forget to top off the oil every couple of days,” I instructed. When I got back to town, Wild Life had thrown a rod. ------- I still grieve.
The big difference these days is the mandatory liability insurance. I could never have come up with that when I was a teenager. Even with a job.
My ex and I were supposed to have a deal with our kids that they’d be working to pay their own insurance. I couldn’t afford it anyway.
Chloe somehow convinced her mom that she would have a job in a few days if her mother could just front a couple of the payments.
My son is so opposed to getting a job; he’s resolved not to drive at all. After all, a lot of my friends don’t drive. My friend Fojammi has successfully made it through his entire life without a license. My son likes to think of himself as a tough urban kid and urban kids take the subway, don’t they? They don’t run very often around here though!
A lot of my friends didn’t drive for years, but it’s impossible to live in the
Dylan’s about to turn eighteen, and I think that might put him in a cheaper insurance demographic. He does have his permit, and let me tell you, it’s been a life saver when we come home from one of our Soulard parties, probably literally.
Monday, February 20, 2012
I have one last Jon Cotton post.
We didn’t start out as song writers. In fact, what we played depended more on our abilities than our taste.
We were playing Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Allman Brothers, Canned Heat, Jethro Tull, Spirit, Cream, and more. If we were capable of playing it, we considered it fantastic music.
I was very lucky that, Dominic could pick out just about anything on the guitar and show it to me. I’m still amazed at how quickly he picked up the flute. His sister had one, he decided we needed a flute player, and there you have it.
Somewhere along the line we found a couple of clarinets. I used to step outside Dom and Benet’s
I was out there one night improvising strange scales on one of them when there was an answer in the distance from the other. We concocted a really interesting piece as Dom marched over to join me.
Across the street, a hippie couple sat in the grass marveling at our music. Ron and Lisa became good friends and when I was 17, Dom and I hitchhiked to
Just after we write Webster Hangover, John Steffen left the band. He was in the process of becoming a priest.
The Schaeffer’s long time friend, Jimmy Hill joined the band as bassist.
My friend Gary Peek has always been sensitive about music without bass and he was quick to point out its absence in Webster Hangover. That’s probably because he plays one.
Jimmy was into Jazz and had us playing Killer Joe almost immediately. He was also funny as Hell.
I not sure how long he was in the band or why he left, but he was replaced by Tracy Wynkoop and the rest is Earwacks history.
Jimmy has been working for the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s Barney Frank. Frank just retired, so maybe I should find out if he wants to get back in a band.
This recording is the band paying Jethro Tull’s Driving Song. I found it on the back of the same cassette Webster Hangover is on. It’s pretty accurate if I do say so myself, right down to Ian Anderson’s flute vamps at the end.
I don’t really have enough old pics to choose from and I used footage from some of my old films.
Check it out---------