Rodney on the Roq II
“Will you stop it? Please. Fuckin Duane—–”
We’re sitting at the worn dining table in Kimm’s house, or the drinking table as we referred to it.
Hand painted, classic French farmhouse in design, this piece of furniture becomes something else altogether when we gather in the room:
This table becomes as dangerous as a vehicle or weapon.
Kimm and I, we’re holding down opposite ends of the table like Mom and Pop.
Chris sits to my right, arranging the pyramid of mismatched beer cans he has constructed on the table: A centerpiece dedicated to the various Korean liquor stores around town that would sell their meager stock of beer to us kids, no questions asked.
Duane, sitting on the bench next to Chris, battling the same wicked head cold for a month, has spent the last 2 minutes blowing his nose into his bare hands.
We watch him honk again into his fist, examine the charge, then wipe his hands casually into his levis.
“Disgusting,” Chris says.
He adjusts his pile of beers once again, so all the Olde English labels on the bottom row face Southwest. He completes a moat of Lucky Lager bottle caps around the structure, the ones that used to have the picture riddles printed on bottom.
“You are a disgusting pig, Skanker.”
“So?” says Duane. “So don’t look, fag!”
Kimm’s parents, semi-retired and probably burnt out from raising Kimm’s four elder siblings, have left for vacation once again.
As they embarked on the leisurely travels of the recently retired, we inherited a fine Cerritos tract home that Kimm somehow managed to invite us into, kick us out of, and keep impressively clean.
Sitting there with the chums, maybe Tbone and Hetzel, the DC Boys! smoking out back. There was no better way to start a Saturday evening in the Summer, the day holding stubbornly onto its last light, Cerritos finally exhaling the heat it had sucked into its ribbons of cement the whole scorching day.
And we’re gathered there, in the shadow of this beer castle, to expound on the affairs of the day, get steadily blasted and yes–listen to Rodney.
Can you imagine it now? Five or six knuckleheads getting together on a Saturday night, to sit around a table, not a girl in sight, just to listen to the radio?
“You’re the fag, Skanker. Yes, a dick smoker.”
“You are.” Duane grins that gap tooth grin and pauses. “You’re a …..cock…jumper,” Duane says.
“Cock jumper? Cock jumper, what the hell does that even mean?”
Now Larry walks in carrying a six of Mickey’s Big Mouth and a Naugles bag.
We look hopefully at the bag, but Larry squashes it and burps.
The bastard’s been eating in the car.
“Blob. Gentlemen. Good evening?”
Kimm: “What, you just walk in? Do you knock?”
Chris: “Duane just called you a cockjumper, Larry. What do you think of that, hmm?”
“Wrong, ” says Larry. “Very incorrect.”
Oh, it was the Algonquin round table alright.
“Shut up , Rodney’s on, shut the fuck up!”
We all actually look toward the speaker, and here comes that chiming theme song. Rodney is back on the air for a Saturday night…..
And we might hear our song on the radio tonight!
Just 3 days earlier, we had first met with Robbie Fields: Posh Boy.
After presenting us with the contract, one of the first things we asked is if he could possibly get us played on Rodney’s show.
The hell with the record, we wanted to be on the radio!
I think the Hated had actually got a track off their demo played on Rodney a month earlier, and we simmered with envy.
We weren’t scheduled to go into the studio to record the black and white ep til the next weekend, but that day Robbie had called and casually mentioned that Rodney might be giving the demo tape a spin on the show!
Because that’s how Rodney’s show went: You might hear a Bowie track, followed by a Black Flag song, and then a phone call from someone on the road. And then Rodney would come back and announce that a cool looking band had just dropped off a tape at the back door of the KROQ studio.
And then , note unheard, he’d proceed to play it!
So we listened closely, knowing Rodney had no problem playing a rough demo.
That Robbie had some close dealings with Rodney—well, that probably didn’t hurt either!
Because it wasn’t just the radio show, no.
There was that first glorious compilation on Posh Boy:
But by God, those first three tracks! Three frenzied classics, back to back, no breathing room here, brother!
Agent Orange’s Bloodstains, followed by the real version of Adolescents’ Amoeba, and then The Circle Jerks finish ya off with Wild in the Streets!
We played the hell out of that record; it became a soundtrack to a season.
And later, though unimaginable, we’d get a track in just under the wire to appear on Volume II:
And jaded old punkers by 1983, yeah, I guess we’ll be on Volume III—but you owe us!
But for now, sitting here in a Cerritos living room among friends, just the small chance that we might hear one of our songs on the radio was enough.
Duane sneezes again, this time deliberately turning to moisten Chris’ ear.
“Goddamn you!” Chris slaps Duane on the back of the head.
Duane cackles, jumps up and goes out back to bum a smoke off Tbone.
Chris just shakes his head and puts another Schaffer Light can on top of his structure, holds it in place for a moment as the tower adjusts to its new impressive height.
I look across the table, raise an eyebrow to Kimm. He shrugs.
It’s been 90 minutes into the show, nothing yet. As a Saccharine Trust song ends, now Rodney serves up Sloop John B.
A garage band, you get use to disappointments: The party got cancelled, the drummer doesn’t feel like practicing tonight, the bass player’s girlfriend is on the rag.
So we don’t get on the radio tonight, so what? We crack open a goddamn Meisterbrau and toast another night.
Rodney has brought us all together again. And though the night is long from over, and we may all go our own separate ways in search of fast food, drugs, or easy girls who promised to leave the kitchen window unlocked, we started it off together.
But then…..wha? Turn it up, shut up! turn it up! we hear the familiar throbbing bass line, that’s Larry’s fingers playing back and forth over the Fat E string of a telecaster bass! It’s our song!!!
We all shout once and then go silent, we almost hold our breaths as we listen to our song being played over a commercial Los Angeles radio station.
And when it ends, Rodney comes back on, says alright, mentions that we are the latest signing for Posh Boy. It goes to commercial.
“Whoa, did you–that was us! Mother fucker!!!” Kimm raises hands over head,does the happy Snoopy dance. We all yell, laugh, yell again.
I notice that we’re all on our feet now, and we stand over the drinking table, warm beers in hand, too excited to sit.
Kids, just boys, we’re not about to hug each other. And I doubt the high five has been invented yet.
Rodney starts to say goodbye for the night, and as if on cue, we all dive for the pile of beer cans in the middle of the table.
Beer cans go flying, and Rodney’s voice is drowned out by the hollow aluminum rattle.
A sound full of chaos and hope, like noisemakers on New Years’ Eve:
Click to join us at the drinking table, 1980. The demo version of Manzanar: