Photoblog: Tijuana

•April 17, 2015 • 3 Comments


Oh, we’d heard the stories alright.

Vague directions whispered in the night.
Crude maps hastily drawn upon cocktail napkins, set aflame after committing route to memory.

Groups of drunken Marines staggering down Avenida Revolución, one Lance Corporal holding a bloodied elbow against his torso.
His screams still echo in mind: That fuckin’ chimp took a bite out my arm!

Yes, we are here in search of the mythical Cantina de Chango: The Monkey Bars of Tijuana!


It’s a fine sunny Saturday as we meet at the Pierview in Oceanside, one last headcount before the border crossing.
It’s a first for us, playing south of the border, and we are traveling with our pals in Walk Proud and Skaal as backup.

And, yes, we are always eager to spread the ol CH3 gospel to new lands and all that.
But also the chance to drink alongside a shrieking Gibbon or perhaps a rotund Orangutan? Well!


We number fifteen or sixteen, and vow to not leave a man behind.
Well, maybe Paulie or Arvin, we could probably spare those guys–but that’s it!

From the swanky Rodeway Inn it’s a quick walk to the pedestrian border crossing and we’re in country!
We chatter, giddy as school children, each holding hands with our designated buddies: sweaty palms sealing this pact.






We imagine the doors opening to a darkened bar, and the denizens turn as one to inspect the new comers.
Azure spots dance before our eyes as we adjust to the darkness.
We finally make out wee forms smoking and drinking at the bar.
Dwarves? Wizened old wisemen?

No, these are certainly Hominoid creatures, yet somehow…furry.


We are corralled aboard a creaky yellow trolley and barrel deeper into the city.
The blue haze of wood smoke hangs in the air, the nightclubs along Revolución coming awake now as sun sets toward Wild Sábado night.

We peer out the windows for any sign of le Pub Monk, but nothing.




Ah well, we are here to do a job, and soon load into the TJ Arte and Rock club off Avenida Miguel Negrete.



It is a proper club, big old PA, lights……fog machine!
I don’t know what we were expecting, perhaps a cartel-run chop shop, or an outdoor stage of pallets with amps powered by generator?

But we find this Tijuana a very cool place.
To a person, everyone we run into is courteous and happy.

And the clubs are even nicer due to the lack of Guerro Bros from SDSU!
Past trips to TJ, the only dangers were obnoxious fratboys treating the town like a disposable playground, acting like drunken……well, monkeys!

After load in we head out for Tacos and beverage:




Our SD local bub Dennis guides us over to tiny Ruebens, and though we are initially disappointed that no one is swinging off the fixtures or flinging feces about the room, it turns out a jolly little haven!







The night is alive now.
We make our way back toward the club, passing packed restaurants and clubs full of life.
We peek hopefully into dim alleys and darkened doorways for any sign of prehensile tails, listen for the tell tale shriek of haplorhine primate boozing.


Alright then, Showtime!

Systematic Abuse is ripping it up when we get back to the club, and then our buddies in Walk Proud take to the stage:


It isn’t long before Steve lights up a smoke onstage and Karl shocks the crowd by stripping down to a tiny thong.
But that’s the beauty of this place–freedom!!!


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And then we’re pushed onstage and do the thing once again–ándale!!





There is tequila, oh yes there is.
We end the night skanking to 45 Revoluciones and hugging it up with a dozen new pals.

All too soon, we’re corralled back into the shuttle for the border, but not before walking the tourist gauntlet for mandatory supplies:

Bacon wrapped Hot Dog? Check!
Liter de Patron? You got it mate.
Switchblade and Homer Simpson Cookie Jar? Handled.







Some wise guy brings the ubiquitous surfing monkey onboard, but this only reminds us of our failure to drink à la Jane Goodall.



Eh. nevermind.

We make it back across to the boring old USA and are soon snoring away, a syncopated symphony of restless sleep.
We dream of a world where the apes serve a jaunty Moscow Mule, then light your fag with a snap of the Zippo.

But until that day, we have indeed met the monkey, and we are them.


Awesome photos by David Chi

You Make Me Feel Cheap…. Trick!

•April 2, 2015 • 1 Comment


*News Item, Chicago Herald. Dateline April 1, 2007:

April 1st is widely known as April Fool’s Day, but it is no joke that in Illinois, it is also ‘National Cheap Trick Day.’
In October of 2007, the Illinois Senate passed a resolution designating April 1st as Cheap Trick Day in the state.

Hells yeah!

We’ll for the moment ignore the fact that those crackheads in the Illinois Senate also designated April 11 as Official Crohn’s/Irritable Bowel Syndrome Day and Oprah gets the whole first week of February.

And let’s not get shitty about them giving our boys jokey April 1 as their special date.
I guess that comes with the territory when you still dress like a Bowery Boy at 67 goddamn years old!

Fuck you.  I own three hundred guitars.

Fuck you.
I own three hundred guitars.

For this has become, ironically, an underdog band. And they deserve all the recognition they belatedly receive.
And fuck the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they dare to put Green Day in there before our heroes?

Listen, Green Day better get to the back of the line, and no cutting in front of the Toy Dolls either bubs!


We were kids with brand new driver’s licenses, a concert bong and warm tallboys of Olde English 800.
The burgundy ElCamino wore a camper shell, we wore Puka shells.
Life, it was good.

There we are, lazing about the Santa Monica Civic parking lot for a Runaways concert.
After drinking up every hideous malt liquor and smoking mersh weed until we achieved righteous headaches, we actually made it into the venue in time to catch an opening act we’d never heard of before—yeah, you got it brother!


Then CT came out on stage and went into Hello There-a blistering 90-second song, this in the day of the bloated 12 minute rock-a-ganza.

Robin Zander and Tom Petersson up there, the very image of 70’s cool, Rickenbacker guitar and 12 string bass, white suits and clogs–clogs!

But then, what the fuck? The guitar player is a goof jumping around in wrestling shoes, the drummer looking like an accountant behind a desk of drums, chain smoking like it’s the height of tax season.

At one point Bun E. pulls out ridiculously huge prop sticks and wails.
We are instant fans.


Here was a band unafraid to look silly, great taste in guitars, and able to play riff after amazing riff without making the crapping-your-pants grimace that the other schmucks of the day would make, just to let us kids know how hard it was to play a guitar.

Nah man, these guys were cool–had to be European!

We learned better of course, rushing down to Best Records the very next day to get that glorious debut platter.
These guys were from the Midwest?


That fuckin’ record, what can you say?
It was weird, taken in context of the day.

We listened to it and listened again, the glorious pop in Oh Candy, glam and dark touches popping up in other songs.
Mysterious is what I always think of that record, dreamy Beatles harmonies mixed with Townshedian guitar abandon and restraint.

I mean, come on! Mandocello?
A sixteen year old boy thinks-what am I hearing?

And when they came back around in a couple months later for shows at the Whisky, we were right there.


We stayed for both sets, caught hell from our Moms when we got home at 3am, and were in the garage the next day with guitars plugged into the home stereo.

Years passed, new albums released, and they would come around again.
And of course the secret was out.

The band rose to the fame we all knew it rightfully deserved, coming around opening for Kiss at the Forum, and by 1979 headlining the New Year’s Eve show there themselves.

When it’s not your band anymore, but the whole goddamn high schools’ favorite….. damn.
You begrudgingly smile at your band’s success but still shake your head at these fakes who only just bought Dream Police.

We were exposing the Poseur, this long before playing the I was there game with the other kids in the Cathay alley:

Where’d you first see Black Flag?
At the Starwood, Fleetwood or Church?!

Maybe it was around this time we cut off our luxurious locks and got the leather jackets, and covered every band name scrawled on our PeeChee folders with angry Anarchy A’s.
For if we weren’t against them we were for them, and all those Zep and Rush records ended up in the used bin at Best Records.

But somehow we just couldn’t let go of that black and white debut, and there was always a Cheap Trick mix tape along for the boring rides across the blasted landscape those first tours.

And it wasn’t even 1983 when even the fucking kids of Fast Times at Ridgemont High were dissing our heroes as kid stuff!

But they just kept playing, and we would still go see Cheap Trick when they’d come back around.

Fender’s Ballroom, the Golden Bear, Houses of Blue: Casinos and fairgrounds, these guys seemed to be on the same circuit as the Ramones, riding their current popularity up and down each year.
Hell, they were playing the same clubs even we were starting to play!

But they still came around, inevitable as Seasons announced by torn calendar page, the size of the room ever-changing but the set as vital as ever.


And then, full disclosure, full circle, we get to actually play with Cheap Trick in 2004!


See, fuckers?
Something good came out of those big hair records and those slow songs!

We could pull this off, playing a quick set in front of the Mom Jeans crowd, even if they did bring in cocktail tables to cover the usual swarming pit of the Vault!

Of course on the day we got word of this show, I fell off a mountain bike and broke my rascal scapula clean in two.
My right wing in a sling for 6 weeks, we brought Mike Dimkitch back into the fold to play second guitar, and I was back as a lead singer, God help us all!

But no matter, we were sharing the stage with goddamn Cheap Trick, people!

We spent our soundcheck goofing around on Rick’s pedestal, stealing guitar picks off his mic stand and playing with the pedal that would make his “guitar cabinets” light up like humvees scouring the Mexican border.


Eventually their tech crew shooed us away and we wandered the caverns below the club, but the band stayed on the bus.
Didn’t blame them, really.

Here was a band that saw the heights of 70’s stardom, back when being a Rockstar meant something.
I could imagine them backstage after the Forum gig, maybe doing coke in front of Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s locker while getting blown by Adrienne Barbeau.

And now here they were, on a bus in downtown Long Beach, another faceless gig among thousands, waiting for some aging punk rockers to clear off the stage and go play Surrender for the millionth time.

Just how many picks have been tossed into the nighttime sky?


We played, and I don’t remember anything much about the show other than the puzzled looks from the audience, heads cocked as if encountering a new species of monkey.
That and our bar tab afterward which was exactly 200 dollars more than we were paid.

But I do remember coming offstage and down to the dressing room, and there stood Rick Nielsen himself.
He was just looking around, seemed fascinated by the old vault door that still stood in the basement.

And after all the years shared, years and affection oblivious to him, we finally got to shake his hand.
I blurted out that we’d seen them, that first So Ca show back in 1977 and had seen them ever since.
And you imagine a guy like that, he hears this kind of shit all day long.

How many dressing rooms has he stood in, how many fawning hacks has he had to endure before going to work?


But Rick was gracious and kind, made eye contact and fooled around with us for some silly photos.

A moment in passing for him, a pause on the way to work.
A moment forever cherished to these former teenagers.


You just know that when the Runaways get back together it’ll be on a Coachella main stage.
And if dear Joey Ramone was still with us he’d be a judge on American Idol.

But a band that survives and just keeps plugging away, how do we honor them?
By going to see them at an Indian Casino, but only if it’s on a weekend night?

But they’ll come back around, they always do.
And if it’s at a House of Blues with shitty sight lines or maybe under the full moon at the county fair, we’ll still go see them.

Hell, maybe that’s why they don’t seem to mind those fair stages a bit.
Maybe there’s no better place to see Cheap Trick.

To be surrounded by carnival lights and the scent of frying foods, mixed with the sweet smell of nitro burning speedway bikes.
The sights and smells of our youth, all that’s missing is the soundtrack.


NYC: A Grand Victory Indeed

•March 20, 2015 • 3 Comments


It’s like a fucking shot of adrenaline to the heart, crossing the bridge and those buildings come close into view.

We’re out here on a turn and burn weekend, five hour red-eye flights, eight hours of driving and three-make that two!—quick shows.
Back to work by Tuesday morning.


When we left the tarmac in Long beach it was a scary 90 degrees–this at 9:30 pm people!!
I mean, yeah, we like the warm weather out here, but don’t ya think we should start getting concerned when our local ground temperature feels like a microwaved burrito at dusk in mid March?

The winter coats we hold in the crook of our arms at check-in feel like jokes, and we all eye the dumpster to possibly unload these bulky things.

But as we land on the east coast we learn Winter still has a home.
We walk along the frozen terminal sidewalk with the red-eye Zombie gaze, for somehow we lost 3 hours of our lives in the middle of the night.

Not bad though , as it gives us a chance to wear those stylish scarves that Anthony is always raving about!


Even with the canceled Boston gig the day is not a total loss, not with the bars and pubs in Cambridge all quivering on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day.
Soon the storied cobblestones will be awash with green vomit, so why not get a jump start on things?
Gotta love this town!

Touchdown Boston

Touchdown Boston







We’re up and out early-ish on Saturday, and the lucky sunshine we enjoyed on Friday has given up to a cold gray sleet.


Ah well, we know at the end of the journey we’ll be enjoying the warmth and fine humor of family and friends, so we push on and make it to the state capitol safe and dry.

We pick up ex-Californian Johnny at the Amtrak and make it out to Voorheesville and the Guinness-stocked fridge of Barb and Larry!


We regretfully say our goodbyes after foamy Stouts and corned beef sandwiches, the cold winds just a vapid threat outside of this warm family kitchen.
We squeeze back into scarves and overcoats like grouchy children bundling up for the cold walk to school, each of us eyeing the couch with a silent farewell to the fading chance of nappytime.

On the ride through the countryside we peer out foggy windows at alien sights: Snowdrifts and startled does, the yellow-lit farmhouses breaking long stretches of such beautiful, rare, darkness.


It’s into the Lowbeat club in the heart of Albany for another Saturday night gig in America now.
The place is all warmth and beery comfort to these old Californian bones, and we are soon amidst familiar friendly faces from past visits…..



A rare treat tonight, it happens that Capitle, who we actually played with in Albany our first time out–1982?!-is on the bill with us once again!



We do the thing once again, and then more yucks with the crew!





Sunday is the cold twin of Saturday, but we’ve come to enjoy this weather.
We are hearing of record temps back home and dire predictions of Cali running out of water by year’s end.

These things mean nothing to us as we are just too excited at the unique prospect of wearing gloves—Gloves, people–gloves!


A quick drive back crisscrossing the slutty Hudson, and it’s not long until those iconic buildings of Manhattan come into view.

Chrysler building

Chrysler building

Ah Jesus, it’s grand to be back in this place.

We find an honest to God parking spot on 7th, and spill into the streets like the tourists we are!
We stop to pet every rat, pester the panhandlers for selfies until they run away screaming.
We’ve made good time, so it’s Lower East Side and the usual haunts for us!





With each photo of a sweating round of beers, after every tavern check in on Facebook, we get the usual responses:
Ah Jeez, here we go again…!
Keep it together Boys!
Can I get a refund for my presale please?

Hah–but no worries, we pull together for a classy burger at Alder and then there’s plenty of time to freshen up for the night to come.



The Grand Victory, it’s quiet from the outside on this night as we pull up.
The streets are empty on a goddamned cold Sunday night and we wonder, just for a moment, hand upon frozen door handle–if no one has showed.


The door opens and we may as well be back at CBGB’s, that first Winter of 1982!
Faces from back then, some hair lost, some hard earned wrinkles gained, but the same damned smiles we’ve known for decades!


We play well, catch up on a million years.
We tell stories we all know but can’t wait to hear again.

Jimmy Gestapo hugs it up and we talk of the Mad Marquis, that fateful rental car we used to power-push parked cars down the snowy streets in front of Jack Rabid’s place.
This three decades ago, he just a kid of 16.

Davey Gunner there too, we drink a toast to Doug Holland and he recalls floating in my Mom’s sparkling pool in Cerritos, the Summer Kraut was on tour in California while we boiled in Astoria.

Huge, serious looking men come over with 3 shots of Bourbon per fist, reminding us of gigs we played when they were skinny street punks at A7.

Women, former girls, catch our eye and shake their heads slowly, just a wisp of a smile.

We shout hellos and goodbyes over the punk rock DJ who keeps the crowd dancing long after the bands have loaded out.

It’s fucking great.



Tomorrow there’ll be an all too early check out time, an hour drive to JFK in rush hour, the squinty scrutiny of van rental return.
The date rape antics of the TSA, the overpriced drinks at the airport bar, and, finally, a seat.

On that jet traveling West, racing now with the Sun and gaining another 3 hours of precious youth, we’ll have a moment motionless.
And that’s when you can let the weekend catch up to you, and you smile the whole way home.

Our Travels with the In-Crowd

•March 5, 2015 • Leave a Comment

It feels like a lifetime ago we were last on the 5 freeway heading North.

The day starts gloomy and cold.
A gray blank slate of the sky melts seamlessly onto the concrete walls and buildings of the downtown skyline–let’s get the fuck outta here!

It is a thankfully easy drive beyond the gravitational pull of Friday Los Angeles traffic, and we are soon sailing along the green hills.
We count the cow pastures until we find just the right one to pull over and eat one of those delicious Bovines–you got it brother!: Harris Ranch steakhouse!





We use fried smelt to scoop counrty gravy off of the chicken fried steak, take bold stabs at each others’ plates with flashing forks, only to find new drummer Woody staring at us with disgust.

There’s a new man aboard, and he hasn’t spent a lifetime eating and drinking with us.
We dab at our chins, finally, strangers on a first date.

Ant and The Wood man

Ant and The Wood man

It is a fine and rare occasion to have local chums and legends The Crowd with us for a weekend jaunt.

We’d been trying to coordinate this weekend with Jim Kaa for seriously five years.
Oh, you just try finding a weekend open to travel for 2 bands, 9 guys, each with family and jobs and schedules of their own.
It’s like…well, it’s like some simile involving juggling or doing something difficulty or something—write your own goddamn floral prose ya lazy bums!

So we are all thrilled the weekend is finally here:
I mean really, people–the fucking Crowd!
These are the guys the Go-Go’s used to open for, the band that invented punk dancing beyond the retarded art-school notion of pogoing!

..and Decker makes the extra point!

..and Decker makes the extra point!

We load into Johnny V’s as the sky turns dark, and are soon met with some familiar faces from home.
We sit and try to add up the combined age of all the men assembled here backstage, but those Iphone calculators only go up so far……
all right, we get it–we’re old!




And to make a very cool night even cooler, we are joined not only by The Defenders and Sad Boy Sinister but also SF mainstays , The Vktms!

Jeesus–what do you people want?
A ten dollar cover charge for 5 bands that have busted their asses for years?!

Maybe we should tack on a goddamn six buck service fee and 2.50 printing charge huh?
I didn’t hear any bitching about that the last time you bought Monster Truck tickets through Ticketmaster–now did I?!


Vktms !

Vktms !

We foolishly let The Crowd go first on this night and they get up there and lay down the law!
The bar becomes a turbulent ocean, bodies bobbing up and down in undulating waves as the salty spray of cheap domestic pilsner rains down.

You can forget just how many great songs these guys have, and you catch yourself shouting along to verse and chorus that you never knew you knew…



And then we have to follow these guys!
Woody does well on his first official show, though he is somewhat shocked when one bold chap sits down on the stage and actually starts eating Fritos…… during the breakdown to I Got a Gun!

As with all things for a 30 year old band, it’s happened before!


Just a quick snack midsong, gotta keep the blood sugar up!

Just a quick snack midsong, gotta keep the blood sugar up!

Saturday breaks clear and bright, and somehow we are missing miserable weather back home on this No Ca jaunt.
There are soon breathless accounts of thunder and lightning, actual hail coating the sands of Huntington Beach!

Great.  Another racist white dude from the 909....

Another racist white dude from the 909 in town….

We somehow have a hard time sympathizing as it is a gem of a day in San Francisco!
The sky is clear, and it is as warm a day as I’ve ever felt in the shadows of those beastly skyscrapers.

Something tells us a toast is in order, so we follow our inner compass to our old go-to, Vesuvio’s!


Of all things, I turn to the door and who walks in but Mr. Decker himself!
It is either pure destiny or we have become awfully predictable drunks, but we all settle into an upstairs booth and watch the glorious day roll by…


Capn’ Jimmy looks down upon the neighborhood, eyebrow elevated, as he hasn’t been up here since the Mabuhay days!
We point up Broadway to the sleazy locale and reminisce over days of smooth skin and fresh internal organs.

There are a few drinks and then it is decided on some snacks at The Boardroom in North Beach.


And now it's nap time!

And now it’s nap time!

Thee Parkside has become thee club to play in this town, mainly so we don’t have to hear the locals bitch about the parking!

Modern Kicks are kicking off the night, and not only do these kids sound great, but they have the best hair since Angel!


And then Sharp Objects get up there and roar through their set of poppy punky goodness:

Thankfully we get to play first tonight, so it’s up there and play a quick set for a roomful of pals.
We resist the urge to just play covers of the whole Beach Blvd album and claim we were on there too!


The Crowd gets up on stage to bring their songs back North once again, and the joy in this club is palpable.

It’s been far too long!



As usual, the night dissolves into the usual greetings and farewells:
Familiar faces glimpsed in passing, a few nods to those across the room.

Hugs, sincere.








We load out on a rare warm night, for this place, at this time of year.
It’s as if we’ve brought the sun baked atmosphere of Southern California along for the weekend.

Back home there is a flash flood watch along Mulholland, there are icicles forming on the gaudy facade on Grauman’s Chinese.
Have we made some devilish pact, as Home freezes over while we bask in the warmth of friends and music?

We’ll take it!

Many thanks Mark Hanford for additional SJ photos and Mike Schmitt for the blurry SF ones!

The PunkRock Warlord

•December 22, 2014 • 1 Comment

John Graham Mellor 21 August 1952 – 22 December 2002


We went down to San Diego to catch the Clash on the Combat Rock tour, what was that, 1982?
Real excitement to see a show, the kind of thrill that has been worn down from years of countless gigs and shameless guestlist action.

But then we were bubbling over and pregaming in a shabby motel room, taking turns at writing our fantasy setlists on the blank back pages of a Gideon’s bible.

Will they open with Complete Control? Safe Euro Home?

We downed another Coors banquet and joined the other kids walking to the show, a tribe united.




The band was at the top of their game, though sadly without Topper Headon onboard.
They had mastered the form, slaying the crowd with guitar and shout, had the room going crazy as one.

But it was when they did Straight to Hell, Joe bathed in blue spotlight, alone, that’s when they really showed the power of the quiet moment.

He told his story of Eurasian throwaways in almost a whisper, and it made the song all the more tragic and beautiful.

Oh, there were lots of other Clash shows after, watching them graduate to actual stadiums as The Who brought them along for one of their many farewells.
We left the Coliseum before Townshend did his first windmill of the night, satisfied that our boys took the baton from the aging gray rockers with style.

Then we suffered through Cut the Crap with everyone else, wanting so hard to go along on this new lineup but never being able to forgive Joe for cutting off Mick Jones.


They went out with a whimper, it turns out.
The only band that matters faded out finally.


Then with the Mescaleros, it seemed as though Joe had a renewed sense of creativity, and there were even whispers of a reunion.
Was it too mush to hope for, a comeback that would be not just a quick cash in tour, but a reconciliation of men still in creative prime?



I got the news that Joe passed on Dec 22. And now Christmas will always be linked to that death, just as Easter always reminds me of the other king Joe, Ramone, who passed on that very holiday of rebirth: irony intact.

And if we thrust sainthood upon them, our Joes who art in heaven, it is more for our own comfort, nothing to do with them.

After all, he was no angel, by all accounts a bit of a hothead stoner and control freak–this was the man who kicked goddamned Mick Jones out of a band for fucks’ sake!

But what do ya want?
We have to validate our love and our life somehow, don’t we?

And so we wear the T-shirts and paint the murals, making our heroes live on.



A night after the news had spread, I went to the local House of Blues for one of the myriad Social Distortion shows that used to take over that shed for all of December.

I ran into a lot of people, some would burst into actual tears, though most just used the tragic news as an excuse to get drunker than usual.

Ness came out, and instead of the usual opener he and a keyboard player did a slow quiet version of When Angels Sing.

I was reminded of that night decades ago, and a quiet moment that changed me.

Joe onstage, alone in a spotlight.


Hawaii II: Aloha, and Aloha

•November 22, 2014 • 1 Comment


When we last left our heroes they were standing on the sand, arm in arm before a glorious sunset.
This will be the last out of towner for the year, a year that’s been filled with strange and wondrous jaunts.

Later in the evening, yes, at wacky tacky Benihanas, we make toast upon toast to these travels:

The long weekends spent in the Arizona ghettos or amidst the siren call of the Clark street bars, Chicago
Huddled around the Hard Rock blackjack table with the Shattered Faith crew post-gig, willing each other to blow their nightly pay on sketchy double down bets.

Was it really just days ago we stood on a rainy Portland street corner eating pork belly, the new coin of the realm, upon toasted pupusa?

Another round of blue drinks is crowded upon the Teppan cooktop , jostling for room against towers of giant Sapporo and steaming flasks of sake.

When a man might live forever….

Note to editor: Drummer was crawling around on carpet looking for dropped shrimp.

Note to editor: Drummer was crawling around on carpet looking for dropped shrimp.



Like X-Men, we have developed unique superpowers at this stage of our lives.
Unfortunately, that gift is the ability to rouse from deep slumber and pee twice a night.

I roll off the squeaky twin and stumble for the bathroom, locked of course.
Alf is already up, shaving god knows what part of his body.

It’s a clenched elevator ride down to the lobby bathroom and if the front desk are shocked by my houndstooth pj bottoms and Cheap Trick Tshirt, they don’t respond beyond a smile and offer of a bottled water.

Back at the room the fellas are rousing, each of us sitting up in our wee beds set in a row.

It looks like nothing so much as a set up for a Three Stooges routine, and the last dim memory of the night before was the roaring syncopated symphony of snore burp and

But it’s just a few steps down the hall to the crysatlline pool, and we dunk our throbbing heads beneath waterfall and feel grand in no time!




Text are sent back and forth, chirping cell phones are hushed with a swipe of thumb and we are all set.
The kind promoter checks in to see if we are settled, can send a van over early if we wish to soundcheck.
Soundcheck? What is this strange thing you speak of?

We briefly weigh the sparkling ocean just a block away against spending a precious hour listening to Alf hitting a snare drum in an empty club.

Let’s hit the beach, shall we?




Lunch and then a quick tour of the indoor bars suggested by the locals.
We are pleased to see advertisements for the gig scattered here and there, and if we are embarrassed by the term Legends printed there in our reference, we only have to remind ourselves that Bigfoot remains a legend as well.

And like him, we are hairy mythical beasts that survive on stolen laundry and spam musubi.
Carry on!






Heh.  Now will you people believe us when we tell you we're legends? huh?

Heh. Now will you people believe us when we tell you we’re legends? huh?

After a refreshing nap back in our orphanage, we hit the nighttime streets of Honolulu and make our way to Anna O’Briens.

It turns out to be a proper night club, with a stage and electric lights and everything!



I don’t know what we expecting, maybe a palm thatched stage lit by torch.
Where do we get these goddamned ideas?

Look Skipper, a Rickenbacker!

Look Skipper, a Rickenbacker!

Another treat added to a weekend filled with them, we have a grip of old friends here to meet us.
Some have moved here, some just happen to be visiting at the time, and it is a blast to catch up so far away from our grubby roots.






And then we get up there and do the thing we came to do.
I mean, besides eating drinking and wallowing about the sand, silly!





The Make me Feel Cheap gals, Hawaii!

The Make me Feel Cheap gals, Hawaii!

And then like every other gig, it is over all too soon.

We don’t want it to end, not any of it.
Not the night, or the weekend or this fucking year.

We have time to chat up a few more friends before the houselights are flashed on, and though the rude jolt of reality is always illuminated by those harsh last-call floods, we simply remind ourselves:
we just played a set in goddamn Hawaii!

And we smile.



A late ride back to hotel, and maybe time for one more MocoLoco and one last view from the balcony:
A glowing moon, its yellow paint bled onto calm seas.


It’s not 8 hours later we are back through the Security checkpoint, a hundred dropped at airport bar and sealed back in the aluminum tube that hurtles toward home.

The plane clears the island below and banks East, wings dipping low enough for us to get a last glimpse of that blue Pacific.

An ocean shared, yet, home, translated to a far less melodic language.


Hawaii I : From Here to Eternity

•November 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

burt lancaster & deborah kerr - from here to eternity 1953

What comes to mind?

The swaying palms over white sandy beaches, the smiling locals who greet you at the lobby with perfumed Orchid leis in hand?
Drinking playful rum drinks to the sound of slack key guitars, majestic Diamond Head looming in the distance?

Maybe a romantic romp in the sand, the imagery in your mind always comes back in gorgeous black and white, and you imagine rolling among the warm waves holding a young Deborah Kerr.


Touchdown, Honolulu

Touchdown, Honolulu


The Honolulu that greets us Friday off the 7am flight from LAX (this only after the 160 dollar stay at the airport bar ahem), is a brighter noisier place.
It is a proper metropolis after all, not the collection of Gilligan styled huts and coconut husk condoms that we all wished it would still be.

From the airport we only see glimpses of the blue Pacific between warehouses and shopping malls.
But soon we are dropping our bags off and putting on shorts and ridiculous shoes.
We are, we tell ourselves, on island time.

Here for one show only, Saturday night, so we have the whole goddamned day to make fools of ourselves among the sand and surf.



We’re out now, traipsing down the strand, past the fifteen dollar Ramen joints and ABC Stores, hang a right through the swanky lobby of the Sheraton and then we are there.

Sandals are cast aside as we dig our dogs into the warm sand.
The ocean lay before us, glorious green-blue, deep as any carpet of a Vegas high roller suite.

And that warm breeze, it envelopes you like a hug from a parent gone, delicious.




The hotels loom large above the Waikiki strand, staring down at at our touristy hijinks like disapproving mamas.
We can almost hear their sighs and detect shakes of their stony heads as we roll in the sand, the dogs that we are.

It is such a short trip, we try to cram the Hawaii experience into those few hours, those few meters along the shore.

We gorge ourselves on gravy flooded Moco Loco and fatty cheeseburgers, sip at drinks we can barely prounounce.





I soon catch myself drinking a potent MaiTai out of a Buddha-shaped souvenir glass, and though I am instantly shamed I cannot help myself from sipping Curaçao tinted Rum from a straw stuck in the smiling prophet’s belly!

How about next round we have the Jesus Christ with the crucifix crazy straw eh?

How about next round we have the Jesus Christ with the crucifix crazy straw eh?

We stop at every barefoot bar we come across, sneaking into guests-only pools and peeing in the warm blue ocean. Or did I get that backwards?

Because things get messy at this point.
Alf and Ant start to wrestle on the lawn, bartenders run out after us, waving tabs we’d honestly forgotten to pay.



We take selfish selfies to send back to the working crowd back home, and notice again it is not Monty Clift we resemble so much as sweaty slobbering Ernest Borgnines in these unlying portraits.

Anthony and Alf, just  another lovers quarrel

Anthony and Alf, just another lovers quarrel


Have we discovered the true nature of the beast?

The leis about our necks smell not of fragrant Hibiscus, but the common formaldahyde used in Chinese plastics factories.
And it is Van Halen (Hagar era for chrissake!) that blares out at us from the barefoot bars, not the soothing tone of steel string or Prewitt’s mournful bugle.

And that romp is the sand?
Is it Warden and Captain Holmes’ wife all over again?

More like this, brother!


But is soon a merciful sunset, so glorious that we all stop and applaud.

We marvel at the time, a rare treat to gain some hours in our travels.
Alfie and Ant are all bro hugs now, so we contemplate the ultimate tourist treat, dinner at Benihanas!

Surrendered, completely, to the charms of this place.
We only have to turn our backs to the light and noise that pulse from corporate chain hotels and consider the last of that glorious sunset.

It takes only a final sparkle from that jewel of ocean before we allow the cliche to ourselves: paradise.