blog nothing. that was in insubordination fest 2010 zine bitch!
interview I did for AMP Magazine (click title to read).
In the corner of the room stands a lanky twenty-five year old man with tangled sunbeam hair barely covering his wandering cerulean eyes, then sweeping back towards two dopey ears slightly sticking out from a milky complexion. Tiny freckles dot the crooked nose placed somewhat awkwardly above an almost pinhole mouth surrounded by thin nonexistent lips, seeming too tight and pinched shut for any words to ever find their way out, thus explaining his quiet nature. His barrel-less chest appears bony and fragile, his stomach sunken deep within a jutting ribcage, his back a little hunched over its frame, maybe from childhood Scoliosis or just a lack of self-confidence and all of this inadequacy trying its best to balance atop his flimsy stilt legs, which end in giant canoe feet wearing black Chuck Taylor All Stars and worn they are with scraggly holes lining the sides and soles, longing for better days when toes could remain safe inside without peeking through to pavement hardships. A simple black suit and green T-shirt cover the remainder of his blinding body. One Robert P. Wadlow hand wraps around a glass of red wine practically coming back on itself, while the other is thrust into his pants pocket shuffling through loose change and old Chinese cookie fortunes. The sticker on the left side of his jacket reads: MY NAME IS … ARCHIE. ARCHIE is written in red crayon, retrieved from his collection of dead presidents and Confucius’ sayings, when he was unable to find a proper writing utensil.
Tonight marks the grand opening of Wit’s End, an art gallery featuring prominent new talents, located on the east side of town amongst the urban upper-class neighborhoods and eclectic storefronts catering to the hip city dwellers and their many diverse subcultures. Some of Archie’s paintings hang on freshly painted white walls alongside such other up and comers as Oliver Langley, Gabriella Soleil, and Vincent Sumner, to name a few … Gabriella being the most gifted and prolific of the lot with beauty and charm adored by countless male followers.
Archie still standing in the corner, legs crossed at the ankles, takes a long look around the gallery, admiring his fellow artists’ work and eavesdropping on the grandiloquence of their conversations:
“Kerouac and I certainly weren’t fast friends. He’s too wordy for me … and his sentences just go on and on like they’ll never end. Personally, I think he could use a grammar lesson or two. And what is it he’s trying to say anyway? I walked around, caught a ride, drank some wine, ‘dug some bop’ … but what does that mean?”
“I agree. The way color explodes and intertwines in The Kiss is so passionately displayed … it really shows the violence and lust … and even forthcoming love in its subjects. Picasso truly had a gift for making genitalia seem elegant.”
” … well, I’m not a fan of noise and I could never understand ‘black music’, so Miles Davis doesn’t have any appeal to my senses. How can you respect a man who doesn’t even face his audience?”
“Phonies.” Archie softly mutters to himself.
His vision finally settles on one of his own pieces entitled The Child. It had taken him over a year to complete this, which he considered to be his finest expression … working only when he felt inspired and stopping often for great lengths of time to reflect upon each simple brushstroke, hoping in the end he would achieve perfection. The Child was Archie’s interpretation of a newborn infant fresh from the womb, seeing the world for the first time through not-yet-jaded eyes of angel god light and wonder … full of optimism … devoid of disappointment or disillusionment and breathing in that first calm that holds no expectations.
Staring at his masterpiece, he notices a very small crack on the edge of the frame, unnoticeable to others, but a whirlwind catastrophe for its creator. He wonders how such a hideous imperfection of this magnitude could have slipped by the gallery’s curator. Archie’s faith had been put into this man, under the impression that his art would be displayed in nothing less than the highest and most complimentary fashion. He was not pleased. Had another artist sabotaged his work? Vincent Sumner always spoke ill of him during interviews, calling his work “pretentious and incomprehensible”. Even though the two had never met face to face, it was almost as if Vincent had it out for him from the very start. Could he have broken into the gallery at night and mercilessly beat the frame with a hammer? Archie certainly wouldn’t put it past him. It was rumored that Vincent had once gotten into a fistfight with another artist over wall space, complaining his real estate wasn’t as valuable, due to the lighting or some such other nonsense and that poor man had ended up in the hospital with a badly broken nose and four missing teeth. Had the frame on The Child fallen victim to this same abuse? Or was it Oliver Langley, the millionaire investor? Archie was positive he had bought his way into the art community. His sculptures were dull and unimaginative. As grey as the stone from which they were cut. They lacked spark. Maybe he paid off an employee of Wits’ End to switch the original framework, which had been meticulously selected by Archie himself, to this mangled configuration of revolting horror. Why was someone gunning for him?
As he stood contemplating this atrocity, Gabriella Soleil began to approach, wearing an off-white vintage gown gracefully flowing in ruffled layers to mid thigh, reminiscent of the flapper era, a round silver pendant adorning her elegant décolletage, surrounded by several strands of silver and other-colored pearl-shaped balls which hung around her neck and on down, as surely many men’s kisses had dreamt of lingering. Her lips were crimsoned to perfection in an almost smile, cheekbones blushed just enough to suggest attraction, smoky eyes of starlight radiance glistening under the fluorescent bulbs above, and lovely platinum hair pulled up and away to reveal the rest of her angelic expression. Like most men in Gabriella’s presence, Archie longed to be with such a stunning vision of loveliness and to be blessed with the chance to caress her soft lactic skin, but unlike the others before him, his thoughts were purely innocent in nature. When her graceful catwalk glide finally managed to escape the wolves’ glaring lust, she was standing only a few short inches away from him, where he could easily imagine the warm whisper of her breath against his frozen features and the electricity of Gabriella’s tongue softly moistening her lips, as they all but touch his in a momentary daydream. The sweet smell of her Coco Chanel Parfum filling the air and Archie’s nostrils a moment before she speaks.
“You must be the great Archibald Winnifeather. I saw The Child on display last month at Rothman’s … between you and I, I think you’re the most gifted painter in this room. The way you interpret life onto canvas is just amazing.”
What seemed amazing to Archie was Gabriella Soleil standing before him and speaking so highly of his work. He was in awe of her beauty and talent, hardly able to contain the joy filling his fast-beating heart as it pounded within his chest, seeming as if it might just beat right on out through the skin and splatter blood all over her pretty dress, yet he somehow managed to choke out a reply.
“Thank you, but please … call me Archie. I can’t stand the sound of Archibald … it sounds so unbearably pompous.”
“Alright, Archie … my name is Gabriella, but you can call me Gabbie. That’s how all my friends refer to me.”
Of course he already knew who she was. Everyone did. He was happy though at the thought of becoming friends.
“What do you think of that Vincent Sumner? If you ask me, he’s trying to pass off his stuff as abstract expressionism genius, when it’s really just tired old drab. You can tell the difference between someone who’s evolved beyond, say … something like Water Figure to something new and fresh and dancing like Pollock achieved … and someone who just throws paint without the precision or premeditated craft needed for such an endeavor. Don’t you think? There’s no way his work will ever stand up next to Noland or Rothko.”
“I agree completely.” Archie said.
And I think you’re beautiful. Archie thought.
Continuing their discussion, Archie’s focus once again turns to the unsettling crack just over Gabriella’s left shoulder. All his hard work had been for nothing. Surely his painting would never sell under such cruel circumstances, not that this was important to Archie, but how would anyone be expected to concentrate on his art or its higher meaning with that atrocious distraction looming over them, sucking out their souls, and still taunting Archie? How could they meditate on life, when the crack would drive them to nightmares of falling endlessly into an eternal abyss or slipping from the stubborn mule which carries them down the narrow trail of reality?
Archie began to notice the whites of their eyes and the black holes which sat between them, now devoid of color, shifting in his direction. All of them: those pupils of high art and pupils of iris, though refusing to let the light pass on through to their retinas, staring daggers with mouths turning slightly upwards in smirky mocking silent laughter. He could almost feel his flesh bubbling from the bone, strung up over that pit like a pig, the cannibals dancing circles around him, chanting tribesmen of sardonic song, spears at the ready and waiting for his last whimper. Each and every one of them against him.
It will have all been for nothing.
His mind wanders further … melancholy drifts breaking down his spirit. The panic building upon each passing second, until realizing Gabriella was still talking to him, his mind lost in the fog.
” … so I came to the conclusion it was a worthless effort. What do you think?” she asked.
Not knowing what else to say, he spit out the first thing that came to him.
“I think we should get out of here … I can’t stand crowds. Would you like to join me at my apartment for coffee?”
What a daring question from such an awkward outsider. How could those words have managed to find their way out? Had the wine been too much for him? Was the composure he fought to keep finally gone? He felt it coming. Soon he’d be crushed by the junkyard compactor slowly closing in on him, as Gabriella politely refused his invitation. Not even in the most romantic of his momentary daydreams would she agree to this venture. However, this was not one of his dreams.
“I’d be honored.”
Taking Archie’s hand, Gabriella places hers gently inside, before giving it a little squeeze and smiling up at him. The two then make their way out of the gallery and onto the cold winter sidewalk, strolling along together under the bright streetlamps, neon lettering, and giant yellow moon reflecting overhead. They pass lonely mannequins standing patiently in storefront windows and dismal barstools barely holding the drunks above and empty neighborhood cafes, absent of haunted wild-eyed poets breathing out espresso ghosts, the steam from their cups evaporating into the blurry scarlet of the crosswalk they approach.
Standing there waiting on the green, Archie stares into the calming blue pools staring back at him, seeming to examine her every thought and emotion revolving around his flustered being, before finally understanding each as if they were his own.
“You’re not like those people Gabbie. I see your heart … and it’s genuine.”
She leans in, letting her lips touch his ever so softly and again she smiles. And it is perfect. The light changes and they cross the street to a hill-slanted and weather-worn building, grey and white chip paint peeling back, even as they continue on in and up stairway to Apartment #33, where Archie presents a single misshapen key (bent over time from a faulty lock) from his right pants pocket, faithfully, unlocking the deadbolt and swinging open the door to reveal off-white walls shifted and settled over the past 80 or so odd years, covered in half-finished pencil sketches, seven-inch thick painted canvas masterpieces, tacked up magazine and newspaper articles, tiny yellow squares of stuck notes and poems, the floors scattered with unfinished works of all types concealing the hardwood beneath. A small radio (always on and currently playing Thelonious Monk’s Genius Of Modern Music, Volume 1) sits atop an overflowing bookshelf weighted down by all the greats of another generation … one even-in-this-mess-out-of-place broken television set sits with GOD scrawled across its screen in a painstaking mix of acrylics including phthalocyanine and other much lighter blues to appear electric in color … and a five-legged crooked coffee table is purposefully placed unparallel to the unnervingly normal black leather sofa next to it. Gabriella scans the room, astonished at what she is witness to, but doesn’t find Archie to be unusual. In fact, she adores what to her is just another part of his quirky brilliance.
“Please, have a seat … I’ll put the coffee on.”
Gabriella sits down with her back against the sofa’s arm, stretching out her long legs and resting her head on the cushion to her right. Suddenly, she feels very tired.
In the kitchen Archie places a new filter in the coffee maker, adds three large scoops of grounds, and pours in a pot of water. He then gathers two coffee cups, two spoons, a jar of sugar, and a metallic creamer and sets them all on the counter. Watching the brown liquid slowly drip, he recalls the events that had come to pass this evening, though no longer consumed by the perplexing anxiety of the crack … the promise of a better life filling his thoughts and leaving his mind at ease: an infant-like-first-thought-momentary-bliss that he couldn’t allow to fade.
With the coffee ready, he walks back to the couch to find Gabriella sleeping soundly slightly smiling, as beautiful as a child. She looks happy and safe. Without waking her, he throws a blanket over her bless-ed fetal body and picks up a scrap of paper from the floor, jotting down a few words, before folding it neatly in half with finger-pressing creases and placing it next to her.
In the corner of the room lies a lanky twenty-five year old man: cerulean eyes unblinking, pale body motionless, chest no longer moving in or out, heart failing to beat … quiet. The sticker on the left side of his jacket reads: MY NAME IS … ARCHIE.
Gabriella awakens to the sun’s golden rays creeping up over the morning earth and on through the large window in back, shining brightly and warming her body. It takes her a moment to remember where she had ended up the previous evening, as she begins straightening out the wrinkles from her dress and re-crimsoning her lips and fixing her sleep-tousled hair in an attempt to make herself appear a bit more presentable. Soon, she is once again aware of her surroundings and feels awful for drifting off before having had the opportunity to become better acquainted with Archie. It is only then that she notices the piece of paper left beside her and unfolds it, reading the words written in red crayon.
Thank you for a perfect moment and the chance at a new beginning. I’m sorry I had to leave so suddenly.
The next day, Veronica Deville, a well-to-do socialite in the upper class who’s who, comes into Wits’ End with the sole purpose of buying The Child, on a tip from Oliver Langley that its value is about to skyrocket and she will surely double her investment next fall by selling at Sotheby’s. He hadn’t told her why, but after seeing the painting for herself, she knows she simply must have it.
“What about that crack in the frame?” she asks the gallery’s curator.
“I don’t know how I could have overlooked that. I’ll have it reframed at once and send it along to you just as soon as it’s finished.”
(from Insubordination Fest Zine 2010)
some years ago, i was at a Pink Lincolns show my friend’s band was opening, when I spotted one baseball-hatted punk rock legend, Joe Queer, standing in front of me at the back of the club. i didn’t want to bother him or have this turn into another “Pete Crimpshrine Incident” (too long to delve into, but due to a very awkward fan-boy moment involving Pete and my pal, all star-struckedness hence has become known as the aforementioned), but I politely introduced myself and told him if he ever needed a second guitar, I could play faster than anybody … or some such silliness. to my surprise, Joe said he had heard The Last Chucks through Phillip Hill and instead of a brief introduction, we ended up talking about all things rock and roll out in the parking lot. that conversation has since carried over onto the old big beat orange couch in Joe’s apartment, by way of scattered telephone sessions from the road and even into the control room at Sonic Iguana Studios. pretty cool for a guy who literally grew up listening to “Grow Up” and staring at Queers posters on the wall.
anyway, I recently sat down and attempted to come up with a coherent set of questions that hadn’t been asked of the man one million times already and are hopefully interesting enough for you to read at the end of your drunk. I’m sure the interview would have been better in person or over the phone, but this was thrown together in a day and I can’t remember where I put my handheld recorder. enjoy.
i know you and Joey Ramone talked some and i remember you saying he was still really into rock and roll. i guess that’s kinda how i see you. it seems like no matter where our conversations start, we always end up talking about some band or great tune or something. i don’t even know what my question is really … i think all of us wanna hear about Joey. give me a story about him as one of us.
Yeah he was a great guy. Really down to earth. I realized after a while what got him out of bed in the morning was a great song and trying to write another one. It wasn’t about how much money he had or how famous he was or any of that. He was a fan too. I remember him telling me he had just spoken to Iggy Pop the night before. He still got a kick out of it.
i’m sure this has been asked before, but what was the song-writing process like with him and Ben Weasel on “I Wanna Be Happy”?
It was an old idea I’d gotten from Joey years before. Way back in the day Joey had wanted to cover Love Love Love. I remember we did talk to their lawyer about it but then Johnny didn’t want to do it. Joe was pissed. It got pretty close to them doing it though. Joey sent us a song they had sitting around that Johnny didn’t want to use called Slug. At that time no one knew the song as it hadn’t been released. We’d play it at The Rat in Boston and say it was by The Ramones and no one believed us as there weren’t any unreleased Ramones’ songs out there. Anyway at the end of the cassette tape with Slug on it was Joey working on some songs with an acoustic and that’s where I Wanna Be Happy came from. I was hanging out at Ben’s one afternoon and we banged it together in about 10 minutes. Pretty cool song.
i found something on the internet that said i played keyboard with you guys and Marky Ramone in China. i think it was on the Chinese Government’s website or something weird like that. we both know that didn’t happen, but what were those shows like?
Great. The New York Dolls and Nine Inch Nails were there too. I got to talk to Syl Sylvain about Atlanta where we both live of course. Very down to earth guy and funny. The show over there was interesting. Rock and roll is new to them so they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. The stage crew was all college kids that didn’t know anything. You could’ve sold tickets to the stage crew working in between bands. It was hilarious. One girl would be crying in the corner-two guys would be arguing on where to put the mic stand. Clueless. I was talking to the guitar tech for NIN who knew The Queers-we were both cracking up. He said it was weird to see people onstage at one of their shows cause usually they didn’t allow anyone else up. I remember seeing Trent Reznor walking thru the crowd as I was playing the one note solo on I Wanna Be Sedated. No one even knew who he was over there. It was strange too in that for the first 75 yards in front of the stage there were a bunch of chairs set up for the VIP’s. Then a fence with a bunch of cops in front of it and that was for all the regular people and really the true fans. It was my first time there and definitely fun to check out. We subsequently went back and did one small tour there. It’s a weird country. We stayed in some really crappy hotels and it was always cold and grey out. Really depressing but for the fact we knew we were going home after about 7 days. Still it was great to say we went.
not too long ago we had a conversation about him and Dusty Watson. i think people, especially in bands, need to hear what the difference is between a drummer that can play alright and knows the songs and shit and someone like those guys.
Those guys are in a different league than other drummers and it isn’t just raw talent. It’s the way they operate around shows and tours. They’re all business when it comes to the drum sets and playing the shows. We went to Palermo with Marky for a one off show in the middle of that tour with him in Europe. We had to borrow gear as the crew was driving our stuff from Barcelona to Rome. So we borrowed this really crappy gear from one of the opening bands. My God the drum set was in pitiful shape. It was about 110 in the shade and not a breath of air. Horrible. Marky stayed out there in the sun for about 2 hours at least tuning the drums-changing heads-taking the bottom heads off the toms to see if they sounded better-putting them back on. Mind you I wouldn’t even have soundchecked. When we went onstage that night we sounded like a million bucks and that piece of crap drumset sounded awesome. And this was just a little show in front of 400 kids in Palermo. Marky and Dusty are the same in that they approach the show the same whether it’s 20,000 or 400 kids.
so after all the years you’ve spent on the road and in studios, who would you say is the best-all-around musician you’ve had the pleasure of working with? besides myself, of course.
Eh there’s a lot of them. JJ Rassler is great. Ben Weasel’s a great songwriter. Lisa Marr and I have written some great stuff. Dusty on drums is just awesome. Wimpy and I wrote some great songs and we were really clicking back in the early days. I can’t really single out one person.
seems crazy, but it’s been four years already since “Munki Brain”. so, any plans on getting back in the studio? and since i already know the answer, when will i get to hear some demos and what can the good people expect out of the new album?
Yeah we’re heading in within a month and doing a new album. Not sure how it’ll come out. I wanna do a harder edged album but we’ll see what happens. Kind of excited to do it.
not to get into some big debate or anything, but what are your views on vinyl, versus cd, versus digital, in this day and age of music dying?
Well digital has killed the labels unfortunately. Bands aren’t getting paid like they used to. A lot of big bands are all pro free digital downloads and shit but they’re already rich and make tons of dough at shows so it’s not taking any food off their table like it is with small bands like us. I think digital has cheapened music and it’s become sort of ‘throwaway’ now. It’s all quick and easy. I used to love buying new albums when I was growing up. Just that smell and the artwork-you’d be really excited to listen to the album and learn a little bit about life. That’s the way the early days of punk were too. When you saw the DK’s or Black Flag you felt like you were at some really awesome social scene that was making a change. The crowd was more important than the bands really.
i personally feel like The Queers are the proud torch carriers of The Ramones’ good name. i mean, Screeching Weasel too, but Ben’s kinda just getting back into the game, whereas you’ve been trudging through the field at a constant and consistent. is there a band out there that has the potential to take the reigns and lead us all into battle?
I don’t really get too excited by any new bands out there. It’s such a different time than when we started on Lookout. Back then your peers were Screeching Weasel-MTX and Green Day. It made us pick our game up believe me. I don’t really think any bands now could have run with that crowd and hung in there. They all would’ve been considered second rate. I mean even The Smugglers who weren’t that well known were putting out great stuff. The Hi Fives. Man I remember seeing some of those shows and it was just incredible. Now I don’t really get too excited by some Ramonesy ripoff band that does all downstrokes and thinks that’s all it is. They never hit any balls outta the park and you can’t tell one song from the other. Kids are so lame nowadays that they accept that crap. Kind of sad. Back in the old days kids had integrity.
lately, i’ve been playing Scrabble with Ben Weasel on my iPhone. i tried to get an interesting question from him for this interview, but he didn’t have anything. do you think that’s a sign of weakness and that i’ll probably beat him for the fourth time?
Ha that’s great. I’m so psyched to see Ben playing shows again. I never thought he would and it really helps the whole pop punk scene. Plus those guys basically quit before they got to reap the benefits of all those great albums and songs. So it’s great to see them get their due. We’re playing with them soon and I can’t wait to see them once again. Shit we did a New Year’s Eve show in my basement one year-musta been like 91 going into 92. It was in NH. We had a blast.
oh yeah, Holden (my three year-old son) wanted me to ask you: “what are the names of all the 50 states?” and “what kind of vehicle do you drive? like a fire truck or something?”
I drive a van and the names of all 50 states escapes me at the moment. At any rate we shall see everyone at the Fest once again. We’re going to play all poppy songs and stuff we don’t usually play. Should be fun times!!
“Silly Thoughts” from the self-titled album by Not On Tour. available from diner junkie records.
“Turn Up The Radio” from the album, Electric Hero by Caddy. available from diner junkie records.