5/30/12 18:13 Home
On the sidewalk, I waited in the shadows, hiding from the rain for my buddy to meet me. I waited and watched a circle of fucked up maggots pass a crackly joint to waiting fingers. Inside it was different. We enjoyed The Coat Hangers and Brooklyn’s skate board intoxicated punks Cerebral Ballsy. The wait for OFF was short. Keith walked onto the stage with a short stack of set lists and taped the long sheets onto different sections of the stage. The rest of the band joined him. There was no opening music, no dramatic dimming of the lights. No curtains unveiling the band in their suits and ties, fuck no. Morris wore the same clothes when I saw him outside on the sidewalk and like a kid I asked for his autograph. He looked at me as if he was studying my face. Back to the show… he took the microphone and asked if anyone of the others played this venue. At that first strike of Panic Attack, I hurled my beer up high and towards the stage. It was a perfect shot – with precision and accuracy the cup was lofted into the warm air and became a perfect display of robust anger. The warm beer sprayed Keith Morris who hung his head as if in shame, waiting for the impact, the shower of pungent beer and spit washed over him. He kicked my beer cup off to the side. OFF! Played the Bowery Ballroom to a sold out audience. He told the audience it was a waste to toss beer onto the stage, instead we should enjoy it. This was the place where punk erupted from the floor, from the middle aged punks to the skinny teens we raged in collective power as the man almost 60 years-old beat us down with more energy than we could ever fathom. Stage dives were constant and the beating of my ribs into the stage barely ceased. From the front, I took some pictures and did not leave center stage. I watched a brunette get flung onto the stage and lay there for a second till SHE caught her breath and wits and dived back into the crowd. There were others like the yellow shirt middle age mother fucker who took a couple shots to the head. What a mixture of old and young in the dark decrepit theatre we were one. There was hatred in the pit, the black guy with DK shirt was about to get his ass kicked as we walked out into the humid night. As my buddy and I walked down Delancey with a set list and a drum stick, I saw another guy who stood next to me, must’ve been about my age and we high fived one another…we still got it…we are still strong. The show was less than an hour, but was well worth the sacrifice of lost sleep. OFF! Is playing in Brooklyn in July. You need to see them. Enjoy the pictures.
5/25/12 08:50 at the Marriott in Burlingame
The wind in this area has been incredible, it’s chilly. Each day after the trade show we’d leave the hotel and feel the hit of the fierce winds, but the jets are still taking off and landing and life continues in this valley. Yesterday was one of those long days. Even after a decent night’s sleep my legs are weak. Earlier I had my shoes polished by a woman in the lobby, I’ve seen her day after day and we passed pleasantries, last night she said it was a slow day. I promised her I’d be back in the morning for a shine, and I am a man of my word. I gave her a great tip since it sounds as if her and her husband are having a tough time with the rent and bills, and they have a little girl. When I asked how much, she said $8 and I handed her a $20 and said thank you. Another man took a seat and she had another customer, hopefully she is busy for the rest of the day. So why am I tired? I went for a run early yesterday, facing the sun rising over the bay, running at a decent pace behind two runners on a trail that borders the bay, watching jets land at San Francisco airport. Worked out for a little while and had breakfast up at the concierge level. After my shower I answered some emails and met Terry downstairs and we were off to the Hyatt where the trade show was. Jim and Kevin, both salesmen from one of our clients invited me to dinner with them. I had time to relax for almost an hour before they picked me up. Traffic on the highway was horrendous; the commuters were getting a jump on the memorial day weekend. We passed Candlestick stadium where Dave and I saw the Giants VS the Mets in the late eighties. After twenty minutes we were driving in the center of San Fran. I was impressed with the modern architecture, the simple rectangle frame condo buildings. We passed the new baseball stadium which is right on the water, and parked the car, and headed into terminal, where we ate in the Crooked Door. Jim graduated from a local culinary school and picked the restaurant. The place was packed and the food which he picked was incredible. They were family dishes, and the various plates kept coming, fish, beef and chicken as well as steamed clams and raw oysters. We had local beers which had a heavier consistency compared to the Anchor I requested and the name I forget. Jim was nice enough to switch seats with me so I can look across the bay to treasure island and watch the swift tide swell up. After dinner we made it to the place I really wanted to get to, City Lights Book Store. The link between Keroauc, Northport and Bukowski is significant enough for me to find a way to walk through the doors. When Jim invited me to dinner I was reluctant, I was ready to take a local BART train to the city and find the store on my own, but Jim was open to the idea of going there after we ate, maybe since I bought dinner for them? I accomplished one of my objectives for this trip to the area. Once I was outside the store back in the late eighties when I lived in Los Gatos and came to the city for a show, but it was closed by the time we got there. This time, I knew it would be open. We drove up a hill, is that telegraph hill I asked Jim who grew up in the area, yes it is. Nice. The neighborhood where the store is in is grungy. There is a Beat Museum catering to the beatnik tourist which was closed. There are topless bars where men in cheap suits stand outside and try to entice you to come in and see the show. We spent a little time in the book store, I knew the guys were not interested spending anytime in there. Over dinner Jim said the best president he experienced was Ronald Reagan, I kept my mouth shut. The store was cleaner than I imagined. There were more paperbacks than hardcover but their poetry section which was on the second floor was extensive. There are paintings which Ferlinghetti made which are more like statements, read books…and other notions, but the sense this place was and is a tourist magnet was obvious from the $2 City Lights bumper sticker and the T-shirts for all sizes even for infants…I confess I bought a t-shirt. After the store we walked to a small restaurant, called Bix, it’s in an alley and can be easily missed. The place was intimate, classy, and I was given a lesson on scotch by Kevin who graduated from Annapolis. It was sipped and savored, I drank 21 year-old scotch and enjoyed it. I am a beer drinker by design and attitude. I drank scotch years ago but it was always, on the rocks which Kevin said deadens the taste buds on the tongue. So, I made it back in one piece. Kevin asked if getting to City Lights was on my bucket list, and I should have said yes. I explained it was one of the places I wanted to make it to before leaving. In a few hours I will fly out of here and meet Jason in Los Angeles. I’m looking forward to seeing him and his family…but I need to wake up!
Since both shows in the New York area were sold out, I drove Amanda to see We Were Promised Jet Packs at Union Transfer in Philadelphia. I was beat from playing two hours of basketball in the morning but a little nap did the trick, I fell into a deep enough sleep the body shook and a dream which I forget flooded by sensibilities. Driving to Philly can be a challenge, the traffic can be thick, the weather can flare up and there is the chance that somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike a police officer can pull you over for driving 55 in a construction zone or where there is not a shoulder. Once the weather gets warmer the work begins on the highways and doesn’t stop till the cops make their quotas for the decade. We encountered a sever accident on the Belt, heavy traffic on 347 close to where we live and a good dose of the Saturday Westward bound night revelers. We were delayed on the Belt and passed a flipped over limo, I watched a cop crouch down on his hands and knees and he looked inside, I thought I saw a leg and a black leather shoe covering a foot. Traffic picked up and the insanity grew with the speed of our cars. Finally we made it to Horsham and met my brother there, picked him up and headed to 76. Route 76 is a gamble. I didn’t know what to expect and I thought I saw the red haze of distant break lights, but the cars flowed and darted in and out dangerously on the dark highway. We made it in and saw both opening bands: Fort Lean and Breton. I wrote about We Were Promised Jetpacks previously, we saw them last October at Webster Hall in the city. They came onto the stage later than I expected, after 11 PM and stayed on till after midnight. There was no encore like the Webster Hall show, but this band is it, you can feel the energy rise in the room as their music roared. See them as soon as you can, buy their music before they become sucked into the wasteland of consumerism. There was little give and take between the band, they were tight and played with precision. I believe this band will be huge.
Before I go, Union Hall is a unique place for a show…I was able to get up to the balcony and took some pictures. The vastness of the open space is endless. It’s a new venue in the city and worth it to see a show and have some beers. The staff there are all very personable which is sometimes missing in NY City, we know it’s true. After the show we spoke to the bassist Sean Smith who was down to earth and offered to take Amanda’s album back to the band to have it as well as a playlist signed. Sean was obliging for a picture and a hug from an adoring fan and perhaps his future wife? Sure. My daughter can dream like I used to dream of Debby Harry...
I just finished Mike Watt’s book On and off bass recently published by Three Rooms Press. I was surprised the book is a photography and memoir. I was more surprised by the scarcity of pages and content. Mike’s web page consists of thousands of pages of his journal capturing his life through the past twenty years. The editors pulled snippets which read like haiku’s interwoven with Watt’s beautiful pictures of wildlife. In some of the interviews I read and I tried to hear his interview at his book release party this past Wednesday at Le Poison rouge on Bleeker I learned Watt wakes up early a few days out of the week and takes his kayak and watertight camera out into the waters of San Pedro bay. There are a lot of pelicans in the book, and Watt said they are the only birds that do not sing. His writing expresses vulnerability through poems. The journal entries depict his love of music and the band as well as thoughts of his departed father and memories of d Boon. Coltrane is mentioned which is no surprise when it comes to Watt who finished each show by shouting, Coltrane! Coltrame! One entry is brief expresses his love for Coltrane, visiting Colrane’s grave on Watt’s 40th birthday and imaging Coltrane laying in the ground, looking up…Watt laid on the plot…The show contrasted the sanctuary of the nature. Hellride East consists of J Mascis, and Murph from Dinosaur Jr. and played mostly Stooges covers. Special guests included Thurston Moore/Sonic Youth and there were others but I wish I knew who they were. Please send me an email and I will add to the blog. Mike signed my book and I reminded him of our emails, I’d to get him to see Coltrane’s house, so he slapped his head…Dix Hills…right…Dix Hills…I hope we can work something out. After the show my friend and I walked down the block and I saw two punk kids, with bent knees, sitting in a darkened store front reading Watt’s book…the torch has been passed.