"WE NEVER LEARN The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2,001" by Eric Davidson, Forward By Byron Coley
"PARASITE...Joyous Flashbacks Amidst A Crystal Meth Nightmare" By Jeff Ward
"Former President Bush's selective memoir is a little like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. With the exception of authorizing waterboarding, a form
of torture, Bush neglects his serial vandalizing of the Constitution and the federal criminal code: five years of illegal surveillances of Americans on
American soil; a war against Iraq without proper authorization by Congress; illegal detentions of enemy combatants without accusation or trials; hundred
of unconstitutional signing statements professing an intent to refuse to faithfully execute the laws; unconstitutional defiance of congressional subpoenas;
and, employing unilateral executive agreements to circumvent the treaty authority of the Senate over military commitments." (-Bruce Fein)
"There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming
together at points in history and creating a power that governments cannot suppress."
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has."
(- Margaret Mead)
"We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course
"...Later on, the people with the mohawks, who slit their wrists, are selling insurance." (-Pat Todd)
"Under international law, the former President's admission to having authorized
acts that amount to torture are enough to trigger the USA's obligations to
investigate his admissions and if substantiated, to prosecute him."
(-Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International)
"The best slaves are those who think they are free." (-Goethe)
"The elites hate to acknowledge it, but when large numbers of ordinary people are moved to action, it changes the narrow political world where the elites
call the shots. Inside accounts reveal the extent to which Johnson and Nixon’s conduct of the Vietnam War was constrained by the huge anti-war movement.
It was the civil rights movement, not compelling arguments, that convinced members of Congress to end legal racial discrimination." (-Dean Baker)
POLICE EVERYWHERE...JUSTICE NOWHERE!
If Pez-Dispenser music ain't your thing....If the loudly barking, junkyard dogs of cable television and hate radio don't turn you on, and ya hopefully, all know by now, that all these false pretexts for infinite wars of imperialist occupations, and the police state apparatus staring up your arses all day, were brazen fictions, crafted by those, who have since, gained the most from these false-flag attacks, fictionalized boogeymen threats, and erosion of the Bill Of Rights; history is being falsely rewritten by big money, as we speak...so you know you gotta look elsewhere, beyond the big-media, for real news and real music. The creative people, peace community, anarchists, progressives, artists, patriots, punkniks, all those who seriously believe in freedom, and human rights, must strive to innovate, and find new ways of communing, communicating, educating, and caring for one another. Myspace is finished--it's owned by rightwing billionaire, Rupert Murdoch, Destroyer Of All Media, and is now pretending to be an AOL-styled "family entertainment-portal", nobody likes the Nu Myspace, everybody knows Facebook is merely a surveillance-grid, used to gather information by multiple intelligence, and marketing entities. Print fanzines are nearly obsolete, due to apathy, high ink cartridge prices, and professional printing costs. I saw a promising new print-mag, a cuppla years back: "Loud Fast Rules", but it seemed to promptly, disappear from the shelves. Who can afford the twelve dollar magazines from England? The rich price-gouge in the desirable big cities, and in the captive smalltowns. I think it was Kissinger who said, "Control the food, control the people." Good/healthy food costs triple.
Smug, middle-classers, clearly, don't know what the poor have to go through, for a minimum-wage job. First, you have to have computer-access, because no one accepts paper applications, anymore. You fill-out about 100 of these things, about two per day, if your local public library even allows you a full hour of typing a day. Then, the two hundred question, psychological profile:"Would you snitch on your Mother if she stole some catsup packets?" ...Followed by the mandatory piss test, the three interviews, and the weeks of orientation, coming back at randomly-scheduled, early morning appointments, to watch all the tedious, corporate "computer based learning" anti-union, loss-prevention propaganda. Sometimes the Human Resource Lady cancels your appointment, without calling to tell you, while you wait around, oblivious. Finally, someone tells you to go home, and call her at six A.M. to reschedule an appointment to resume her "orientation process" No one but salaried members of management is ever hired for more than thirty hours, or so, a week, as to avoid ever paying benefits, wringing-out maximum profits for the usual share-holders. Even with twenty years of retail experience, employees are ineligible for promotion to management, unless they have FOUR YEAR DEGREES. This is Target policy, Pearl Jammers. Even the trendy, green-washed marketed, hot-spots are basically, all as ruthlessly exploitive, as the Wal-Mart model, they all emulate. Fifty-something college-grads compete for bag-boy positions.
Recently, I had the occasion to peruse some of the social networking profiles of my long lost colleagues, on-line, and what an incredibly disheartening experience that was! "Happy Veteran's Day!", Kid Rock, "Dancing With The Stars", their new auto-mobiles. Some of these folks were goths and punks, twenty years back. Now, they're paychecks and shoppers, quoting the hard-rightwing "mainstream" media, and enthusing about their belongings. Not me, man. I'm like, one false move, away from real homelessness. Not a dollar to my name. One thing I've learned, in all these years of rock'n'roll failure; and brutal, unforgiving poverty, is that once a woman starts taking pot-shots about minor flaws in your personal appearance, it's all over, with the shouting. Time to pull up stakes, and move on down the highway.
People keep asking me if I've read Cheetah Chrome, and Keith Richard's books, yet, which seems almost, somewhat, cruel, cuz everybody knows that no one will give me a job, in this economy. The guy from New Bomb Turks just wrote his memoir. He's got a thriving writing career, slingin' ink for all the big, commercial mags. His book will probably be reviewed in "Entertainment Weekly" and "Rolling Stone". All my friend's bands, and former band-mates, were once, part of his scene, but I never was, really. I was kinda like an outcast, on the outskirts of that crowd. Too drunk, too glam. My bandmates and I always felt we were the real deal, and the college-town in-crowd were a buncha second-string, scenester richkids, sucking up to Billy Childish and Jon Spencer. Winners write the history, though, so we're forgotten, but not gone. All my groups sounded just like the Mummies, or the Dwarves, back then, only trouble was, I was TRYING to sound like Cheap Trick and Generation X! HAR! HAR! Plus, I'd gotten kicked-out of a snotty string of suburban high-schools, for chronic dress-code violations, and for asking real questions, and courting rich girls. I was always hassled at these schools, by sportos and golf shirts, as well as coaches, and military-minded administrators. So I was never gonna dig the trendy trust-funders squandering their inheritances on perpetuating high school cafeteria social-hierarchies, well into middle-age. I'd never had the money to finance my lower class, drunk-rock bands, so we never even got to record for the tiny trash rock labels, that were trendy for ten minutes, in the early nineties. It was a bummer. I was CERTAIN we were gonna sign with Estrus, or Get Hip, or Crypt, or Sympathy, or R.A.F.R., or Junk...but one by one, all the bands crashed and burned, before we really happened. Metal-head drummers, and junkie guitar players. Mercenary bassists, and a vulgar, drunken singer, with poor social-skills, always dismissing and alienating the self-important, mini-moguls, and tiny-tyrants of "indie-rock". I still had wild energy to burn, in those times, and my metabolism was much different. I was able to drink for days at a time. I had lots of catchy tunes and unbelievably bad judgment, especially, when it came to selecting worthy band mates, and girlfriends. Once I'd split from my familiar band of "At Risk Teens", my original, "Our Gang", it was hard to recreate that initial chemistry, and rebellious momentum, but stubbornly, I kept trying. Even though, both Johnny Thunders and Charles Bukowski had warned, "Don't Try..." I mean, I was really foolish about it. I did not give up, I would not go away.
COOL YOU AND ME....
In the late eighties, we lived in a terribly repressive environment, (some called it "Little Chicago"--it was more like, "Little Dayton!") but we still possessed a bountiful surplus of creative energy, and boundless optimism. We'd seen so many of our friends and contemporaries sign to indie-labels, even make a humble living, off their shows and merchandise, and go on to crack the big time, by simply getting in a black van, with skeletons painted on the side, and touring from college-town, to college-town, sleeping on floors, bumming money for gas. This was pre-internet, and there were still college radio stations galore, happy to play "New Music". There was a nation-wide community of artists and record collectors, trading shows, creating local print media, promoting underground rock. Band stickers all over your guitar cases and band van. There was a lot more room to breathe, back then, when hundreds of thriving record-stores, and sticky little nightclubs, still welcomed leather-clad punk rockers in dagger leggings, and garish, drag queen make-up. Plenty of brethren-bands that emerged from the eighties punk scene became big stars, before Nirvana. You just had to be creative, and stick together. You showed up to perform at a medium-sized, college-town, midwestern bar, and were sometimes, greeted in the parking lot by fifty, sixty kids. Grateful, enthusiastic punk kids. Some with mohawks, some rockabilly dudes, some jock h/c thrashers, Day-Glo B-52's fat chicks, the obligatory Siouxsie/Robert Smith clones. Always one or two Goodwill "Duckies" in white shoes and clashing plaids, like Fetchin' Bones...
Growing up, I had enjoyed the high times and good fortune of working with lots of talented co-writers and guit-slings, good lookin', flash, creative players, with cool songs, neat logos, smart lyrics, amazing publicity photos, notorious house-parties, memorable performances, famous friends, loads of potential...but lacking the funds to self-finance, we always self-imploded. We always watched in gape-jawed horror, as the significantly less talented, mediocre bands, with rich parents, always, always, got famous, while we bickered, amongst ourselves. Goin' back to "Kansas" was the dumbest thing I ever did. I was wined and maligned by the fortunate daughters for a number of years, until I finally, came to my senses, in a dancer friend of mine's room, and realized I'd been tragically typecast as the reluctant villain, in somebody else's story. Reduced to a mere prop in an ex-girlfriend's popularity-opera. There was no way for me to charm an upright income stream out of any of these native proprietors, propped-up by their parents, with paid-for tuitions, properties, propaganda, and proper jobs. I had been completely X'ed out, by the locals-only, scene-cops. I had yet to fully realize how sadly fucked I was. They were all like, the kid from "The Strokes", covering, "Born To Lose". Go back to law-school, motherfuckers. Some of them finally did.
Upon my, stupidly, returning to the mid-west, from the coasts, all the desirable jobs, even the lowest-rung, shit-worker positions, were already sewn-up, by the same twelve, indie-rock hipsters, the college-boy wankers, and Izod-Polo-preppies I'd loathed in high-school. I ESPECIALLY, despised goateed college guys, that got to make loads of vinyl 45's, about driving hot-rods, and fucking strippers...while wearing sweater-vests. They hated me, too. I got along great with all the Columbus, Ohio garage-rock scene queens, back in the day...just not the rape-row, frat-boy, Buckeyes-watching, preppie jocks, painfully precious, poseur garage-mafia, or Big Fonzies. The same five guys now OWN all the studios, clubs, and record stores, in the Godless holes, I grew up in. Shit, those guys even own HOUSES! Back when they were all still brazenly exploting the underground-punkrock/garage scene, and capitalizing on all the Fast Livin'/Loser/Gearhead/Cramps/"Low-Brow"/Sixties-Garage/Rat-Fink/Underground Comix Art/Tattoo-Iconography, I always thought those bands shoulda been named, "The Upper-Class Men", and "The Business Majors". They were always on the money trail. It was around '95, when I realized the preps, bullies, nerds, and jocks, from those hideous suburban high-schools I so reviled, had infiltated, and taken-over rock'n'roll. In fairness, to summa the "greaser car bands", who were becoming popular, right around then, this would have been right when I was no longer collecting the newest punk rock 45's, but sadly, pawning them, and having my substantial collection stolen, or sold-off, bit by bit, as I had to stash my belongings, wherever I could. Never again would I really have much of a collection. So I was pretty buzz-band hip, up through Guitar Wolf, Teengenerate, Jetboys, American Soul Spiders, and early Electric Frankenstein, but after that, my authority on the underground record scene dropped-off, dramatically, as I was always desperately scrambling, merely to survive. I totally missed the entire reign of the New Bomb Turks, Devil Dogs, Zeke, B-Movie Rats, and all those who followed. Many have portrayed Columbus as one Long, Cool, Cocktail-Loungin', Blacked-Out, Hot Roddin', Tiki-Torchin', Record Collectin', Roots Rockin', Drug Orgy. Maybe so. I can, however, testify, that some other towns, in that region, were bleak, and corrosive places to live. Senselessly cruel, openly racist, wretched hives of frat-boy violence, incestuous nepotism, effectively brainwashed by Fox TV. Revenge of the Republicans. Just horrible.
While the rest of the kids were soupin' up their vintage cars, puttin' pomade in their hair, and buying plane tickets to Vegas Garage Fests, in expensive hotels, I was scrounging, on the streets. I'd get rides to nearby cities, leave my stuff on old friend's back porches, look for work, stay until I got "the vibe", like in that old George Thorogood song: "Everybody funny. Now YOU funny, too!" I just kept flailing, grasping, falling. It sucked. Heartbreak and humiliation became my way of life. I had nowhere to go. I got plenty of company, though. Nowadays, I see people way worse-off than me, everyday, but few of them are still identifyin' with old Laughner lyrics, lamenting the loss of their Sacred Hearts 45, still envying teenagers in the hundred dollar Creepers and studded belts. These are the true "losers"-not those porky, ironic, home-owners; smirking, selfish, record store owners, who always, think of themselves as both, humanitarians AND rockstars; or self-pitying, show-biz dorks, with five figure guarantees, and major label contracts.
In the mid 90's, I was permanently locked-out, by the Fat, Ghastly Sons Of C.E.O.'s, and many, many, many, many of my travelling companions, and creative collaborators, started keeling-over dead, in accelerating succession. I never dug the local gentry, the big fish in the small pond, who stuck close to their parochial safety nets, who leveraged their family ties, and good old boy networks, to rule their hometowns, like their fat fathers. I still love the mad ones, who risked-all, bet big, struck out in search of adventures, in far off locales. From the Beats, to the beaten, the mad-ones. Dig? Yep, I think '95 was the year the preppies, with a lot of help from David Geffen, Thurston Moore, Courtney Love, and the "Anti-Rock ConspiracY", had finally "broken" punk, ushering in this insufferable era of Good Charlotte, Sum 41, Blink 182, "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" video games, reality show heiresses in Stooges t-shirts, etc., etc., etc. As I recall, that was the year the fat guys all bought suits, and took dance lessons to become finger-snappin', big band, hep cat, Swinger Daddy-O's. Piercing was the fad. The fly-over states finally discovered Brit-Pop. The ravers, richies, and Deadheads all said they could still find "E", but I never could. I was all washed up, before I was thirty. For me, it was the end of an era. Goodbye to my fleet, sweet, punk rockin' youth. I was in the cut-out bin.
I made one last attempt at rallying all my old cronies to action. Urging them to unite and organize, to forge our own music label, magazine, underground media-network, by pooling our resources, D.I.Y.-style, like in the early years, but most of them were still insulated enough, to not yet, feel the chilling effects of the the corporate co-opting, greed-is-good dog-eat-dogging, and rich get richer economy. Several of them had already changed. Their perspectives had shifted, from frequently consorting with the filthy rich. I remember when "Flipside" magazine was going out of business, I personally wrote to half a dozen millionaire punks, and former punks, and longtime correspondants, pleading with them all, to write a check, to pay-off Flipside's debt. When none of them did, I realized the rich really are different from us, from me, anyway. They get rich by SPURNING community, CAPITALIZING on other's weaknesses, shit-hoarding. Who needs friends, when you can hire "personal assistants"? Even when I was brow-beaten out of my last record store job, by a bully with a boner, I still made money reviewing records for the commercial press, until it was determined, at some point, that my anti-corporate screeds, and fanzine-style, first-person ravings were "Too Cometbus" for the new regime, and I was replaced by three or four hot blondes, who'd each purchased a copy of "This Year In Rock History", already abused daily, by similarly ignorant, radio weasels, with no imagination, or opinions of their own. Friends of mine were dying, homeless, in the streets, scorned for stealing tampons, and referred to as "human garbage" by the more "popular" girls. When I endured an old acquaintance gloating on a barstool, on the day of a poor girl's funeral, I knew I could not stay. A band called Libertine had a song called, "I Don't Belong Here", that really spoke to my heart.
All these years later, most of my old cohorts, who haven't died, have embraced sports, cable TV, gratuitous insincerity, grunge, Green Day On Broadway, See-No-Evil Apathy, constant acquisition, and Police State conformity. Meanwhile, it's gotten grim, in my part of town, cops on bicycles bust the pot-smokers in the park. Black clad police strong-arm all the homeless beggars with cardboard "Please Help" signs. 'Bust all the bums under the bridges. They even hassle the street kids in the silly hats, pluckin' banjos. Lots of people are walking around, with all their worldly possessions in their back-packs, with black eyes, and a rolled up piece of carpet. I'm not as tough as I used to be, and I dread revisiting life outdoors, on the even meaner streets. How long before the malevolent government's mercenary storm-troopers start rounding up the homeless, Muslims, welfare families, bloggers, and political dissidents?
SNORTING FOR ENGLAND....
Recently, I've read highly entertaining auto-biographies by Slash from Guns N Roses, and Alex from Circus Of Power. Just got the New Bomb Turks book from the library, today. Some dear, dear, lovely, old friends o' mine are in it. Wow, time just evaporates, after twenty nine. A month from now, I'll be 41...Currently, I'm reading "Parasite", a novel by JEFF WARD, the ace guitarist for GUNFIRE DANCE. They were one of the bands from MY scene. Part glam, part soul. Their singer, ANT, killed himself a few years ago, which was a terrible blow to friends, family, and fans, all over. The Gunfires used to play with other late eighties glam bands, like Kill City Dragons, and Suicide Blonde. Their early demos were written about in Kerrang! magazine, by Marionette frontman/Pandora Peroxide illustrator, Ray Zell. Their first single was produced by the Damned, and came out on Jeff Dahl's label, Ultra-Under. They came to America, befriended Pillbox, and NY Loose, got soused with yours, and gigged with D-Generation, and the Waldos. Great band. Marvelous personalities, fantastic style. The Darlings of our Sleaze-Punk Underground Press. Broke up. Reformed as Steppin' Razors, had a cool song on the I-94 Recordings classic, "DRUNK ON ROCK PART TWO". This book chronicles Jeff Ward's story, after the rest of the band went back to England, and he stuck around NYC, exploring the always wide awake, Alphabet City after-hours world that spawned Johnny Thunders, Nick Zedd, Lydia Lunch, and Circus Of Power. My tiny clique of fanzine publishers, heavy drinkers, would-be film-makers, and bar-band losers, referred to the next wave of real rock'n'roll, that came along after The Ramones, and Heartbreakers, Hanoi Rocks and Lords Of The New Church, as "Post-Glam". We loved all the bands like Gunfire Dance, Dogs D'Amour, The Jacobites, Soho Roses, Gun Club, Dictators, Thee Hypnotics, the Godfathers, the Joneses, Tex And The Horse-Heads, Zodiac Mindwarp And The Love Reaction, Bomb Party, the Hangmen, the Cult, 39 Steps, Pillbox, Humpers, Electric Frankenstein, Teengenerate, Four Horsemen, Barbed Wire Dolls, Lazy Cowgirls, The Ultras, Motorcycle Boy, Miniskirt Mob, Golden Arms, Star Star, Hello Disaster, Manic Street Preachers, The Nymphs, Celebrity Skin, Dramarama, Fuzztones, Chesterfield Kings, Flies On Fire, Rock City Angels, Boys From Nowhere, French Jetboys, Birdland, Demolition 23, Cherry 13, etc., etc. There were three zeens who covered that scene-"Machine Gun Eitiquette", "Sonic Iguana", and "Ready To Snap!" This was a good eighteen, or twenty years, before the now popular, "Bubblegum Slut".
Last year, the Gypsy Pistoleros label, Evil Boy Records, put out a beautiful collection of vintage Gunfire Dance songs, called, "Archway Of Thorns". You should only own it, if you sincerely love real rock'n'roll. The Gunfires were much cooler than most of their Commercial-Metal American counterparts, and it's still a mystery to me, how all those beautiful bands, from that "post-glam" era, avoided stardom in America. I guess there were already so many shitty hairspray bands signed, out West, to be the "Next Motley Crue", or "New Guns N Roses", that people just couldn't identify the cool groups, amidst all the crowds of bandwagon-jumpers, glam-blouses, and nothing-to-say, metal-wankers.
DRUNK LIKE ME...
Jeff Ward's book is instantly accessible, fast-paced, very entertaining. The former guitarist for Gunfire Dance, and singer/songwriter of ElektraJet, is an eloquent, self-deprecating, akwardly-honest, no holds barred story-teller...and what a yarn. His colorful cast of shit-housed characters is composed of lovable hustlers, trainspotting addicts, Boy George obsessed richgirls, and a leather-clad family of avant garde intellectuals, Bukowski obsessed vomit-mongers, slum-lord patron enablers, small-time rockstars, bozos on the dole....your standard-issue roll call of bohemian misfit pub-regulars. His flawless descriptions of powdery nosed NYC are as starkly undeniable and matter-of-fact as old Fire Island Warhol Polaroids...He was there, in Cuban heels, for the last hurrah of fabulous, furry, freak-flag flying in Lower Manhattan, with all it's attendant social-climbers, drug casualties, street crazies, prostitutes, sugar daddys, Steven Sprouse clad-coke-sluts, vinyl record stores on every block--Sounds, Freebeing, Bleecker Bob's records, other long gone landmarks like Times Square, Thompkins Square Park, The Rivington Street Art Park, affordable housing on the Lower East Side, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Coney Island High, the Pyramid, The Scrap Bar, Lismar Lounge, ENZS, Downtown Beirut, Save The Robots, Neither/Nor, the Holiday, Gem-Spa, See-Hear, all those wickedly, wildly, flickering temptations and impulses, flashing on and on, like bells and whistles on a Bally pinball machine.
On one speed jag, he decides to walk all the way from Downtown to Harlem, to be near the turf where Malcolm X once fought the power, demanding freedom for his people. I can identify with his foolish romanticism. Jeff Ward emerges here as a really impressive voice. His book is a literary equivalent to a sad string of Beasts Of Bourbon songs. He's like the silver-tongued, iron crossed, leather-panted, rent-dodging, Henry Miller, of our Flash Punk Underground.
He is haunted throughout, by his self-destructive friends from Merry Olde. His local, back home, The Roebuck, was seemingly populated by way more beautiful women, and madcap laughers, than ours was. They had someone spinning cool music, too, while our lot made due with the same old tiresome three or four Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, and the Pogues songs, on an otherwise insufferable jukebox, year in, and year out, and only three or four beauties, on duty, who all died young. Having shivered on summa these exact same NYC street corners, in my teens, I can totally identify with his gorgeous tales of wretched excess and pathetic lost souls. I feel like I've known some of these people. Particularly, the lunatic debutante! "Parasite" aptly underscores the absolute monotony of serious drug abuse. The lies, banalities, insanity, scandalous infatuations, constant hustling, horrible women forever gossipping on phones, waiting outside, using payphones, waiting some more, rip-offs, paranoia, daily double-crosses, pointless dramas, shrill-screeching-side-kicks, slanderous exaggerating, blowjobs to fat rich men, etc. "Parasite" is a gripping read. A rocket-blast from your misspent past. If you still love rock'n'roll, track this one down, post-haste. "Parasite", by Jeff Ward, belongs on every true rockers book-shelf! Of special note to any layabout long-hairs, who finally(!!!) escaped the gauntlet of addiction, as a hostage to the moodswings of a scowling, shrieking, socialite's drug-dramas. The novel ends on a bum note, but at least we see our hero persevere, pushing his way out of that impossible sticky-trap, into a new day. Can't wait to read the next one.
TOTEM OF THE DEPRAVED....
"WE NEVER LEARN", Eric Davidson's also essential book, takes ya all the way back to the glorious heyday of the Replacements, Hoodoo Gurus, Fleshtones, Fuzztones, Cramps, Flaming Lips, Dream Syndicate, Leaving Trains, Lime Spiders, Husker Du, etc., all the fanboy compilation labels, and the wild-eyed hellions of the post-post-punk, Trash Rock scene that ripped-it-up, underground, for years, while mainstream media hacks were always too busy pontificating about R.E.M., or Motley Crue, Nirvana, or Soundgarden, to pay any mind to long neglected greats, like Dead Moon, the Powder Monkeys, Cheater Slicks, or Pontiac Brothers. "Kicks" magazine, Gibson Brothers. All that. An old guitar player told me I'd thoroughly enjoy this book, and he was right. It instantly takes me back to lost weekends that I used to spend, variously, with my college radio disc jockey friend--who'd get me too high to walk, and trick me into having to listen to Montrose; Playing marathon covers of Velvet Underground songs at suburban parties where somebody's brother sharpied "fag" all over our band fliers; Outdoor shows, where some redneck always, drunkenly, seemed to fall into the big bonfires; The pained, primal howls of a certain three-piece garage rock band who used to play to empty rooms, with only me, the sound guy, a bartender, and a few stray winos, listening, before gradually becoming well-respected elder statesmen, decades later; Watching as the 'Lips emptied a packed Ft. Wayne, Indiana, alternative-crowd, into the parking lot, in protest of their strobe-lit Zeppelin covers; My dead guitarist, the Royal Trux/Pussy Galore fan, from my intoxicated to the point of being very nearly-zombified, short-lived, blues-punk outfit, who always insisted on carrying an open container with us, everywhere we went-in public, we'd be thrift-store shopping, trying on second hand Van Halen baseball t-shirts, when bee-hived cashiers would smell the liquor fumes, and he'd play the naiieve yokel-"Oh, pardon me, ma'am, I was unaware of your policy." Right before he promptly, passes out, while crossing the street, and has to be dragged to safety...Or the spraypaint fumes we'd inhale, nightly, in that mice infested basement apartment, where my prior guitarist, and I, would stencil band t-shirts to sell at our sporadic shows, on bills with country bands, and at the nearby hippie headshop, to our county's, maybe, two dozen U2, Violent Femmes, Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits, and Dead Milkmen fans, that comprised our local "scene". My lot were into the Jesus And Mary Chain, NY Dolls, Bowie, Bators, and all the seventies punk. There were a couple of skateboard kids. An old hippie record store clerk. A drummer from a town forty five minutes away. A Morrissey geek turned skin-head. A cat-killing speed-metal dude. It was actually, pretty isolated. You had to be nice to anyone who liked Depeche Mode, because most everyone else were suburbanite cheerleader wanna-be's, Tv-watchers, mall-people...Backasswards jocks and racist hill-jacks. Bizarro World Andy Griffith Show Characters. Violent dicks, yelling at us, out of truck windows. Everyday. Cars full of these stone-washed clowns, wanting to fight us. For wearing ear-rings and leather jackets. Two of our crew had mohawks. I had long hair and a nose-ring. "Boy George!" It was dumb madness. It's actually gotten worse, since then. Thousands of yellow realty-signs, in all the store-front windows, and in the yards of foreclosed homes. Armies of grown men on Salvation Army bicycles, because everyone has D.U.I.'s. Crack came to town, all the Mom and Pop stores went out of business. Even the mall closed. Several of my old friends' parents had to take minimum-wage jobs at Wal-Mart, in their sixties. The macho carpet-layers, house-painters, dry-wallers, and yard-workers still listen to right-wing talk radio, all day, and pick fights with people poorer than themselves. Babies in the black part of town get murdered by police during drug raids. Lots of forty-somethings moved back in with their parents. The big white truck drivers try to run each other off the road, en route to Hooters, on the edge of town. Jackass, authoritarian cops proudly use cattle-prods on Autistic people, pregnant women, children, protesters, ministers, the elderly. Middle-classers, and former middle-classers, who watch cable, defend these inexcusably inhumane abuses. I e-mailed an old associate from that town, in solidarity, remembering how shitty it felt, to be stuck in that hell-hole. He never replied. Like Bob Dylan says, "I used to care, but things have changed."
If you already read, "Grunge Is Dead", that book about Seattle, definitely get "We Never Learn", too-it's an important companion piece to that book, vigorously illustrating what was happening in the rest of the world, outside of Seattle, while Courtney was planning her first face-lifts, and Green River were covering Deadboys songs. Eric Davidson is a really exceptional writer, demonstrating that those O.S.U. diplomas actually do pay off for some, his impressive work here makes me want to reassess his old band. I saw the NBT's play with Billy Childish, and the Makers once, and it seemed like a whole lotta loud, fast, so what?, to me...and I had little-to-no-patience for the Unbreakable Combs and Nascar belt buckles, his group inspired, back in Ohio. Entire neighborhoods full of privileged, mama's boy record geeks, struttin' around in big-mouthed, bowling-shirted, packs, like the T-Birds in "Grease". However, it appears we have more in common than I'd ever previously suspected. He basically wins me over in the first twenty five pages of this book, by interviewing members of Prisonshake, Cobra Verde, the Cynics, and Lazy Cowgirls, just for starters. All real rock'n'roll saints, in my bloodshot eyes! The Action Swingers never got enough credit, either. "Decimation Blvd." was my BIBLE for about a year, or so. "Everything I see is fake/I could never makit it, straight!" This book is painstakingly researched, and in the oral tradition of "Edie", "Please Kill Me", "Grunge Is Dead", "Treat Me Like Dirt, etc. I really under-estimated this cat-probably biased by his core fanbase, but I have that same feeling about lotsa bands. It's often their audience, I actually dislike. Davidson's definitely talented as a wordsmith, highly knowledgable about obscure and arcane punk history, and seems to have a true rock'n'roll heart. I was not expecting to enjoy this book, 'half as much. Of course, this guy covered a Motorcycle Boy song, for fuck's sake, so I should have recognized his good taste. Some of the irreverant, contrary, old "punk'n'roll" mules interviewed for this book, are totally non-compliant; Instinctively, resisting being "institutionalized", in any way, instead of appreciating Davidson's noble effort to write them back, into a history book, they insist on being pointlessly difficult, and I respect them, as well. I'm charmed by all the old men from bands who sound exactly like the Cramps, except they wore Flannel shirts and courduroys, insisting they never liked the Cramps. "Who?!" Billy Childish has lots of insightful things to convey about Jack White, the Hives, the Black Keys, etc., He lumps them all together, calls 'em "The Strives"! Very funny. Blag Jesus, from the Dwarves, is another surprisingly enlightening interview-subject. Smart guy. By the time I got to the chapter on Long Gone John, I'd determined that this is, indeed, a very crucial, and important, must-own rock book. I've learned so much about the behind-the-scenes stuff-Crypt Records, the boutique labels, the business and over-seas touring part of it, the Devil Dogs. I knew a tiny bit about most everyone he discusses here, but I've been "out of the loop" for so long, I was unaware that the singer of Spain's Pleasure Fuckers (~Kike Turmix; R.I.P.) had passed on. Davidson's memories of him are quite entertaining-even if the guy was the shyster some have claimed he was, how fortunate, still, to have partied with that outrageous personality. Decadent rock'n'roll maniacs are an endangered species. Of course, Davidson gives coverage to certain obligatory, ego-maniac, scenester, fame whores, who pay their opening bands shit wages, and tell everyone how they're doing 'em a favor. It's easy to skim through the self-aggrandizing, brand-name celebs, to read about "Dig It!" magazine and the Bellrays. Towards the end of the book, one of the Devil Dogs even speaks up on behalf of those bands who were unfairly blamed for all that tedious faux-hipster shit. "Don't blame us for the shitty bands who copied us!" The 'Turks got to travel the world as ambassadors of Ohio punk. Looks like they had a real good time. Eric put a whole lotta l-u-v into writing this epic tome, and the least, a bitter and jaded curmudgeon, like me, can do, is urge you to buy a copy for someone you love, who really loves all those sadly unsung and forgotten rock'n'rollahs. Quite a contribution. Highly educational, deeply entertaining.
R.I.P. ~ANTHONY BULLOCK, REBECCA from the GUNFIRE DANCE Myspace page, JERRY WICK, JACK TAYLOR...xo