Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Friday Five, Volume 2: For Mimi

So, it's been almost a year since my beloved Grandmother (nicknamed Mimi) has shuffled loose this mortal coil and I'm pretty alright with it. I mean, I miss her dearly but the last few years of her life I was really hoping she'd just die in her sleep because she was a shadow of the woman I grew up revering. I remember when I got the news. I was at work and around 9 am my Ma called me and before I even answered I knew what she was going to tell me. I told her to just get it over with and stormed off to the toilet to sob tears of joy. My Mimi was finally free of the intense pain and You see, when I found out Mimi was about to shove off the first time Mrs. Debauchery and I were at Rudz and I knew it was the end for her. I pulled off the side of Heights Blvd. and cried so hard I thought my head would explode. That's how much this woman meant to me.

She grew up poor as shit, picking cotton in her early teens, and then married a man named John who was (also 20 years older) probably the hardest son of a bitch anyone would ever meet. My Dad might be intimidating because of his size and vocal tone and general demeanor but PaPaw was the real deal. I remember either my Ma or Mimi telling me a story about how PaPaw's crew at work on an oil rig were fucking up and he called them out on it and they tried to kick the shit out of him but he laid most of them out before they could do any real damage. He woke up bloodied but from what I've been told, he won. I'm fucking proud to be from this family and it's from my grandparents on my Ma's side (I'm sure she regrets this) where I get my attitude.

But back to my Mimi. You couldn't have wished for a better grandmother, especially if you're me. A weird, scrawny spazz who at the turn of puberty hated the sun and just wanted to stay in his room and read and listen to aggressive and violent music. Still. she supported me in everything I have dedicated my life to and in the most enthusiastic manner possible: punk rock, skateboarding, horror movies, writing, debate in high school instead of sports.You don't generally see a woman from the old South that is a hardcore baptist embrace her grandson's open rebellion against everything she adored. But she loved me anyway and if I could pull some Herbert West shit and reanimate her corpse she would tell you today that she is proud of me and is proud that her grandson is a punk rocker for life. I miss you Mimi and I hope I'm still making you happy. I am truly honored that my wife is sporting your engagement and wedding rings on her finger. 

I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House - Fuck Fred Phelps and the Westbero Baptist Church Alright, so Mimi was a hardcore Baptist and even though I never told her, partially because my Ma forbid me, she pretty much knew I was an Atheist. And the only reason I bring this is up is to qualify my criticism of most Christians. Mimi was the most open, tolerant, loving and accepting human being I've ever come across and that's where I judge (not a Christian so I can do that!) hypocritical pieces of shit like Bill O'Reily...fuck it all of Fox News, Bill Donahue (I believe my wife's Irish Catholic family would love to punch him in the balls), and especially Fred Phelps. That said, Mimi (who, despite showing me anti-gay propaganda when I was about ten (obviously it didn't take hold) regarding golden showers...yeah that happened) grew way more progressive over her life.When she met the Dead Kennedy, my (gay) brother, and heard what his parents put him through she embraced him immediately. She also used to watch shitty slasher flicks with me when I stayed with her during summers that were on USA's Up All Night. I think she figured they were morality parables that should've scared me straight. Anyhoo, if she had been cognizant about the Westbero Baptist Church I guarantee you she would've had me drive her down to one of their protests so she could tell them off. Mind you, she wouldn't like the language but she would sure as shit love the sentiment! I told my Ma I was gonna lead this column off with this song and she smiled.

The Humpers- Plastique Valentine
When I was 15 my parents bailed to NOLA for a weekend and Mimi came down to stay with me. I'd just gotten Plastique Valentine on cassette after reading about the band in Thrasher so I was super stoked to get to go to a show at Emo's (RIP) that  my parents would NEVER let me go to. My friend and I showed up around 8 (we were used to all ages shows at Fitzgerald's) and proceeded to get drunk as shit courtesy of the Humpers because we were the only one's there that early and obviously looked like easily corruptible teens. I remember at one point the bar refused to give the band anymore beer and Billy marched down to the corner store, copped a case of Shiner and when he was told he couldn't bring it in the bar said, "FUCK YOU! IF WE CAN'T KEEP DRINKING WE'RE NOT PLAYING!" They let him in, the show was amazing and the Humpers wrote me a note to give to my Mimi apologizing for keeping me out so late. She read it, saw how buzzed I was on beer, laughed and said, "Now, go to bed!"

Hank Williams - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
Probably the only song on this list she would've really dug. Aside from the personal attachment to my grandmother over this song (she was a huge Hank Williams fan) this reminds me of being in my early 20's, drinking a bottle of whiskey a night and passing out on the couch, because I was so depressed, when GRRR was a puppy. And then when I'd drag my ragged ass off the couch in the morning with this tune stuck in my head, all I could think was, "Mimi would kick the shit outta me if she ever saw me like this!"

ALL - Breaking Up
When I was, like 14, some guy at the Pizza Hut in our neighborhood gave me a backpack full of tapes (Madness, Subhumans, Descendents, 7 Seconds, the Freeze...huuuuge influence on me) cause I wore a 30footFALL t-shirt into the store when I went and picked up our pie. Fast forward to when I was 16 and just broke up with a girl, ironically, who was also nicknamed Jay (let's not delve into the Freudian-fuckedupness of that), and man, I was devastated. Just a total wreck. So, I had to drive up to Beaumont to pick up Mimi for the holidays and just could not stop listening to this album, especially "Breaking Up." I hit that reverse button on my car's tape deck like fifty billion times throughout that trip. During that, Mimi could tell something was wrong and finally blurted out some curt advice once I told her what was making me such a mopey bastard, "Honey, she don't deserve you. Just get over it."

The Ramones - Clip from Rock 'N' Roll High School
Mimi's favorite memory of me was of us eating pizza from Domino's (hey, I didn't know that asshole CEO supported Operation Rescue when I was a kid) and grease just running down our arms. She always brought it up and it's a nice ending to this column because the last time I ate pizza with her was while watching Rock 'N' Roll High School, when I was in high school. Gabba gabba hey, Mimi. I'm sure you've already told Joey how much I adore him.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Friday Five Volume 1: Girls Get Busy

Welcome to the first edition of the Friday Five. Here, I'll give you five songs every week that have been stuck in my noggin', for the most part, centered around a theme. Sometimes I might just pull five tunes outta my ass that I think rock. Or something that triggered on my iPod or iTunes or that I pulled out of my vinyl collection that really took a hold of my nards and didn't let go. I haven't really decided yet, though, I do have the first few mapped out. So, here we go.

I love my new job. I'm still working at the hospital but instead of having to deal with bitchy nurses nagging me for things they (rightfully, though not of my fault) should've already gotten I now work in receiving and after two weeks training at the main building I got moved to a cushy new offsite that affords me plentiful time to listen to music podcasts almost non-stop. I still dig on my favorite newscasts to start my morning (Democracy Now!, Best of the Left, etc.) but once my triple shot of espresso kicks in I'm in full on rock 'n' roll mode.

My favorites are everything that is broadcast on the Garage Punk Pirate Radio Network, Rev. Norb's AMAZING Bubblegum Fuzz and the Razorcake Podcast and it's because they remind me of just how much music that is out there, whether new or vintage, that I haven't even discovered yet. I'm a 32 punk rock kid who has swallowed oceans of music thanks to many friends and an insatiable curiosity and love for my beloved subculture and all of it's offshoots and even though I'm long in the tooth (in punk years at least) I still love being turned onto glorious new music like when I was a kid and my sisters older friends and my waaay older friends made me mixtapes.

We live in an awesome new world for music lovers where anyone with a computer can rip their vinyl, CD or cassette collection and turn a whole new generation into rabid fanatics of some band that only released one 7" in the 70's that didn't even make it onto a Killed by Death comp or remind them of groups who were waaaaay beyond what their pop star sheen made them out to be (Rev. Norb hipped me to a particularly skeezy Davy Jones track that makes me question just how wholesome some of those Monkees records are).  Punk rock, rock 'n' roll...all that jazz is built on tradition just like folk music. And part of maintaining that is the ability to share gems from past eras other's might not think to glance at. So that's where this column is coming from. I love sharing music with my friends (and whoever the fuck else might read this blog) and rather than bomb your Facebook walls with shit I'm currently digging I figured I'd force myself to pick five stellar tracks that have been in my head all week to hopefully groove into your senses. This week's theme is focusing on girl groups or girl fronted groups because...well, out of everything my brain gorged on this week all of the standout tunes featured female singers.

The God Damn Doo Wop Band - "I'll Always Be Your Girl" (from the same named 7" I couldn't find the name of the label it was released on so hit me up and I'll amend this)

First off, ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING involving a member of the Soviettes warrants at least like, three consecutive spins. That member in this case would be Annie (who is also in the great, fuzzed out bass/drum duo Awesome Snakes) and sweet titty fucking christ does this single fucking slay! Quick background on me: I was raised on AM radio by my parents and fortunately that was a time when the programmers weren't just pumping out Beatles song after Beatles song but would play pre-Pet Sounds era Beach Boys (nothing against Pet Sounds, just saying) and LOOOOAAADS of Phil Spector produced girl groups. I worship the Ronettes, Shangri-Las, et. all so when I get presented with a song with such low key, minimalist production (as opposed to the Pippettes', whom I still enjoy, faux-wall of computer bullshit) that just let's the vocals speak for themselves I know the people behind it knew what the fuck they were doing. I mean, the lyrical punch behind all of those great songs ("When I Saw You" "He Hit Me and it Felt like a Kiss" "Dressed in Black") and therefore, the emotional efficacy of the tune, doesn't get driven home if it isn't the singer that is doing the heavy lifting. That said, I was FLOORED when this first creeped through my headphones on the loading dock. I stopped what I was doing and went back a few times to repeat the track. Then I went home and played it a shitload more. THIS is fucking fantastic pop music that is exhilarating and heartbreaking at the same time. Isn't that what we all really want from our favorite musical lamentations on love?

Cudzoo and the Faggettes - "Daddy Issues" (Daddy Issues, Drug Front Records)

Let's move onto the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Cudzoo and Faggettes have released two albums of gleefully offensive, utterly tactless and absolutely fanfuckingtastic barrages of punked up, glammed out, girl group styled comedic sleaze. That's a compliment.  Think Shannon and the Clams with better production values and a meaner sense of humor. These ladies better be featured in the next Jon Water's movie or else that man has really lost his taste for trash culture. I get a lot of personal feelings that come up when I listen to this album (well, mainly the track "You Taste Like Intervention" which could've been the soundtrack to my entire 20's and especially the most fucked up, abusive, self-destructive and soul crushing relationship I've ever been in that almost closed those years out and if a song can make me laugh about that horror it's got to be great) but mainly what sticks with me most is the type of self-deprecating feminist humor that would make the readership of Jezebel lose their collective hive-minds. "Daddy Issues" aside, there is a fucking song on here called "Roofies" which treats that malady as a positive! Here's how the song ends, with a nice soliloquy, post roofie rape: "I love you soooo much, I'm gonna get your dried up umbilical chord nub, stick it in my vagina, incubate it for nine loooong months, birth it, raise it for 18 years, then fuck the SHIT out of you again!" Heartwarming.

Porcharitas - Get Wasted (Get Wasted with the Porcharitas 7" Vertical House Records)

I have long ragged on Alabama as being the shittiest fucking state in this quickly fading republic known as these United States of America (Florida, for all it's warts at least produces good punk bands). And for good reason! When I was 17 I went on a road trip with my debate team (dork, I know) to compete in some prestigious tournament and when we rolled into the state looking for a place to eat, all us kids piled out the vans. Including two black ones. We were met outside by the, I guess, proprietors...protectors...assholes of the establishment and told, curtly, to the fuck back off in our van and keep driving. I'm a Texan by the way so you know it takes something epic and awful like to make me feel like I have the right to shit on your state (Vidor, where?). Anyhoo, these are 3 ladies and one gent from that state who have churned out one kick ass garage punk rager. I'm eagerly waiting on getting my copy of this 7" in the mail (Mrs. Debauchery said she ordered it and if not I will be scouring all of New Orleans for it, along with Normals records come Thursday) because there are only so many times I can repeat this record on bandcamp. I love the scuzzed out vocals, guitars that sound like they were recorded in a trashcan, non-existent bass and waaaaay low on the sound scale Casio keyboards. A prime example of modern, snarky garage punk done absolutely perfect. It makes me wanna take out everything bad I've ever said about the state of Alabama.

The Sugar Stems - "Greatest Pretender" (Greatest Pretender 7" Certified PR Records)

Just the other day I was wondering just what in the mother FUCK happened to the Leg Hounds. You remember them right? Those Devil Dogs lovin' Midwestern righteous motherfuckers? Well it turns out that Drew Fredrichsen, after churning out some killer music with the Jetty Boys  has moved onto to some great bubblegum pop with the Sugar Stems. Just the other day I was wondering just what in the fucking hell happened to the Leg Hounds. Their first album was totally killer but this single blew the official Cancer Hospital baseball cap that I am forced to wear to work everyday off my head. If this  is what the modern incantation of power-pop is going to sound like then I will have a full on priapism ready to balance all of of the (hopefully) forthcoming masterpieces that will be rolling out from these cats any minute now (they do have a new album coming out next year). A fucking exquisite pop song no matter what genre you or I feel the need to put it in. 

The Okmoniks - I'm Done (Party Fever! Slovenly Recordings)

So, here comes the oldie (or at least in the parlance of this current generation because this record was released in, I think 2006-7? It was in the heyday of PKY being print is all I remember) and it should count as a modern garage punk classic. For those not in the know, Justin Champlin (aka Nobunny) came to prominence with this band along with the Sneaky Pinks and by golly, if I'm not a total sucker for 60's style garage rock that's sped up and complete with a solid use of organs and female vox. Just listen to the bridge! It's frantic, desperate and underlays the songs epic angst. Homegirl wants to bail and forget this guy as soon as she can. There's a great band from Denver called the Manxx my friend Justin knows that seems to be carrying on the torch for these cats and once I cop some physical music I will let you know just how enraptured I am with them. Still, as much as I dug that song I can't even remember the name of it's going to be hard to top the pop wizardry the Okmoniks were able to create during their oh so brief and oh too short career. At least Nobunny still performs "Not That Good" and my wife will still be able to shake her amazing Irish ass all over the dance floor when that occurs. 

And since I ended on a Nobunny note, once again, and one of the greatest memories of my life, here is the first show my wife and I attended together and here first REAL exposure to punk rock. 

Til next week brothers and sisters, 
Jihad for Rock 'N' Roll Motherfuckers
Jay Debauchery.