Friday, December 21, 2012

Best Of 2012, Part 1: Personal Bests

'Tis December, when us cultural commentators (even those, like me, whose opinions  no one really gives two shits about - I'm not delusional about how small my audience is: I look at Google Stats!) turn to summing things up in some sort of list. Which is really a load of masturbation. Who honestly cares what ANYONE thinks was the best record of the year was? I mean, really? It's all a matter of opinion, anyway. No one's an authority....

Still, taking some stock is good for the soul. And it keeps me occupied. I think the best action for me would be to post a list of the good things that happened in my personal life this year. Count your blessings and all that, right?

So, what made the busted ankle, living in vermin-infested motels, barely eating, and fleeing Denver by the skin of my teeth worthwhile? How about:

  • Playing Music Again

(l-r) Tim Napalm and Dave Mansfield, Colorado Springs, Sept. 2012 (pic: Leslie Stoneburner)

2012: The year I was able to finally buy an amp and return to rock 'n' roll trench warfare.  I found myself in Dave Mansfield's Roxy Suicide, playing lead guitar to some smashingly glamtastic punk rock thoroughly steeped in Ramones/Dolls/Cramps seasoning. In the process, we played some storming dates, including some shows opening for Wednesday 13 and those power pop sleaze-rockers supreme The Biters. And I have to say: Dave's a fine songwriter and front-man who really knows how to work a stage and a crowd, while Mike and Olivia were as tight and powerful a rhythm section as I've ever had the pleasure to work with. I also took on a pair of unusual solo dates playing birthday parties, including a set of '80s new wave covers suitably retooled for my punk rock approach, and another set of Hormones/Napalm Stars hits rendered by just me, my Les Paul, and my Fender Super Champ as if I thought I was Billy Bragg or something. 

But the best thing to come from returning to rock 'n' roll was....

  • The Alice Bag Gig 
(l-r) Me and Alice Bag, Wax Trax Records, Denver, CO., July 2012 (pic: Mike Carr)
A seminal punk rock performer you have immense respect for writes you at Facebook and asks if you'll play guitar for her. Do you take the gig? Wow, how silly are you? Alice was on the latest leg of the indie tour she's undertaken to promote her excellent book, Violence Girl, pulling into the local indie punk rock record shop and reading select passages, then performing a corresponding song with a local guitar player of her choosing. In this case, it was Denver's Wax Trax Records and me. This was an honor and a real pleasure. Alice is a real sweetheart and a powerful performer, her voice having lost nothing over the years. We enjoyed such a great personal and musical chemistry, we agreed we need to work together again. So, be looking for a duet or  two in the future. One of the greatest musical experiences of my life, seriously.

Besides, it meant I got to play "Babylonian Gorgon" with the original artist:

  • Moving Back To Austin - Swore I wouldn't live here again, after the hash I made of things the last time I was here. But this is turning out to be the wisest move I've made in awhile. The community really stepped in and helped me in getting back on my feet, and my transition back has been smooth. If things can just keep on their current track, all will be fine.

          Besides, had I not moved here, I might never have had the following opportunity....

  • Meeting Johnny Rotten  

Yup. It Happened! (pic: Chip Crowley)
NEVER thought I'd see this day! Yes, I had a very pleasant telephone interview with this major hero of mine in 1996, for The Austin Chronicle.  And I went to PiL's Fun Fun Fun Fest gig merely thinking I was seeing Lydon's fine new reincarnation of PiL, and seeing my old friend (and Napalm Stars producer) Tony Barber, ex-Buzzcocks bassist and now-Pil bass tech. I did not realize I would be led to John Lydon's backstage tent! Nor that I would have a very pleasant, wide-ranging, 2-hour conversation that ran all over the map. He bade me a warm farewell at the end. I genuinely felt I'd made a new friend. Not anything I expected from the evening, or from Johnny Rotten. Very pleasant, indeed.

Well, time to get on with my Mayan doomsday. I have a job to go to, apocalypse be damned! Stay tuned as I try to think of the best CDs, books, movies, etc., that I enjoyed this year. Ta!


  1. Good stuff Tim...!

    You are spot on about Alice Bag...true punk distilled into a sharp smart package.

    Be well this apocalypse...



  2. Brilliant - I'm glad Austin's workin' out for ya. Great pix & yeah, playing live music must be so much damn fun for you! And you jammed with Alice Bag. You lucky-times-ten bastard! I finally read 'We Got The Neutron Bomb' so appreciate now more than ever how important she was to the LA scene. Us New York punks were really isolated to what was going down on the left coast.

    1. Good that you FINALLY figured out Alice Bag and her importance, Gail! I cringed when you wrote me and remarked about how great it was I played with "that chick!"