Show #45: May 20, 2006
Pat’s in the Flats
Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth
I don’t feel like I have a lot of memories of this one, though I remember it being a good show. I made one of my usual for the era, “Grab-a-weird-picture-off-the-internet, type-the-band-names-over-top” flyers for the show, which is no doubt lost somewhere in time and outer space. Pat was always easy to book with; I remember I booked this entire show in one morning, she always got back to me right away. I recall Greg from Oxymoronatron telling me they were watching episodes of GI Joe in their van while traveling up from Dayton, which sounded spectacular. I also think this was the show where my old friend Gary, who I hadn't seen for a while, cautiously showed up, and had his nerves immediately jangled by Greg who loudly raved about the shirt (of a band I don’t remember, and now it’s going to bug me) he was wearing as soon as he walked in the door. So, some memories.
For all the bellyaching about issues with the venue itself as well as the odd location (isolated and not actually located in the Flats, an area where nightlife and people exist), we always managed to have a good time at Pat’s. It was certainly a dive with zero walk-in, but they generally had less pee and dirt on the ground than at Bernie’s in Columbus. Long may both reign in our hearts and nostrils.
Our friends Shaun and Crys were in town to see Pearl Jam, and they either met up with us at the venue or at a nearby hotel so we could all crash together overnight. I was extremely drunk already, and despite assurances from everyone that nowhere was open to get more booze, I insisted on stumbling around outside to look for some. There was of course nothing available, and I remember pouting and shuffling my feet sadly over the grass outside the hotel, only to return defeated to the indifferent people room. The next morning, for some reason, Shaun and I were singing “Lunchlady Land” by Adam Sandler in the hotel lobby. Pearl Jam wishes they were at that party.
Show #44: May 5, 2006
LCD Projector Debut
w/ Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth
Our relationship with Carabar was very short lived. This was the first of only two shows we did there, and the second one occurred without the owner knowing we were scheduled to perform. He certainly did his due diligence to keep us away after that. Mary Alice asked if was going to go “Scorched Earth” with this one, but it’s merely a footnote in our long rich history (Ohhhh!) Bottom line, us and the owner had a mutual disdain for each other, and that’s that. I know it’s not as much fun to take the high road, but it’s better in the long term. Besides, this was someone who was rumored to hire motorcycle gangs to keep neighborhood “undesirables” away from the venue, and I don’t want any part of that action.
As far as the show itself goes, this was the exciting debut of our LCD Projector. We had officially transitioned to a digital era of visuals, and were no longer encumbered by having to transfer images to actual slides. It’s funny, because we still occasionally refer to what Mary Alice creates as “slides,” and I’m also now wondering whatever happened to all of them, because I can’t see us throwing them away.
I’ll admit that I screwed up the booking/promotion, which is what initially agitated the owner. He didn’t care for the idea of hanging up flyers for the show at the club himself (we lived a good distance from the joint), and I also should have booked a true second local for the night. I had our Cleveland friends Johnny La Rock and Mush Mouth booked, but I also booked Mission Man, who was at best an honorary local because I had seen him perform around the city.
I saw Mission Man perform at Cafe Bourbon Street, and I thought he’d be a good fit with us. He’s a true outsider, and I didn’t gather that upon first meeting. His specialty was awkwardly timed, monotone raps over low-fi beats, all done with a straight face. It was the first time that I recall being a little weirded out by an act we played with. I don’t doubt that a lot of people had a similar reaction when seeing us, especially in the early days. So Gary, if you ever read this, you’re something else my friend.
The owner left before we went on, which was of course right when people showed up. Again, that’s my fault. It’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out between us and the venue, because the set up was perfect for what we were doing at the time. Mary Alice was not singing on stage yet, and you could rear project from behind the stage onto a really nice screen. You can see the photos here of the ruckus that was the stage show at the time, bubbles, balloons, traffic cones, pants down, the works. There’s Gretchen and Shaun on stage singing along to the EG song.
A bit of the elephant in the room is that damn enormous American flag in all the photos. I feel like we’re performing in front of Trump Tower. I believe it was mostly functional, as it was covering a large mirror that I think they felt was distracting - as to why they wanted to cover it with something FAR more distracting is beyond me. Or maybe they were trying to send a message to commies like us, that we weren’t welcome. We sure got the message loud and clear, soldier.
The woman hired a carpenter to install shelves in her closet for shoes. He installed it, but she didn't like because it was made out of oak. She said she wouldn't pay him, and he was mad. She found out she was listening to her, and called him names. He saw the birthmark she had. She later pushed him overboard, and he was fired.
He went to a mental institution where she was after she also fell overboard, and said she was his wife and took her home to this boys. They were mean, and he was mean to her. She started to like how he was mean, and fell in love. This made him feel guilty, and he said that was going to tell her she wasn't his wife, but the boys kept lying about it. Sex
Later her first husband found her, and came to their house in a limo. She remembered who he was, and they left. She was sad after that, because she missed him. They went on the boat again, but she wanted to leave. She jump in the water, and swam to him. In conclusion, she went back to who she was after she had amnesia.
The stuff that we accumulate over the years and choose to hang on to is pretty amazing to think about. Due to moving stuff around and trying to find places to put things, this cassette single of “This DJ” by Warren G has been laying next to the closet of our music room for months. I think I bought it on a whim at a second hand shop in Hawaii in the late 90’s. I never thought I’d be thinking about it every day, here in Washington DC, in the year 2023.
Late 1994/Early 1995(?)
I really don’t remember how it all came about, all I know is that one morning while in high school I got pulled out of a classroom by my dad and we drove away to a place in a nearby city that I’ve always referred to as “The Clinic.” In reality, it was an outpatient therapy group for naughty and wayward teens - which again, I don’t recall agreeing to do, but fuck it, I was told I’d miss school for two weeks. Apparently as I left the school with my dad, other kids were watching out of the windows and speculating about what was happening, the prevailing thought being that I was being taken to rehab. That wasn’t the case (as I was at best a casual pot user), but I did end up in a small group with kids who were in rehab. I was just there because I was failing out of school, angry, anxious, depressed, and an all around ne'er-do-well. In other words, pretty darn cool.
I arrived at a doctor’s office and went upstairs and waited for the other scumbags to arrive. While waiting, I observed a young married couple discussing how “(Name) had been drinking water from the potted plants.” Based on all the turmoil and angst I had been used to, I assumed they were talking about their fucked-up child (it dawned on me years later that they were likely talking about a dog). The first person who arrived was this cute girl who had sort of a combo alternative rock/citified look, and she ended up being my buddy. She seemed to be able to relate to the thoughts of alienation I was having, more so than the other three kids who eventually arrived. There were two other girls there for drugs (mostly auxiliary characters for the purposes of this story) and this tall, preppy boy who walked in wearing a scarf and a rich kid coat. I think we thought he stuck out from the group, but then when we were introducing ourselves and explaining what we were doing there, it turned out he was pretty fucked up. He fancied himself a proud Italian who disliked Black people and who was able to manipulate and steal from neighborhood drug dealers. He told of an incident where he was riding in a car with a friend, and he threw the emergency brake from the passenger seat while they were going 65 miles per hour just for shits and giggles. There was more I’m sure, but that gives you an idea of what’s to come.
In addition to just talking with each other, we would do things like paint, make plaster masks out of our faces, play games, ya know, all stuff so we could be analyzed. I remember one day they asked us to draw a picture that we felt represented how we were feeling, and I drew a pile of shit with hypodermic needles sticking out of it. We were asked to bring in specific songs that we felt reflected who we were, and the group would draw along while listening. I brought in “Shitlist” by L7, and I recall the alterna-girl writing out the names of other girls she considered her enemy. She brought in “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine,” and the preppy said he related to the “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me,” refrain in the song. Me and the other alterna-girl were all about doing the wacky fun things, whereas the boy was a little proud. He wasn’t an unfriendly person either, but you could tell there was something seriously off.
We did all the things you’d expect bad kids to do, including one incident where we shared a cigarette inside the meeting room when the young female instructor/guard stepped out. (In my mind, I remember her as looking like a shorter Kelly Kapowski with glasses?) She was understandably pissed and demanded answers when she came back to the smell in the room, and I admit I turned a little chickenshit by doing that thing where I spoke first like “Ok, I’LL take the blame for ALL of us!,” because I knew that’d be a misdirection, and alterna-girl laughed at my cowardice. In the end we all shared blame, but thankfully it didn’t get back to my parents. I remember this incident where I went to the restroom and there was shit smeared all over the walls and sink. I don’t think we knew who did it, but I told Ms. Kapowski about it, and when she went to look she simply remarked out loud, “That’s pathological.”
There was this guy in his 30’s who was also an instructor/guard there, and we got along quite well. I think he saw me as a younger version of himself (except that he said that he’d “done every drug that you can think of”). He sort of looked out for me, and I remember one day when he wasn’t there this other instructor guy insisted I take a piss test, even though I wasn’t there for drugs. I would have protested, but fortunately for him I enjoyed peeing in weird places. (And I swear, I have this faint recollection of peeing on the floor of a meeting room in one of these types of offices around this time, but that could just be an amalgam of some inaccurate memories).
The whole experience lasted only two weeks, though I sometimes question that, because it seemed an eternity. One afternoon all us kids were hanging around and goofing off in a stairwell of the building, and the preppy boy decided to take a fire extinguisher off the wall and shoot off some of the powder. We then walked to another stairwell where I grabbed a different fire extinguisher and tried to fire it, but thankfully (as it turned out) I didn’t know enough to remove the pin, so I just put it back. The boy then grabbed it, removed the pin, and shot the hell out of the thing all over the stairwell. We then went back to the other stairwell, where he emptied the first one we were messing with, then unceremoniously (but accidentally) dropped the canister down the stairs, nearly missing two of the girls. The thing about fire extinguishers, if you didn’t know, is that once you fire that shit in the air, it STAYS in the air. The stairwells were completely filled with yellow dust and nitrogen and who knows what else type of compressed chemicals. We left things as they were and went back to the unmonitored meeting room, where the boy proceeded to grab the fire extinguisher in there and fire off just a little bit of the contents, which turned out to be his undoing.
The 30-something drug instructor guy eventually came into the room, and asked what was in the air that was burning his eyes. We all waffled a bit, and the boy offered the explanation that he burned a pop (“soda” for you non midwesterners) can inside of the room, and that’s what was causing the noxious smell. The instructor angrily informed the boy he was going to call his father about the incident, and they both temporarily left the room. Alterna-girl turned to me and excitedly asked, “Should we tell (the instructor) about the fire extinguishers?!,” and even though this was a narc move, we all kind of hated him and maybe wanted to see it go down. I didn’t rat on him, but she was more than happy to, and I followed them both out to the stairwell, where after viewing an impenetrable ocean of yellow dust, the instructor had a look on his face that I can only describe as murderous. It didn’t even occur to me that a crime had been committed, but the building sure as shit called the police. When the cops arrived I was sitting in a chair next to the preppy boy, and according to the instructor the cop pointed at me first and said, “He did it?” After a brief discussion with all of us in the meeting room, the cops arrested the boy and cuffed him. “Ever been handcuffed before?” the cop asked him. “Yeah,” the boy replied. “Do ya like it?!” the cop fired back. The boy shrugged, and was led away.
Alterna-girl had a boyfriend that she would talk about often, and would talk openly about how they’d have unprotected sex, much to the chagrin of the instructors. One day she was talking about how well-endowed he was, and how the previous night she “came 5 or 6 times” during intercourse. Her tales put the instructors on edge, and one day she let it slip that she missed her period. She took a home pregnancy test, which came out positive. She confided in the Kelly Kapowski instructor, who after some consideration, let her mom know. This set alterna-girl into an all out frenzy, yelling “I thought you were my friend!,” and calling some older woman there “A fucking bitch” for reasons I can’t remember (possibly because she talked Kelly into ratting her out). She ran screaming and crying out of the building, and I think that was the last I saw of her until we all reunited at the office later on with our parents for a debriefing of sorts.
The final meeting/debriefing was weird, all of us there with our very different parents. We were all asked to share with our parents how we were feeling about everything, and what they could do to help us, but I didn’t really have anything useful to say. I stammered out something about my dad relating better to me, but I honestly just needed a reset button on everything. That came a few months later in the form of my almost dying in a car accident, which wasn’t a preferable option, but I guess it was the express version. I didn’t use the names of the kids in this retelling because I don’t remember them, and I’m glad I don’t, because then I’d have the option of finding out what happened to them, and I’m sure it wasn’t good. But it turns out alterna-girl wasn’t pregnant after all.
This one is for all the troubled teens,
2. You're in the Show
3. Mr. Ha Ha
4. Miami Would Have Been Nice
5. Blood Turkey
6. He Made It
7. Kelly's Lament
8. I Signed
9. Back Up
10. Pass Gas in the Name of Kevin Costner
11. Rain Man
12. Cocktails and Dreams
13. Tom Cruise is the Most Important Celebrity
14. Every Episode
I often think of a specific instance from one of my little league baseball games, where this annoying boy on my team named Mark who everyone hated was up to bat in the final inning with the bases loaded. The game was tied 7-7, and he got hit in the back by a pitch, which forced in the winning run. He started tearing up, and I don’t think he realized he won the game for us by getting smacked by the ball.
His mom came to pick him up on a motorcycle, and I watched him ride away on the back of the bike, smirking while wearing sunglasses and eating sour cream and onion potato chips. He had a look on his face that was like “Let’s party dudes!,” as they sped away.
April 15, 2006
Fat Girls By the Snack Table Farewell Show
w/ Fat Girls By the Snack Table
I believe I first heard the announcement about the Fat Girls breaking up from J Rhodes, and just like that suddenly this random show I had scheduled far in advance for them, us and Oxymoronatron would be their last. I was quite rattled by the news, so I called Gretchen and left an inconsiderate voice message saying something along the lines of “Now I have to kill myself.” I don’t know what I was trying to accomplish by doing this. I certainly didn’t want to make her feel bad, I just felt heartbroken in the moment, and I wanted her to know how much they meant to me. No matter where our travels take us in life, there’s always that inner child that you take with you, and that part of me felt protected when we performed together. I felt like they were the force that shielded us from all the bullies out there, and believe me, the mid-2000’s in Columbus was rife with them. That was certainly a lot of responsibility to lay at their feet, and it was obviously my problem and not theirs.
Since this was now going to be a super farewell bash, I obviously had to solicit the artwork of Derek for the show flyer. There Gretchen and Sara are in all their glory. You can see for yourselves the chaos of the show. Both Mary Alice and I were wearing custom made T-shirts for the event. There’s Gretchen joining me on stage with the “One Man Jam” guitar. At one point during their set, the gals gave each other knowing looks and simultaneously took off their shirts. (Bra photos posted with permission from Gretchen, I’m not sure how to contact Sara, but I’m sure wherever she is she doesn’t give a fuck). I want to say there were upwards of 250 people there, but I’m really not certain. I do know that the show went until 2:30 AM, because I remember Joe Peppercorn walking into the room and shouting that they’d allowed the show to go late, and people had to get the hell out.
These show write-ups get increasingly difficult to do, especially looking back at all these photos. We’re lucky to have kept in touch with a lot of people involved. One of the biggest advantages to being in a music scene are the friends you make and then keep. I think a lot of people spend too much time up their own ass to see the value in that, myself included. I know I spent too much time up my own ass around this time of my life, but looking back I can see how fortunate we were and continue to be.
April 7, 2006
Lab X Records Showcase
Junior High Mustache
My Latex Brain
It was on November 12, 2005 where Oxymoronatron member Jason Sanders aka Robot X5 said to me, “Hey, you should join this collective of ours called Lab X Records!” And I agreed. We decided to repackage our “Pee Sells” album for a Lab X CD-R release; to wait to make something new probably would have been smarter, but I was all about things happening as quickly as possible back then. So I went and booked this show myself at the mysterious and apparently now long-forgotten Elbo’s in Dayton. The club had been closed for a short time, but had recently been bought and reopened by new management.
Upon arrival, myself and Greg Schultz of Oxymororantron met with the new owner, a very intense and finely dressed man. While we all were discussing logistics for the evening, the man abruptly interrupted by shouting “We’re going to make some MONEY tonight!,” to which Greg gave a nervous and patronizing, “Yeah!” We then agitated the guy a short time later by bringing in outside food to the venue, but said with a threatening smile that he’d “Let it go” because we were from out of town. When I later asked him out of courtesy about using our bubble machine on stage, I was very timid because I thought this guy might try to cut our throats at any moment. After some thought, he agreed to let us shoot bubbles onto his shiny tiled dance floor.
In keeping with punk tradition, we ended up packaging the Lab X version of our album AT the show while Junior High Mustache, a Columbus band we had recently met (featuring Chris and Kris), rocked out onstage. We then went on and performed for a reasonably sized yet slightly underwhelmed crowd, and massacred the club floor by making it really slippery in there with our bubble juice. I don’t remember much about My Latex Brain except that the guy had a Causey Way sticker on his guitar, which I thought was pretty cool. I don’t remember much about the Oxymoronatron set either, except that they kicked ass in front of their home crowd. This was our last ever show at Elbo’s, as they closed again shortly after, probably because the new owner was a maniac.
I want to thank Greg for providing these three versions of the poster that were made for that night, a Lab X one, a Oxymoronatron one, and the drummer for My Latex Brain made another.
Mary Alice: I have no specific memories of this show, except a very clear memory of the assembly of the compact discs. Germane to this discussion but not specific (though common) to just this memory, when we were packaging our old CDRs, we went as far as applying labels to the disc face to make them look more like “real CDs” which seems like a really low bar now, but felt very professional at the time. Anyway, you could buy fat-doughnut shaped labels you could brand using an ink jet printer. Here’s the thing, though? It’s really hard to ensure a round label is affixed properly to a similarly sized round surface, which is probably something you would never think about until you tried? Anyway, we had a CD label applicator to help and it looked much like this.
It is Bandcramp Friday, which means they don't charge taxes or something, so I'm taking this as an opportunity to discuss our most recent album from 2020 called "Relaunch." It came as a follow up to 2017 release "Cancelled," based on the idea of man going crazy because his favorite cop drama was cancelled, and we had amazing help from friends old and new in creating short films to accompany the release. The story was loosely based on my experiences with mental illness, specifically with symptoms of PTSD/Major Depressive Disorder that I endured following our move from Columbus to DC. It's by far the most personal series of songs I've ever written, and at times questioned whether I not wanted to go through with it. But I did, we did, it was very therapeutic, and ended up being something quite special that I don't think we could ever replicate.
We were in the process of shooting videos for the "Relaunch" album when the pandemic started and we had to cease operations. We ended up doing those super fun streaming shows from our home, including a makeshift album release on May 16, 2020. But what we wanted to do for the album was never fully realized, and time marched on. We wanted to do a more hopeful album after doing one so bleak and despairing, then yeah, a bubonic plague happened. But we finished our nice little space album about the Challenger II crew, and were once again happy with the outcome. People understandably had other things on their mind, so we feel like the album went by the wayside a bit. We had a friend recently inquire about the meaning of the album's story, and with our plans for a new album called "The Next Day" scheduled for a Spring 2023 release, I thought what better time than now to shoehorn this explanation in. If you're intrigued about what this guy said, you can go stream/download the album at the 'Camp.
March 21, 2006
w/ Kiss Me Deadly
Church of the Red Museum
Kyle Sowash set up this show for Kiss Me Deadly, a short-lived (it appears) band from Montreal. Their most recent album was from 2005, so I assume that’s the case. These are the first of a handful of times that Joel Treadway who ran the website cringe.com came out and took some photos. There’s me in all my sweaty glory, humping a pole at the High Five. That Cosby Show sweatshirt I’m wearing was found on EBay by Mary Alice. We think it was something worn by someone working on the show, because of how bizarre it is. Our favorite part was the names of the family members listed on the sleeve, and there’s also a caricature of Bill Cosby stitched into the back along with an enormous Adidas logo. I remember it fit very snug and was quite warm to wear while thrashing about on the stage. It’s long since been retired from the repertoire (because, ya know), but we might still have it packed away somewhere.
These images are a true time capsule of the era, not just because I’m by myself up there, but because of the balloons, traffic cones, the blue siren light in front of the stage, that specific projector screen, and if you look at the pole-humping photo you can see this yellow camping chair we had that was used to hold the laptop that played back the music. We specifically bought it in yellow to match the “pee” theme of this particular period. We’d duct tape the cord going out from the headphone jack because it would often come loose, and then split it to run the signal through two DI boxes, in what amounted to a bit of a Frankenstein setup. Good times.
I remember remarking to Kyle that I took a nap earlier that day, to which he replied “I remember naps.” I think this was my first time seeing Church of the Red Museum (and I don’t know if this is the first time I met Robby, Tom, and Don from the band), but as anyone who was around then would tell you, the band was amazing. I don’t remember much about their set from this night except for their violin player Leslie asking the headliners from the stage whether they took their name from the Lita Ford song, and they didn’t seem to know what she was talking about. But I remember a specific time seeing the band play at Little Brother’s, and they destroyed so much I remember drummer Robby defiantly throwing his drumsticks as the last note hit, like “You know we just fucking murdered you, now go home.”
I don’t recall too much about Kiss Me Deadly except for the singer asking the crowd for more enthusiasm as she stripped down to a spandex bodysuit. Speaking of time capsules, I did happen to notice that when I came across that recent review I posted from 2005 that Kiss Me Deadly also got reviewed around that time, along with other local/regional contemporaries and other national touring bands we’d eventually end up opening for, many of them now long gone. It made me feel emotions.
One morning in the early 90's I was laying in bed before school, listening to a Cleveland-area morning DJ on my clock radio. He was discussing how "Rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot was touring the country with his giant butt balloon to promote his song '"Baby Got Back (I Like Big Butts)." But he misread the copy as "Baby 'I' Got Back," and when the parenthetical was also not explained, the way he read it made it sound like the song's title was: "Baby, I Got Back. I Like Big Butts."
So upon hearing that, I pictured the premise of the song being that some guy arrives back home from a trip (see pictured), and defiantly yet cheerfully informs his wife that his journey gave him a new perspective on things, and upon his return he's realized that he "likes big butts," and perhaps this unfortunately changes the dynamic for them as a couple.
When I was a kid, I was reading a book about the solar system with my mom, and at one point we came to a part about the Big Bang, and she told me that this was an inaccurate theory that conflicted with our religious beliefs, in that some people believed there was an enormous "BANG!!" noise and then everything appeared as is, which is a pretty funny if you think about it logistically.
March 17, 2006
Trapper John Farewell Show
w/ Trapper John
Kristi Strauss and the Blue Medusa
Jill Garratt and the Heartbreak Orchestra
I had to think for a minute about the origins of the name Trapper John, because I thought it was also the name of a Cleveland media personality, but that was a radio DJ called ‘Trapper Jack.’ The name “Trapper John” entirely comes Trapper John McIntyre, a character from the series M*A*S*H and later Trapper John, MD. Very good.
This was our second gig with the band, the first one had occurred during our Treehouse residency. Trapper John was to open the night with some former members and then close the night with the current lineup, which I thought was clever. Our buddy John Garratt was a former member who was also performing with his wife in Jill Garratt and the Heartbreak Orchestra that evening, and another former member Ben Harris made a special trip from DC to be in the opening incarnation.
I remember we arrived late after Trapper John (the Opener) had already started, and I had to march in front of the crowd with all our shit, like “Hey, dig my life.” This show was kind of exciting for us, because I felt our reputation had begun to precede us and there was a buzz abuzz in the crowd. I don’t recall much about Kristi Strauss and the Blue Medusa, but I believe they later shared members in common with Trapper John to form a new band who we also played with called The Slang. I was of course pumped to see BA Baracus because, well, Mr. T. If you know you know.
After we did our thing Trapper John (the Closer) finished up the night. At one point during their frontman John B held up a giant plastic novelty Swatch Watch and announced he was giving it away, or asked a trivia question and gave it as a prize, or something along those lines. Either way, obviously Mary Alice ended up with it. It laid next to our bedside in Columbus for several years before probably getting tossed when we moved. So if you see the giant watch floating around, ya know, say hello for us.
Mary Alice: "It laid by our bedside" sounds ominous.
I also won a little mirror with a plush moon-and-clouds frame, which is probably hard to picture, but that's what it was. It was almost equally as 80s as the giant watch, but not quite because nothing is as 80s as a giant watch.
John B said that if you break this particular mirror, you'd probably get 100 years of bad luck, which I thought was so funny. Because the mirror's 80sness enhanced its power to bring bad luck if broken. It's one of those things that is rooted in absolutely no logic, but makes perfect intuitive sense to me.
March 4, 2006
w/ Infinite Number of Sounds
This was another one where Mary Alice opted to stay home, so Brent from INS was tasked with the projector duties. This was the first Cincinnati gig for EG, and the boys in Infinite Number of Sounds picked me and my stuff up on their way down from Cleveland. They had a van with no windows they affectionately called “The Kidnapper Van,” and I rode tied up in the back.
The show was at Northside Tavern, a venue they played often. The club is still very active, but I believe they now have shows in the back of the venue, where it looks like they have ample space. Back in those days, they held their shows in the front of the place, and you had to be careful not to get smacked by the front door when people came in. There exists a picture of me performing while wearing a hamburger hat that Gretchen gave me and those weird glasses with eyes that Mary Alice hated, but it’s lost somewhere in time and space. I was able to locate this picture here that Dave from INS took off of their still functioning band website, there’s your hero standing in front of the screen with our older, less dynamic placeholder, Kimmy Gibbler’s head on a blueish background.
As for the performance, Brent seemed to enjoy it while he ran the projector. I think I was mostly a guy in a hamburger hat ruining everyone’s nice time. Josie and Christine were there, so that was cool. DJ Empirical was a good dude, and INS kicked ass as usual while dodging patrons barreling in through the entrance. On the way home, I remember I ate a Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger (before you get on my case, I’m still a year away from being a vegetarian here) while falling asleep, while lying between and on top of equipment. I had to pee really bad, but I kept laying there thinking, “It HAS to be soon.” Eventually we did get back, and you’ll be glad to know that I went to the bathroom, which is why I’m able to tell you this story.
Mary Alice: I realized possibly years later that the very detailed, written and verbal directions I gave to Brent in this case and Gary previously made perfect sense to me but probably came off as completely psychotic to Brent and to a lesser extent Gary. I'm singling Brent out specifically because he was good enough to smile and nod and gave me feedback indicating what I said made perfect sense even though it didn't. In retrospect I'm sure he just did the images however it seemed to make sense to him in the moment. If it wasn't exactly as I instructed, to me that spelled certain doom, but was probably more than good enough.
I knew exactly the picture you meant when you were talking about Gretchen's hamburger hat and those glasses I hate and for some reason all these years later, still know that the pic was taken at this show in Cincinnati I didn't attend. If you hadn't brought it up, I would have.
I feel like it was shortly after this one where we stopped using a lot of the accoutrements and wearing hamburger hats and such and moved towards a more dignified appearance, possibly to coincide with getting an LCD projector, which we did the following calendar year. I do recall looking at the hamburger hat and the glasses I hate and thinking "this isn't even very funny, why are we still doing this?"
February 9, 2006
w/ The Lindsay
Mary Alice was away for this one, and I don’t immediately recall why. Her mother had passed away the previous December, and so her absence may have been related somehow. That flyer there that’s seemingly a precursor to this year’s Megadeth flyer was my idea, but was assembled by Mary Alice. Dave’s corpse is boasting that it will “be the best show ever,” but I remember it as being awful. Our friend Gretchen (who in addition to being a member of Fat Girls played bass for The Lindsay) was filling in for Mary Alice on the visuals, and was also giving me a ride to the venue that evening.
I had recently decided it would be wise to change my antidepressant medication based on my own research, which is tantamount to an anti-vaxxer doing their own research on YouTube. I jumped to a conclusion that the recent troubles I was experiencing (that I detailed during the last write-up) was due to my current medication not working anymore, as opposed to my needing to deal with a new and difficult set of circumstances. The changeover seemed to work for a short time, but quickly things began to turn. The night of the show, Gretchen and her friend Josh came to pick me up, and I was in the midst of an anxiety attack. I sat on the couch while they both tried to calm me down; Gretchen sweetly asked if part of the issue was me “missing my girl,” and encouraged me to continue to drink the beer I had been nursing.
After a period of semi-successful attempts to settle me down, they carted me up to Andyman’s for the gig. Shortly after we arrived, Gretchen and Josh were sitting shell shocked at the bar, and I overheard her thank him for his assistance in calming me down, which made me feel like a helpless child*. I wandered around the venue unsure what to do with myself, just trying to get through the night as quickly as possible. I think a lot of people assumed I was mad at them or something, but it was just that it felt like my body was on fire. So then I got really drunk, which seemed to make things better. (Epilogue: I switched back to my regular medication shortly after this show, which helped to start to steer things back in the right direction).
Grannyman’s Treehouse Showcase
(November - December 2005, See flyer for dates/bands)
I haven’t been looking forward to writing about this series of shows, as this whole endeavor of reliving some of the emotions involved has been a little more taxing than I thought it’d be. But Mary Alice reminded me that there’s no deadlines I need to meet, and I don’t imagine these memories are going to fly out of my head anytime soon.
Here’s the thing - I’ve never stopped feeling lucky about being able to do this. It wears thin for some and doesn’t appeal to others, and there are those who even think they’re above performing in front of people at a small club. But I was a weird and awkward little guy, and it’s an honor to be weird and awkward in front of a crowd. I still get tickled when I see our name on a marquee or a venue’s website. That part doesn’t get old. But I’m also overly sensitive and have (especially during this time) often managed to get overwhelmed by stress. Unfortunately, that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think about this period.
I don’t know how people do it, book these monster DIY tours? I think you have to be a specific type of person to first of all be a “road dog,” and second of all be able to juggle the availability of bands and communication with booking agents. There are some people who don’t mind, or even worse, LOVE sitting in a car for hours for days and weeks at a time, eating poorly, possibly drinking too much, and waking up in a strange house where there’s some naked guy eating cereal in the living room. I’m willing to withstand most anything for a gig, but I suppose I can only handle so much without completely losing it.
To that point, that’s not even close to what’s going on here, I’m booking six shows within close proximity at the same venue with people who I know and trust. But one thing I learned with this experience is that people will turn down gigs, charming as the host may be. This series of shows included a residency of four consecutive Tuesdays and two Saturdays, and those Tuesdays are fucking hard to fill (I’d like to retroactively thank the heroes that performed on those nights).
The best show of the lot was the first one (pictures here), Saturday, November 12th w/ Ocean Ghosts and Oxymoronatron, the robotic punk rockers from Dayton who we would share the stage with several more times. There was a great crowd, and I remember having a blast that night. You can see in the photos here a custom sparkly lightning bolt shirt that you-know-who made for me (get it, electricity?), a semi-matching green lei, and these joke glasses that Mary Alice hated with all of her heart.
That first show should have been enough for the time being, but we stupidly pressed on. I remember at the next show on Tuesday, November 15th w/ Zack Starkey and Marvin the Robot, we cut our set a bit short after we realized it had gotten late and that there were maybe two people in the room watching. I think one of those people was Derek Stewart who ended up being our good friend and longtime EG collaborator, including the creation of many of our flyers, scripts for our “Cancelled” movies, and also that album’s cover art.
For the next Tuesday the 22nd, the musical guests were Vaudeville, who we met doing a show at Bernie’s, and a young talented singer-songwriter named Andrew Graham, who I met while doing a work study program at the Ohio State Art Department. I believe we were both in charge of guarding the invaluable student art projects that hung in the 1st floor gallery, which would have no doubt been stolen and sold on the black market had we not been there to protect them. For this show and the subsequent Tuesday, our friend Shaun Duff (who is often cited as the first EG-superfan) was slated to run the slide projector in place of Mary Alice who needed the time for work. However, for both Tuesdays, something happened where we collectively fucked up trying to get things to work, and Mary Alice had to drive to the Treehouse and figure it out for us. She ended up just staying for the show and running the projector in each instance, and was as pissed off as you’re imagining she was.
The next date was Saturday the 26th, and I believe we had gotten home that afternoon after spending Thanksgiving in Cleveland with my family. One of my most shitty and vivid memories was talking with my mom on the phone prior to the show, and her scolding me for “Always performing in bars, and (why not) coffee shops?” That put me in a mood for the rest of the night, but I think I managed to squeeze out some fun with Fat Girls By the Snack Table and Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth.
The next show was Tuesday the 29th w/ Trapper John and Debaser, and I remember nothing about this show, probably because I was on the verge of losing my shit at this point. Again, if you can manage to pull off this sort of thing, my hat’s off to you. The pressure of booking this many shows at once, worrying about band availability, wondering who’s possibly going to show up to this many appearances at the same venue, on top of stupid amounts of alcohol consumption, it was too much for me.
The grand fucking finale was Tuesday, December 6th with Fat Girls By the Snack Table and J Rhodes of the Ocean Ghosts doing a solo show. There was a guy filming J’s batshit solo performance for a movie he was making called “Performer,” and I believe he also got footage of me (not sure the project ever came to light). I remember having seven beers before going on, and setting up mostly while sitting on the ground with my eyes half closed. I recall Gretchen from the Fat Girls accidentally unplugging our set up twice by running on stage, so that was pretty funny. And then mercifully, it was over.
In the subsequent months I started developing major depressive symptoms, and I believe that this experience was partly the catalyst. I was also having difficulty with some classes at OSU, and at the time I tended to turn my anxieties fully inward when I was feeling helpless and overwhelmed. We were also partying pretty hard in this era, which no doubt was taking its toll. I had a history of anxiety/depression dating back to when I was very young, but the symptoms I was experiencing were new and frightening; I felt very isolated, but also felt as if I was being tormented and cornered. I wouldn’t realize until years later that these were symptoms of “Complex PTSD,” stemming from a car accident and overall childhood crumminess. I was diagnosed in 2012 after we moved to DC, and my mental shit hit the fan. I’m doing much better these days after being fortunate enough to take an amazing course on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and continuing to practice self-compassion and mindfulness.
So yeah, be careful out there, and you can reach out and talk to me if you’re ever feeling upset about stuff, I got experience.
Mary Alice: There is a lot here and I'm very happy you've gotten over this hump. Here are my thoughts in no particular order:
1. Thanks for being kind regarding my (attempted) non-attendance at a few of these. It probably reads a little weird given my current status in Electric Grandmother regardless. At the time, my role was less intensive and I was kind of still the artist's girlfriend "helping out." I wasn't particularly excited about the prospect of the residency and thought/hoped I could step back a little here, but it wasn't to be.
2. I'll also note that not only were all of these shows with bands we know and trust in our home city, but the venue was a three-to-five minute drive from our home.
3. This was a very cool read not just for the show stories themselves, but also for your vulnerability and honesty. Thank you for sharing all that. Love you.
4. Honestly, the only show I remember out of these was the Zack Starkey one because I came in the middle of Zack's performance and almost nobody was in the show room besides Zack and whomever was playing with him at the time. I asked myself at this point what it was all for and was pleasantly surprised when a few people trickled in during our set. Note: if you want me to edit this to be kinder, I can do that, but real talk: this is exactly why I remember this one!
5. Jeers to that pathetically-designed flyer. Wow. Shame on me!
We were recently watching that special on Warren Jeffs and his cult, and there was a moment where they interviewing this ex-member about her experience, she detailed how difficult it was to assimilate into society afterwards, saying she didn't get everyday references people were making, such as those in SNL sketches.
It reminded me of this moment when I was in middle school; It was during my lunch period, and everyone was watching this boy give a speech as a candidate for class Treasurer. At the closing of his speech, he said people should vote for him because "He was good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people liked him." As the kids cheered, I leaned over to my friend with genuine wide-eyed confusion and asked, "Did he just say 'goddamn it,' people like him?" My friend turned to me with a sarcastic disdain, and retorted, "Yeah, he said god-FUCKING-damn it."
October 28, 2005
w/ Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage
As previously mentioned, we made an impression on Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage the previous month at Andyman’s, and so they invited us to open for them at this Halloween shindig they were throwing. Club 202 (long gone) wasn’t our usual type of spot, it felt more like a “night club,” the kind of place you see on Knight Rider in the 80’s. Which leads me to my costume; this very Knight Rider costume picture here is something we found last minute at Target. It came with a faux leather jacket that had the words “Knight Rider” printed on it (because Michael Knight was acutely aware that he was in fact, Knight Rider), a plastic watch thing for communicating with KITT, and a wig that was WAY too small for my huge melon. We pinned the short brown wig to my long black hair, and so it looked like I had a poop mullet (photo found, see above).
We set up and waited for a crowd to arrive, and they didn’t. There was one older guy dressed in a yellow Devo hazmat suit with a classic red energy dome watching us and offering friendly heckles, his plain-clothed wife, and I think the guys in Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage were mulling around at the bar with a couple friends. I strutted proudly around the stage in my poop mullet belting out the hits to a bunch of empty tables. By about the time we were finished, people began to trickle in. We were pretty annoyed, and began to plan our escape. We told the guys in DFL that Mary Alice was sick or something, and we left to go to a friend’s party.
I think that was the last time we saw them, at least as a group, a member or two might have stopped by one of our gigs. By this time we weren’t in the habit of bailing on a show after our set, but there was nobody else we knew there, and DFL seemed like they were in their party mode. They came dressed as a barbershop quartet, and Mary Alice and I share a fond memory of watching each of them hold a shot and harmonizing a four part “Cheeeeeeerrrrrrrs” with each other. As we loaded out, we heard our song being played. We smiled and said to each other: “Daaaaaddy’s Fuzzy Luggage!”
October 11, 2005
w/ Kyle Sowash
So often I find myself not remembering details about shows until I actually sit down to write; I’m pretty sure that Kyle Sowash had an October residency (every Tuesday) at the Treehouse, and so he asked us to be on this particular date. Lo and behold, I believe this show was the precursor to the idea for EG’s November 2005 residency at the Treehouse, which was both successful and disastrous. More on that soon.
This is also one of those shows that gives me a warm feeling to think about. I always want to feel welcome with people who I want to be around (seems reasonable enough), and this was just a nice little time with some new-ish friends who had thus far made me feel welcome at this venue they both had strong ties to. When Joe was wrapping up his set, he made a point to ask if we’d brought the bubble machine with us, and of course we had. I recall emerging from the back and rocking out with a plastic guitar to the maybe 10-15 people in attendance. After the show, I had a nice conversation with Kyle and Joe near the mixing board, just the three of us, which are the kind of things I tend to remember.
That frog flyer - Mary Alice insists she made it, but I would have swore I did based on the formatting, though I acknowledge the use of frog is more akin to her tastes.
September 16, 2005
w/ Infinite Number of Sounds (“Radio Whales” album release)
For our second show with Infinite Number of Sounds, we were able to see them properly in all their glory on an elevated stage. Something I never thought before regarding the band is how I was always confident in the crowd response; I’d watch them humbly set up, and know within moments the entire crowd would be transfixed. They always knew exactly what they were doing up there, and were unwavering with what they were prepared to deliver to either an expecting or unsuspecting crowd. I’ve indicated before how much EG is indebted to the group (we basically lifted the idea of incorporating visuals from them), and they’ll always be our goddamn heroes.
Their second full length album “Radio Whales” was their magnum opus, and I’d hold it up to any release of its ilk. They had amazing videos to accompany their equally amazing songs. I don’t remember a whole lot about the show except their performance, which was magnificent. I remember seeing a couple people at the show who wore INS shirts TO the show, which I thought was boss, because they weren’t a Columbus band. I’m sure us and the Ocean Ghosts delivered our usual what-have-you, but this was definitely INS’s night. I remember seeing the flyer here (that I bugged David and Brent to dig out) hanging on a wall at the back of the club, and I was honored just to be included. I always will be.
¡Viva la INS, these are velvet boots.
September 9, 2005
w/ Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage
I remember Quinn approaching me about this show months prior, and handing me the contact info for Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage, and telling me it’d “Probably be a $500 night.” (I thought at first he meant $500 just for us, but it eventually dawned on me). Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage was a mysterious band of older guys (Thirtysomethings, they seemed old THEN, you know the rest) that played bar rock over silly lyrics. They did bring out a good amount of people who seemed to have a blast dancing to their tunes. They took to us, and invited us to do a Halloween gig they were putting together. I don’t recall the exact lyrical content of their songs, but there was one where Mary Alice decided that it sounded like they were saying the name of their band over-and-over, so we’d often sing the refrain of “Daaaaaddy’s Fuzzy Luggage!” to each other (you’ll have to use your imagination).
Like I said, they were sort of mysterious to us, and didn't seem to be a part of any particular scene. We kept in contact for a bit, but then lost touch. The last activity from their Facebook page appears to be from 2012. This photo here is one I pulled from that page for a gig they were promoting at the Treehouse in late 2006.
We went second that night, and I don’t recall anything about the opening band Nanashi, except that later on we went to a Mediterranean restaurant, and the host seemed to recognize us. “Hey, I know you guys,” he said. “We did a show together, I was in the band Nanashi. You’re ‘Grandma’s Fuzzy Luggage,’ right?"
September 3, 2005
w/ Ocean Ghosts
Fat Girls by the Snack Table
On the day of this show we were in the car listening to the radio to get updates on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and it was being made clear how devastating it all was. I quietly wondered if this show should even go on, because it almost felt like another 9/11. I had that dizzy sick feeling you get when you realize you’re witnessing a catastrophe that can’t be undone, and I kind of wasn’t in the mood to sing about Danny Tanner, important as the subject usually was.
But as these scenarios usually go, it was good to be around people and see friends that evening. It was a lineup that I think everyone was excited to see, as one friend put it to me “The Trilogy,” or “The Triangle,” something like that. I don’t remember a whole lot about the show itself, except for my briefly joining Ocean Ghosts on a song, and I can also picture Gretchen on stage smiling and saying “Go Buckeyes!,” as they had won that day (which is funny, because I remember at a later show her going on a tirade about the oft-boneheaded football fan culture that permeated the city).
By Mary Alice
The Date Auction episode of Saved By the Bell is quietly one of the best episodes they put out. I would argue it’s the single best one that doesn’t take place on location in one way or another (Mystery Weekend, which is my second favorite after the two part Christmas episode, is shot on a set, but takes place completely in a mansion instead of primarily in the school).
The fallout from the date auction, of which Jesse is NOT A FAN, has Jesse going to the dance with Screech, Slater with Kelly (because Jesse refused to bid on him), Lisa going with Brian (who we never see before or since), and Zack going with Wendy, whose body is of a size literally never seen on a high school girl at Bayside or any at other televised high school to that point in history.
Anyway, it’s a pretty messy (as you’d expect) but is honestly the most sensitive and realistic portrayal of actual TEEN PROBLEMS ever presented on Saved By the Bell. Zack is embarrassed to be going to the dance with Wendy. Jesse describes her as “not exactly [his] type” and when the whole thing blows up, Wendy identifies Zack’s disinterest as being the result of her not being “Lydia, Kelly or Elle McPherson!” Lisa changes her whole personality to appeal to Brian’s high-minded intellectualism, which makes him an odd choice for Lisa. Brian also gifts us with tearing down the fourth wall at some point and it’s magical, describing Jesse as a “pseudo-intellectual neurotic.”
Also, watching Jesse and Screech dance together is always a treat, no matter how many times I see it.
As a kid, I would often draw over/alter the pictures that I saw in the daily newspaper or weekly readers. In one instance, I drew sunglasses on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi on this poster for The Karate Kid Part II in the movie section of the paper - it pretty much looked exactly like this. My dad saw it later that day, and was fuming. "You know what this is?," he yelled. "It's called VANDALISM!"