Friday, May 18, 2007

anniversary # 5 and # 9 too

Nine years ago, almost to the day, I was nursing a cold beer at a place called the Wreck Room in Fort Worth, Texas. Scribbling in a notebook with what a friend once referred to as a stub-assed pencil, my thoughts were interrupted by an acquaintance I had not seen in quite some time.
We engaged in some small talk, which eventually led to the question of whether or not I was seeing anybody. The answer to the inquiry was to the negative and she told me that there was someone I should probably meet. “She’s really pretty and about your same age.”
Needless to say, I forgot about the conversation altogether.
A couple of nights later, Icicle and the Kid (my band whenever I am in FW) played a benefit for the Hip Pocket Theater at the White Elephant Saloon.
The girl I should meet walked in and I wondered why my friend kept smiling and pointing at her. Then I remembered the night at the Wreck Room. I am generally shy, but had consumed enough liquid bread that I gathered up the nerve to introduce myself.
Fantastic eyes, I thought to myself.
She was an absolute delight to speak with. I even called my friend the next day and told her how much I enjoyed the experience of meeting this woman.
It was only about two or three nights later that I was sitting in the Wreck Room again, furiously writing nonsense and sucking down a few cold ones.
In she walked. She said hi and I asked her if she might want to play some pool.
She cocked her head slightly sideways. “Do you think there is an open table?”
“I shall will there to be one,” I replied with unusual arrogance.
I must admit that I am surprised she did not walk away with a frown at that very moment. But no, there was an open table and we were living together approximately three months later, if not sooner than that.
Four years later, we had moved to Mexico and wed ourselves in San Miguel de Allende in a small chapel in the botanic gardens there. No priest. No Judge. No witnesses. Just ourselves and two rings and our vows to one another.
I smile.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

bobby soxx

Having read the name of Bobby Soxx recently via the Stash Dauber, I figured I had to offer a little input as well as insight. I always considered the late Señor Soxx a friend as well as a genuine madman with talent to boot.
Everyone who ever knew the man has at least one good story to tell. Here are a few memories to share:
I suppose I should start with the first time I ever met Bobby. I was playing in a band called The Visitors at a club called DJs over in Dallas. I do believe the year to have been 1979 and we were opening, if memory serves correct, for The Fort Worth Cats. A half year later would see me join that band, but that’s another story.
Anyway, I was sitting with fellow band members sipping on a cold beer and noticed a spike-haired, tattoo-covered guy wearing glasses that resembled the type worn by Elvis Costello. He seemed a bit on the hyper side and was walking around talking to anyone who would listen or not listen. He cared not one way or other.
Having emptied my beer mug, I strolled to the bar and ordered another. After paying, I turned around and fear gripped me as I saw that my seat had been taken by this guy. DJ’s was a tiny place and there was no place else to sit, so I thought I would just wander back over there and stand until he left to go about his business. Keep in mind the year here and realize that Bobby stood out with considerable authority. For that matter, he would probably still stand out today even with the proliferation of the tattoo generation.
Walking to just the side of him, I took a drink and tried to casually gaze around as the music on stage steadily gained volume.
Bobby leapt to his feet, grinned a Bobbyish grin and put his arm around my shoulder. “Oh man! I didn’t mean to take your seat! Here! Sit your ass back down! You rock on that bass man!”
Talk about a relief. Some of that relief came in retrospect as I began to hear more tales of his manic nature and as I grew to know him better.

A couple of months later at the same cub, which was a place, by the way, where one never knew who might show up. I encountered the likes of Dee Dee Ramone, David Byrne and Devo.
This particular night it was just us lowly locals and Bobby was fronting a band known as The Teenage Queers which was actually a concoction of a couple of the
Telephones and some other guy who’s name I do not recall.
We had just played and during a break in the music, Me, my singer and Bobby were out on the front stoop drinking bottled beer. I mention bottles because they were not cans and that seems more important in just a few seconds.
Now, Bobby had shaved his head in strips that ran lengthwise on his skull. He was wearing nothing but a blue and white striped raincoat. I was just in jeans and a T-shirt and my singer donned bright white pants that were soon to be bloodied. I think he had on some sort of bowler’s shirt, but do not really remember.
While we were enjoying some light conversation, a small green car pulled up to the corner. I think it was a Gremlin or a Pacer or some such vehicle of the times.
“Fuck all you fucking punk rockers!” one of the guys (there were three or four of them in the car) screamed form the window.
Bobby’s eyes lit up and he screamed, “Eat death, scum!” He then proceeded to smash his bottle against the corner of the wall, cutting his hand, thus splattering blood all across the sidewalk as well as my singer’s nice white pants.
At this point Bobby took off at a full run toward the car and I swear I have never seen the look of terror before like I saw in the eyes of the passengers as well as the driver of that car. Vroom? Vrooom? Vroooooom? Off they drove as fast as that piece of shit car could take them, but not before having the remnants of a beer bottle crash across their rear windshield. I never could tell if that broke or not. They never came back.
I was laughing hard. All my singer could was laugh too until he looked down.
“Goddammit! Look what he did to these brand new pants!”

This next story is one I heard second hand. The Stranglers were playing at the Hot Club in Dallas and Bobby somehow managed to make his way upstairs to the dressing room. The band told him to leave and he refused, telling them they would have to throw him out. So they grabbed him and threw him out the door and down the stairs.
Pissed off at this point, Bobby went out to the parking lot and slashed the tires on their tour bus. I was not there, but the story is probably somewhat, if not all the way accurate.

Wow! This is getting lengthier than I thought it would. I will close out with the story of what has to be the longest back bend by any band member anywhere. I used to do that a lot during leads or just bridges of songs. I would keep playing, but would bend backward in ridiculous fashion until I had to sing again or just got tired of it and wanted to move on.
I did this at some club one night. I do not remember where, but Bobby, an avid Cats fan was in the crowd and on the dance floor. This might have been at Zero’s over on Lancaster in Fort Worth.
Bending back, I saw Bobby stop hopping around and quickly walk to the front of the stage. He then proceeded to grab the end of my bass and began performing simulated oral sex on the thing. Christ! I was afraid of accidentally knocking out a few of his teeth.
Eventually, I was able to reach my right hand out far enough to give him a light slap to the side of his head. He just laughed and went back to hopping and gyrating all across the dance floor.

I am not sure exactly when Bobby died. Probably, I was in Mexico at the time. I do, however, remember the last time I ever saw him.
There was a reunion gig of several bands performing at the Major Theater in Dallas. We were all allowed about three or four songs.
I think we played three of our tunes and then invited Bobby Soxx up to sing Holidays in the Sun. He looked over at me and grinned, then glared at the crowd with a snarl that only he was truly capable of snarling.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

carl and the passions (so tough)

I might not have the largest collection of LPs in the state of Texas, but there are a few hundred here stacked in old Sound Warehouse crates and many of them worth listening to now and again. By the way, I never have bought into the argument that CDs sound any better than LPs. They just sound different. Try looking at it, or hearing as it were, like the difference between videotape and film.
Sunday mornings in this humble apartment by the bay usually consist of cooking a nice light breakfast while gently sipping on a cold beer and putting the turntable to good use with the likes of the Velvet Underground or perhaps an occasional movie soundtrack.
All my records are pretty much in alphabetical order and last Sunday found me perusing near the front of the alphabet and coming across something almost forgotten.
Forgotten probably by me as well as most anybody on the planet. And that factor would depend upon how many people have even ever heard the thing. I put it on and let it go for a blissful Sunday morning spin.
The album is titled “So Tough” and was recorded by a little known band that called themselves Carl and the Passions. If you are fortunate enough to be able to find this jewel, by all means snag it. Then light some candles and incense and play it while doing whatever it is you are doing with anyone you happen to be with or if alone.
There are no hits on this record. No. This is just a good solid collection of very easy-to-listen-to tunes. There exists a plodding beauty within each song and they blend into one another like various hues offered by a cloudy sunrise.
Think along the lines of a cross between The Band and Leon Russell. The lead vocals are a bit rough, but with a tender touch. The background vocals are sung sweet and to perfection and there is a reason for this as will be revealed in just a second.
Pop soul is not a regular if ever used term, but this is what we are speaking of here.
Okay, the way I came across “So Tough” was by being lucky enough to visit some friends who were having a sort of garage sale of old records. The record in question, by the way, was released in 1972 on Warner Bros.
It is part of a double LP set with another, more well known record that goes by the title of “Pet Sounds.’
Yep! Turns out that Carl and the Passions have a pseudonym. That other name would be The Beach Boys. Go figure.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

vanishing point

I had not seen Vanishing Point in years. After watching Grindhouse and the obvious homage to the film in the Death Proof , (The Tarentino segment), I decided to rent it. Netflix actually had a copy, so why not a good night of a really long car chase.
Barry Newman stars in this flick about a guy named James Kowalski (a speed freak in at least two senses of the word) who transports cars and makes a bet that he can deliver a 1970 Dodge Charger from Colorado to California in 15 hours.
He manages to outrun and outsmart motorcycle cops, cruiser cops and helicopter cops. He meets gay robber hitchhikers, a nude woman on a motorcycle and is communicated to by a blind DJ brilliantly portrayed by Cleavon Little. You might remember him as the sheriff in Blazing Saddles.
The tension mounts in clever fashion with the use of various flashbacks that offer slight insight into what makes the speeder who he is.
While on the surface, this movie can seem like just another 70s action flick, there is a dark and brooding spirit about it that makes for a sometimes uncomfortable yet thrilling ride.
Bodega Train says check it out if you can find it. A unique adventure indeed.