Sunday, December 22, 2013

"RADIO NAPALM" Podcast # 21 up at Mixcloud Radio

Yeah, I haven't been posting updates to the blog lately, and especially haven't been posting the radio show here. Life has just been a little hectic, working on a ZZ Top story that will run after Xmas in The Austin Chronicle. But here I am today, freshly awakened by my neighbors, who seem to find loud hip hop and "motherfuckers" appropriate at 9 AM on a Sunday. (Well, they do that any day. But....)

Thankfully, we begin this week's "RADIO NAPALM" with METAL URBAIN and "Hysterie Connective" to blast those heathens into submission. And the punk rock comes thick and fast after: BILLY CHILDISH AND CTMF, THE OBLIVIANS, KING TUFF, REV. NORB AND THE ONIONS, THE CLASH, THE MUMMIES, and so much more. And plenty of echo and vintage ads to warm your cockles.

We got Red Hot Ball and Big Saucy Bangers galore this week in The Garage! So, press play and join us!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

R.I.P., Ray Price (From The Austin Chronicle Archives)

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: And, of course, Ray actually ended up passing on for real on Monday. Here's the memorial I wrote for The Austin Chronicle: Click here.

UPDATE: A second Gannett newspaper, USA TODAY, just added the following to their obituary. "UPDATE: Reports that Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Price has died appear to be in error. Price's son Cliff Price wrote of his death on Facebook, but was not at Price's bedside in Mount Pleasant, Texas, when he posted. Price's wife, Janie Price, is with her husband and says he is alive. 'Our lovable Ray Price is still with us,' reads a post on her Facebook page. 'When it is the time, there will be an official statement.'" Sounds like Ray's son needs to check in at home more often....

A lot of people are going to be remembering today, in future years, as the day Peter O'Toole died. For this dutiful son of Texas, however, it will be the day Ray Price died.

I could write a full-bore obituary for Ray, certainly. Those hard-shufflin' '50s hits of his created a fresh honky tonk sound, one that resonated greatly with me, and many others. I mean, give a listen to his signature tune, "Crazy Arms," and tell me you aren't affected:

Instead, I will dip into my own back catalog. In August 1996, I interviewed Ray Price aboard his tour bus, prior to playing Austin's AquaFest. The Austin Chronicle would publish is August 23, 1996, as Fiddles Not Violins: The Secret To Ray Price And San Antonio Rose.

"You got that thing on? I hope you don't print it like I'm sayin' it!" Seventy-year-old Ray Price ("going on 71 with a bullet") of Perryville, Texas, son of Walter and Clara Bradley Price, has just looked up from the glass of sippin' whiskey and accompanying glass of orange soda in his hands, having seen that the recorder was switched on when he least expected it. All the better to get some honest answers, see?
"You will clean it up, won't you?" he presses. Price turns to the entourage of sidemen and tour crew and notes slyly, "Boy, I know that when a reporter tells you that, it's juuusst right!"
What Price has to fear, outside the printing of some off-guard raw language or an occasional bawdy aside, is mysterious. Certainly he doesn't seem too worried about the publication of tart observations like, "Well, Nashville is Israeli-occupied territory," but maybe Price is feeling fearless now that he knows he'll finally be entering the Country Music Hall of Fame this year, alongside Patsy Montana and Buck Owens.
"I was beginning to wonder if they was gonna wait until I died!" says Price before muttering about problems with at least one member of the nominating committee. Price's nomination is timely, though, coming as it does in a year which has seen Koch International reissuing two of his Sixties landmark albums; the Bob Wills tribute, San Antonio Rose, and the similar vintage Nightlife album. Anal-retentive-to-the-extreme German reissue house Bear Family has also compiled one of their notorious billion-CD box sets on Price containing every hiccup the artist committed to tape during his heyday.
Then again, even without such retrospective interest, Price should've been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame years ago. His contribution is undisputed. One listen to his landmark 1956 recording of "Crazy Arms" tells the entire tale: There had been honky tonk music before, but not like this. Claiming the sound was a fluke of instant studio inspiration, Price's secret was the use of massed, double-stop fiddles (not violins -- fiddles!) and a toughened rhythm section. Because of this, "Crazy Arms" created a groove that kicked as hard as the nascent rock & roll sound which was then kicking traditional country music, and remained on the charts 45 weeks.
Yes, Price had hits prior to that, chiefly the now-standard "Release Me," but he had no identifiable sound. Instead, he was mostly notable as Hank Williams' protege. Price had met Williams while attending what would later become the University of Texas at Arlington where he studied veterinary medicine, and recorded a few singles for the tiny Bullet label. When Price joined Dallas' Big D Jamboree, he was introduced to Williams, who took a shine to the young country neophyte and convinced him to move to Nashville.
"Hank got me on the Grand Ole Opry," Price recalls, "and then I lived with him about a year before he died. I lived upstairs, he lived downstairs. Hank only had one problem: It was only with drinkin'. It wasn't with drugs.
"We was big buddies. But he was working an awful lot, and I was really looking after him more than anything else, 'cuz he was a bad alcoholic. But not like most people think. He never would work when he went to drinkin'. He'd stay in the hotel room. Then the promoter would have so many people there and would lose so much money, they would go and drag him down there drunk. And that's when he would make drunk appearances. In other words, he was a human, like anybody else."
Price's first records under his Columbia contract featured the backing of Williams' Drifting Cowboys, and despite their quality, they cut a little too close to Hank's groove for notability. Price also "made one tour with Hank in '52. We played some dates in Virginia and South Carolina, New Year's Eve and everything. He didn't make the first two dates," Price laughs.
"Hank Williams," he continues, "was the hottest damned thing in the world, as far as country music, and they put me out there to fill in for him -- in front of about 10,000 people in Norfolk. So, I didn't know what I was gonna do. I was scared to death. I started doing this song -- I had to use his band -- and I didn't know what key I did anything in. Went out there cold, and I told 'em the key on the song, and hell! It must've been two keys too high! The name of the song was `I Made a Mistake, and I'm Sorry.' And I got up to the `I Made a Mistake' part, then I sang, `...and I'm too damn High!'" he laughs.
"I stopped, and the people went ape. I could've done anything after that. Anything! It didn't make no difference. They was with me, God love 'em."
Quickly sobering up, Price adds, "But yeah, I guess I was Hank's best friend. Everywhere he'd play, he'd tell everybody about me and to look out for me, that I was gonna be Number One someday. I didn't even know he was doing it until after he died."
It took awhile. It took Price's hiring the Western Cherokees, a hard-driving Texas honky tonk/Western swing outfit, away from Lefty Frizzell in 1954 and renaming them the Cherokee Cowboys. It also took "Crazy Arms," with its hardened bass-and-drum pulse wed to a walking bass line. With further hits like "Heartaches by the Number" and "My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You," the Ray Price Sound caught on quickly. In fact, the sound became so inescapable, it even crept its way into the pop mainstream via a Nashville-cut: Elvis Presley's early Sixties hit, "She's Not You."
"Elvis and I was buddies!" Ray yelps. "I used to play... I believe it was the Lakeside Ballroom in Memphis every Friday night, years ago. And at intermission, Elvis would play, just him and his guitar. He was a nice kid, a really nice kid. But what he went through," Price adds, suddenly grim, "for what he got, I wouldn't have done it. Shit, he was locked up all his life. I don't believe in that."
Sam Phillips once said that if Presley had been allowed to walk the streets of his own hometown without being bothered, he'd still be alive today.
"That's right. But that's the way it was. He had a big fight with Tom Parker. He wanted to go to town and get him some ice cream, then go to a movie. Tom Parker said, `You do, and when you get back, our deal's up. I'm gone. You agreed that you would stay hid all the time out of public as long as we're in the business.' Now, that actually come about. And [Presley] believed him. 'Course Tom Parker was nobody without Presley, know what I mean? He was a smart man in the business, because he'd handled Eddy Arnold, and I think Hank Snow. But I'm talking about the big money way. Tom Parker was nothing 'til Presley."
Price pauses, then allows himself a slight bit of swaggering: "But we knocked `Heartbreak Hotel' off the Number One spot (on the country charts) with `Crazy Arms.'"
The hits kept coming and Price gained a reputation for having an ear for budding songwriters. Among those he gave breaks to: Harlan Howard ("Heartaches by the Number"), Mel Tillis ("One More Time" and "Heart Over Mind"), and Bill Anderson ("City Lights"). With "Invitation to the Blues," Price put royalties in the pocket of his drummer, an upstart songsmith by the name of Roger Miller. The Cherokee Cowboys, in fact, became as much a breeding ground for future country stars as Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours, whipping into shape a number of young bucks, such as steel legend (and now occasional Don Walser sideman) Jimmy Day. When Donnie Young abandoned the bass guitar slot in the Cherokee Cowboys to become Johnny Paycheck, his replacement was a recent arrival in Nashville named Willie Hugh Nelson. It's Nelson's rhythm guitar which graces San Antonio Rose.
By Price's guess, the 1961 San Antonio Rose was one of the first tribute albums ever released. It certainly predates Merle Haggard's own Wills salute, A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World, by nearly 10 years. Unlike Haggard's record, though, which sought to faithfully recreate the Texas Playboys sound (and in the process helped spearhead the Western Swing revival), Price's record saw him taking Wills' classics like "Roly Poly" and "A Maiden's Prayer" and making Ray Price songs out of them -- treating them all like "Crazy Arms." Price shrugs it off, muttering "That's how we try to do all of them." But this is Price's genius, and the mark of a true artist: Never ape someone else. Create something of your own. Reach inside, find something uniquely yours, rub that all over the material, and leave it standing as 100 proof Price.
After a time, it was hard to find 100 proof Ray Price records anymore. Records like "For the Good Times" found Price going the Eddy Arnold route, testing the MOR market with string-laden ballads that smacked more of a Vegas showroom than a honky tonk. Those weren't fiddles you heard on Ray Price records, anymore. Those were violins.
"I've always done my hit country songs," Price protests. "And we've always done them with the old sound, even when I worked with the symphony. I just leaned a little more toward the old sound later on, when it started getting hard to hear anymore."
It probably began with the duet album Price cut with Willie Nelson in 1980, also titled San Antonio Rose. The following year, a PBS broadcast featuring seminal Fifties honky tonkers showcased a Ray Price who looked as if he was out for blood. There was a lean, hungry look in his eye, and he leaned into Vintage Price standards like "Crazy Arms" and "Heartaches by the Number" and nothing else for 15 minutes, singing with strength, clarity, and the joy of a man freed from a dungeon after 25 years. Price mopped the floor with his contemporaries. The man was back.
Unfortunately, that was 15 years ago, and today times are tough for Price and his ilk -- at least in the eyes of Nashville. Although he still does over 100 dates a year, drawing "as good crowds as we ever have," Price has been without a record deal for some time now. This, however, hasn't stopped him: He's just cut a Spanish language disc in San Antonio with his musical-director of the last 30 years, Blondie Calderon. That it's heavy with ballads of the "Por Los Tiempos Buenos" variety, is neither here nor there.
Price has also begun work on a country album that will most likely be released on an indie label he and Calderon are setting up, though at this point they still need to raise funds for both ventures. Strangely enough, one avenue of fundraising may come in the guise of hot sauce, taken from an old Calderon family recipe and marketed as "Ray Price's Burning Memories." Meanwhile, what spare time isn't eaten by fishing excursions on his land near Mt. Pleasant might find Price writing his memoirs, which the singer jokes he'll title For the Good Times, My Ass!
"Actually, I'll probably title it The Way It Really Was, Price adds, levelly, "because I was there when it happened. I know what went down, and I know what people did. And it ain't gonna be one of them kiss-and-tell jobs."
Depending on the writing skills of either Price or (should he choose that route) his ghost writer, those non-hot-sauce burning memories of his should make fascinating reading. After all, Price has seen a lot of history, and created enough of his own to finally land in the Country Music Hall of Fame. And you can sense in his restlessness, which is odd in a man of 70, that Ray Price is itching to create even more history. So long as he fights the urge to hire violin players rather than fiddle players, that should be no problem.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"RADIO NAPALM" podcast # 16: The Garage Has Moved!

Man, I love the new Mixcloud widgets for all of us Cloudcasters! I mean, look at the thing below! It even shows the playlist, so I don't have to go retyping it here when I post the shows here to help promote 'em! Man, Mixcloud thinks of EVERYTHING!

But this week's show is up, and it's a humdinger. FAR better than the half-assed Lou Reed Memorial Special I produced and threw up on Mixcloud the day of his death. For one thing, I actually had time to produce this week's show, even though we were moving to new Napalm HQ and a new location for The Garage...and Ed and Scooter didn't lift ONE GODDAMNED FINGER! *ahem!* Lazy bastards....

Anyway. this show sounds pretty tits, to me. It helps when you have so much good music to play: THE YARDBIRDS, MOTORHEAD, THE LAZY COWGIRLS, MUDHONEY, CHEETAH CHROME, THE RONETTES. We even have a German punk band called RAZOR SMILEZ, covering THE HORMONES' "SELL OUT YOUNG!" How can I NOT love a cover of my band and my song? (I also played the original, of course....)

Anyway, before I digress anywhere further than my current new location, just press play below. Enjoy....

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween With Creepy Uncle Bill And Aunt Alice (Cooper, That Is....)

Happy Halloween from Austin, TX, which has apparently decided to be Seattle for Trick Or Treating, this year. We are getting lashed with rain, since last night. To the point where, as a photo posted by my pal Metal Dave illustrates, the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue's had to learn to swim....

Texas Flood, indeed....

But how are they celebrating All Hallow's Eve in Lawrence, KS? Well, as William S. Burroughs illustrates below, they like to indulge in a little pumpkin carving....

Me? I've got boxes to pack, as there's a new apartment across town awaiting my moving in. So, we'll stop off in Detroit ca. 1971, and let the original Alice Cooper band carry us out with one of rock 'n' roll's most truly terrifying tunes, "The Ballad Of Dwight Fry," done completely live. You even get to see them setting up in this clip! Happy Halloween, y'all!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My New Hit Record: "This Magic Moment"

Last night, in a fit of solo recording frenzy, I whipped up a minimalist, lo-fi take on an old standard, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman's "This Magic Moment." I was excited enough by the results, I hastily threw up a Soundcloud page so you can hear it. Hope you enjoy it....

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"RADIO NAPALM" Special Lou Reed Memorial Show...And A Few Words About Lou

In some ways, the point of this post is moot, the point being to promote a "RADIO NAPALM" podcast that's already well on its way to being the most listened to in the new series. It's already a success, despite the damned thing being hastily assembled in the event of Lou Reed's death Sunday, October 27th, 2013 from complications due to liver disease. That haste means I'm not entirely sure the show's worthy of the audience. Certainly, it marks an occasion where the show for once is not a raving celebration of the punk rock spirit and vintage rock 'n' roll radio it usually is. And how could it be? Lou Reed is fucking dead.

Writing those words don't set well with me. Lou was a prickly bastard, for sure, one who communicated best through his songs, even as he oft times seemed to use his solo career to alienate anyone whose life was saved by the rock 'n' roll he created in The Velvet Underground, and used his own public persona to keep everyone away. I'm personally one who felt he made more lousy albums than good. Transformer is the most obvious example of solo Lou at his best. Berlin. Metal Machine Music is a perverse pleasure. But he mostly seemed to take a perverse delight in holding a middle finger up to the world. Lou also was the sort of artist who really needed a good editor. He had that in John Cale, and in David Bowie and Mick Ronson on Transformer. Left to his own devices, he could not tell his own shit from his diamonds. I mean, really: Did Lou Reed really think collaborating with Metallica was a good idea?

Yet, why is it I feel like Elvis just died? 

I don't think it's so much to do with that now-clicheed Brian Eno quote always trotted out in any discussion of the Velvet Underground, about the influence they had being so insanely out of proportion with their pisspoor record sales. I think what really says a lot about Lou's - and the Velvets' - impact is that in the 48 hours since his death, he has inspired so many great writers to write even more brilliantly. These eulogies are instant classics, sure to take pride of place in future anthologies.

This is because, ultimately, Lou Reed was a great writer himself.

Yes, he inspired everyone who heard his records to become a junkie faggot from New York City in a black leather jacket, solid black clothing, and ever-present sunglasses. Yes, he played some of the sickest rock 'n' roll lead guitar ever. Yes, he was a great singer who could not sing, had a limited range, and sounded flat to the rest of the world while sounding like Edith Piaf to all us faux NYC junkie faggots who heard him. But the key to Lou Reed was he was ultimately Raymond Chandler with a rock 'n' roll heart.

Like Buddy Holly, Lou Reed preferred simplicity. He wrote symphonies out of three chords at most. Even as he blew crazed free jazz skronk guitar all over his records, he relied on the simplistic grooves of Moe Tucker's drums and John Cale's three-note bass. And he didn't write lyrics - he wrote stories. Highly literary, poetic stories full of urban gutter journalism, subject matter that was acceptable in novels and movies but is still frowned on in rock 'n' roll or pop music. He wrote of kicks and bad drugs and transvestites and squalor and kinky sex and general bad craziness, in simple, hard-boiled language that was direct and honest. It wasn't celebrating these things. It was simply telling it like it is.

He also had a vulnerability, a gentle side that he was not afraid to flash, at least in song. Ferchissakes, one of the best Velvet Underground songs, a B-side called "Jesus," was an honest-to-God hymn. I now wish I'd included it in this show. But there's a lot I left out. This show could have gone on for hours. There was that much great stuff in Lou's canon, despite that pisspoor overall batting average on good releases versus howling dogs.

Personally, I didn't get it at first. As a 14-year-old Sex Pistols/punk rock besotted youth, I came to Lou at first via Rock 'n' Roll Animal. I kept reading about Lou and the Velvet Underground in every magazine I picked up. Rock 'n' Roll Animal was availble in the five buck bin in the local Krogers record department, and I took a chance. I hated it on first listen, and still do. What's with this heavy metal record with the dirty lyrics? It took hearing Ronnie Bonds spin the Velvets' original of "Rock And Roll" on his old Funhouse show on KPFT in Houston to understand: Lou Reed songs make great rock 'n' roll, not great heavy metal. These are different musics, no matter what you may think. This is why that Metallica team-up still is a head-scratcher....

But looking over my own songs I've written? I've said for years I learned all I know about writing songs from Phil Spector. I still stand behind it, but I can see there's as much Lou Reed there as Phil. There are times I've forgotten some of those lessons, but that's par for the course with growing artistically. But having a good groove, a solid-but-simple riff, some vicious guitar, a lyric that tells a tough truth in simple-but-beautiful language? That's all Lou Reed, through-and-through.

And now Lou Reed's dead, after a lifetime making me hate him more than love him, but loving what I love to the point of obsession. And all I can offer is this half-assed RADIO SHOW?! This just proves I can never hope to repay my debt to the man....

Yet, you guys are loving this, anyway. Despite there being no comedy, no screaming, no echo, no Ed The Engineer or Scooter, and me sounding as morose, stammering, and amaturish as I've ever sounded, you guys are loving this show. Because it's all about Lou Reed: Some early songs, a lot of Velvet Underground, some solo work, and a few musical tributes from those who got it. I have to thank you for that.

R.I.P., Lou. Rest In Peace.

THE JADES - So Blue (first record, 1957)
THE ALL-NIGHT WORKERS - Why Don't You Smile Now
DIDJITS - Lou Reed (Full Nelson Reilly, 1991)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND - Sunday Morning (mono 45)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND - Run Run Run (acetate, different mix)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND - I'm Waiting For My Man (mono LP mix)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND - Femme Fatale (mono 45)
ADAM AND THE ANTS - Lou (Peel Session, 1978)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND - White Light, White Heat
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND  - Guess I'm Falling In Love (Workout At The Gymnasium bootleg)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND - Beginning To See The Light 
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND - Temptation Inside Your Heart
DAVID BOWIE - White Light, White Heat
LOU REED - Vicious
LOU REED - Walk On The Wild
THE DREAM SYNDICATE - Tell Me When It's Over
JONATHAN RICHMAN - Velvet Underground

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


"PAT FEAR ROCKS!!" That's what it said on the side of his Flying V. And White Flag mastermind and daredevil punk rock prankster Bill "Pat Fear" Bartell is no longer with us - died in his sleep last Monday, following years of health problems. I knew Bill, but not well - we were both ex-fLiPSiDers, for one. So, of course, I had to at least play four White Flag hits and read a poem Tony of The Adolescents composed, memorializing the friend he knew well.

Among other highlights:
  • Scooter gets a bigger vocabulary!
  • We play more of your requests!
  • Classics from THE LOOTERS (aka that Sex Pistols/Clash band from Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains), THE CRAMPS, BLACK FLAG, and WIRE!
  • New noise from OFF!, THE STRYPES, BULLET PROOF HEARTS, and more!
It's all NAPALMTASTIC! Now click and play!

Now, here's the playlist:

THE LOOTERS - Conned Again (1980, unreleased Pistols/Clash hybrid, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FABULOUS STAINS)
ZAKARY THAKS - Face To Face (1967 Corpus Christi garage punk)
THE CRAMPS - Domino (1979)
PINK FAIRIES - City Kids (UK, 1973)
WIRE - I Am The Fly (requested by Rob Cooley, Georgetown, TX, and Jennifer Kerr, Chewelah, Washington)
BLACK FLAG - I've Had It (requested by Sam Rogers, NYC)
THE SCIENTISTS - Last Night (Goose [the Great Dismal Swamis, ex- Phantom Creeps], Friedricksburg, VA)
RUBBER CITY REBELS - "Rubber City Rebels" from the split with the Bizarros (Brian Schickling , Long Beach )
OFF! - What's Next? (Grand Theft Auto V, 2013)
THE STRYPES - Blue Collar Jane (recent single)
10 CENT FUCK FLICKS - Womanaire (Queens sleaze punk on Drug Front Records)
BULLET PROOF HEARTS - American Custom (Omaha punk rock 2013)
PLOWBOY SPOTLIGHT: BOBBY BARE JR. - Make The World Go Away (You Don't Know Me: Rediscovering Eddy Arnold)
WHITE FLAG - Shattered Badge (1984, Mystic Records COPULATION LP)
WHITE FLAG - Suicide King (Wild Kingdom, 1987)
WHITE FLAG - Instant Breakfast (Wild Kingdom, 1987)
WHITE FLAG - I'm Down (Jail Jello split w/Necros, 1986)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How The Cruz Stole Christmas

I do not like Ted Cruz.

I do not like Ted Cruz on trains. I do not like Ted Cruz on planes.

I do not like Ted Cruz when he blatantly, egotistically ignores his own party's pleas to go forward with his grandstanding plan to filibuster Obamacare out of funding, and selfishly shut down the government in the process.

I do not like Ted Cruz when he hijacks one of my favorite children's stories in the process:

I do not like Ted Cruz when he claims on his Twitter page that he is "representing the State Of Texas in the United States Senate," when he doesn't represent me or anyone I know, and is in fact wasting tax dollars reading Dr. Seuss aloud. Which would seem to be counter to his being one of those "not with mah money" Tea Baggers.

I do not like Ted Cruz when he is actually a Canadian citizen beloved of the same hydrocephaloids still clinging to the disproven notion that our President is Kenyan.

I do not like Ted Cruz when he is loudly attempting to derail Obamacare at the moment a friend - White Flag guitarist Bill "Pat Fear" Bartell - was dying from complications that likely could have been helped had he had affordable health care. Knowing Bill, even as little as I did, I'm pretty sure that, had he been aware, he'd have put off his demise to scream at Ted Cruz himself, good progressive that Bill was. R.I.P., Bill.

In fact, I'd rather listen to White Flag right now than to the hot air machine I've spent this post complaining about, so far. Unlike Ted Cruz, Bill Bartell was brilliant and upbeat and positive. He was a prankster of the first order and a genius of joyful chaos. My experiences around him were few, but always fantastic. Bill Bartell's impact on this universe is far more worthy than Ted Cruz' will ever be. You just have to hear how this rocks to understand:

By the way, in looking at the stats for my blog, I see one person came to it from doing a Google search on the term "joe strummer was an idiot." No, Joe was fine. It's you who is idiotic. Please don't ever read my blog again. You're as big an asshole as Ted Cruz. Fuck you.

And thanks to the 274 of you who read yesterday's post the last 24 hours. Y'all should be alerted to the existence of another $375 "punk" jacket out there. Only it's nowhere near as authentic as Urban Outfitters', as crappy as that is....

ADDENDUM, 11:21 AM: The Talking Points Memo just reminded us all what my emotions prevented me even from seeing in the clip I posted above - Cruz' grandstanding is not a filibuster at all, just him masturbating publicly on the tax payers' dime. Frankly, I'd rather see Daphne Rosen doing that - Ted Cruz just is not sexy....

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

That $375.00 "Punk" Jacket

First of all, let me just say...THIS IS AWESOME!


And a whole bunch of people ARE NOT GETTING IT!

Yesterday - certainly with help from me - this particular item went viral on Facebook: A shabbily-rendered old "punk" leather jacket, selling for $375 at Urban Outfitters in the vintage area. It went viral for good reason: It is so hilariously wrong on so many levels.

As usual, a lot of people got upset. As usual, it was wrong-headed. For one thing, I get the feeling some of those people thought this was some mass-produced high-fashion item, sold in large quantities at a premium price as "authentic" when it's off the production line and off the rack.

No, guys, you missed it: It says "vintage." It's in Urban Outfitter's vintage department. Which means one of their buyers found this piece of crap in a Goodwill, probably for $4.00, and is selling it like it was the latest Yves St. Laurent gown. Because it's so "authentic."

I remember a lot of woefully executed garments like this back when. This was part and parcel of D.I.Y. punk rock culture: The results could be especially ugly, in a culture that embraced a sort of institutionalized ugliness. This wasn't merely graphically rough-edged, though: It's wrong. On every level.

First, it's not a proper motorcycle jacket, ala The Ramones or Sid. This appears to be some '80s Members Only jacket. And not even a real one - probably a Sears or JC Penneys knockoff.

Then comes the decoration. Dude must have used 50 bottles of Liquid Paper on the back of this already shabby jacket. Then he clearly drew the logos in ballpoint pen (or biro, for my British readers), or at most a Sharpie. He had not heard about spray paint and cardboard stencils.

I'm pretty sure next time the jacket's original owner showed up in the pit at his local slam-a-torium, that jacket got him laughed right out of that pit. Every girl he approached surely shut him down too: "*pffft!* I wouldn't fuck ANYONE dressed in THAT! Are you serious?!"

Surely, this sad garment likely lasted one or two gigs before its owner tired of being the laughing stock of the scene. Back in the closet it went, likely not even replaced with something more proper. Eventually, the owner studied to be an accountant in college, bought Pearl Jam's Ten when it came out, graduated, got married, and voted for George W. Bush. Both times.

The wife decided to clean out the closet recently, and came upon The Jacket.

"Oh, my GAWD!" she screamed, before laughing uncontrollably. "Honey, what in the HECK is THIS?!"

She shows it to The Dude, probably cleaning the gutters in their safe suburban tract home.

He glances, blushes in embarrassment. "Oh, that?! Heh heh! Yeah, that was back when I was young and crazy...."

So, it was boxed up, along with the old tennis rackets and aluminum cookware and some Polos that no longer fit him, and it was off to the Goodwill donation center.

At some point, an Urban Outfitters buyer is scouring the stacks at this particular Goodwill...and there it is.

"Oh, GOODNESS! What a FIND! A remarkable piece of AUTHENTIC PUNK ROCK! We MUST have this! We could make SO MUCH MONEY off this!"

And here it is. Some asshole fashionista will soon purchase it, because $375 plus postage and handling is just burning a hole in his credit card. And he will be the center of attention at the club that night, all the other hipsters wondering where they can get a piece of shit like that.

While the rest of us laugh.

And for the person who remarked on one of the threads that this was "bastardizing the punk and metal scenes?" Guess you didn't see this. It's also $375....

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The annual birthday stock-taking

No, it's not my birthday. That was the 12th.  This is just the first chance I got.

Normally, I take my birthday to take stock of the past year, and to count my blessings. It's kinda my New Year's ritual - I just do it when my New Year begins....

Is this why I keep hearing I'm narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, and a pompous, egotistical prick?

I've gotten that a lot over the years, and been getting it a lot lately. Mostly from people pissed off at me, because I had to put them in their place. Thing is: Yes, I have an ego. Yes, I am narcissistic. I'm a performer and a public figure, even if my public is small. Still, this is how you play to the back row. As I told an ex-, "If you don't want to deal with narcissists, stop dating musicians!" (Or writers, or whatever artistic or creative types.)

I have to tune out this noise, which is perpetual. It's someone else trying to chip their way into my head and make me insecure and self-conscious, and I've got too much going on for that.

Which is the difference between a year ago and now: I've got too much going on.

At this point last year, I had just quit a band I didn't feel was working for me, was kicked out of a house I was living in after a month, was living in a motel room I could ill afford, and was scraping by working day labor - the only work I could find in Denver.

Not long after that, I was ready to put a bullet in my head. Literally. The situation felt hopeless.

It had been 15 years since I'd burned out on and walked away from my chosen profession, rock journalism. And try as I could, I could not find a new way to live and support myself. Nor could I find a town I could settle and fit into.

I was desperate. And none of this is an exaggeration.

Come mid-October, I reached out to my uncle and asked if he could help me get to Austin. 30 hours before I left Denver, I announced on Facebook I was homeless and at the end of my rope in Denver and needed to come home. In short order, the old community stepped in.

I came to Austin with a temporary place to stay and folks willingly loaning me living expenses for a few weeks. Come November, I moved into a situation similar to what I had in 1991, with the same landlord, and paying rent I could afford. Soon, I had a temporary job.

Then The Austin Chronicle reached out to me and asked me to come back.

And now? I am exactly as I was when I was young and thriving: I make my living writing for the Chron and a few other magazines and websites as a freelancer, and also earn a small salary to produce "RADIO NAPALM" as a weekly show now. I'm not rich, but I'm supporting myself and my art, as I did in the '90s. And I bought an amp on layaway and have assembled a new lineup of The Hormones. We are rehearsing, and will become public in December.

I may be abrasive when called upon or pushed, and I may have an ego. But no, I'm humbled and I'm grateful. Austin, you love to bag on yourself for the way you're changing. But you gave me my life back. And that's a gift I cherish. Thank you.

"RADIO NAPALM" Podcast # 12: In Celebration of Vernette Bader

Study that face. Remember it. Imprint it in your deepest recesses. This is the face of what police in North Charleston, South Carolina, consider a dangerous criminal. But to us Irregulars, she is a heroine.

She is Vernett Bader, and she is the woman taken into custody for the attempted stabbing of her roommate...because the asshole wouldn't stop playing THE EAGLES!

Here at "RADIO NAPALM," we think this is wrong! The roommate should be arrested for cruelly inflicting his shitty taste on the world! Vernett Bader deserves a medal, a book contract, and a tour of daytime talk shows.

Instead, we give her a radio show.

"RADIO NAPALM" was due to feature your requests this week, for the first time. And we still play them. But Vernett's story so moved Ed, Scooter, and I, we knew what we had to do: We had to dedicate this week's show to Vernett.

So yes, the show is pretty much as it always is. But it's all done in Vernett's honor.

Oh, here's the link - click and play:

And here's the playlist:

MAGAZINE - Shot By Both Sides
DAN SARTAIN - Now Now Now (with Jane Wiedlin) (Too Tough To Live, 2012) 
THE EQUALS - Police On My Back (1968, Requested by Lonesome Dave Fisher, Austin, TX)
BORN LOOSE -  Step Up To The Plate (Be A Runaway) (Larry May, ex-Candy Snatchers, NYC 2012)
THE CLASH - Guns Of Brixton (Sound System remaster 2013, Requested by Jason Martin, Austin, TX)
999 - Emergency (original 45 rip, 1978)
THE COPPER GAMINS - All Hid (Mexico, 2013, Los Ninos De Cobre, Saustex Media)
THE HUMPERS - Steel-Toed Sneakers (Punk-O-Rama, Vol. 3, requested by Alan Villareal, Round Rock)
THE LOVESORES - Flamethrower Chic (2013, Portland, Scott "Deluxe" Drake)
JD MCPHERSON - North Side Gal (Signs & Signifiers, 2012)
JIM JONES REVUE - Collision Boogie (new single out Oct. 14, requested by Walter Daniels, Austin, TX)
PUSSY GALORE - Pig Sweat (Right Now!, 1987)
JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION - Boot Cut  (Meat & Bone, 2012)
PLOWBOY SPOTLIGHT: BEBE BUELL - I'll Hold You In My Heart (2013, You Don't Know Me: Rediscovering Eddy Arnold)
EDDIE COCHRAN - Nervous Breakdown (1958)
TOP TUNE OF THE DAY: THE DEVIL DOGS - Radio Beat (requested by Kari Krome)

Friday, September 13, 2013


Irregulars, I know I've been lax in posting the radio show here in the blog, of late. Actually, I've just been lax about the blog, but that's another story.
BUT...before I digress too far up my own backside and start reminiscing about shoveling snow in Denver or some crud, let's put this thing back on rails.
Yesterday was my 48th birthday. Among the presents I received (including two new pairs of hi-tops, which I've been needing, and a new pair of black skinny chinos) was the new Clash box set out on Sony/Legacy as of Tuesday the 10th, Sound Syustem. Mick Jones himself lovingly remastered the back catalog, making it sound more 3D than it has since the original vinyl records were issued, then assembled it onto high quality facsimile CDs, alongside a triple-disc of non-LP 45s, B-sides, early demos and live material and a DVD of archival footage. Paul Simonon then equally lovingly assembled a beautiful package to house the disc that's itself a work of art: He filled a fliptop box based around his old Clash-era boombox with facsimile tour badges, stickers, dogtags, three issues of the old Armagideon Times fanzine (including a specially assembled new edition), even a blank book for you to fill titled The Future Is Unwritten (to get quite Joe Strummer about it).
That new Clash box was handed to me by my editor at The Austin Chronicle not only as an early birthday present, but with the express instruction to write a 300 word review and an expanded blog. You will see those next week. But this is such musical gold, why not assemble a radio birthday celebration of one of my favorite bands around Sound System's treasures?
That I did, working around the clock after posting another new "RADIO NAPALM" this past Monday. And I didn't stop with Sound System: I assembled a Clash audio collage for 90+ minutes, filling the gaps out of my own vast archives with vintage interviews with Joe, Mick and Paul, plus some exciting unreleased live material. This is an assault of prime Clashness for your ears.
Enjoy my birthday gift to you: "RADIO NAPALM": This Is Radio Clash, streaming for your punk rock pleasure at Mixcloud. The link is below, just above the playlist. Click it, open your speakers wide and everybody smash up your seats and rock to this brand-new beat! This here music mash up the nation! This here music cause a sensation! Tell your ma, tell your pa: Everything gonna be alright....

Capital Radio One (live, "So It Goes" UK Granada TV, Manchester, 11/15/77)
Janie Jones (Sound System remaster)
Pressure Drop (Sound System remaster)
Garageland (live, "So It Goes" UK Granada TV, Manchester, 11/15/77)
White Riot (45 version, Sound System remaster)
Complete Control (Sound System remaster)
White Man In Hammersmith Palais (Sound System remaster)
Safe European Home (Sound System remaster)
Tommy Gun (live UK TV Appearance, 1978)
I Fought The Law (Sound System remaster)
Groovy Times (Sound System remaster)
London Calling (Sound System remaster)
Clampdown (Sound System remaster)
The Guns Of Brixton (Sound System remaster)
Train In Vain (Sound System remaster)
Bankrobber (Sound System remaster)
Police On My Back (Sound System remaster)
One More Time (Sound System remaster)
Know Your Rights (Sound System remaster)
Straight To Hell (from "Saturday Night Live")
1977 (live in Cardiff, Wales, 1977)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

REPOST: Something I rarely talk about....

Today's True Hero: Johnny Heff

TIM SEZ: Repost from my old MySpace blog from three years back. Ike fizzled before he got to Austin, obviously. In the time since I posted this, my friend's death score was settled, with Bin Laden's capture and execution. (And no, I don't buy any conspiracy theories on this subject. Nor do I buy conspiracy theories, period. Please save it all for your next Alex Jones fan club meeting, thank you.) Troops have been thinned in Iraq and Afghanistan, but.... And there's a chance we may find ourselves in another conflict soon. On a personal level, I reflect that this day began a ten year spiral of personal tragedy and self-destruction I've only come out of in the last year - miracles do happen. Today, I also reflect that America became a mean-spirited, selfish nation in the wake of this day, and we have never recovered from it nor corrected it - it just gets worse. We never fucking learn....

I repost this every year, so we don't forget, so some semblance of truth remains out there...and for my late friend Johnny you will read about here. He is a real hero. I miss him every day.

Something I rarely talk about
Current mood:  contemplative
Category: Life
It looks pretty certain the day after my birthday, I'm riding out a hurricane. Odd, for the Austin area. Where I grew up, it was more common: I'd been through three by the time I was a teenager, the last one having been Allen back in 1980 (I think it was). Not a big deal, really. By the time Ike hits here, he's gonna be a lotta wind and rain, really.

But, come on, Ike: Could your timing be any worse?

It's kinda par for the course, right now. Something about this decade and my birthday has meant disaster for me. There was the girlfriend who decided to break up with me the week of my birthday, just because that would sting the most, I'm sure. Then, there was the birthday on which Johnny Cash had the misfortune of dying. That really sucked.

But I think the coldest was the group of middle eastern gentlemen who thought it would be really cool to fly a couple of airplanes into the World Trade Center the day before my birthday in 2001.

I slept through it. I was homeless at the time and staying with a friend on 7th and Ave. B, probably three or four miles from the Twin Towers. She was out of town, and I was house-sitting, soon to move in with my friend Sami Yaffa and his girl Karmen. I was working at the time as a professional dog walker, and I got up at 11 AM. It was supposed to be just another day: I was thinking about coffee, looking over the schedule, wondering who the first dog of the day would be, etc., etc. I turned on Howard Stern's show, as was my wont back then (until he said something completely insulting about John Lee Hooker on the day Hook died, and I swore I'd never listen to the tasteless bastard again). And judging by the hysteria I was hearing, it was the end of the world.

I called my boss to find out what was going on. That was when I found out the towers had been hit.

From there, people were calling in left and right, canceling walks; most of our customer base worked in the financial district, so they were now gonna be home. I was getting all kinds of bits and pieces from there: The doorman at the building on Irving Place where a few of my dogs lived reported looking up and seeing the first jet flying so close to the ground, he could see its' markings. My friend Mark who lived two blocks away called me up and told me he was on the phone, talking to his mother, looking out his panoramic view of the southern end of Manhattan...and saw that same jet fly right past his building, shaking him and the whole building. Mark got a front row seat at watching it crash straight into Tower Number One.

These calls were going on for three hours. I couldn't sit down to eat. Finally, about 2 PM, I was able to leave the apartment and walk down to Ave. A, in search of breakfast. Every joint in the neighborhood was crammed to the rafters, it seemed. There were hand-written signs in the windows, advising that the Red Cross needed blood, go to this hospital or that one, go to Bellvue, go someplace, we need blood. The air smelled awful, like burning tires or hair, but worse. It would be that way for months. And can you imagine what it does to a mind, knowing that what you're breathing might be friends of yours'?

I finally squeezed into Sidewalk Cafe, ran into friends I knew from the local rock circuit. The waitresses and bartenders looked like they were gonna have coronaries. My waitress confided in me that they were severely understaffed, especially with the crush they were experiencing, and people due to work that day who lived out in Brooklyn or wherever were calling in because the subways were now shut down and they couldn't make it in. She looked like she was about to cry. Seconds later, some jerk at the table next to me started cursing her out about how long it was taking for him to get his eggs. I slammed my fist on his table and shocked him: "DUDE, DO YOU GET IT? CAN YOU LOOK AROUND YOU? DO YOU SEE HOW OVERWORKED THESE PEOPLE ARE RIGHT NOW? CAN YOU TURN AROUND AND SEE THE COLUMN OF SMOKE WHERE THE WORLD TRADE CENTER USED TO BE? CAN YOU FOR ONCE IN YOUR GAWDFERSAKEN EXISTENCE STOP THINKING ABOUT YOURSELF AND TRY TO PUT YOURSELF IN THE SHOES OF THE PEOPLE WORKING HERE AND THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU?"

"What are you getting mad at me for?" he whined. "It's not my fault they don't have enough people working. I'm hungry." I just stared at him.

I decided to wander a bit after eating and having coffee. People were then walking up from around the disaster site, walking because the subways were shut down, and no cabs can be found. They were covered in soot, looking like some ancient Jack Kirby panel out of a '60s Marvel comic. I ran into Jesse Malin, on his way to buy a protein bar and a newspaper. We started talking about The Strokes' debut album, which had just been released a few days before. (Or maybe that was only in the UK? Well, copies were obviously getting around on import.) And I remember at the time thinking, "Why are we talking about The Strokes in the middle of this?!"

My cellphone rang. It was my mother. She'd been trying to reach me for hours. The satellite dishes for the cellphone companies were based at the Twin Towers. Finally, a provisional satellite path was opened, and she could know I was alive. The family were scared shitless: They had no idea of the geography of Manhattan, and for all they knew, I could be dead.

I went back to the apartment and finally turned on the news. For hours, my eyes were raped with endless repeats of the footage of those planes crashing into those towers. It was relentless. I finally had to turn it off and order pay-per-view porn. After all, what's amoral here: Being bombarded with footage of the WTC being penetrated hard and fast by terrorist-commandeered planes? Or being bombarded with footage of Jenna Jameson getting penetrated hard and fast from various angles?

The days and weeks after were like nothing I'd ever experienced. I remember having to wear a filter mask as I did the dogwalks for a long time, and suffering massive headaches from the air quality. For awhile, you would be forced to present ID at two different checkpoints to MPs if you lived in the East Village, just to get to and from your apartment. Armed personnel carriers would be going up and down Houston St. The middle eastern guys who ran the deli downstairs looked at me with pleading, fearful eyes that told me they were already getting harassed for the color of their skins and their accents. Probably by the same louts I heard that Friday up and down Avenue B, drunkenly chanting, "U! S! A! U! S! A!" I feared those clowns more than I did potential terrorists.

I can remember my mother and I talking, and she kept telling me, "We all understand. We all are with you. We're all going through this together." And I had to tell her that no, there was no way she could understand unless she was here. She got to watch this from the safety of her living room. This wasn't TV for me or anyone else in NYC. This was our lives. And it wasn't fun, and I hoped that she (and everyone else who didn't live here) never had to find out what I was going through.

The worst was finding out how one of my dearest friends was affected by this: Johnny Heffernan was one of my local brothers in rock. His band The Bullys was one of Napalm Stars' brother bands. Johnny was frequently there when I needed him, whether I needed to borrow an amp, or whether I was having to fend off an obnoxious and violent stage invader. I considered him one of my best friends. He was to have left on my birthday to go on tour with The Toilet Boys, doing their lighting.

Johnny was also a NYC fire fighter.

He was not supposed to be on duty on Sept. 11, 2001. It was supposed to be his day off. He was working instead, trying to get in overtime before he left on the road, to support his wife and young stepdaughter. His company was among the first to respond when Tower Number One was hit. From what I remember, most (if not all) of his company was buried when the tower collapsed. Johnny's bandmates, family, friends, we all held hope that he was still alive. They pulled Johnny's crushed body out one month later.

We all know who killed my friend, as well as the many others who died that day. America invaded Afghanistan shortly after, gunning for Osama Bin Laden. Over time, our leaders began telling us Iraq had some connection with the WTC attacks, that they had weapons of mass destruction, that Saddaam Hussein had something to do with this. This, of course, turned out not to be the case. We are still at war in Iraq. Osama Bin Laden, the man who commanded the men who killed my friend and all those others, remains free.

Happy birthday.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"They're ALL Mistakes!" What The Austin Chronicle Left Out Of My Cheap Trick Piece

TIM: "Say, Rick! Whaddaya say we blow this joint, grab a couple 7-11 chili dogs and some Nesbitt Orange Soda, and listen to Move outtakes all night?" RICK NIELSEN: "Who IS this freakin' nutjob?!" (Pic: Todd Wulfmeyer)
First of all, Happy July 4th! I'll probably celebrate my freedom by hitting the neighborhood 7-11 for a Quarter Pound Big Bite with chili, mustard, and onions and a Mexican Coca Cola, which should just about clear out the five bucks I have 'til midnight. Livin' on the edge in America, baby....

Secondly, thanks to the 147 of you who have hit my post on the HB2 hearing in the Texas State Legislature on Tuesday. That's 147 readers since it was posted at 8:30 PM last night, making it the largest audience this blog has had in the shortest amount of time. That piece was my first attempt at long-form news and politics coverage, and I felt I had to get down my impressions. There was just too much rich journalistic material at my disposal, just by reacting in my natural fashion to what I saw and getting it on paper. I knew I was surfing straight into Hunter S. Thompson territory there, whether I write that well or not, or if I'm even worthy of it or not. But it turned out good, and your feedback just confirms it. Maybe I have a future at gonzo journalism? Is there an outlet for me to do this? 

Last week, the Austin Chronicle website ran an interview I did with Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen in anticipation of his band's return to the ACL Moody Theater here in Austin last Tuesday night. (Yep, the same night Sen. Wendy Davis and several thousand pissed-off Texans stood up to the bastards in the Lege and vocally shut down SB5, a mile from my East Austin home. I, of course, was at Cheap Trick, unaware how heated it was getting in the statehouse.) I was happy in general with what got run, although my editors chopped off the best part of the interview! I also preferred my original, unedited intro. So, in the interest of my self-interest, I present both to you, my loyal readership:

If it's 1979, and you're a 14 year old boy trapped growing up in a small South Texas town, Cheap Trick means everything. Apparently, that was the case for plenty of other people, too: Enough to propel them to record stores all over by the millions after hearing the live take of “I Want You To Want Me” that took over the airwaves that summer. That single, and its parent album Cheap Trick At Budokan (still the best audio document of Japan's love of anything skinny, white, and loud), made the Midwestern rock 'n' roll act stadium-filling and chart-topping stars after years of hard work. And it finally spelled the end of the disco era and a chart return to high-energy rock 'n' roll, if only for a moment.

Cheap Trick At Budokan defined a certain brand of rock 'n' roll excitement: One that embraced both The Beatles and The Who, as well as punk's blitzkrieg approach, high energy plan, and economy of structure. They certainly didn't look like your standard issue rock band: There were two 16 Magazine-style pin-ups, a zany lead guitarist who dressed like Huntz Hall and spazzed out behind a prodigious guitar collection, and a drummer who looked like a chain-smoking accountant staying up all night filing taxes. That wacky guitarist, Rick Nielsen, also happened to write songs that reflected a warped worldview, one that could produced a “My Generation”-in-reverse called “Surrender” that would become as immortal as that Who song: “Mommy's alright, daddy's alright/They just seem a little weird....” And who can forget the verse about catching Mom and Dad on the couch, rolling joints on your Kiss albums?

Cheap Trick has survived the usual career ebb-and-flow and has remained a hard-touring, meat-and-potatoes rock 'n' roll band that occasionally still issues solid records as strong as any of their '70s classics. They'll be at ACL Moody Theater on Tuesday. Rick Nielsen checked in with us by phone from where you'll usually find him: The road.
RICK NIELSEN:  I've always liked live bands. My favorite live band of all time is The Who. They were always great live.
TIM: And I've always heard a lot of The Who in what Cheap Trick does.
RICK NIELSEN: Yeah, our mistakes are real! (laughs)
TIM: Well, sometimes, those mistakes become songs, don't they?
RICK NIELSEN: (laughing) They all do!

And now, let me leave you with a patriotic ditty from D.O.A. (Yes, they're Canadian. Shut up!)