Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Twenty Years - Part II

San Francisco was a cool place to go, but not in 1992. They say there was a recession going on in California then, and I barely knew how to land a job even in the best conditions. So I stumbled through babysitting, landscaping, graffiti removal, and other bullshit, and in between I wandered the streets of the Castro imagining I had enough money to get a slice and go to the movies. The thing that sucked the most was that nearly every club was 21+, so I couldn't even go to any shows, and with the famous (and all-ages) Gilman St a hefty train fare across the bay, I never made it over there.

A couple good things did happen though. LIAR came out and I bought it, on cassette, at some place on Haight Street. Not Amoeba. I think it may have been Rough Trade.
And two days before The Jesus Lizard played a 21+ show at the Kennel Club, I ran into an acquaintance from home who just happened to work the door there. My outlook transformed from despondent to ecstatic in mere minutes as he casually said "sure, just come to the door and I'll let you in. We'll tell'm you got mugged and lost your ID if anyone asks."

Actual Flier, Savaged by a Cat.

Here is actual live footage of what might actually be this show.
Do you want to know who opened up that show? None other than the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Vaguely aware of Pussy Galore, I nevertheless had no idea I was about to see a band that just might blow the Jesus Lizard right off the stage. Boy did they get my attention. I guess they must have been touring on their first album which is sort of the same as but different than their second album, and then Extra Width came out the next year and this pace of record-releasing is similar to the way they play shows like where no song ends or begins and the whole thing just kind of runs together and at the end you are like "WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED TO ME."

Eventually, the euphoria of seeing these two amazing bands on the same stage in the same night wore off. San Francisco was cold, lonely and unforgiving, so I went home.

Sometimes I can't believe any of these bands are still putting out records and going on tour. But here we are, more than a decade into the new millenium, and there's a brand new JSBX record out and a JSBX show in Detroit next Friday. They may be getting old, but they can still cut a bitch, so you can bet I'll be there with my fucking walker and my orthopedic shoes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Twenty Years - Part I

Me and my driving companion at Niagara Falls

Twenty years ago I drove cross-country from Boston to San Francisco, where I had decided to live with some friends. My driving mate and I had brand-new driver's licenses and some foolish company called All America Auto Transport let us take this poor lady's Nissan Sentra for the conditionally refundable fee of $150.

NOTE: Not actual car

Me and my driving mate, whose new license was even newer than mine, did not want to pay tolls so we took US route 20 for the first two days until construction diverted us through LaPorte, Indiana, where we rear-ended a pickup truck and nearly destroyed the front end of the Sentra. After this we got on the interstate. At least it corresponded to the map.

The car had a cassette deck. 1992 was my year of cassettes, since it suddenly became very difficult to find new albums on vinyl and then I moved far away and left my turntable behind. My plan had not been to leave it permanently. I figured we'd get settled in SF, I'd get a job and save some money, and then have the rest of my shit sent out.

There are only two tapes I remember distinctly from this road trip. They were the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "BloodSugarSexMagik" and the Beastie Boys' "Check Your Head." Both albums still remind me of fall 1992, San Francisco, and all the accompanying ups & downs. No I'm just kidding actually. They both would if I still listened to the Chili Peppers album.

NOTE: Not actual cassettes from road trip. Those are long, long gone.

Even now, anytime I hear Robin Zander saying "this next one is the first song on our new album" and the opening beats of "Jimmy James", I can still picture our descent out of the Sierra Nevada with crystal clarity. There was a significant amount of traffic, and everyone else was hauling ass down the tight, curvy highway that winds down through the mountains. I clenched my new-driver teeth and grew some brass balls and kept up the pace all the way down. I probably left a stain on the driver's seat.

NOTE: This picture doesn't do any justice to what I'm trying to tell you. Just take my word for it.