Facebook Post: 2017-03-25T10:13:18

Salem friends: this is tomorrow. I’m trying to get this monthly series off the ground, and the first one is very excellent. Red Panda Death March, Guyve, Corvallis Experiments in Noise and MKUltramegaphone will perform, and it will knock your socks off, for sure. Please, join us, and help support this new showcase of incredible performances. 8 PM, sharp.

Facebook Post: 2017-03-25T07:30:42

Tonight, in the humble burg of Corvallis, we will be bringing you another audio assault, along with a host of other bands. It’s our first time in Corvallis, and this is an early, all-ages gig that promises to be done before 10. That means you can squeeze in another show after this one, and still make it to Sunday Brunch tomorrow. All Ages shows are very important to us, so come on out and bring the family. This will be a lot of fun.

What Do I Really Like?

It’s strange that this is a difficult question to answer, for any reason that I could possibly present.  There are some things that are easy – eating, sex, sloth – but when we get into the realm of the intellectual, this question becomes very complicated, very quickly.  There are a number of things I like, or have liked, or have gone through the motions of liking.  But as I get older I start to see the world around in a Fight Club sort of sense, where the things I own have an incredible amount of agency over me.  Perhaps the things I own make it easier to build a nest, to fill it with comfort, and spend my days enjoying myself in every imaginable way.  But the larger question – What Do I Really Like? – seems embedded with a more philosophic approach.  There must be some rationale, even if it is silly.  And, as the answers come to me less readily, I start to wonder if maybe I never really liked those things in the past.

There are three primary components to the things that seem to own me these days: books, comics and LPs.  All three, as an interest, can be traced back to my mother, really.  Growing up, she ran a store that she started – a.k.a. Used Books & Records – and I not only spent a lot of time there, but worked at (and ran) the shop occasionally as part of my set of first jobs.  In this shop she sold books, comics & LPs (among other things).  I had never really enjoyed reading when I was much younger, and music was always my mom’s domain, something that I enjoyed, but through her listening to it around me.  But spending time in this store really engaged a new part of my mind that had previously been spent internalizing a rich fantasy world, largely pieced together from things I’d borrowed from TV & Movies.

At the time, my friend Devin has noticed the comics when he came in, and even bought a few.  It turned out he had a modest collection of titles he’d picked up over the years, and gave me a run down of the stuff he enjoyed.  There were several he followed, but Green Lantern stuck out for me.  My mom had many in her shop, so I began to have my pay in trade for comics, and began clearing out the shop’s collection of different things that appealed to my sense of awe.

Green_Lantern_Vol_2_90Very quickly, I became a Green Lantern devotee.  I remember the first issue I picked up – #90 – was a story about a predecessor to Green Lantern awoke, having been unconscious for years, along with a villain this old GL had to capture.  At this time, the book co-stared Green Arrow, a wise-cracking anarchist who often depended on Green Lantern to actually deliver the goods, as a bow & arrow didn’t work well in space.  In this book, I found a take on Sci Fi I had never seen before, that blended with super-hero storytelling, in a way I had never seen before.  And, all this stuff about Guardians, other races and aliens, and Green Lantern’s secret identity.  It was a lot for a kid like me to digest.  Because there was no Inter-Web-A-Tron or instant access to all information at all times back in those days, the best bet for a kid like me was to save every penny so I could pick up back issues and fill in the gaps, and imagine.

Comics collecting allowed me a chance to let my already fertile imagination to run wild, and Green Lantern in particular seemed so unlike everything else in the world of comics, that I quickly became the biggest evangelist for the book.  It seemed like the ultimate power-fantasy: through sheer willpower, you can force things into being, that will then do your bidding.  And you can apply this power to anything you can imagine: flying, punching, creating complex technology or blunt instruments, etc.  This force-of-will angle really speaks to a teenager, who seems to only have willpower in a world full of rules and restrictions and guidelines and misunderstandings.  How many problems would be solved with a Green Lantern ring?

Of course, modern comics are sophisticated, so once you go down the Green Lantern collecting rabbit hole, you quickly find yourself inside the DC Universe, where all their comics take place.  This means that through cross-overs and event publishing, soon enough all the books you are reading just to follow Green Lantern’s adventures encompass a number of other books that you never intended to start reading.  This has only intensified even more as years have gone on, and anymore it is very difficult to just pick up Green Lantern every month without missing 7/8ths of the story because you’re not reading the other books he crosses over into every month.  (But that’s another story.)

At my peak, in early 1990’s dollars, I was spending about $100 a month on comics, to stay current on my new books, and to pick up back-issues I was on the hunt for.  Of course, this habit ended in 1992, when I was thrown out of my house by my mom, and had to live on my own.  Before long, the painful reality of paying my bills kept my comics collecting in check.  In the years since, I have occasionally picked up something here, and something there.  Every so often, I go on a huge binge, and buy a bunch of stuff.  But the money always reigns it back in, and then I have to cut back.  At this point, I have about a thousand books, and quite a few I have never read.  I could only re-read the books I have now, and would still have a great time without having to get anything new.

But my tastes have changed tremendously, too.  I don’t read Green Lantern anymore, save for the occasional thing here and there.  And my favorite character is probably Hellboy, or Swamp Thing.  (Again, for different reasons.)  And, of course, I’m less interested in DC Comics, unless it is from the 70’s, or older.  But that desire to look through boxes of old comics.  To read one now and then.  And to experience a good story for the first time.  Those are feelings I think I will always enjoy.

There’s only so many dank places you can hide out in before someone comes looking for you, and when they do, it’s often bad news.  But I had managed to go on a bit of a tear recently, and was avoiding a short detox because I wasn’t ready to think about what was really going on.  When you try to make a list of everything that’s been happening recently, all too quickly it gets out of hand.  Sometimes, the drink in front of you is much easier to sort out.

Or, for that matter, the night life that goes on in any given town.  This is, after all, America, or at least what’s left of it, and as long as there is a song to be heard, I remain powerful, and ready to take on the world.  Having already undertaken this quixotic life thus far, it made little sense for me to try and ignore these kinds of opportunities when they arose.  The booze was one thing, for sure.  But you got booze in these night clubs, with music and girls and dancing and magic.  If you drive around long enough with the windows rolled down you can feel the bass intermix with the smell of the moon and smoke on the horizon.

The bass begins to become more distinct as I turn the wheel of my car.  The other instruments begin to come into the mix as I use my turn signals, my head spinning as I try to pinpoint the location.  Like an sudden rendezvous, the tension builds almost suddenly as I realize I’m getting incredibly close, but then one final turn of the wheel and the song kicks into high gear, the neon and the leather and the hair and the smoke and the glasses filled with high powered alcohol and a band on stage kicking out the jams.  I could feel both my libido and my mana pulsing, as energy crackled along my arms.

I rolled a cigarette and infused it with some of the bridge of the song, and thumbed my phone for a second until I was able to sort out where I was and what was going on.  The Fixin’ To bar.  Stiff drinks, deep fried and down home menu, with a thick layer of hipsters and aging rockers who show up for the Patio Shows, where a band and thirty friends can enjoy an evening.  Swarming around the joint were every manner of woman, dolled up and beautiful.  Rock music was best used to fuel glamour magic, and I cast a few change of outfit spells before I decided to keep my usual square coat and hat.  My usual ruffled bow ties and earnest middle-agedness often made me stick out like a sore thumb, but it never stopped me from enjoying a nice string of evenings where I could chat up pretty girls, get bombed on bourbon, and watch some local band kick out the jams before everyone crawled home.

It certainly beat the hell out of dealing with what had happened.

I knew enough people that it was inevitable I could keep the party going all night, and I had enough folding money to ignore things for as long as my body could take.  I drove recklessly, using magic to “sober me up,” chasing the next party, the next DJ, the next show, skipping the all-ages crap in search of some bar where I can hunker down and try to wet both of my whistles.  But I never managed more than a few indiscreet rendezvous that were more sloppy than satisfying, and in my state, it was probably for the best that most of my texts and calls were ignored.  I had thrown myself at the mercy of rock and roll, and it was a convenient way to ignore pretty much every, health and hygiene included.

After nearly a week of this kind of behavior I was in pretty deep, running a number of spells to act as outboard memory as I invented new ways of reaching alcoholic bliss, I found myself at some experimental dance night at Plew’s, when the girl I was offering to split a joint with was in fact Suzanne, someone I’d been intentionally avoiding so much so that I had inadvertently convinced myself she was someone else, and masked her magically when she first walked in.  I’d rather not repeat our short but blunt conversation out of respect for whatever dignity I might have been able to hold onto after I performed a light-show outburst of spells and weirdness that was so powered by the one-man-band’s electronic music that the entire place was in awe.  No amount of fighting with Suzanne could dissuade the owner from trying to work out a deal for future shows with me, nor did it stop Suzanne from convincing everyone that they needed to load me into her car so she could drive me back to the Record Store.

I applaud her for these efforts, because I intentionally don’t deal with myself when I that drunk, and Suzanne was not only brave enough to get me into the office, and up to my bedroom, but also finally took me up on the joint just so she could calm me down enough to stop having magical outbursts, and start thinking about things rationally.  After I made the worst pass at a woman I have ever made, she put me to bed, cleaned my room, hid all the alcohol and pot, and turned on some sleepy drone music that had me out like a light in minutes.

I had wholly inappropriate dreams about every woman I knew and woke up twice in the middle of the night to relieve myself from them.  The next few days were spent eating Thai food, binge watching TV, and feeling incredibly guilty.  The text-message fallout – not just from Suzanne, but from the other men and women that I’d run into in the last week – was enough of a deterrent to avoid asking where Suzanne had hidden everything, so much so that I didn’t even look.  Instead, an OG Dr. Who marathon coupled with the Pok Pok recipe book keep me busy as I reflected on what I had done.

After a few days of that, I decided to take a shower, put real clothes on, and get back to work.

Facebook Post: 2017-03-22T05:32:52

“I came up with a new game-show idea recently. It’s called The Old Game. You got three old guys with loaded guns onstage. They look back at their lives, see who they were, what they accomplished, how close they came to realizing their dreams. The winner is the one who doesn’t blow his brains out. He gets a refrigerator.”

RIP Chuck.


The Legend of Billie Jean was not a movie I expected to be familiar with when my wife first recommended we watch it a few years ago, and as it is among her favorite films, I didn’t see the harm in giving it a shot.  What I found out what that, very quickly, I did remember the film, but only in pieces, like in a dream.  It should go without saying that I later realized that this was also a favorite movie of my younger sister when she was a kid, that I had absorbed the film largely through osmosis.  I don’t remember sitting down to watch it intentionally at any point, but having seeing in twice in recent years, I now understand why it was – to my young mind – forgettable, but seems to be permanently etched into the minds of all women of a certain age.

The summer of 1985 was an interesting time in popular culture.  Punk, New Wave, Power Pop & Rock music were all mixing together, and film was starting to depict these pockets of America that were infected by all of this new artistic input.  Like the Rock and Roll scares of previous generations, “youth culture” was now something that was genuinely being paraded as a “threat” on the news, and small instances of kids gone wrong were blown out of proportion.  A number of movies tried to address different issues that were affecting teenagers at the time, and for every Heathers that was poking fun at teenage suicide, there were plenty of John Hughes movies to paint a “quainter” version of the scourge of America.

In the end, though, the typical kinds of problems that Hollywood has suffered from crop up time and time again, even when exploring the fringes of teenage rebellion: where are all the women at?  There are so few teenage films that pass the Bechdel Test that it is embarrassing, and while you have a few ensemble casts where there are both male and female characters, it is shocking to find how rarely the women are cast as anything but potential girlfriends for the boys, who are at the center of the story.  This problem is both embarrassing and counter-intuitive to another trope that you see in almost all movies about teenagers: the younger, not-yet-sexually-active sister who DOES embody all the same characteristics as the males: outgoing, in charge, doesn’t let people boss her around, etc.  The general thrust of most teen films is that young girls act like boys, until they “mature” and become objects for the boys.  Aside from taking your glasses off and shaking out your librarian hair, there are few other roles you can take on in movies about teen.

It would be a little ridiculous to suggest that The Legend of Billie Jean is a feminist tract, and there are a number of problems with this movie that cause it to fall apart under too much scrutiny.  But I’m not sure that plot hole exploration or rigorous third wave feminist theory application is going to explain by my younger sister and my wife – and, let’s face it, most women who grew up with this film – love this movie so much.  I think, very simply, that the movie sets up an experience that a lot of women can relate to, and then pays it off in the most satisfying way at the very end.

Sure, I’ll probably drop a spoiler or two as I go, but perhaps the biggest one is that this movie was a bit of a flop, and not the first (or last) for director Mathew Robbins, either.  (Although Dragonslayer managed to gain a cult following that was separate from the following Billie Jean has.)  But it did well enough in the theater to help making Pat Benatar’s “Invincible” a hit, and it turned Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” – at the time, a year old song that had failed to chart – into a charting song as well, aided largely by MTV playing the hell out of the songs.  But as a summer film, it was very quickly forgotten, and as artists began to tighten the rules about distributing their music in films, home distribution dried up.  It made it to cable, and some rental stores got a limited number of VHS copies, but for many years it was unavailable, and only in the last few has it be legally available in a digital form.  (Our copy is a burned DVD from 2006, won on eBay by my lovely wife.  The transfer is an SD Fullscreen transfer, and looks TERRIBLE on a good TV.)

Of course, all of this is in keeping the The Legend of Billie Jean.  The movie itself starts in the smallest way possible: a brother and sister from a trailer park find themselves the victims of an obnoxious kid, who destroys the brother’s scooter (and beats the kid up in the process).  With the help of two addition friends from the park – a younger girl named Putter and another friend who has borrowed the family car – go on a quest to get compensated for the trashed scooter, and to get their names cleared after the father of the obnoxious kid tries to exploit and extort the sister, Billie Jean.  After a series of adventures that continues to escalate the stakes of the film, it ends in a confrontation between Billie Jean and the sleazy dad, where most of the state of Texas turn up to watch her humiliate him, and then burn down most of his business.

And this guy deserved it, too.  In the course of this movie he belittles his own son and Billie Jean, tries to pay her for sex, tries to force her to have sex with him, exploits her name and image for money after she becomes a media sensation, and with the full knowledge that his son is guilty, refused to pay for the replacement scooter, or to apologize for any action he did during the film.  And, yes, loosing a business is hard, but he is rich, and will recover, while Billie Jean and her brother have to leave Texas forever, to restart their lives elsewhere, because Texas was so awful to them.  (The moral of the story: you can’t change Texas, so just leave.)


Facebook Post: 2017-03-17T16:42:19

Wait, this is next week already, too? The very first Sunday Service showcase happening at The Space Concert Club, and we couldn’t be more excited about the line up. Guyve, Corvallis Experiments in Noise, MKUltramegaphone (the MVM house band), and Red Panda Death March, who you can hear tonight on the program. If you like what you hear, come down next weekend, and enjoy them, LIVE!

When I moved to Eugene I knew about Punk Rock in an abstract sense.  My mom had let me listen to a Sex Pistols album, and Alex Otto had played for me the Dead Milkmen and The Clash, so I felt like I knew what the music sounded like.  But my experience of it was so limited as to be pretty funny.  I listened to Uncle Tupelo and They Might Be Giants.  I had been a fanatical Dr. Demento devotee, and my first two concerts were Robert Palmer (on November 8th, 1988 at the Hult Center in Eugene, Oregon) and Bon Jovi (on May 8th, 1989 at the Memorial Colosseum, at which they were filming the “Lay Your Hands On Me” video).  My tastes – thanks to my parents – skewed hard rock, but my sensibility was so comedy driven that I was more “Weird Al” than Jello Biafra.

While I was in High School (1989 – 1993), “Alternative” music broke in America in a big way.  My mom had cable in those days, and the used books / comics / records shop that she ran started to see a slight shift in the music that was coming in.  But the lens through which I experienced all of this was through magazines: Rolling Stone and Spin, and the obsessively-watched MTV, itself going through a revolution at the time, too.  Alternative Nation and Headbanger’s Ball were both setting the blueprint for what was to come, and this nascent media empire nurtured “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to the point nearly all DJs were confused.  You would hear Juliana Hatfield’s “Spin The Bottle” side by side with “Psalm 69” by Ministry, and it was all being jump-cut with a hundred other ideas and images along the way.  Everyone was desperately looking for the next “thing” that would be bigger than Nevermind, and in that search the most dada RIYL game was being played, with bands like Blind Lemon & Collective Soul having brief but uninspired careers that seemed even smaller scale that flash-in-the-pan.

Amidst the media stew that was being turned over around me this word – punk – bubbled beneath the surface of culture.  I had missed it (and then some) with a 1975 birthday, and by the time I was 14, bad country music and hair metal dominated the world in my universe.  But with this “Alternative” media blitz that was ushered in by Saint Cobain, hillbillies in rural Oregon were turning away from Classic Rock radio to this “heavier” sound.  In a way, it was like putting a converter on foreign voltage, so you could “step down” the intensity of punk rock, and instead make it acceptable for widespread use in middle america.  It is safe to say that in my family, we found have continued to listen to Hair Metal and hard rock, and that I probably would have become a KISS fan, eventually get into Van Halen, and follow that particular path as a teenager.  (Think a milder version of the kids in River’s Edge.)  Without Alternative, how would I have ever heard of Black Flag?

With hindsight, it is difficult to explain how secluded small town life was in a pre-Inter-Web-A-Tron world.  I really had no concept of “college rock” or the pre-Alternative world of indie comics, ‘zines & records that was happening, and in some cases, within my own state.  There was nowhere in Cottage Grove that carried small publications, and I didn’t know about KRVM (or KWVA) to even try and tune in to hear this other music.  We had cable, but I was only able to watch during the day, and didn’t even know about these other shows that were on, late at night.  The breakdown in communication was extreme, and while Rolling Stone gave me some context, they didn’t cover a lot of “indie” music until after Alternative broke.  In many ways, I WAS the indie press in Cottage Grove, and I didn’t have access to anything stronger than what I heard on the radio.  Living in Cottage Grove was like living on the moon; you were as far away from Seattle as you were from New York or LA.  By the time anything cool came that way, it had already been everywhere else.

Alternative not only leveled the playing field, but it became the synthesis of all of this work the independent underground had been doing since the rock and roll revolution of the late ’50’s.  Being “subversive” and “against the mainstream” was finally cool and acceptable in a way that it hadn’t been since Elvis Presley made rock and roll okay with housewives and teenagers.  Alternative was finally an outlet were the maligned and ignored trends and undercurrents that were already dominating subcultures throughout America could find their way into every corner of this country in a way that Punk & Post-Punk had failed to do so, and as much of this movement was lumped in with “grunge” at the time,” it failed to encompass all the kinds of music that was reaching larger audiences.  It was clear to me then the origins of Pearl Jam & Nirvana – two drastically different bands that were lumped in together often – might have been drawing from the same source material.  But from where I was from, all of this history was absolutely inaccessible.  It was take years before I would be able to put the puzzle together.

Once the Alternative Bubble broke, my interests went everywhere, and soon I was obsessing over every new band that appeared on MTV.  New music seemed great at first.  But as I read interviews and started to understand that there was a world of music that came before that I was unfamiliar with, a new interest began to come to my mind: what music inspired this?  It was a question I couldn’t quite answer at first, but I knew that Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin were not the only reference points that new bands were riffing on.  This word punk seemed to be the cypher, the way to uncovering some of this trail that had been blazed before.  But how to find it in Cottage Grove?  Where?  How?

Facebook Post: 2017-03-12T07:29:44

Eugene Friends: This show is tonight, and we’re pretty excited. The line-up is pretty cool, and what with Daylight Savings, this being an early show, and the all ages / Game Store nature of things, this will be THE reason you’ll want to go out on a Sunday night. We have some surprises in store, and we think this will be a great time for everyone involved. See you there.

Facebook Post: 2017-03-10T17:52:26

Eight bands. Two Days. Two Venues. 42 Years. Help celebrate Austin’s 42nd with /root_DIR, Just Kitten, Gordon Taylor’s 10 Year Anniversary Show, MARC & the Horsejerks, VortexRemover, The Long Division Trio, Eric Hausmann & Scott Steele and MKUltramegaphone. You don’t want to miss either day of this event: April 29th and 30th at the Fifty Pub N’ Grub & The Space Concert Club. Join us.

Facebook Post: 2017-03-08T06:00:28

We are now on the bill for this show in Corvallis. (Special Thanks to Corvallis Experiments in Noise for setting this up.) We are playing with Don Gero (dongero1.bandcamp.com), The Halloweener, Black Woofer (soundcloud.com/black-woofer), Holding Blunt Instrument (holdingbluntinstrument.bandcamp.com), My Burning Bush (hearmyburningbush.bandcamp.com), Weltschmerz and Jaco. This is gonna be pretty excellent, and we can’t wait to show them how Salem does it. If you live in the area, please, join us!

Facebook Post: 2017-03-08T05:50:19

Our very first Eugene gig is coming up this weekend, and it is an early All Ages Show on Sunday. Hell yeah. We will probably wrap up just in time for you get get to sleep, and to work, on time. We’re playing with Don Haugen, JUICE MACHINE, Structures & Hobby Knife. If you live in Eugene, and you’ve been curious about all the noise I’ve been making, then this is the show for you. See you there!

Facebook Post: 2017-03-05T11:26:28

Almost two years in the making, and finally available to the public: the first official devils/club album, “Concentrator.” Mixed, produced, mastered, and ready for your ears, we’ll be sampling tracks, hearing new music by supporters and artists we love, plus live performances by Uneasy Chairs & MKUltramegaphone on the air. We’re excited to hear what devils/club has been up to, and this will be your chance. Tune in, you won’t be sorry.