Me, A. on drums. Cubby Bear, Chicago — I’m saying 1982, as I’ve still got quite short hair ( kind of a Naked Raygun ‘do ) and the white SG got entirely sticker-encrusted later, but there’s no way to know exactly when this was or who we were playing with. Diane took this.
April 29, 1983 : 16 years old, opening for Minor Threat. A. posted this a couple of weeks ago and blew my mind, because I didn’t know there were any photos from this show, let alone one with me in it. Well, that’s not quite true. A kid from my high school took pictures ( I have one 8X10 print, a blurry shot of Ian Mackaye, who you can barely see because there are so many people on stage ), but said kid died later, and nobody I know knows anything more about it. MCI shot this one.
Things I can tell you about this picture / the gig:
1. I still know quite a few people who were there, and they tend to get misty when the subject comes up. I can’t remember a show that was more highly anticipated, or exciting, or fun. Actually, by just a hair, the most fun I’ve ever had was at a show which was also at The Hall ( Centro-American Social Club ), by a band from Texas called the Big Boys. But that’s another story.
2. In the photo, standing in front of me in the white shirt, is my old friend Chris. Chris has shown up here a few times before, in Guitars 1,2, & 3 / The Story Of The WZ Guitar / Chris’ Room and also in Trenchmouth.
3. I’m wearing a Negative Approach jacket, painted by Ken ( someone else who was there, who I still know ). I loved that band to death, and later, when I had recently joined White Zombie and was literally starving, I sold my copy of their 1982 EP. I’ve regretted it ever since.
4. I’m playing my white SG, the first ‘real’ guitar I ever had. In 1989, right after I joined WZ, I sold it to a guy in New Jersey so I could get the money together to buy a Marshall head. I don’t know what happened to the guy or where the guitar is now. I still have the Marshall head, the stock JCM800 I used all the way from my first show with WZ to the recording of La Sexorcisto to the shows leading up to the release of the album.
Click for large.
5. The flyer says End Result Vs. The Audience, and that’s exactly how it went down. My friends and I were solid pals with End Result ( I am solid pals with Steve S. to this very day ), but there were other kids there who didn’t know / understand. For more on that, take a look at You Weren’t There. I don’t remember AOF’s set at all, but they were always great, and the atmosphere was electric, so I’m sure they were fantastic ( I asked A. if he remembered anything, and he said, ” there was also the Nerf football game during AOF’s set. I have a vivid memory of Ian’s face as he turned and gave it a toss “. MDC were great. Someone from MDC did some graffiti in the bathroom, and they got yelled at by everyone. Also, Ron from MDC let me use his input-jumped Marshall full-stack for our set, and I think the look on my face is sheer awe at how good my guitar sounded.
Another thing about MDC : this was the first time I ever met and interacted with straight-up ( radical, militant ) gay people who were around my age. Several of my fellow Chicago teen hardcore punk scenester friends would eventually figure out where they were at as far as all that, but at this point, no.
6. Minor Threat : this was the five-piece Out Of Step lineup. I don’t remember talking to Lyle or Steve – the only thing I remember about Steve is that there was something wrong with his bass and he had to borrow Franco from MDC’s Jazz Bass, which was a little funny because it had a spiky punk wristband wrapped around the headstock, which was very much not what Minor Threat was about. I don’t remember anything about Jeff, except that he sat in a corner reading a paperback during all the opening bands.
7. I talked to Brian Baker extensively. He was very friendly and answered all my questions about the DC scene, guitars, etc. I remember specifically that he told me that I really should save up and get a Marshall, because then I wouldn’t need a distortion box ( it would be another six years before I finally owned one, see #4 ). I remember that he was delighted when I told him that Teenager In A Box by Government Issue ( he played guitar on the recording ) was one of my favorite DC hardcore songs. I remember questioning him extensively about the Faith/Void split, which was a record we were all very into. He told me that he had no idea how Void were able to make such a cohesive recording, since their sound in concert was generally chaotic to the point of sheer confusion. He also told me that, on the other hand, Faith were the best live band in DC, but that they couldn’t seem to make a recording which reflected that.
8. Ian stood right in the middle of the crowd and watched our whole set, smiling. He sold A. and I copies of the Double-O EP, ( which I actually still have, and which I transferred and posted and discussed here ), and possibly other records. I have the entire early Dischord discography, and it’s hard to remember which ones came from where.
A. keeps on freaking me out by posting photos of me that I never knew existed. This is Flipper, playing at Club C.O.D. in Chicago, April 1982. I loved Flipper, and two years after this, I actually got to open for them. The kid in the striped shirt is A., and the kid next to him, with the leather jacket with the pins on it, right underneath Will Shatter’s bass, that’s me. MCI took this.
Chicago, March 1983. MCI took it, A. posted it. That’s Barry, and Steve, and me on the right, doing a 360 or whatever.
Cambodia. In a Cham Muslim village on the red-dust road between Kampot and Kep.
Happy times on tour, Havana, Cuba, August 2012. Me and Mark Antee, waiting for the bus. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more. Mark’s last show with She’s Still Dead was this past Sunday.
Age 18. Hair growing out, dressing like I’m in Metallica. This was back when you could do things like walk into a downtown building on a Saturday and mess around and take pictures.
Chris took this.
Mardi Gras 2010 : that’s me, on the escalator. FYI, I’m also sporting a grass skirt, black tights, and gold-painted sneakers. Parading with Zulu is something I did for a few years, and it was a mind-bending experience, but ultimately I wanted to have a Mardi Gras where I wasn’t spending the day on a float with thousands of people screaming at me for coconuts, and, ultimately, I got tired of trying to justify ( to myself ) wearing blackface. More here.
1993, or thereabouts. Photo by Lisa Johnson, Rock Photographer.
A photo I accidentally took of myself yesterday.
July 25th 1982, Club 950, Chicago. The second time I played guitar in public, opening for an English band called Chron Gen. They left, and we cheekily plugged into, and played our set through, their amps. This was our last song, a free-form noise-jam cover of Naked Raygun’s Bomb Shelter. On stage, L→R, Mike ( playing my guitar ), me ( screaming into the mic, wearing my Exploited Punk’s Not Dead shirt ), Anthony ( behind the drums ), Alan, Chopper, Steve, Ron.
Loch Ness. I looked and I looked and I looked. I stood for 20 minutes and watched the water, but I saw no monster. It was winter in a place at about the same longitude as Norway, and it was wet, but there was a pub with a roaring fire, and I got a pint of heavy, maybe two, and then I didn’t mind so much.
The later 1990s, a few weeks after I’d cut my dreads off – you can see the stumps trying to work themselves out. Although it was pretty clear at this point that the band had run its course, cutting my hair was not symbolic of that; pure and simple, times were changing. At the end of 1987, when I’d just moved to NYC, I was intrigued by the sight of Dave Insurgent, the first white guy with dreads I’d ever seen. Ten years later, the style was everywhere. Gutter punks were starting to do it, and I think this is where the idea that dreads are dirty or smelly comes from ( the notion can’t come from Rastafarians, who are usually fastidiously clean ), and it’s ironic, because the way you get your hair to start clumping up is to wash it. You know how if you shampoo your hair but don’t condition it, it has a kind of harsh, horsehair-kind-of-feel and snarls up really easily? Bingo. People started to get the ridiculous idea that we’d had our hair done at a salon, and I was particularly annoyed that several hairdressers were going around saying that they’d done our dreads for us. I hadn’t had a haircut since 1985, and people asked if I had extensions, another sore point. Hippies, too, had dreads now, and being mistaken for a deadhead was, at the time, very, very irritating. I guess the final straw was the question of appropriating black culture. One night, a rasta followed me down the street, enraged, screaming abuse. Fuck it, I said to myself, and I went home and got out the scissors.
December, 2011. Aubrey Edwards took this.
Bluebird were a band from L.A., active in the late 90s – early 2000s, who I’ve been thinking about recently because a bunch of their material has been re-released on a deluxe 3XCD set – Saguaro, available here. I was friends with them when I lived in L.A. ( I talk to them still, actually ), and in Summer 2001, when they lost a guitar player, I filled in on some west coast dates. We finished the tour off in Seattle with a gig at the Experience Music Project, and Krist Novoselic came out and played with us : super double Gibson bass attack! The stage was barely big enough to fit all of us, but the sound was explosive and we burned through our set, Sam hanging off of the lighting truss. I did that tour with my 1970 Les Paul Custom and 1978 Marshall JMP 100 watt head, which I’d never consider doing today, but ten years ago, choice vintage gear was still reasonably priced, and lots of similar equipment was in hard daily use. It occurs to me too that most of my friends at that time drove 1960s cars, had land lines, etc.
Here’s the main thing, though. This was twelve days before the 9.11 attacks, and I look at the photo and can’t help but think, ” Happy guys, look at you. Summer’s over, and you have NO IDEA what’s next. “
L → R : Barry, Krist, Sam, Bryan, Jim, me.
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