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.