Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Transistor Radio

In the cyber-dark ages of the mid-2000’s when I had a MySpace page (grandpa, what was MySpace?) I started a series called A Life Of Rock & Roll. "The Bathtub" (blog entry January 2nd, 2012) was the first story in that series.  This was the second.

May 1966, later in eighth grade.  I’m feeling a little better.  I’ve inherited my older sister’s transistor radio as a hand-me-down and it’s pretty much my constant companion.  (For those readers under 40, the transistor radio was the Walkman or the Discman or the iPod of its day. No headphones, though, you just had to press it up against your ear.)  It’s difficult for me to convey how shy I was at that point in time.  I was shy to the point of invisibility.  I STROVE for invisibility.  I clung to anonymity.  I was shy to the point of mental retardation.  You kinda had to be there.  I was a mess.

Anyway, during recess and lunch every day of eighth grade I would stand on the playground outside the cafeteria door with my back against the fence and listen to my transistor radio.  One fateful day a song called "Girl In Love" by an Ohio band called The Outsiders (their big hit was "Time Won’t Let Me") was playing when the four prettiest and most popular girls in my class walked by.  "Oh, I love this song!" one of them beamed, "Could you turn it up, please?" "Girl In Love" was the current slow dance favorite at the eighth grade dances at which I would blend seamlessly into the shadows of some dark corner.  (I HAD to see the bands.....)

I managed to turn the volume up and hold the radio at arm’s length while being otherwise paralyzed by this recognition of my existence.  When the song ended the girls started peppering me with questions: "Do you know who sings that song?"  "Is this your radio?"  "How much did it cost?"  "How many batteries does it take?"  "Do The Outsiders have any other songs?"  I swear to God I have no recollection of any of my answers.  I somehow managed to stammer out replies and the girls actually seemed interested in what I said.  When the interrogation (as I perceived it) was over one of them touched my arm and said, "Thanks for letting us listen, Richard."

This girl knew my name.

These girls were the four most popular girls in eighth grade.  They were true teenage royalty.  In the caste system endemic to American elementary school, probably to this day, I was one step above leper or one step below outcast, but no higher.  How could this girl possibly have known my name?  At the cafeteria door, they stopped, twirled, and one of them asked, "Will you be out here tomorrow?"  "I guess," I managed, my voice cracking.  They smiled and went into school.

That had to be the moment, the moment I made the connection.  The moment I realized that if I PLAYED music, encounters like that one could be repeated.  The moment that my universe opened up and a host of possible futures appeared on the horizon.

If I could just get ahold of a guitar.
© 2012 Ricki C.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Linda Timmermin and Scoring Heroin

My senior year of high school I was a hotshot journalist on the school newspaper at Bishop Ready on the West Side of Columbus, Ohio.  (The newspaper was called Excalibur, no less; our sports teams were dubbed the Bishop Ready Silver Knights.  It WAS a Catholic school in the 1960’s, after all.)  The faculty adviser for the paper was Sister Ann Mary.  (She was affectionately known to us on the paper as SAM, as she will hereafter be referred to in this story.)  SAM was great.  She and another nun named Sister Paula Clare (my junior year English teacher) essentially made me the writer I am today.  Thanksgiving weekend of 1969 - in the middle of a high school journalism convention field-trip to Chicago - SAM got me into a Jimi Hendrix show at the Chicago Armory by telling the ticket office people that I was an orphan in her Catholic foundling home and inquiring if they could possibly see their way clear to let me into the show for free?  I looked at her and whispered, "I have parents, you know."  She fixed me with a steely glare on that cold Chicago sidewalk and snapped, "Do you wanna see Hendrix or not?"

The other great thing I got out of journalism class was Linda Timmermin (name changed to protect the innocent, and Linda was SO very, very innocent).  My senior year SAM forced me to become the feature editor on Excalibur.  As such, I was supposed to copy-edit, nurture and tutor the freshman and sophomore writers on the paper.  What it amounted to was babysitting and having to plow through bad teenage boy science-fiction stories and adolescent schoolgirl poetry to fill out shortages in column inches.  When SAM found out I was just rewriting everything that came across my desk instead of mentoring the underclassmen and instructing them on how to do their own rewrites, she made me sit down with the individual writers.

As I was red-lining Linda’s first submission to the paper that actually showed some promise her glasses repeatedly fell off her face onto the copy desk.  She blushed red the first two times this happened, making her bespectacled but pretty face somehow even prettier, and stammered out embarrassed apologies.  I was not the most patient of editors and the third time it happened I picked her glasses up, jammed them back on her face, tucked them behind her ears and said, "Could you please ask your parents for new glasses, I don’t have time for this."  (You’ve gotta kinda picture a teenage Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory here.  I was THAT kind of geek.)  How we got from that testy exchange to dating I have not one clue, but I do think that some part of me fell in love with Linda the exact moment I pushed those glasses onto her face and looked past them into her lovely, warm brown eyes.

Linda was the only girl I ever dated who lived close enough to school that I could walk her home.  Walking a girl home from school held a powerful attraction for me because so many of the rock & roll songs I had been listening to and loving since I was five years old in 1957 glorified that American tradition.  I always carried her books.  I was a nice boy.

I don’t remember how many times I had walked Linda home, how many nights we had talked on the phone, I’m pretty sure we had never actually been on a date, but one afternoon we were playing around in her kitchen and I was tickling her with her back up against the refrigerator.  We were both laughing and out of breath and I leaned in to kiss Linda for the first time.  It was a really romantic moment.  Or at least it would have been a really romantic moment if Linda had realized I was going to kiss her.  Instead I just kinda bumped my mouth against hers, totally humiliating both of us.  I sighed and took a couple of steps back as Linda - wide-eyed behind her glasses - said, "Oh, you were going to kiss me."  "That was the general idea, yeah."  I replied.  "Okay, okay, I get it now, let’s kiss." she said a little breathlessly.  "I think we kinda missed the moment there." I said, just as her mom got home from work and walked into the kitchen with groceries.  We both looked so guilty and embarrassed I can only wonder what her mom thought was going on that afternoon, in that kitchen, against that refrigerator.

Oddly I don’t remember our actual first kiss, but I vividly remember that miss.

Linda’s and my time together was almost entirely in the winter of 1970, from sometime after Christmas 1969 to sometime in early April.  My dad was still alive; I was in a band; I had a girlfriend.  It was one of the five best times of my life.  Linda and I would make out in her warm living room, listening to side one of Linda’s favorite album, Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel.  I hated Simon & Garfunkel.  My previous girlfriend - a pretty, perky, popular blonde majorette and compulsive liar who shall remain nameless - had dropped me like a live grenade for a pseudo-hippie piano player who could play "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" perfectly all the way through and harmonize in dulcet tones with his Folk Club friends.  I - as a rock & roll kid - truly disdained Folk Club.  Linda liked Paul & Art though, so there you go.  I don’t think we ever listened to side two of that record because neither of us wanted to stop kissing long enough to get up and turn the record over.  Was that why CD’s were invented decades later?

A rule that was established pretty early on by Linda’s parents was that we weren’t allowed to be alone in Linda’s house unsupervised.  (It seems like this came up fairly quickly after the mom-comes-home-with-groceries-refrigerator-incident, so that seems fair.)  The odd thing was that Linda’s younger sister, who couldn’t have been more than nine or ten years old at the time, counted as supervision.  Some days Linda and I would settle in the family room when little sis got home from school.  We would make out like fiends three feet away from that little girl and she never batted an eye.  Part of this was due to what I term "The Sesame Street Effect."  That show had just debuted in 1970 and Linda’s sister was absolutely riveted by it.  Man, that show was hypnotic to kids.  There were days even Linda and I got hooked.  Linda’s mom would get home from work and all three of us would be sitting together in the family room, staring at the TV screen in rapt attention at whatever Big Bird and Ernie were teaching us that day.  I think Linda’s mom was enormously comforted by that.

Simultaneously, I would sometimes leave the warm, loving environs of Linda’s house when her family was getting ready for dinner and go directly on jaunts with my American History teacher to score heroin for his 19 year old cousin.  (Bishop Ready had hired student teachers from the education department at Ohio State University that year to help cut costs.  The student teachers were great, but they were only four or five years older than us - basically SDS college anti-establishment types - and they entirely radicalized those of us already prone to radicalization.)  Matt’s cousin Jeannie (not their real names, although I'm certain some statute of limitations on buying heroin has expired by this time) was a beautifully frail, pale, strawberry-blonde coed at a private school in Columbus.  She couldn’t possibly have been further from what I imagined a heroin addict would look like.  I read Life magazine.  I watched after-school specials about marijuana being a gateway to heavy drugs.  I knew about jazz musicians and Vietnam vets.  I did have some notion of The Velvet Underground by 1970 (though I didn’t worship them yet, as I would come to later) so I had a vivid mental picture of junkies.  Junkies looked like Lou Reed fans, or like Lou Reed, or both.

Matt and I would cruise the dirty grey snow-ridden streets of the near East Side in his V.W. bug, searching for a connection Matt thought he could trust.  (It sometimes seemed like it snowed every day of that long, stupidly cold winter.)  Whenever we couldn’t find a trusted dealer, Matt would settle for whoever was on a street corner who looked like we had a 50/50 chance of not getting shot in the face by.  His cousin NEEDED that shot.  We’d idle past hookers trolling in the snow; girls not much older than me.  I remember thinking, in all my Catholic high school naïveté, "These girls are just NOT dressed for this weather."  Those Parsons Avenue and Mount Vernon Avenue streets couldn’t possibly have been further from Linda’s Stephens Drive address, and I’m not talking geographically.  I think I might have learned more riding around in that Volkswagen that winter than all the rest of senior year put together.

Never in my life, from then to now, have I experienced a bigger juxtaposition of utter warmth to bitter cold; of simple joy to total degradation; of innocence to experience, as I did that winter.  Sometimes I look back and wonder why I went along on those freezing, smack-scoring trips with Matt.  And then I realize: It’s because I thought I was hotshot teenage journalist and that I had to learn about the ways of the world, no matter what it took.  Oh yeah, and because I was stupid.

By late April I had senselessly broken Linda’s heart, my father had died of a heart attack, and my world had essentially crumbled.  Much of April and all of May 1970 are gone from my memory.  I think I may have had a little nervous breakdown somewhere along in there.

But to this day, when it’s been snowing every day for a week, when there’s a foot of snow on the ground and I’m shoveling, shoveling, shoveling, and I need a shot of warmth, I’m back in Linda’s living room, Sesame Street is on in the family room, Simon & Garfunkel are playing softly somewhere, and everything is all right.

© 2012 Ricki C.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Dictators (Bonus Video Friday)

All of my standards of rock & roll professionalism are based on The Who in 1969, nature’s most perfect rock & roll organism EVER. That unifying factor is going to hold us together through a BIG BUNCH of digressions in this edition of Growing Old With Rock & Roll. (author’s note; the whole Who/Dictators thing got so out of hand so quickly that the other two digressions – "Why were late 70’s punk bands SO unprofessional?" and "Why are the young supposed rock & roll bands of 2012 SO puny & bloodless?" – will be postponed to a later date. Somebody remind me.)

Digression One – Why has there never been an American version of The Who?

I truly feel that The New York Dolls were a pretty damn good stab at an American version of The Rolling Stones. I further feel the original Patti Smith Group circa 1976-1978 might also be a contender in that Stones sweepstakes, but I think you kinda hadda be there for that one, so I’m not going to press it. And a lot of you might question (based on scant recorded evidence) my pick of Buffalo Springfield as America’s answer to The Beatles, but I stand by it. Buffalo Springfield boasted three great songwriters and lead singers (Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay), great instrumental interplay, great personalities. If only the Springfield had gotten a great producer, or indeed, even a REAL producer for their first album and if only they could have learned to coexist as a group with three strong writers. (But then again, that’s what split the actual Beatles, but not until they recorded 12 albums and many, many singles from ’63 to ’69.) (This actually brings up a whole ‘nother digression, i.e. How quickly rock & roll transmorgified itself between 1963 and 1969.) Plus I realized as I was typing this that America’s version of The Beatles was probably actually Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, but that band got so horribly self-righteous and hippie-fied after the Déjà Vu record they even lost me, and I loved ‘em in their heyday. (In one of the truly terribly naïve moments of my childhood I was glad when CSN&Y got huge because I thought it would give them enough money so that Stills & Young would leave and go back to reform Buffalo Springfield with Richie. Oh, little Ricki C.; you were so innocent, so cute, and so wrong.)

The Who, however, are another animal entirely. I can’t think of a single American band that ever came anywhere close to touching The Who for songwriting genius, instrumental power, and just flat-out charisma. I guess Cheap Trick might’ve come somewhat close circa Live At Budokan and Dream Police in 1978, but that might have been a little too calculated: Goofball/offbeat songwriter guitarist, Pete Townshend = Rick Nielsen; pretty blonde lead singer/screamer, Roger Daltrey = Robin Zander; dark-haired brooding/invisible bass player, John Entwhistle = Tom Petersson; zany drummer Keith Moon = Bun E. Carlos. If you try to convince me Rick Nielsen didn’t build that model with airplane glue in his garage in 1969 you’ve got another think coming.

The Dictators, though, mighta been a contendah a couple of times. Great rock & roll songwriting from Adny/Andy Shernoff (if "Steppin’ Out" from 1977’s Manifest Destiny isn’t a stab at the greatest Who song Pete Townshend forgot to write, I don’t know what is), great searing lead guitar from Ross "The Boss" Funicello/Friedman (my good friend & rock & roll brother Hamell On Trial thinks there were TOO MANY guitar solos in The Dictators, a point I must diametrically dispute), and the perfect blend of genuine rock authority AND A SENSE OF HUMOR that I always loved in The Who. If, indeed, there was one thing The Who completely lost after Keith Moon’s passing (apart from rock & roll’s greatest drummer EVER, of course) it was that sense of humor. Think about "Pictures Of Lily," think about "I’m A Boy," think about "Sally Simpson." All of those songs were simultaneously heartbreaking AND hilarious because the band contained both Pete Townshend AND Keith Moon in constant yin/yang pendulum action. (Plus there’s that great scene in The Kids Are Alright where The Who are sitting around a conference table and Pete Townshend is expounding/pontificating about how "The Who have to change and progress and stop being such a circus act," while Keith Moon initially nods in supposed agreement until he is compelled to do a headstand in his chair to undercut the pretentiousness inherent in Pete’s diatribe. Townshend, then, is left to try to balance a drink on Keith’s boot heel to save face. I never liked Led Zeppelin much, but at least they had the good sense to break up when they lost their drummer and he was never as integral or indispensable to the band as Keith Moon was to The Who. Pete, you shoulda had the good goddamn sense you were born with and broken up The Who for good when Keith left this mortal coil.)

Right, right, right, we’re supposed to be talking about The Dictators. I guess we gotta face facts: If I’m gonna claim godlike Who-status for The Dictators we have to deal with the Handsome Dick Manitoba question. No way am I gonna be able to claim to you, dear readers, that Handsome Dick could ever go one-on-one vocally with Roger Daltrey. As great and charismatic a frontman the Handsome one is, he really didn’t sing that great, did he? And Andy singing his own tunes was shaky at times. But what I respect immensely was that Shernoff could undoubtedly have found himself a blonde pretty-boy David Lee Roth-style lead singer, but he didn’t. Andy’s from Brooklyn, not L.A. Plus, owing to my friendship with Hamell On Trial I was privileged enough to meet Handsome Dick Manitoba in person at his namesake watering hole in N.Y.C. in 2004 the night before The Dictators’ triumphant performance at Little Steven Van Zandt’s International Underground Garage Festival, and let me say this: That man is the living embodiment of a rock & roll lead singer. Rock & roll isn’t a paycheck to Handsome Dick Manitoba, it’s not a way to get his mug into People magazine, it’s not his ticket to sell out his entire rock & roll heritage to become clown judge on American Idol, it’s a way of life. (And how many rock guys are better-looking in their 50’s than in their 20’s?)

Andy Shernoff, Handsome Dick Manitoba, Ross "The Boss" Friedman, Scott "Top Ten" Kempner, Mark "The Animal" Mendoza (for a little while) and the entire Dictators drum corps; Louie Lyons, Stu-Boy King, Richie Teeter, J.P. "Thunderbolt" Patterson, I salute you. Dictators Forever, Forever Dictators.

The Dictators rockin' Spain in 2008.  inspirational verse; "June 1st, '67 / Something died and went to heaven / I wish Sgt. Pepper NEVER taught the band to play."  - Andy Shernoff, 2001 
also, is "My Generation / Is not the salvation" a not-so-subtle dig at Pete Townshend for dragging the rotting, bloated corpse of The Who around concert stages all these many years, or am I just projecting?

The Dictators are often lumped in with punk, as a kind of afterthought/missing link between The New York Dolls and The Ramones in the history of New York City rock & roll, but they were WAY more than that. They never laid low, slinking around CBGB’s or The Mudd Club, trying to score gigs and/or heroin. They went out and played for kids.  They went out and opened arena shows for the likes of Uriah Heep, Styx, Kiss, and other bands of that ilk. (Sorry, Colin.) (Adny Shernoff had this great quote back then along the lines of, "We could never sell out as bad as Peter Frampton and sell 13 million records, but we could certainly sell out as bad as Aerosmith and sell 2 million.") The first time I saw The Dictators live they were opening for AC/DC at Columbus, Ohio’s, Agora Ballroom in 1977 and they more than held their own against Bon & Angus and the boys. Punk poseurs? Skinny-tie new wave wimps? I don’t think so, pal, these guys were a rock & roll BAND. This is a postcard Andy sent to my rock & roll fanzine, Teenage Rampage, in 1977 from some Holiday Inn somewhere on the road.

Bonus Friday Bonus Video clip - The Dictators live 8/14/2004

This clip comprises The Dictators entire set at Little Steven’s International Underground Garage Festival August 14th, 2004, on Randall’s Island in New York City. I was at that show. (In fact at the 5:17 mark, the guy with brown hair & a black t-shirt next to the white-haired guy wearing a red & white baseball cap, that’s ME.) The clip takes FOREVER to buffer on my computer, but it’s worth the wait. (Go get a cup of coffee from the kitchen while you’re waitin’. Run around the block, get some exercise.) Spin magazine’s review of the festival had a great quote – "With a combined age of around 250, The Dictators almost carjacked the show with their NYC-proud gutter-punk anthems." – that I initially resented until I did the math (5 members times 50-some years, I guess it does come in at 250). As I find myself growing old with rock & roll I now take it as a badge of honor.

© 2012 Ricki C.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Watershed and Kamakaze's

another Watershed road story, for a full intro see Colin and the Stairwell.....

First off, let me set the scene and make a statement: Only Watershed could have two gigs spaced a distance of an hour and a half apart, allow six hours for the drive, AND STILL BE LATE! How, you might ask? I’ll tell ya.

It was 2005, Watershed was on a short run of shows opening for The Clarks, a popular Midwest band that hails from Pittsburgh, Pa. After a killer show the night before, we left the hotel in Morgantown, West Virginia, at noon. (That was a minor miracle in itself, since a noon checkout time to Watershed generally means sometime vaguely before 3 pm.) It was an unseasonably warm 69 degree November afternoon so we decided to hang around and explore downtown Morgantown since we couldn’t imagine that Chester, West Virginia, our destination for that night’s show, was going to be a thriving metropolis. In that we were correct.

Everybody scattered, I found a really great comic book store where I killed a couple of hours. I also ran across a passable used CD store in the back room of a neighborhood bodega, but managed to not spend any of my tour money. We all met back up at 3 o’clock, and a back road "scenic route" was mapped out to take full advantage of the fall foliage. (I realize that makes us sound like hippies, but we’re just Midwest boys with a Kinks-inspired songwriter’s respect and ache for autumn.)

Van discussions/arguments for the day included Pooch seeing Ted Nugent on T.V., talking about surviving after Armageddon and whether we thought we could kill a deer for food. Pooch expressed profound doubts about our city-boy capabilities in that field. That was when Biggie pointed out the fifth roadkill dead deer we had passed that day and said, "There you go, Pooch, I have to go out of my way NOT to kill a deer on this road and you think we’d have trouble hunting one down?"

Anyway, after meandering through several tiny West Virginia hamlets (which seemed to consist almost entirely of churches, bars, and cigarette stores) we were within one mile of that night’s club when there was a traffic accident that culminated in a pickup truck resting on its roof on our left and a couple of cars in the ditch on our right.

Six or seven police cars, ambulances and fire trucks converged on the scene and we came to a stop right outside of a bar called Kamakaze’s. (For all of my fellow World War II Japanese Divine Wind suicide pilot buffs out there, I fully recognize and acknowledge the misspelling. It was a bar on the outskirts of Chester, West Virginia, after all.)

A large sign outside Kamakaze’s advertised "exotic bartenders." That sign launched a full 10 minute discussion as to what constituted an "exotic bartender." Were the bartenders topless? Were they dressed in Playboy bunny outfits? Were they women dressed as birds like in that old Goldie Hawn movie Protocol? Indeed, were they women at all?

Finally, as befitted their position as leaders of the band, Colin and Joe asked Biggie’s permission to get out of the van and explore the bar. We were now almost late for load-in, but it was painfully clear we weren’t going anywhere soon, so Biggie grudgingly granted permission.

Joe and Colin walked across the parking lot, entered the bar and not two minutes later Colin returned breathlessly to the van and proclaimed, "The bartenders are TOTALLY NUDE. They’re hot chicks and they are TOTALLY NAKED." Many, many doubts were expressed about this fact and Dave, Pooch and I were given leave to confirm said report.

Sonofabitch if Colin wasn’t right on the money. The bartenders at Kamakaze’s were, in fact, totally naked. Wait, let me correct myself – the girls were, to be 100% accurate, wearing flip flops, so as to not stick to the floor I would presume. And let me say this, these girls were not middle-aged present or former crack whores, my friends, they were really fairly attractive young women in their mid-twenties. Let’s say they were cuter than girls you see working in WalMart, but not as cute as the girls pole-dancing topless at your local strip joint. Imagine the West Virginia cousins of Miley Cyrus’ or Lindsay Lohan’s entourages/posses, and you kinda get the picture.

Anyway, not unexpectedly, the bar was packed, and not just with local working-class joes. (Though, to be fair, there were a fair amount of tractor-ad baseball caps in evidence on the clientele.) There were probably as many women as there were men in Kamakaze’s and nobody, other than probably the Watershed crew, was openly gaping at the nude bartenders. It seemed like everybody in the town had come to a kind of accommodation with the nudity factor and the atmosphere was fairly light. There was certainly no heavy-duty strip-club vibe.

After about ten minutes my inherent Catholic-boy "I must be doing something wrong" guilt kicked in and I walked back out to where Biggie was sitting in the van on the road outside the bar. I filled him in on the nudity factor, we ascertained the cops were making no headway in clearing the road, so Biggie pulled the van in the parking lot and checked Kamakaze’s out for himself. At some point we realized the drummer of The Clarks was also inside the dimly-lit bar, which took a lot of the pressure off being on time for soundcheck. (In point of fact, it was not said drummer’s first visit to Kamakaze’s. He wasn’t a regular, exactly, but he sure seemed to know his way around the place.) I walked back out to the van, settled in with my book, and after about an hour the police finally cleared one lane for traffic. Biggie and I collected the band from bartender-ogling and we drove the remaining one mile up the road to the club. We were then almost two hours late for load-in after leaving six hours early. Just another afternoon on the town with Watershed. Just another day on the road.

postscript; A couple of weeks later I was at a party at our friends Danya & Mike’s house telling the Kamakaze’s story when a drummer friend of ours (who shall remain nameless) walked in on the tail end of the story. Drummer-guy was pretty smashed, possibly as drunk as I’ve ever seen him, and he seized on the "nude female bartender" part of the story, seized hard. He started asking/demanding/slurring, "WHERE IS THIS PLACE? HOW CAN THE GIRLS BE TOTALLY NUDE IF THEY’RE SERVING ALCOHOL? "WHERE IS THIS PLACE!?!" I tried to explain that it’s in West Virginia, I don’t think Ohio topless bar laws apply there, and our drummer buddy did everything short of grabbing my lapels and shaking me, saying "WHERE IS THIS PLACE, EXACTLY? I expected him to grab a pen & paper, write down the name of the town, jump in the car and light out right that moment for the Ohio/West Virginia border. The entire time his immensely patient wife was sitting right next to him, just kinda sighing. Another Saturday night. Another party.

© 2012 Ricki C.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Best Of Everything (part two)

I’ve had multiple requests for addendums to "The Best Of Everything" post, most notably for rock & roll movies. Here is my rock & roll movie list, divided into two categories; Rock & Roll Documentaries (including flat-out pure concert movies, i.e. Rust Never Sleeps) and Movies About Rock & Roll.

The first category listed here – Worst Rock & Roll Bands – was inspired by the car ahead of me in traffic the other day that was adorned (disdorned?) by a Dave Matthews Band bumper sticker. Readers, please be advised; THE DAVE MATTHEWS BAND WAS/IS THE WORST ROCK & ROLL BAND THAT HAS EVER EXISTED! BIOHAZARD! BIOHAZARD! PLAGUE! AVOID AT ALL COSTS! (But I didn’t have to tell you that, did I? You all knew.)

Worst Rock & Roll Bands

1) The Dave Matthews Band
2) Kansas
3) Styx
4) Journey
5) Foreigner

dis-honorable mentions; Stone Temple Pilots, Alice In Chains, Blink 182, Sum 41, many, many other 90’s & 00's bands

a rock & roll truism; if you were a 70’s band with a one-word name (the exception that proves the rule being Aerosmith) or a 90’s or 00’s band with a number in your name, there’s a very, very good chance that you sucked.

Top Ten Rock & Roll Documentaries/Concert Films

1) Gimme Shelter / The Rolling Stones
2) The Kids Are Alright / The Who
3) The Future Is Unwritten / Joe Strummer
4) Don't Look Back / Bob Dylan
5) Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll / Chuck Berry
6) Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 / The Who
7) Rust Never Sleeps / Neil Young
7) Stop Making Sense / Talking Heads
8) Live At The Astoria London 2005 / Ian Hunter & The Rant Band 
9) The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople
10) Under Blackpool Lights 2004 / The White Stripes

honorable mentions; The Essential Clash, all Bruce Springsteen DVD bonus discs in the Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town box sets  

Top Ten Movies About Rock & Roll

1) Almost Famous
2) Rock & Roll High School
3) A Hard Day’s Night
4) Help!
5) The Commitments
6) This Is Spinal Tap
7) Sid & Nancy
8) Fast Times At Ridgemont High 
9) Cotton Candy
10) Purple Rain

honorable mentions; Get Crazy, The Buddy Holly Story, One Trick Pony, Walk The Line, Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Hard Core Logo, That Thing You Do

author’s note; There are many truly awful movies about rock & roll (Tommy, Pink Floyd: The Wall, anything featuring Elvis Presley as a race car driver, a carnie, an underwater demolition expert, etc.) but maybe the worst of all of these was 2010’s The Runaways. I’m not sure what makes it the worst rock & roll movie of all time but I’m convinced that it is. I can’t get any of my rock & roll best friends to go see it or rent it, however, because I constantly lead with the fact that it is, indeed, the worst rock & roll movie of all time. Maybe it’s because I knew too much about the band The Runaways going into the film, maybe it's the glaring factual errors (not portraying lyricist & early driving force Kari Krome AT ALL, changing bassist Jackie Fox's name), maybe it’s because the band has a really interesting story the filmmakers totally squandered, maybe it’s a combination of those and other factors. But here’s all I know for sure: This is a movie in which Kristen Stewart & Dakota Fanning (portraying Joan Jett & Cherie Currie, respectively) MAKE OUT ONSCREEN and the director still found a way to make it boring. Mind-boggling.

further author’s note; There’s a truly great book by Marshall Crenshaw (one of the five best purveyors of power pop ever, by the way) from 1994 called Hollywood Rock: A Guide To Rock ‘n’ Roll In The Movies that is invaluable to any student of or lover of rock & roll and movies. Crenshaw came up with this great classification system of separate star ratings for music, attitude and fun that sets this apart from any other rock movie book ever. Classic.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bruce Springsteen (Bonus Video Friday)

There’s a longer Bruce Springsteen testimonial coming in this blog that I couldn’t complete for today.  (It got out of hand.)  So let’s just say this for now: Bruce Springsteen is my Number One Rock & Roll Hero of all time.  (Replacing The Who’s Pete Townshend for many, many reasons.)  This video is from the Passaic Theater in New Jersey in 1978, when the E Street Band were, quite simply, the greatest bar band the planet Earth has ever known.  I have seen every Bruce Springsteen tour since 1976, the shows in 1978 were by far the finest.  Enjoy.

By the way, the tickets to my first Bruce show in 1976 at the Ohio Theater were $5 apiece. The service charges totaled 70 cents. In the words of the immortal Long Island poet laureate, Lou Reed, "Those were different times."  


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hamell On Trial

I have been lucky enough in the life of rock & roll that I have led since I was 13 years old to have known personally and befriended four people I would consider geniuses – Dave Blackburn in 1968, Willie Phoenix in 1978, Ed Hamell (aka Hamell On Trial) in 1997 and Joe Peppercorn in 2001. ("Hey Ricki," some of you might ask, "you single out Joe Peppercorn? What about your buddies Colin Gawel and Joe Oestreich from Watershed?" My answer to that: Colin and Joe are extremely talented, really hard-working rock & roll guys who write great songs, but I have had conversations with Joe Peppercorn that I imagine are like speaking to a young Brian Wilson, circa "Good Vibrations," before Brian went off the rails and train ‘round the bend.)

I served as road manager for Hamell On Trial for 10 years, 2000-2010, before knee surgery for a torn ligament sidelined me and made it infinitely more difficult to traipse around the U.S.A. hauling amps and making nine and ten hour drives between gigs. But have not one doubt, dear readers, for those ten years I worked every night in the presence of greatness.

Rock & Roll Geniuses I Have Known, part 1 / Hamell On Trial

I first encountered the phenomenon that is Hamell On Trial at the South By Southwest Music Convention in Austin, Texas, March 1996, at a huge outdoor Mercury Records showcase (10,000 people in the street on a gorgeously warm Texas afternoon/evening). Ed was signed to Mercury then, Big As Life had just been released, and they were using him to keep the crowd occupied between the other performers' sets (God Street Wine, The Refreshments, and Joan Osborne - for those of you scoring at home). While roadies scurried around changing out amps, drums, etc. Ed would play from the very front of the stage, maybe five songs at a time, three sets in all.

From the very first dive bomber kamikaze guitar strums and the staccato spitting delivery of the best lyrics I had heard in years it was rock & roll love at first sight. The next day I lucked into seeing him at a really, really small coffeehouse in his allotted South By Southwest slot. I was there to see the act following him and had arrived early to snag a good seat. While Ed was setting up I thought to myself, "Cool, this is the guy I saw yesterday at the outdoor show, but how the hell is he going to play this tiny coffeehouse? He'll have to tone the act down so far it won't work."

Only he didn't tone it down. He played a fifty-seat coffeehouse at exactly the same manic intensity and nearly the same volume he played the huge outdoor show. People walked out of the place holding their ears during the first song. I, of course, was in six-string sonic heaven. This was everything I had been looking for since I quit playing in bands and started doing solo acoustic shows: extreme volume and attitude, great lyrics, a sense of humor. This was fiercely intelligent rock & roll played on an acoustic guitar with no hint of lingering folkie kum-ba-yah-ism.

He played for about a half-hour at that breakneck go-for-broke pace, doing a lot of the same songs he had played the previous day. And just when I was almost ready to write him off as really, really good but as something of a punk novelty act, Ed paused, looked at the audience and said very simply, "This is a song for my mother." He strummed into "Open Up The Gates," one of the warmest, most beautiful sentiments I have ever heard anytime, anywhere from any songwriter, let alone from this bald, sweating punk madman.

I was floored. I looked at the total stranger next to me whom I had been talking to a little before the show and his mouth was literally hanging open. I said, "Can you believe this song from this guy?" and he just shook his head no, he couldn't even speak. Then after the song (which, kinda typically for Ed, manages to threaten God in the midst of a heartfelt tribute to his mother) he roared into "The Meeting" and it was over. I tell you all of this just to point out that, as transfixed as I was by the music, I was cringingly afraid to go up to the guy to tell him how much I had enjoyed his set. The Hamell On Trial stage act is that of a madman and Ed plays that part well.

I saw him again in March 1997 at South By Southwest and he had a whole set of new songs potentially even better than the ones I saw him play just a year earlier (including "The Vines," the song that ended my 20-year career of warehouse work and sent me into music full-time.) In August of '97 he played Columbus and I cadged my way onto the bill as the opening act. I got to the club early, watched his soundcheck, screwed up my courage and walked up to him as he was packing up his guitar. I held up my CD covers to Big As Life and The Chord Is Mightier Than The Sword and said, "Hi, I'm your opening act and I just wanted to get the gushing fan stuff out of the way. Could you autograph these for me?"

I was fully poised, balanced back on my heels, ready to take off if he growled, "Motherfucker, do you think I don't have anything better to do than sign your little CD's?" Instead he smiled and said, "Ah, you got my CD's. Do people know who I am here?" I said, "Yeah, you get airplay on our local NPR station, I think it'll be a good crowd." I thanked him and started to walk away after he signed and he said, "Hey, come on back to the dressing room and we'll talk." I replied, "No, I don't wanna bother you." (First rule of opening acts: Never ever, under any circumstances, bother the headliner.) Ed said, "I'm in that car eight hours a day, every day, by myself, I never get to talk to anybody, come on back." I looked around. "Don't you have a roadie?" I asked. Ed replied, "Do I look like I can afford a roadie?"

It turned out we had bought all the same records in all the same years (Lou Reed, MC5, The Stooges, Mott The Hoople, The New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Jim Carroll). We'd both witnessed nature’s most perfect rock & roll organism – The Who in 1969 – fifteen days apart, November 1st (me) and November 16th (him) when Keith Moon ruled the universe. We lived very similar rock & roll existences, i.e. played in bands for years, then went solo acoustic. We had the same kind of working class reprobate rocker friends; him in Syracuse, New York, me in Columbus, Ohio. It was like we were brothers who grew up in different zip codes.

When he was going onstage that night I said, "Hey, I've seen you play before, I know you're gonna break strings. Why don't you show me where your extra strings and tuner are and I'll switch them out for you if anything goes wrong." He just stared back at me and said, "Really?" I said, "Yeah, doesn’t your opening act offer that wherever you go?" Ed said, "No, nobody ever offers anything, anywhere, anytime."

I played roadie that night. I helped out around the Midwest after that. When the Ani Difranco tours came up in 2000 I got a tryout and made the grade. I stuck around.

   postscript; two quick Hamell On Trial road stories for ya…..

Gettysburg, PA / October 1999

It's the second night of Ed's first tour with Ani Difranco. It's a little 3-date audition of sorts that leads to longer tours with Ani and eventually culminates in Ed being signed to Ani’s label, Righteous Babe Records. (By the way, for those of you scoring at home, I've been involved in music as either a guitarist or a roadie since 1968 and have never met anyone in the music business nicer than Ani Difranco.)

We're sitting in Ed's dressing room after his opening set. Ed's toweling off sweat and I'm making a peanut butter sandwich for dinner before I head out to the merch table and I suddenly feel very unglamorous and un-rock & roll.

"Somewhere right this very minute Oasis is snorting cocaine off groupies' stomachs and I'm making a peanut butter sandwich." I say to Ed, "I'm not sure this is how big-time rock & roll tours are supposed to go."

"No, I like this." Ed replies, "We're not cool."

I'm enormously heartened. I go back to my sandwich.

Santa Barbara, CA / April 2000

(Before the next story, I'd like to explain a little about my duties on the road. On tours of theaters and auditoriums when Ed opens for another artist, like this one with Ani Difranco, I would be at the merchandise table when the doors first opened, selling Hamell On Trial CD's and t-shirts. Of course, to audiences that have never seen Ed perform, it's a little hard to move merch. However, sometimes kids are nice enough to stop and talk, maybe ask questions. (To define terms: at my advanced age, "kids" refers to anyone aged teenager to mid-20's.) This tour was when I invented my one-line explanation of the Hamell On Trial experience; "It's a four man punk band rolled into one bald, sweaty guy." The kids would laugh, somewhat condescendingly, and go into the show. After Ed's set they would return raving and I would be vindicated.

During Ed's opening sets, Ani's merch girl Heidi (the second nicest person I've ever met in the music industry) would watch our table. I would be at the side of the stage tending to technical screw-ups, broken strings, knocked-over microphone stands, etc. I would then strike Ed's equipment from the stage and head back to merch, where I would remain until the end of the night, selling fantastic amounts of product, hopefully.)

Santa Barbara is in Reagan country. The downtown area is quiet and very ritzy, Gucci shops and small exclusive jewelry stores. It's a Republican blueblood stronghold. We should have expected trouble.

The show that night is a raver. Ed's on top of his game; he's berating latecomers to the front row, there are jokes galore, and "The Meeting" is a blazing finish. I'm feeling really good back at merch and CD's are selling briskly. All of a sudden one of the ushers, an extraordinarily well-dressed woman in her mid-60's wearing more jewelry than any volunteer usher I have ever seen, actually shoves the kid I'm helping out of the way and demands, "Are you with this person?" She taps one of Ed's CD's with a bejeweled finger. I reply that I am and she launches into a highly animated tirade about how Ed's performance was, "One of the most foul-mouthed exhibitions of obscenity she's ever witnessed in the Arlington Theater." I tell her "Thank you," that I'll communicate her concerns to Ed, and go back to conversing with the nice kid she just shoved.

She muscles the kid aside again and says, "I don't think you understand me, young man, I said that is one of the most obscene displays I've ever seen. A young girl set off pepper spray in the restroom in protest." At this point I have severely lost track of the conversation, especially the pepper spray protest segment. I have to move some merchandise to the crowd before Ani comes on and they split for their seats, so I again thank the woman and tell her I'm sorry she didn't enjoy the show.

She starts right back in about obscenity and that she can't understand what I'm thanking her for. I finally cut her off with, "Ma'am, I'm thanking you because I didn't come 2000 miles from Ohio to fight with ushers. It's the nicest way I can get you to move aside and let me do my job, which is selling CD's and you're interfering." She starts back in about the pepper spray and I say, "Ma'am, I'm gonna say this the nicest way I know how, in the immortal words of Hamell On Trial, could you please just go fuck yourself?"

We've drawn quite a crowd by now and the kids start to whoop and applaud. Her eyes go wide with rage and she spins on her heel. "I'm getting the police and you're going to jail." she spits back over her shoulder. Kids are shaking my hand, high-fiving me, telling me the ushers are always a pain like that, they hate rock & roll shows in their precious theater, nobody ever stands up to them, etc. I'm a local hero. I'm selling CD's right and left.

Sure enough, the usher returns with an off-duty Santa Barbara policeman working security for the concert and tells him she wants me arrested for obscenity. She starts telling the cop the pepper spray in the bathroom story and waving her arms around and he finally breaks in and says, "Lady, what are you talking about?" She goes back to ranting about obscenity and the cop turns to me and asks, "Do you have to be here?" I reply, "Yes, this is my appointed place to sell merchandise, I have to be at this table. Tell her to go back where she belongs."

The cop asks the usher where her station is and she tells him the balcony. He tells her, and I quote, "Lady, get your ass back to the balcony and leave this guy alone." Wild applause breaks out from the assembled throng, I'm a god.

By this time somebody has told Ani's crew I'm getting arrested out in the lobby. Ed and his manager rush out from backstage to see what's happening. Ani's on by that point, the crowd has gone to see the show and Ed says, "What's up?" I tell him I almost got busted for defending his honor and he grins, "Nice job."

My credit on Ed's live CD recorded during that tour reads; "Ricki C. was my roadie, he's from the West Side of Columbus, Ohio, he takes no shit." I fully believe that credit was derived from that Santa Barbara night.

© 2012 Ricki C.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Flying to Boston to See the Rock & Roll - The Neighborhoods (Bonus Video Friday)

I have this matchbook.

It’s from the Terrace Motel, 1650 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts.  I used to stay at that motel on weekends all through the early 1980’s when I worked at Ross Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio. Ross Laboratories was simultaneously the highest-paying AND easiest job I ever had. It was so high-paying I used to fly to Boston on weekends just to see bands. I’d leave my stockroom job on Friday afternoon, go directly to Port Columbus, fly into Logan Airport in Boston, grab the Red Line subway, transfer to the Green Line, and settle in at the Terrace Motel, my home away from home. (In retrospect I find that extravagance and sense of motivation amazing. Nowadays I often find it INCREDIBLY difficult to get myself off the couch to see bands at clubs as close as four miles away. Sometimes I hate growing old with rock & roll.)


Fortunately, during that time an airline called People’s Express had one-way fares to Boston for $38. YOU COULD FLY ROUND-TRIP TO BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, FOR $76. ON THE WEEKEND! Life was good. Admittedly it wasn’t exactly luxury travel, more like Greyhound if buses could fly. One Friday night, and I swear to God I am not joking or making this up, a gentleman of middle-eastern persuasion tried to bring a live chicken on the plane. After much animated discussion he was dissuaded. He left the waiting area, went out to the parking garage for about two minutes, returned sans chicken and boarded the flight. I don’t know to this day what happened to that animal and I don’t want to know.

Wait, wait, I digress again. Once more; I USED TO FLY TO BOSTON ON WEEKENDS JUST TO SEE BANDS!  Most of those weekends involved a band called The Neighborhoods. How did I love The(e) Neighborhoods? Let me count the ways: I loved them musically, I loved them sartorially, I loved their attitude, I loved that they wanted to be rock & roll stars, I loved that they went out and toured in shitty vans where people didn’t know them. (As hometown Columbus favorites The Toll found out when The ‘Hoods blew them off the stage at Stache’s one night in 1986. The Toll were given the choice that night of opening for the out-of-town rockers or keeping their top-billed slot. They learned a little too late that you DO NOT want to follow The Neighborhoods on a rock & roll stage. Brad & the boys got taken to rock & roll school that night.)

I must have first read about The ‘Hoods (as they were affectionately known to their fans) sometime in ’79 in Doug Simmons’ New York Rocker column about the Boston rock & roll scene. Then when Boston Rock started publishing in 1980 and put The ‘Hoods on the cover of their first issue I sent away to Newbury Comics for the "Prettiest Girl / No Place Like Home" single and a rock & roll love affair began. The Neighborhoods spoke to me in a way that other bands didn’t. I loved The Clash when they sang about English youth’s lack of job prospects in "Career Opportunities," but in 1980 I was 28 years old and had already been working at one job or another since my Dairy Queen stint at age 12. I was dying for some unemployment. And yeah, The Ramones were great but lyrics about chicken vindaloo and pinheads only take a rocker who reads too many books so far, ya know? But when David Minehan hit the bridge of "No Place Like Home" and sang – "First grade, straight A’s, I was a good boy / Grade six, grade’s slipped, I was losing interest / Fun time, grade nine, fools for friends & cheap highs / Grade twelve, expelled, never learned my lesson." – I knew I had found my new favorite band.

I never saw the original Neighborhoods with John Hartcorn on bass, but did see a couple of shows in 1982 when Tim Green was in the band. That was the band’s "noise" period when it really seemed they were going out of their way to alienate the old fans. They almost lost me, but once bassist Lee Harrington came into the fold it seemed like they found the perfect balance of punk, pop, aggression and melody. For some rockers in the early-80’s it was The Replacements articulating the stories of their lives. For me it was The Neighborhoods.

After the band broke up in 1992, David Minehan went on to play lead guitar in Paul Westerberg’s first post-Replacements touring band in 1993 and you’d best believe that was that a dream matchup for this Ohio rocker.  I saw that band in Cleveland that same year and have a great bootleg of them playing at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey. You should hear it sometime.

The ‘Hoods reformed in 2004 and rock to this day. God bless The Neighborhoods, and all that they stand for.

The Neighborhoods on Boston cable TV in 1979, I believe neatly beating their most obvious influence (The Jam, at that point) at their own game. Inspirational verse in song two, No Place Like Home – "First grade, straight A’s / I was a good boy / Grade 6, grades slipped / I was losing interest / Fun time, grade 9 / Fools for friends and cheap highs / Grade 12, expelled / Never learned my lesson." – David Minehan, 1979. Easily the story of my life.

© 2012 Ricki C.

The Best Of Everything (part one)

some best-of lists, for my obsessive/compulsive brothers & sisters; some parameters so everybody knows where I’m coming from in this Growing Old With Rock & Roll game…..
The Best Of Everything

Top Five English Rock & Roll Bands

1) The Rolling Stones
2) The Who
3) The Kinks
4) Mott The Hoople
5) The Beatles

honorable mentions; The Clash, The Yardbirds, Fairport Convention

Top Five American Rock & Roll Bands

1) The Velvet Underground
2) Buffalo Springfield
3) The MC5
4) The New York Dolls
5) The Lovin’ Spoonful

honorable mentions; The Dictators, The Stooges (original band w/ Ron Asheton on guitar),
The Modern Lovers, Aerosmith (in the 1970’s only)

Top Five Singer-Songwriters Backed By Killer Rock & Roll Bands

1) Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
2) Elvis Costello & The Attractions
3) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
4) The Patti Smith Group
5) David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars

honorable mentions; The Jim Carroll Band, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions

Top Five Singer-Songwriters

1) Elliott Murphy
2) Lou Reed
3) Bob Dylan
4) Neil Young
5) Richard Thompson

honorable mentions; Leonard Cohen, Steve Earle, Dave Alvin,
Lucinda Williams, Alejandro Escovedo, Hamell On Trial

Top Five Individuals Without Whom Rock & Roll Would Not Exist

1) Chuck Berry
2) Buddy Holly
3) Elvis Presley (there you go, cousin Catherine)
4) Little Richard
5) Jerry Lee Lewis

honorable mentions; Alan Freed, Johnny Cash, Leo Fender

Top Five Wastes Of Talent In All Of Rock & Roll

1) Elvis Presley (sorry, cousin Catherine)
2) Brian Wilson
3) Rod Stewart
4) Syd Barrett
5) Alex Chilton

Top Ten Albums Of All Time

1) Aquashow / Elliott Murphy
2) Who’s Next / The Who
3) A two-record set Velvet Underground import from Germany I bought used for $3 in 1973
4) Kick Out The Jams / The MC5
5) Get Your Ya Ya’s Out / The Rolling Stones
6) The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle / Bruce Springsteen
7) The New York Dolls (self-titled first album)
8) Catholic Boy / The Jim Carroll Band
9) This Year’s Model / Elvis Costello & The Attractions
10) The Modern Lovers (self-titled first album)

Top Ten Live Shows Of All Time

1) The Who / Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, Columbus, Ohio / Nov. 1st, 1969
2) Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band / Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, Columbus, Ohio / Sept. 5th, 1978
3) Romantic Noise / Columbus Riverfront Amphitheater / May, 1978
4) Bob Dylan & the Hawks / Veteran's Memorial Auditorium, Columbus, Ohio / Nov. 19th, 1965
5) Mott The Hoople, Robin Trower, and Aerosmith (bottom-billed!) / Mershon Auditorium, Columbus, Ohio / Oct. 19th, 1973
6) Brownsville Station / Valley Dale Ballroom, Columbus, Ohio / Summer, 1970
7) Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Rockpile and Mink Deville / Wilson Audoritorium, Cincinnati, Ohio / May 17th, 1978
8) T-Bone Burnett (solo, opening for Elvis Costello) / Ann Arbor, Michigan / Easter Sunday, 1984
9) Blue Oyster Cult / Ohio Theater, Columbus, Ohio / June 3rd, 1975
10) Watershed / The Basement (opening night), Columbus, Ohio / Feb. 5th, 2005

author’s note: Admittedly this was my toughest category to pick. Some of you are going to say, "Ricki, you saw The Doors in 1968, you saw Jimi Hendrix TWICE, in ’68 & ’70, you saw Cream and Janis Joplin, and now you’re going to try and tell us Brownsville Station and Watershed were BETTER than them?" Well yeah, I guess I am. The Doors and Hendrix shows at Vet’s Memorial probably do belong on this list, but The Doors and Hendrix have become so legendary to succeeding rock generations that I now can’t separate the myth, legend & hype from the shows I witnessed. The Who, on quite the other hand, just a year later were so monstrously amazing & rocking that I remember every ear-splitting moment of the show. (I couldn’t hear anything clearly for three days after that show.  I essentially went through three days of high school like a deaf mute boy out of Tommy.  Maybe that’s what Pete & Keith were going for.) And while we’re on the subject of 60’s acts; Janis Joplin was kinda weepy & weak, rock-wise, and Cream BLEW the Sunday night I saw them. I resent Eric Clapton to this day, find him hopelessly overvalued as a rock guitarist after their non-performance that night in ’68. Even as a child I KNEW they just wanted their show in little Columbus, Ohio to be over with so they could go on to a big city.  Fuck Eric Clapton.

Also, I limited each act to only one entry, otherwise something like seven of the top ten 
slots would have been filled by The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Brownsville Station.

Top Five Celtic Rock & Roll Bands Of All Time

1) The Pogues
2) The Pogues
3) The Pogues
4) Shane MacGowan & The Popes
5) The Pogues

author’s note; Chris Clinton, I might need some help with this category.
additional author’s note; Can someone please explain to me what in the name of Cuchulainn The Pogues’ "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" has to do with hockey moms and Subaru SUV’s?  I fully realize that quality dental work is expensive these days, but come on, Shane, Subaru?

Top Five Twenty-First Century Rock & Roll Bands

1) The Strokes
2) The White Stripes
3) Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
4) The Avett Brothers
5) Green Day

Five Bands That Started Out Great And Ended up Horrible

1) Pink Floyd
2) Eagles
3) REM
4) Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
5) The Strokes

Top Five Authors

1) F. Scott Fitzgerald
2) John Steinbeck
3) Kurt Vonnegut
4) Joan Didion
5) Larry McMurtry

Top Ten Movies

1) Tender Mercies
2) Taxi Driver
3) To Kill A Mockingbird
4) Night Shift
5) Caddyshack
6) Nashville
7) The Godfather part 2
8) Used Cars
9) Pulp Fiction
10) True Confessions

honorable mentions; all Woody Allen movies before 1980, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Children Of Men, Lost In Translation, Superbad

author’s note; Kyle and Debbie, you might wanna e-mail me a list of movies I’ve forgotten, this list doesn’t look right even to me, and I compiled it.