Friday, March 31, 2006

age spots

The day begins. Candles are lighted and incense is burning. Cold beer at my side and flashing skeletons are keeping me company. The bay is a bit choppy and sort of resembles my jeans.
One knee place is now just a hole with tattered white threads hanging from it. One of the front pockets looks just the same. Come to think of it, I've worn said pants for what must be closing in on a decade. (Yes, they have been washed a few times.)
These things probably will not even achieve cutoff status after I finally, and with reluctance, retire them. I’m not a material guy, but have to admit to an attachment here.
The thing is, there are signs of growing older with all of us and all things. Growling clutches, thinning fabric, calendars that have become obsolete, etc.
One period recognizing my age increasing was when my wife and I returned from Mexico and visited friends in Fort Worth. Some had children that were teensy-weensy when we left and all of them had somehow converted themselves into young adults in a matter of just a few years. (The children, that is.)
The one defining moment though, if I had to put my finger on it, as far as aging goes, was when an employee of mine asked to borrow some money for some dope. No, that’s not the usual request one would expect, but he was also a drummer in a band I played with.
Not having smoked a joint in many, many years I asked what the going price was these days for a lid.
After he stopped laughing, he gave me a deadpan stare and said, "Uh, I don’t think they call it that anymore.”
“What do they call it?”
I don’t even remember what he said. To me, an ounce will always be a ‘lid’ no matter what. Shoot! Maybe I have gotten myself into an aging, verbal pickle. Does anyone say “shoot” anymore in simply the rhetorical sense? What about “pickle?” What about “neat-oh!?”
People have been saying that 60 years of age is the new 40. I’m 45. Where does that put me and what kind of surrealistic logic is that? Same goes for daylight saving time. Call me naïve, but I imagine that the sun will rise when it damn well pleases, whatever we choose to call the hour.
I’m gonna miss these jeans.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Joe King Carrasco

Joe King Carrasco performed at the Executive Surf Club the other night, right here in Corpus Christi. My adorable wife and I were driving by and saw his name on the marquee. Why not? It’s been at least 20 years since seeing the guy.
Disappointing was the fact that there were probably all of 20 people in there to catch the show. What was not disappointing was the act itself. Gone are the crazed stage antics as well as the keyboard, but the music was as solid as ever.
It was a simple, 3 piece band consisting of electric guitar, bass and drums and they played as though there were hundreds of fans rather than lamely just getting through the night. Gotta respect that.
I have to admit that I did not recognize a single song the band played, but they were all Tejano rockin’ good.

Friday, March 17, 2006

panther city flameout

I used to live in Fort Worth and it was with dismay in my heart that I both read and heard that Fred’s Café suffered a kitchen fire. Good to know that the patio will still be open.
I’m sure they had insurance of some sort, but would imagine it a good idea for some of the local bands to perform a benefit or two. Shoot, I now live in Corpus Christi and would make the drive up to play for a burger and a beer in a New York minute if asked to do so.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

a bass string with gasoline

Whenever asked if I am a musician, I always reply the same way: “No, I’m a bass player. I do sing, if that counts.”
I bring this up as the moment of truth arose last Tuesday. Time for new bass strings. No more boiling the old ones. A store actually had some decent strings on sale for less than $20.00. SOLD!
It’s like playing a whole new instrument. I cannot even remember the last time I bought new strings. I did, of course, save the old ones and they will eventually join the dozens of other dead, yet loyal sets of round-wound steel.
During a conversation with a fellow bassist the other night, he told me a story of giving an old string to a friend who was making a necklace and needed an eye hook to join the two ends together. Thus the string lived on by giving life to a piece of jewelry that was obviously created someplace where there are no hobby stores.
Anyway, my mind reeled itself back to the late 80s when I had just finished a gig in Fort Worth at a place called The Hop (an acronym for House of Pizza). They really did have pretty decent pizza there, but I am getting way off the plot.
It was about 3:00 in the morning or so and we had loaded the equipment. I jumped into my van, turned the ignition switch and pumped the accelerator pedal, which just stuck to the floor. I loudly spoke words that I will not print in this space. Broken cable.
I was not about to leave a vehicle stuffed with musical equipment in front of a bar all night. Fortunately, a guitarist and friend of mine decided to put in his two cents worth of advice and suggested that I remove a bass string and run it through the place where the cable hooks to the pedal and wrap the other end around my hand.
I drove that van in the fashion one usually thinks of driving a fishing boat for at least a week until another gig came around and I could afford to have it fixed.
Just a thought for whenever the time comes around to buy new strings for the faithful low-ender. You just never know when the things can come in handy.

Friday, March 10, 2006

don't shoot me, it's just my opinion

If ever there was a case to be made in favor of mutiny, George W .Bush could easily be the poster child. If the United States military simply refused to keep fighting a senseless war (most wars are) there is nothing the Bush administration could do about it except whimper.
Perhaps W. would find himself charged with war crimes. He could be tossed into the same cell as Saddam. Heck, they may even get along with the exception of the language barrier. Saddam probably speaks better English.
Sorry about the ranting, but I get a little riled when reading about issues like the renewal of the so-called Patriot Act. Benjamin Franklin once said something to the effect that one who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

a new millenium signature from the likes of 1980

The year was 1980. What a grand time to be in Fort Worth. No sarcasm intended, it was really a rockin’ scene. Zero’s new wave Lounge was in full swing and on any given weekend one could witness the likes of The Telefones, The Ralphs, NCM or The Fort Worth Cats. Even Lester Bangs showed up there one night. X played there.
Myself? I had been playing in a punk band that decided to start playing R&B and kicked the rhythm guitarist out because of his slightly out-of-the-norm style of playing. I took a stand and said I would quit if he was out, thinking that would calm things down and I could keep playing songs I wrote. Wrongo! I was kicked out the following day, but am still friends with the guy that carried the hatchet.
It was only a couple of months later that found me sitting in Zero’s and watching The Ralphs, who’s bass player informed me that the Cats were in search of a new bassist.
I interviewed with ½ Nelson and was given a tape to listen to in order to learn the material.
I don’t think I ever admitted to this to the guys, but I stayed up at least 20 hours going over those damn tunes. At the first rehearsal, when asked if I had listened to it, I shrugged and said I heard parts of it while driving around. A blatant lie, but they seemed impressed that I managed to follow along so well. Ha he ha!
The ex-bassist had been nicknamed Squid. All the other guys were at least 10 years my senior, so I was quickly dubbed – Kid.
My first gig with the Cats was July 4th, 1980 with a sold out crowd and it would have been the perfect evening had some dude not been standing off to the side of the stage shouting that he was going to kick my ass and that I sucked.
Turns out that he was a friend of Squid’s and felt somewhat betrayed by my brazen attempt to replace him. Squid, by the way was always nice and, I must say, a bad-assed bassist. I have no idea whatsoever as to what became of him.
Anyway, we were in the studio a few months later and recorded something like 25 songs or so and picked 14 of them to actually wind up on vinyl. All the sessions took place at something like 2:00 AM until 5:00 AM.
We did a photo shoot over at D. Matthews’ pad and decided we would do a remake of the infamous Beatles’ meat and butcher smock pic. That was to be the inside cover, but two days later, John Lennon was shot and we decided it in poor taste to use it.
Instead, we put in a lyric sheet with the other side being a drawing by Icicle of a man wrestling a panther. Cool drawing as it can be turned any which way and it still works.
Funny thing; the TV was on and it was an old black and white one. The screen kept shaking and jumping around and I joked that the movie on must be ‘Earthquake at OK Corral.’ Icicle jumped on the unintentional cue and suggested that to be the name of the LP.
To finally get to the point, a cat goes by the moniker of Stash Dauber found one of these albums at ½ Price books the other day and actually requested that I sign it next time I am in the vicinity of the panther city. Of course I will. That’s the nicest request I’ve had since, well, 1981 - the year the record actually made it to the shelves.
The Fort Worth Cats never really broke up. We just do not play together anymore due to living in different cities and sometimes in different countries.
The Cats’ lineup was and is ½ Nelson, Johnny Icicle, Kid Daniel and Johnny Johncock.

PS – The guy who was yelling at me in a threatening tone bought me a beer a week later and apologized. 1980.

Friday, March 03, 2006

cry for a townsend and smile

Wow. Recently found out that Doug Townsend passed away. Friend and a rockin' good drummer best known for his role in The Dot Vaeth Group as well as The Infants and for a short time, The Ralphs. I remember with great fondness jamming with him at ESR Studios with his brother David and the late Bobby Soxx. Best of fortune on the other side, Doug.

a carnival of control freaks and david sedaris

As long as Bodega Train (as well as Dirtsmoke) applaud the snubbing of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame by the Sex Pistols, may as well give a tip of the hat to a cat named David Sedaris.
For those unfamiliar with his work, he is a writer that is sort of a slightly profane version of a combination of Dave Barry and Mark Twain. Anyway, he does the public speaking circuit and refuses to speak anywhere that does not allow him to smoke.
He even moved to Europe, this being one of the reasons. One reason I moved to Mexico was the absence of control freaks. I, by the way, do not smoke. Ironically, shortly after moving to Corpus Christi, a smoking ban was passed by the city council. Guess we won’t be seeing Mr. Sedaris 'round these here parts. Good grief!
Oh, and one of the exemptions to the ban is whatever is considered a bowling alley. Gee, think that has anything to do with the fact that one of the largest bowling tournaments in the world is being held here from now until July?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

cowboys and texans

Okay. I’m really not a football fanatic, per se, but do keep up with the unfortunate Dallas Cowboys simply for the reason that I grew up in Fort Worth and that’s just the way things are. I mean, I do not paint my face or even bother to pay the exhorbitant prices to attend an NFL event. That being said, woke up this morning with a football-shaped thought.
Living in Corpus Christi as of late has drawn my attention to the even more unfortunate Houston Texans. How’s about an interesting scenario?
Houston could trade their number one pick for several proven players, or they could make a bold and at the same time popular move. Trade David Carr to the Cowboys for a player or so and a draft choice. Carr could be good with a decent supporting cast and Drew Bledsoe ain’t gonna last forever. Plus, he could be a healthy mentor.
Hopefully, Tuna will be outta town after the next disappointing season. Sure, the Cowboys will be all about time of possession and will succeed in that area. Meanwhile, their opponents will be concentrating on scoring points and winning.
I’m getting off the point though. After Houston trades Carr, they can pick local hero Vince Young and run an offense leaning in the direction of his multiple talents. The fans of Houston would be delighted and would probably be pleased with even a 500 season, but Young does have an intangible leadership quality.
If nothing else, some excitement would be generated. Nothing against Reggie Bush, although he will have to learn not to run sideways so much on the next level of competition. We all saw what happened when he was faced with a quick defense.
Just a thought.

sex pistols coolness

Hooray for the Sex Pistols for their blunt refusal to perform at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. They even refer to the hall in a hand written letter as a “piss stain” and to the event as “urine in wine.” It is indeed splendid to see that there is still some attitude out there. Is anyone really surprised? Sid must be smiling somewhere.