Last night I had a dream that we were somewhere in Baltimore and I was trying to put up a sticker that looked like this on walls. I was going to put one up an outdoor restaurant in front of this group of guys, but I noticed them reading the sticker and though they may try to beat me up.
I then went to a bathroom that had an enormously long line that went relatively quick, but I eventually got to a stall where I got to put up this sticker and also pee. I went to go wash my hands, but it was a sink that was on top of someone's dinner plate. Mike Tyson was there, and he told me where the water and soap came out. He tried to implore me to not get the soap and water in the person's dinner, but I couldn't help but splash on the plate. Mike Tyson remarked, "Looks like someone's gonna have some intwisting sides," and I left the go find Mary Alice, who was annoyed because we had dinner reservations at 6.
A Christmas miracle from The Electric Grandmother!
Brand new single "Scrooged" about the 1988 holiday cinema classic starring Bill Murray. B-side is the remastered version of the EG Christmas classic "Frozen Danny," about the episode of Full
House where they get stranded in an airport on Christmas. Free download of course, we don't want your suck ass money, unless you're offering.
The album art is a combination of two AI-images, thank you to Lydia Glass for help with the combining. (This isn't an endorsement of using AI for album art, it's just a single and we were rushing so who cares. Looks pretty neat though). Mastered by the amazing TJ Lipple.
Growing up I didn't have a ton of toys because my mom thought having less stuff meant we were morally better than our next door neighbors, which why I was delighted the one Christmas my Aunt bought me a Transformer, Mirage of the Autobots. I couldn't have had it more than a week when my friend Gavin broke it in half while trying to transform it. I accused him of breaking it by being too careless with it, which he of course he denied as a future professional Tennis player (seriously, he has a Wikipedia page, I had no idea).
My dad offered that he could glue it back together, but only as one version - the transformed car, or the transformed guy. I chose the transformed guy, because I was always more into their personalities. The toy itself is I'm sure long gone, but I pulled this picture from Ebay, because the back of the legs is what I remember, but they got glued backwards I'm just now realizing after all these years. He was like President Skroob in Spaceballs after Snotty beamed him down. I had to fight for every Transformer after the fact, because my mom insisted "they broke." Thanks a lot, Mr. Tennis Ball.
Show #48: June 24, 2006
The Off-Ramp Stage (11:15 AM)
According to Wikipedia, “ComFest is a free, non-corporate, music and arts annual festival currently held each June at Goodale Park in the Victorian Village area of Columbus, Ohio,” so if you don’t know, now you know. When we first started doing shows, I never pictured Electric Grandmother as being a Comfest act; I didn’t think our brand of wackiness would fit in very well, but mostly that we used visual projection that either needed to be indoors or in darkness, and night time slots at this outdoor festival were hard to come by. But people kept encouraging me to apply, which I eventually did, figuring I’d shoot first and ask questions later. I remember rationalizing out loud one night at the Treehouse that the thoroughly wacky Gil Mantera’s Party Dream had performed at Comfest (“Yeah, but they suck!” - Quinn), and people kept encouraging me to apply, so I eventually did, figuring I’d shoot first and ask questions later.
Lo and behold, eventually came the email informing that EG had been accepted for the festival. A committee member named Mark Fisher had seen one of our shows and dug it, especially our song “Sick Little Boy in Scotland,” which is about a letter writing campaign hoax that I was unwittingly a part of in second grade. Our buddy/committee member Ryan Jones, the manager for The Lab Rats who were on the verge of exploding (and who were EG fans), put us on the cool band “Off Ramp Stage” as openers on the same day The Lab Rats would be closing (sweet hookup dude), with the idea of us being like “Saturday Morning Cartoons” for the attendees, which was pretty neat.
The preparation for the show was pretty taxing for Mary Alice, as she was trying to format the visuals for our show onto a video iPod, which we planned to run through a television that we were going to prop up on the stage. She spent an entire day doing this only to find out that the iPod jack was fucked up and wouldn’t connect properly to the TV, and I thought she was going to lose it and beat me into oblivion (remember that EG is still mostly a solo project at this point, and these are all thankless tasks). It then dawned on us that we could just use a DVD player to do the same thing, and I tried to calm her rage by noting that at least all her work had led us to a solution, but it didn’t help.
I was skeptical about anyone coming out to see us at 11:15 AM, but I guess I didn’t know Comfest too well, because people were there. I don’t recall if I was able to get a famous Comfest beer (see above cup) this early, but I think I might have. We performed with the TV, some traffic cones, our bubble machine, and rocked out in the morning heat to a smallish but solid crowd. We got good feedback, then probably had a funnel cake.
Actually, we probably went home after that, because I had signed up to volunteer later as part of a “quid pro quo” (just kidding, sort of) for performing, and would have wanted to shower and change. Mary Alice had gotten a pretty bad cold, and was content to stay at home the rest of the day to watch episodes of Lost on iTunes. I'm not sure when exactly I came back to the festival grounds, but I was certain to get my beer on before my volunteer shifts began. I also don’t entirely remember what I did as far as “volunteering” went, but I imagine I was pretty ineffective at doing it. I do recall working at the Gazebo stage in the evening trying to set up equipment and sort of stumbling around, and this lady was like “Ok Pete, you’ve had enough beer,” so I guess she was in charge? As the night fell, I lamented to this older volunteer guy that I wasn’t going to be able to see The Lab Rats at the Off-Ramp Stage, and he was like “Just go!” I explained to him that I couldn’t because I was still doing a volunteer shift. He laughed at me and said, “Man, this is Comfest. Do you think someone is back there writing down your name that you skipped out on your shift? Just go.” With that, I bolted off through the darkness in drunken glee towards the writing sea of humanity watching the band. I’d estimate there were at least 500 people spilling out of the tent, people crowd surfing, total topless chaos.
Mary Alice came to pick me up around the time they were finishing their set, and she had begun to feel much worse by then. She was in no mood for my merriment, and nearly killed me when I asked if she wanted to after-party at Andyman’s.
A few days later I got an email thanking me for my volunteering, so I guess they forgot to write my name down.
Mary Alice: I definitely had a funnel cake for breakfast that morning but it was so hot in that tent and I just remember feeling sticky and miserable the whole time.
Now I will reveal something I’ve never told another soul: my mom passed away the previous December and we inherited her fancy little laptop, which we used for shows for several years hence. I hadn’t signed out of her iTunes account and at the time the most current season of Lost was only available to purchase and as we were both still in school at the time, I didn’t have $40 to spend, so I used my mom’s still active iTunes account to buy it. I can reveal this because I would NEVER do this now (not just because our financial situation has changed but also because I’m a lot less depressed and Machiavellian than I was at the time) AND I had to miss all of the fun because I had bronchitis but I do feel that this is still one of the worst things I’ve ever done.
Finally, I hate that I come off as such a grumpy asshole in this story but cannot deny that every word is 100% true. It was—a very different time.
I still drink water from my Comfest cups every day.
Show #47: June 10, 2006
Graduation Party Show
w/ Southeast Engine
This image here is not the flyer from that show, it’s a crummy approximation that I did just now, the real one is lost in time and outer space. The original that Mary Alice did used that sepia-toned version of the Belushi poster as the background, but it was a more robust presentation. I recall it prompted someone on a message board to slyly reply, “What do you mean ‘again’?” I booked the show in advance because I thought it would be a hoot, but I had not decided on who to contact for support when I got this odd message on MySpace. This guy named Ryan wrote me something along the lines of “I see you have reserved the night of June 10th at Andyman’s for yourself. Ha ha, well played sir. But perhaps you will rue the day for this dastardly deed, etc…,” something weird like that. He was in a band called Paper Airplane, and was interested in booking the same night for himself and the band Southeast Engine, so I figured what the heck.
And yeah, this show was in honor of my receiving my undergraduate degree from Ohio State. My parents were coming into town the next day for the actual ceremony, so we figured we’d have a huge kegger the night before. “But I thought you dropped out of high school?,” I hear you yelling. It’s true, but it’s amazing what getting your GED and completing two years of community college can lead to. It’s kind of the story of my life; I take the long way in. We decorated the Treehouse in a bunch of generic Graduation Party motifs, stuff like streamers and cardboard cut-outs of mortarboards and signs that said things like “You did it!” We got a bedsheet so that we could make a toga for me to perform in, and let me just say, don’t ever try to perform in a toga. More on that soon.
Southeast Engine went up first, and I recall the singer at one point looking around the room and saying “Is this someone’s graduation party?” After Paper Airplane performed, we began to set up, and I realized I was missing an important adapter. I asked on the mic to blank stares if anyone had “An ⅛ plug to anything at all,” and then we made that painful and somewhat familiar decision to head the short distance back to our place to get what we needed. When we returned the crowd was miraculously still in the back area where the once mighty tree penetrated the roof, but we had to work quickly to keep them there. We assembled my toga, which lasted about three songs before I thought I was going to die of heat stroke. Through gasps I begged our friend Shaun to go into the back and grab my t-shirt so I could change back into it. Maybe some other people can pull that sort of thing off, but holy shit. I’m not one to normally ditch a gimmick mid-show, but it felt like my body was engulfed in flames.
As the night wore on, the somewhat unfamiliar crowd dissipated, but I remember one dude who was steadfast in enjoying the show, doubling over in laughter. It didn’t make the whole thing worthwhile, but I remember we became buds with that guy for a little while. It was actually one of those gigs that made me want to quit, which seemed to be happening more and more around this time. But I pulled myself together and graduated the next day at the Horseshoe, while guest speaker John McCain made timely jokes about students joining Facebook.
I had a dream last night that I had won a contest to be some random person who would enter a wrestling ring and be assaulted by the wrestler Earthquake with his signature finishing move, which was a splash where he jumps and sits on your chest. I was worried about taking the physical abuse, especially after I learned that he was supposed to rough me up extra in the beginning. I felt really unprepared, even though I had tried to practice ahead of time in a makeshift ring with Anthony Kiedis, Flea, and Billie Joe Armstrong. When the time came for Howard Finkel to announce my name (something weird that was supposed to highlight the apparent douchiness of my character) to enter the ring, I could not find where to go. I could somehow hear Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura sounding impatient with their announcing, like “Where is (douchey name)?!,” and eventually they had to move on to the next event, pushing mine until later.
Eventually this became a tag team match, and I became Steve Urkel. I was still worried about what I now realized would be repeated splashes to be given to me by Earthquake, and that he’d possibly be farting on me. He didn’t appear to be the cleanest person, and besides, he had already put Hulk Hogan in the hospital on the Brother Love show. I then witnessed him practicing the "fart splash” on a lady wrestler, and it appeared that they were simulating the fart sounds with one of those old fashioned fireplace blowers, which put me a little at ease.
Hulk Hogan ended up being my tag team partner in a match which no longer appeared to include Earthquake, and instead I was to really emphasize my Urkelness against some random guy. The match started and I was in the ring first, and I walked into the wrestling ropes and they snapped relatively quickly. I turned to the crowd and squealed “DID I DO THAT??” which drew laughter, but also assurances that the ring wasn’t very well put together. I then began to get pummeled by the guy I was fighting, and when I went to tag in Hogan, they stopped taping because something else went wrong.
I went someplace upstairs in the arena to get away from it all, and I was in a kitchen area. Mary Alice came up to me and told me that the Steve Urkel she knew would use his brains and not his brawn to better this awkward situation. I stood there for a brief time in the kitchen, and when I emerged I realized I had been replaced with a more athletic and handsome version of Urkel-me, and they had finished what now was a basketball game without me. I was saddened but also relieved, because I just wanted to get it all over with. Besides, Donald Trump was there, and I avoided having to interact with him as a result of missing the game. They said they were wondering where I was and were looking for me, but I didn’t think they looked too hard. We sat and watched the playback of the game, and they had cut most of the video I was in. Again, I didn’t care, I just wanted it to be done.
Generally speaking, 9th Grade was the final year where I was bullied in any significant manner, before my body and my hair both grew. I think of my experience of 5th Grade - 9th Grade as sort of the "hell years," where I wasn't able to focus on anything but survival. I went from being a great student to an anxious wreck who flunked every class, while somehow getting advanced to the following grade by the skin of my teeth. (That would end in 10th Grade where I actually did end up getting flunked before eventually dropping out, but those are different stories).
One day in a 9th Grade math class, we got an odd assignment of sorts from a teacher who was a temporary replacement for our normal teacher. After taking a one-page quiz, she asked us to "Write a message to a 3rd Grade class about the importance of math" on the flip side of the page. I later claimed to think this assignment was for a theoretical group of 3rd Graders, but I think I knew that there were real kids that were going to see it. In my full smart ass mode, I wrote two sentences to the children, the first line was something to the effect of "Haha, you suck, etc," but I was quite proud of the second sentence that I certainly remember which was "Tell your ugly friends to go lick a donkey."
Later that day, my friend Scott who at the time was sort of my rascally partner-in-crime at the time, told me that the teacher read what I wrote and was going to call my mom to tell her. In a sudden panic, I asked Scott what he wrote, assuming it would be something similar. He shrugged and said that he wrote something normal to the kids about how we use math in our daily lives. I felt so betrayed, just as I had felt overall around this period. When had it suddenly become cool to stop getting in trouble and be a lameoid thinking about your future? The other kids had successfully been able to beat the kid who used to get good grades out of me, but now they were mature enough to know that it was important? I had finally arrived for everyone, and now they were abandoning me and changing the rules.
I ended up walking back to the classroom where the teacher still was, and I played dumb and asked her if she thought what I was wrote was funny. She said she did not, and that she had
called my mom to tell her about it. I pretended to be incredulous at this, and verbally protested to no avail. I don't think I realized that my mom was actually going to come to
school because of this, but at the end of the day there she was standing in the front lobby with that familiar sickly pale and enraged look. She asked me what I thought my Church Youth Group
leader would think if she was shown what I had written about "Licking a donkey's genitals," to which I corrected her and said that I had merely written "Lick a donkey," which unbelievably seemed
to diffuse the situation some.
I don't know how else to end this except to say to all the kids out there that if you're going to talk about licking a donkey, don't mention their genitals or you'll really be in trouble.
Show #46: June 2, 2006
w/ Infinite Number of Sounds
In my mind, there was a black and white flyer for this show with the Infinite Number of Sounds “Radio Whales” logo, with the other band names typed out below, but I either made it up or it was something I threw together. Either way, I made Brent look for a non-existent flyer (sorry dude), but he did remind me of the photos that are still up on the old INS website. Above are two pics David (Dave) took, one of the exterior of the club and one of the unruly crowd. There we are on the left, telling the band they’re #1, and a few friends are also scattered about.
This is one of those shows I think I remember little about, then after some thought I find I remember quite a bit. For one, I remember seeing someone wearing an INS shirt at the show, and I thought that was so cool, seeing that the band was from out of town. That’s something that still gets me; If I see someone wearing an EG shirt at one of our gigs, I think “Tee-hee, really?! That’s so weird! Tee-hee-hee!”
INS and Ocean Ghosts were always great. During a specific point of the INS set, Dave used to do this crazed faced/intense flapping thing with his tongue, and it drove the dames wild. Mary Alice warned this girl we knew at the gig when it was about to happen, and everyone shrieked with delight. The girl shouted out to Dave between songs “I like your beard!,” to which Dave yelled back “I like yours too!,” which caused her to giggle and turn to me excitedly saying, “He said he liked my beard!”
As for the EG set, I remember screaming and shouting the words over the music, which I feel like is something I used to do to overcompensate if I was feeling insecure. There was a video on the website cringe.com of the last part of “Doogie’s My Friend” (no longer there) that I remember made our setup look so low-fi; We were trying to use a new program to show the images, and it had the buttons visible on the screen (Play, Fast Forward, etc), and there was me yelling and laughing while singing the outro. Par for the course back then. This also may have been the show where I accidentally kicked a full beer off the stage causing it to shatter on the floor. I remember going out back of the club for a cigarette and being greeted with applause, and that was certainly good enough for me.
INS stayed over at our place that night, and we were laying there quietly in bed when Dave came to our bedroom door and scared the hell out of us. We had been talking about different things to do for the EG set, and he had come to our bedroom to tell us an idea he had. Neither of us will ever forget the image of Dave mysteriously standing in the shadows like a vampire to softly tell us his thoughts, while we stared back in horror.
The story of this show continues shortly after the fact. For a short time I had a work-study position at Ohio State where I was a “Gallery Guard,” meaning that I sat outside the student art gallery to make sure no one fucked with the art (I mean, come on). I had a young guard mate there named Andrew who was a talented singer-songwriter, who we’d eventually gig with. A friend of Andrew’s had come into the gallery to talk with him, and somehow the subject of Electric Grandmother came up. “Electric Grandmother?,” the friend said, “Isn’t Electric Grandmother that one horrible act with the guy who (assorted insults describing the show that I don’t entirely remember)?” He had seen the show at High Five, and I piped up with a smile and asked what he didn’t like about it. He started explaining what he didn’t like about EG, then paused for a moment, and said “That’s you, isn’t it?” That itself was worth the price of admission, but then he went on to do what a lot of people did back then, which was basically ask me to justify my existence. “I thought you were being horrible on purpose?,” he said. “I felt like I was on this strange acid trip.” I know enough now to know those last two statements are basically compliments, but I did offer that I was not trying to be horrible on purpose.
Andrew got defensive on our behalf, telling his friend that it wasn’t cool to say those sorts of things, which was very nice of him, but it wasn’t something I hadn’t heard before. In fact, I told this story on a blog that was part of our old website, and someone who saw EG in Cleveland commented something along the lines of “I agree with that guy, what’s your problem?” I’ll say this about the concept of being “horrible on purpose”: In the recent documentary about the late great cult sensations Gil Mantera’s Party Dream, a friend of theirs who was in an early incarnation of the group offered that they set up their first show (under a different name) to entertain their friends and be “the worst band imaginable.” As GMPD grew in popularity, there were many out there who still found them objectionable, but they legitimately got better at what they did, and with this a lot of fans felt they had lost part of what they loved about the band - the charming inadequacy of it all. The problem was that they were in fact very talented, and if people fall in love with the “inadequate” version of you, they won’t allow you to get better. With that, the band eventually dissolved, because there was nowhere to go. The same thing has happened to an extent with us, with some people loving the more naive and semi-clueless version of EG, but I assure you we’ve never been “horrible on purpose,” the show was just horrible accidentally, thank you very much.
Now that EG has been long been a duo and looks/sounds much different, I usually try to leave any questions or requested justifications to Mary Alice, because I really don’t know why we do what we do, I just know we’re on an unexplainable and occasionally joyless Black Flag-esque mission to get it done, and saying that totally makes me sound like a fucking badass.
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.