Saturday, December 03, 2005

You Can Indeed Go Back


Plimsouls-above, originally uploaded by Cool Auntie.

The best live music played in Los Angeles last night was at Spaceland, a club in Silverlake. The Fleshtones headlined and it was one of those "old home week" phenomena that you often invoke, only it was all wrapped up in this day AND...this was TRULY a class reunion. Why then, you may be asking right now - is there a photo of the Plimsouls here? I will explain that in a few paragraphs, OK - its rather germane to my point. Back to old home week...

For starters, this afternoon, I had lunch with Pleasant and Iris Berry, two punk ladies with a pedigree, and of course, as you know, Pleasant was my partner in crime during the punk heyday.

Dave Alvin & his ladies

That's Pleasant on the left. I'm sure you recognize Belinda Carlisle and Dave Alvin. The lady on the far right is hairdresser to the punk stars, Connie Clarksville.

I'm sure we were the midday entertainment for many customers in Victor's, a diner in the shadow of the Hollywood Sign near Beachwood Canyon. Oh, how many times did Pleasant and I drive up that way... we laughed hysterically over many of our antics, most of which took place at my apartment, The Famous Lobotomy Apartment, at 7231 Franklin Ave., #14, the northwest corner of Franklin and La Brea. I mention all that because the apartment isn't there anymore. There's a big swank complex where my humble two-story stucco structure used to be. After I moved out of there (where, by the way, Belinda Carlisle and Lorna Doom bunked with me for a couple months after the murder of their neighbor, Sal Mineo terrified them too much to stay in their Holloway Drive apartment), Pleasant got a place in Hollywood which she called Disgraceland, also the scene of many a famous punk story revolving around herself and her new roommate, Belinda Carlisle (see, it was a very tight knit group we had). And we recalled several of them, much to the amusement of one of Pleasant's LA Weekly editors who we discovered was seated in a booth nearby when he came over to our table and kindly gave us half his dessert.

Once I got home, I received a phone call from Peter Case, who upon returning from his European tour promptly went to see Donovan perform. It turns out we both dined at Canter's this week as well, but missed each other.

This of course is no big deal, to have a phone conversation with someone you've known more than half your life - except when you couple it with running into his former bandmate a few hours later...twenty years later.

Yeah - at Spaceland, I expected to see no one I knew (because the crowd I hang with were all at some other gig elsewhere) apart from The Fleshtones. I couldn't have been more wrong!

Plimsoul Eddie Munoz was the first person I saw after I exchanged "hello's" with Fleshtone bassist, Ken Fox who is in my opinion, the King of the backyard BBQ.

I haven't seen Eddie in maybe twenty years and he looks exactly the same as the last time I saw him. In other words, he hasn't aged a day. You see, rock n roll keeps you young!

At that point, the class reunion floodgates opened. My life-long friend, former Rhino Records A&R genius, now iTunes Chief Musical Officer Gary Stewart came in with Rosemarie, who I hadn't seen since I left LA in the late 80s.

When the room was full of people I knew, it was suddenly time for the Fleshtones to start playing.

They're better now than they were twenty five years ago. The first time I saw them was at Madame Wong's West in either 1979 or 80. It was THE show of the night... everyone was there...Stiv, Bruce Patron, B-Girls and the usual suspects. I just mention Stiv because this picture was taken at that very Fleshtones gig:

Stiv Bators & Cynthia Ross

and somewhere in my storage in NYC is a photo of Stiv, Fleshtone Keith Streng and Madame Wong all hanging together. Once I get back there, I'll scan it and find some other interesting anecdote from back then to showcase it.

The Fleshtones haven't played in Los Angeles with the same frequency as they play the East Coast (they're New Yorkers, after all) or Europe (there are French wives involved, after all) - but back in the late 70s, and tonight, they did show off what big city energy is. The Fleshtones might possibly be the most physically fit 50ish year old guys around. They still do that crazy choreography with the guitars and high kicks... as if James Brown taught the Temptations a few dance steps...only since the Fleshtones are white boys...its dorked out a bit. I call that thing Peter Zaremba does The Record Collector Twist. AND tonight, he got Gary Stewart to dance it with him! Yes, there was the dancing on the bar, thank you Peter and Keith! It was the usual frenzied ass-shaking one comes to expect from the Fleshtones and I'm happy to report they deliver on the money each and every time.

Tying up old home week with a big bow, Peter and I even talked about his time as the host of the MTV television series produced by IRS Records called The Cutting Edge. That series was not only hosted by Peter, but it was produced by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris a husband and wife team who have been together as long as I can remember. Jon was a UCLA dorm resident on the same floor as me. Hedrick Hall. I've told you a story or two about my time in the dorms at UCLA, where my friend, the not-yet-a-Germ-Darby Crash actually crashed, or graffiti'd my walls, or watched David Bowie and Iggy Pop on television in our lounge...click on the highlighted text for details. Anyway, back to the story I started... Peter and I did reminisce about IRS's The Cutting Edge, and that my friends, is today's homework.

I have not forgotten the homework assignments... for all of you youngsters (I draw the line at 42)...IRS RECORDS. Go dig out all your IRS releases and dig the eclectic thing that was punk rock, DIY and self-determination. Tell me who your fave IRS act was!

Well, to end this all - whoever wrote that "you can't go home again" was mistaken. Suddenly the heretofore hokey "there's no place like home" ending of the Wizard of Oz makes perfect sense to me now. Today was a day of old friends all in one place, just like it used to be. In my hometown, LA. I'm proud to be a native, proud that this city spawned the bands it did and proud of what I've done to contribute to the slice of pop culture pie. Not only can you go back, you can have a damn good time doing it.

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