June 11, 2005
CD RELEASE PARTY for Pee Sells…But Who’s Buying?
Cafe Bourbon Street
w/ Ocean Ghosts
Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth
This one feels a little hard to write, as it sort of conjures up some weird and painful feelings for me. Keep in mind this is just our 19th show, and I still felt pretty green about all of this. I really wanted things to go well for this one, and they just didn’t. It makes me wonder about bands who have quietly folded when things maybe got too difficult near the beginning. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve quit EG countless times in my mind, but it’s never lasted more than a few days. It just always felt like I was on this Black Flag-esque mission, with the intent to have a lot more fun than they did, and also being less sweaty and dirty. It’s just what I do, and since EG was officially declared a duo in 2009, what we do.
I only recently remembered that I originally wanted to have this show at Andyman’s, because I could already tell we fit in better there. However, the dates I wanted for the gig were already taken, so I decided to reach out to Cafe Bourbon Street. There’s no real reason why I shouldn’t have been able to wait, it’s just always been my way to try and map things out when it comes to EG; “The release date is for this specific time, and that’s that.” It’s helped keep the band driven, but has at times been a hindrance (more on that much later). I got some dates mixed up when emailing back and forth with the booking agent, and I guess he thought I was being overly apologetic or just annoying, because when I was asking about the date being finalized, he wrote an obnoxious reply of “YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES (+/- a couple YESES).”
I had been in contact with someone who worked at the Alive magazine about reviewing our new album for this show. I was working part time at a campus bookstore on the day the new edition came out, and I went and grabbed a copy on my lunch break. I did that thing where you don’t really read from the top, and you just sort of scan for keywords at first. Eventually I processed all of it, and then came the weight of sadness. I knew we were doing something weird that maybe not everyone was into, but this write-up was scornful and accusatory, asking how we had the nerve to even exist in this person’s world. I went and got a slice of pizza, sat for a while and just thought about things. I will say that eventually I started chuckling about it, and decided the thing to do would be to own it. After all, to have such harsh and seemingly personal things said about you in a city-wide paper was kind of funny. From then on, I made a point to tell anyone who would listen. Oh yeah, for those in the know, the author of this review is perhaps a bit of an elephant in the room. I’ll just say this about that: At least there’s never been an article written about me in the New York Times meticulously detailing how I’m a complete asshole.
Show night: I had no idea this would be the last time we’d do a show with The Squares. There are bands who have done shows with us in the past who have used us as stepping stones early on in their beginnings, I sort of hear it as their inner (or maybe even an outer) publicist telling them “Electric Grandmother is fine to gig with at the start, but if you really want to get somewhere with your band, you have to move on.” I’m here to tell you that The Squares weren’t like that. They made a point to say “People have seen us a lot recently, we’ll go on first.” They played a great set as always, and even did an amazing cover of our song “Tom’s Girl.” Johnny La Rock and Mush Mouth were our buddies and were always great, but considering how relatively new we were, it’d have probably helped to have another local on. The problem was that I think we only knew so many local bands in those days. Really greenish. The Ocean Ghosts went on third and completely killed. They briefly had a 3rd member named Leroy at the time, the same guy who handed me the money and said “I don’t think it’s gonna happen” at the last show we had at Bourbon Street. The thing is, it was happening to an extent that night. A decent crowd, and I think we sold around a dozen CDs before we went on. Mary Alice had made a great presentation with the show poster and some pee-colored accoutrement. Then we went on.
Same old shit with that goddamn CD player. I was all ready to rock, emerged on the stage from out the bathroom, and the fucking thing started skipping, or getting “shocked,” which I guess is worse, because it caused a greater delay. We were about 10 seconds into “Here Comes the Urkel” when it first happened, and the crowd let out a genuinely disappointed moan of “AWWWWWW.” The set stunk, though I think we managed to get through all or most of it.
That night, I had a nightmare about a bloody leopard rolling down a mountain into a pile of haunted tarot cards. I officially declared the era of that tabletop CD player over, and decided that we’d move forward with a laptop computer. Later on I saw a picture from that night of myself smiling while watching the Ocean Ghosts perform. I remember thinking that I looked very small and lonely, and that I didn’t quite belong there.
Mary Alice: This was such an interesting read because I had no idea you'd maintained these feelings about that show in particular. I guess the bad feelings of the show in retrospect were kind of muted by the colossal weirdness of the review and the eventual, unwilling, close association we would eventually have with its author.
I've told you but I don't think I've mentioned on these posts that the majority of our early Bourbon Street shows merged into this one in that I remember a lot from this show and associated memories with one or another of our other early Bourbon Street Shows.
I remember clear as day that we had dinner out at Aladdin's that night and it gave me horrible gas. There's no reason I should have been gassy after eating at Aladdin's but I guess if you remember it as being a crappy show, the shoe fits. I also think after dinner I dropped you at Bourbon Street and went home to get the ancillaries (the poster, pictured, and a small woven basket I want to say I found at a thrift store and filled with yellow paper Easter grass to display the Pee CD in among probably other things).
Looking at the date, it occurs to me that this is the first show we played after moving into that apartment in Grandview, which is probably why I made the second trip home to get balloons and what-not. The summer of 2005 was a fucking weird and unpleasant time for me personally. To be blunt, my mom was dying and I was experiencing some weird health problems as well. I was gaining a lot of weight and not sure what to do with myself career-wise, two years after getting my master's degree and wrapping up coursework in the PhD program, totally aimlessly. God, what a weird time.
Unlike you, aside from the disaster that was our set, I had a pretty good time at the show. The covers by our friend-bands made me feel so--good. I remember both performances like they were yesterday. I'm also 90% sure it was at this show where one of my students came and he'd used Photoshop and a screen print kit to create a homemade EG poster, which also made me feel very warm and happy. I had the feeling that your music actually touched people and think I may have wondered whether we could actually *be* someone if we could just get past this stupid issue with the CD player.
And finally, the poster I made with foam-core and Crayola poster paints kicked around that apartment in Grandview until we moved to DC. I think those stains on it you can see in the pic is actual pee, from when our cat Milo was sick and dying and peeing on everything. Also the SC TV/sitcom core tele vision logo was my play on the HC SE/hardcore straight edge logos which were popularish among kiddie punk scenes in the 90s. I thought it was hilarious but was probably literally the only one.
So we’re watching A Christmas Story, and I’ve always told Mary Alice that when Ralphie is using the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring in excited secrecy, it reminded me of this GI Joe contest I did as a kid. I took the time just now to try and research what exactly that was, and I figured out it was this fold out packet that came with the toys in the late 80’s. “Invade Cobra Island,” and the objective was to intercept the Cobra transmission and determine which of these locations where the something-or-other is hidden.
I found it so exciting, I even set our kitchen timer and hid in my bedroom closet before studying the map, to simulate this stealthy and covert operation. Without much evidence, I guessed the location to be #4, The Cave. When presenting this guess to my friends, they informed me that the general consensus in the community that the location was #6, The Power Station. It was an icy cold shower on my fun. I never entered the contest.
Show #18: May 6, 2005
w/ Zachery Allan Starkey
Fat Girls by the Snack Table
The first time I saw the name “Fat Girls by the Snack Table” in print was on a marquee at Larry’s, a legendary but now long-shuttered High Street bar. I pictured a bunch of smarmy guys in a shitty cover band, and I thought to myself “What a bunch of douchebags.” It was only once this show was booked that I found out the band was in fact all girls, and quite saucy to boot. I found their website which featured exactly one song called “Nothing Makes a Man Change,” which had a chorus that ordered the listener to “Fuck me real slow.” Their sound was a bit more sophisticated than ours was at the time, but it was in the same poppy/electronic vein. I knew we’d end up being good pals.
Even if you didn’t know Zachery Allan Starkey personally, you knew Zachery Allan Starkey from seeing him walk around the city with his eye-catching new wave hair. I had introduced myself to him already on the OSU campus where we were both undergraduate students, and we had friends in common. He had initially tried to get us on a previous show at Skully’s, another High Street venue, but that one fell through, so this show at the High Five was a generous IOU. Zack was a polarizing figure in Columbus (now seems better received overall in NYC) who inexplicably drew people’s ire, so I was excited to be a part of this whole wacky thing.
This was our first show at the High Five (the second iteration of the club), and I found it to be very polished-looking. I saw Zack arrive at the venue, and I approached him to say hello, but then noticed he was screaming at someone furiously on the phone, so I put that off for a moment. I then met Gretchen Tepper from the Fat Girls, but I don’t recall what we talked about. What I do recall is a bit later Zack asking me if I’d met Gretchen while she was standing next to him, and I had to pause to think if I had. “YES!” she shouted at me, with a half-laughing snort. (I wouldn’t go as far to say that I have a “facial blindness” condition, but I do have a tendency to sometimes need a moment to remember people who are relatively new to me, or people who I don’t see as often - I think it’s more of an anxiety condition. If I’ve done that to any of you, and I know I have, I’m really sorry).
We were on first, and I remember having a few before we went on to loosen up. I was beginning to realize by then that having a bit before a performance made me a bit more animated on stage. I mostly recall doing our cover of “Milkshake” by Kelis, and facing the crowd in a tornado drill-manner with my butt in the air (covered for this one, but that would eventually descend into underwear, and then bare ass).
The Fat Girls went on next; They had been advertised online as a three-piece, but by this time they were a duo. Gretchen and Sara Cole rocked that joint, and held the crowd in the palms of their hands. At one point between songs, Gretchen asked the crowd, “Does anyone want to lick the sweat off of my tits?” Like I said, I knew we’d end up being good pals.
Zack Starkey closed the night, joined on stage by Marvin the Robot, aka Miles Curtiss. This was our first introduction to Miles, who is someone you don’t easily forget. At one point during the set, Miles abandoned his synthesizer duties to run around the venue and rub the heads of people who were quietly minding their business at the bar. It was outstanding.
It is simply unbelievable to me now as I write this that it was a mere 11 months later we were organizing a farewell show for the Fat Girls. We had already grown so close by then. I threw a minor tantrum over the phone to Gretchen when I heard the news they were breaking up. I couldn’t help it, performing with them made me feel safe and powerful. They were so great and so magnetic, and they could get a bigger crowd than we did just by falling out of bed in the morning. This picture is from an after party at our place following their last show (aside from a handful of reunion gigs) on April 15, 2006. What’s also unbelievable to me is that the show ended at 2:30 AM, so who knows what the fuck time this is taking place. We were damn party machines back then. It was a special time and place.
Show #17: April 9, 2005
w/ November Loop
In the same rude way we left early the first time we performed at Supraphonic Studios, this time we rudely arrived late. I remember we arrived just as The Bedspins were finishing, and the singer guy was like “Thanks to The Electric Grandmother,” and I was like “Sure, no sweat.” I’m not entirely certain how long Supraphonic would remain open after this, but it wasn’t around long. For reasons I can’t remember, we weren’t able to master the upcoming “Pee Sells” album in the studio, the album was mastered at our friend (same engineer we’d used prior) Jason's house by dumping the tracks on his home computer.
Our friend Colin set up the show, and he remarked to us when we arrived that he had been nervous because until then “His headliner hadn’t shown up,” and I was like, “Wow, we’re his headliner.” As with many of our shows, we really didn’t match with the rest of the bands, but ya know, sometimes those types end up being our most ardent supporters. This is a solid segue to the next band that was up, the Heartbreak Orchestra (pictured). Described via their website as a “primarily acoustic folk/Americana/country band,” you think we’d go together like oil and Fruit Roll-Ups. But we ended up being good pals with John and Jill Garratt (née Wooten), and they’ve been great supporters of ours over the years. Some might even say that John has written about “Pop” that “Matters” when it comes to EG, but you didn’t hear that from me.
One moment that I specifically recall from the show was taking exception to being called a “short guy” the prior week on the Done Waiting message board, and I made a point to tell the crowd that evening that I was better classified as “medium-short.” I also remember that we performed on the opposite end of the space this time. This would certainly be our last show at the studio, and likely the last time we ever set foot inside. Kind of marked the end of a specific era for us. Kudos, Supraphonic.
Addendum: There's some debate between Mary Alice and I about when this happened, but it's possible it might have been this show where after the set we witnessed this kind of norm-looking college guy on his cell phone frantically talking to his friend, saying something like "You gotta see this man, they covered everything, we're talkin' Urkel, we're talkin' (other sitcom characters referenced in our set)..." To this day, we say "We're talkin' Urkel" to each other when the situation calls for it.
Show #16: April 1, 2005
w/ Infinite Number of Sounds
This is the show that changed everything. I know that sounds overly dramatic and self-important, but ya know, fuck you. I feel like with this show, EG kinda announced its arrival.
J Rhodes had suggested to me that we set up this show, which I then did. It was our first gig with Infinite Number of Sounds, the Cleveland experimental music powerhouse that featured my friend Matt Mansbach, who I knew from my Dunkin’ Donuts days, as well as his brother Dave, Brent Gummow (who also ran the ExBe board), and Ron Tucker. Joining us on the bill were the Ocean Ghosts, the new band from J Rhodes and Scotty Boombox, and Scotty was slated to do a solo set as well.
This show was just a week after the crummy disaster of a gig at Cafe Bourbon Street. That was one advantage to planning so many gigs close together, is that we didn’t allow ourselves the option to quit what we were doing. I don’t remember if I told Mary Alice that I wanted to quit after that last gig, but I probably did. If you’ve ever been in a band, you know about making false promises to quit. I’ve even talked to people who, like me, have falsely promised themselves it would be their last show during the middle of a set. But you just go on, without even knowing what’s still driving you to do it.
But back to the lecture at hand - the show on April 1, 2005, which was 10 years to the day after my near-fatal car accident. I thought it was really cool that I was playing this real boss show with my friends a decade later, like if I could go back and tell myself this would be happening, I could bring myself some comfort. That is kind of how trauma works, come to think of it - it’s a good practice to talk to your old self, and to offer them reassurance. It’s how you begin to heal.
But back to the lecture at hand - EG was on first, and I noticed something strange happening in the venue: People were there. Now, INS had developed a decent following in Columbus, Scotty and J did well locally, but that didn’t account for the density of the crowd. I had done good promotion for the show, but I think it was just one of those nights where things just somehow came together. I think all in all there were a little over 90 people who paid to get in, but at the time I probably thought it was more like 190. There was a sizeable crowd by the time we started - I remember opening with “Hangin’ Out With Mr. Cooper Sucks,” and walking over to turn up the monitor shortly after the beginning of the song. Just one of those things I remember.
This photo sure is special - Josie, myself, and Matt. Looking back, it’s touching to me how faithful Josie was in coming to our shows whenever she could. It’s not the type of thing you really focus on when in the moment. Matt and I are holding pom-poms that we brought, which likely were accompanied by a football, basketball, and whatever else we could buy at Target to throw at the audience.
In the days following the show, someone alerted me to post on a local music message board called Done Waiting, which I had never heard of before then. It was a post titled “ELECTRIC F-ING GRANDMOTHER." Many replies followed, and I joined the board so I could say thank you and hello. It was extremely flattering, and still one of my favorite memories, much like the show itself.
Show #15: March 25, 2005
Cafe Bourbon Street
w/ Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth
This show was a bad idea, and it was pretty much all my fault. I booked it when we already had a solid gig scheduled for the next weekend, and I asked two out of town bands to open. I remember not having much time or energy to promote, I think I put up one flyer on a bulletin board on the OSU campus, as if that would make a difference. I think I even knew at the time I had blown it with this one.
The gig was a desolate affair. I don’t know who all paid a cover to get in, but maybe 3 or 4 people did. We met Leroy that night who was briefly part of the Ocean Ghosts, the new band who were to play with next week at the Treehouse. He was doing door at the venue, which was the easiest job in the universe that evening. At one point before we went on he told us he was going to take off, which was totally understandable. He gave us the little bit that was collected, smiled at me and said “I don’t think it’s happening tonight, man.”
One thing I learned that night is that depending on the bar, the person collecting cover is the gatekeeper and acts as your shield from nefarious types who wish to do you harm. There existed an enormous college campus nearby, and lifting the cover was like lifting the floodgates. By the time we went on, there were a handful of young men in the bar who were not interested in receiving art from us. I think for a number of people, when they think of EG getting heckled they think of the Deadboy & the Elephantmen show at Little Brother’s (more on that later), but this is the one I think of first. I don’t remember all that was hurled at the stage, but I specifically remember “You suck!” and “Shut the fuck up!” It also didn't help to not have any local coalition in attendance to defend us, being relatively new as we were, on this odd night I deemed it wise to have two Cleveland bands open for us in Columbus. I know that for a group like us you might think we’d expect this sort of thing, but I honestly didn’t, and my feelings were hurt. At the end of our shortened set I flipped the guys off, who thankfully just grinned back at me, and we got the heck out of there.
Our out of town buddies were at least good company. We stayed up all night at our place chatting and having drinks, and in the morning we went to McDonald’s and got McGriddles. I then went to sleep for three hours and then woke up so I could spend the day with my dad who had come into town for the day. This thankfully would be the last time I would drink Smirnoffs all night and then follow it with fast food and three hours of sleep.
Mary Alice: One thing I remember about this show is that the hecklers were also yelling out the names of TV shows, like they were requesting we play songs about them? As if it were all kind of off the cuff? I should mention for folks who weren’t around back then that at the time, 90% of the songs we performed live were about TV shows (where now it’s closer to maybe 30-40%). I don’t remember the others but will never forget one of their “requests” was for NBC Nightly News. As flustered as I was, even at the time I thought that was a borderline clever roast. I also remember clear as day wrapping up “Blow Show” and at the end one of them said “OK *that* was pretty cool.”
At minimum we all learned valuable lessons that night.
Show #14: March 10, 2005
w/ The Squares
I was today years old when I found out that “Supermercado” is Spanish for “Supermarket.” That’s kind of how I am, I often don’t notice things that are right in front of my face. But that was the name of the acoustic duo fronted by Lee Keeler, who I knew from my Upchuck Berry days.
Who is this “Upchuck Berry,” you ask? Well, that’s the punk rock band I fronted from Autumn 2001 - July 8, 2002. In fact, it was right about 20 years ago when the band formed. Myself, and my friends Eric, Brandt, and Jeff - Happy Anniversary, boys! We played two shows and released one CD-R album. The first show was a house show, and the second show was July 8, 2002, on a Monday night at the now long gone Little Brother’s club. We were joined by a band called Shiv and an act called Son of Sound, which was Lee singing and playing guitar solo.
We opened the night, and I think it was a particularly wild and energetic show, because when I got off stage Lee said to me “Great, now people get to see a boring acoustic act,” to which I replied reassuringly, “It’s a different dynamic,” which Lee scoffed at. Who could blame him, EG must have murdered that joint. I do recall Supermercado doing a sweet cover of “Alex Chilton,” one of the best Replacements songs. Lee, I wasn’t bored. The Squares did what they did so well, you already know that story.
Show #13: February 17, 2005
Pat’s in the Flats
w/ The Squares
Helen Terrace Crew
Back before EG was a duo, we were a single. It’s kind of weird to think about now, but up until 2009 Mary Alice was a “live member,” and I personally was “The Electric Grandmother.” We always were essentially a duo, but we sort of didn’t know how to describe it when I handled the entirety of the songwriting/music, while she was tasked with creating the visuals solely for the live shows and would project from off-stage. As you know us in the present day, she’s a full-fledged band member who is greatly involved in the creative process, sings on stage, and generally handles the art direction for the group. As I always say, without her watching EG would look like a stripped-down and drunk Fugazi performance. Or maybe more accurately like watching David Essex singing “Rock On” (see photo).
The reason I bring this all up is because this was one of a handful of EG shows where someone stood in for Mary Alice running the projector, as we had tentatively thought this would be the case for out of town gigs. In this case it was Jeremy from the Squares who was tasked with freestyling the (until we got an LCD projector) manageable slideshow, which featured 3-4 images per song. It was the first indoor Pat’s show for EG, and it was booked by that Cleve guy who booked the Rockwood show. Me and Jeremy were up first, and I started the gig off by saying these were songs about “Life, love, and John Stamos,” and I heard this girl murmur “What..?” before I launched into the first song. I remember having a good amount of fun. The Squares were great as always, Your Friend was a riot-grrrl-esque band from Akron who I also enjoyed. I got pretty buzzed off of two vodka-7's, which made at Pat's was sufficient for the whole evening.
Jeremy and I headed back to Columbus before seeing the Helen Terrace Crew, who Cleve informed me had 8 lead singers as we were getting ready to leave. I asked Jeremy where the other guys in the band were, and he surmised that the gals in Your Friend were trying to coax them to “hang out.” On the ride home, I remember Jeremy and I having a nice talk about life, love, and John Stamos. He made a remark about how I had a great stage presence and how the people watching are often "Confused at first, but by the end you have them eating out of your hand." And of course that stands out - I can't imagine hearing a compliment greater than "Confused at first."
Show #12: February 11, 2005
Cafe Bourbon Street
w/ November Loop
This is one of those shows where I know there’s photos. I can remember at least one shot of me on stage, but it’s lost somewhere in time and outer space. This drawing is an artist’s rendering of how I remember that photo looking.
Another gig with our pals in November Loop, I believe there was originally a 3rd band who had to cancel. I feel like the first five times EG played Cafe Bourbon Street something went wrong, but this show was by far the best. We played first to an enthusiastic crowd, one of those shows where there’s great energy and you feel like people are swinging from the rafters. It felt really good. After our set we went outside, and this girl came up to me and said “My life changed tonight after seeing you. I’ll never be the same.” (Sure, she might have had a few, but let’s just go with it).
On the flipside of this deranged praise was a guy who said to me, “I was in there trying to read, and I couldn’t because of your set. I wanted to punch you in the face.” (Which I suppose counts as the thing that “went wrong,” but in retrospect isn’t terrible. Also, we should have been more considerate to a guy who came to a rock show in a bar to quietly read). The upshot was that when he said this to me, I was talking to the fun-lovable yet sizable drummer from November Loop. He said to the guy with a grin, “Ok, but just so you know you’ll have to go through me first.” That’s one thing to remember about EG: Drummers really love us, and they’re a crazy lot. So if you come at us, there’s probably a drummer waiting in the wings ready to beat your ass.
Show #11: January 18, 2005
w/ Kill Crush Destroy
(Others – ?????)
This show marked the beginning of the end for the tabletop CD player. I wasn’t sure if I still had it, but here it is, complete with the first EG sticker there on the front featuring one Mr. Steven Q. Urkel. We had originally thought that the PA at Cafe Bourbon Street had caused our severe audio issues at show #3, but this show proved otherwise. I had mentioned that this player had been subject to skipping/getting “shocked” by signals from the PA, but I’m wondering now if those may have just been audio issues in general, because I feel like this might have been the first incident where the music would stop and start playing? The answer, my friend, was blowing on the stage that night.
The girl who booked at Bernie’s during this time dug what we did at the last show, and invited us to be on this gig with a New Jersey hardcore band called Kill Crush Destroy. A Google search indicates that this show was on a Tuesday night, which explains why Mary Alice had asked if we could leave early. We hatched an idiotic plan to ask whoever was running the door if we could have our cut of the money before the end of the show, and I can’t remember what he said, but I remember him seeming nonplussed.
We went on first, and the player began fucking up right away. I remember getting frustrated, and at one point pantomimed shoving the microphone stand up my ass. I think we did about 5 songs and then gave up. Our lone friend who witnessed the performance remarked “That was cool, kind of a GG Allin show.” While we were getting off the stage, we met the guys in the next band Vaudeville, who we got to know and played with in the future. That was all we accomplished that night, because we fled the scene in embarrassment. We didn’t ask for any money.
Mary Alice: Oh my I have zero memory of this show! Except that I vaguely remember being super pissed that the show conflicting with something I wanted to watch on TV, which sounds really really dumb except when you consider that we didn’t have DVR at the time. Taking that into account, it’s just really dumb. In fairness to me, I think I was concerned that we were playing two shows at Bernie’s back to back and nobody would come see us and I was right about that.
All that said, reading this was appalling.
Show #10: December 20, 2004
w/ The Squares
So about my friend from French class that I mentioned in the last story, Jeremy Pifer? We had been talking about our bands to each other for some time and were scheming about doing a show together. One day he handed me this very CD-R pictured here that I saved for all these years. Prior to listening, I was already planning no matter what to give friendly feedback to this young fella about his demo (I was a few years older than most of the students at OSU), but instead I was greeted by an amazing garage rock assault to the senses. I could not believe how good these guys were, I was flabbergasted. The next time I saw Jeremy, I pulled one of those “I didn’t like it...I loved it!” on him, and he totally went for it, haha, youth.
The Squares invited us to play a show they set up at Bernie’s, the (now defunct and developed over) notoriously filthy punk rock club of Columbus. You don’t necessarily think of punk rock, at least in the traditional sense, when you think of Columbus. But I’d go to battle with Bernie’s against any hole you think you know of. There’s a famous story of a member of the Aussie-punk rock greats The Saints walking into Bernie’s prior to performing, looking around the room and saying “I don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve this.”
On the night of the show, wouldn’t you know it, our projector from Georgia State University gave out. I called Jeremy and asked if he wanted to try and find another band, or if he’d be interested in doing interpretive dance behind us in lieu of our projection. Both ideas were resoundingly rejected, so we thought the hell with it; I'd just go up there and dance around without Mary Alice’s visual aids.
So that’s exactly what I did, to a bit of a shortened set. I remember it being really strange and fun, and I specifically recall this gutter punk looking guy falling off of a stool laughing during the song “Doogie’s My Friend,” which made the whole thing worthwhile. Local punk band Blatant Finger followed our set, and they played for way too long. They had a bunch of bullshit, prepared-in-advance crowd-baiting ideas for between songs, specifically making fun of Andyman’s generous size (shitty and totally out of nowhere) and the very recent shooting death of Dimebag Darrell at a nearby venue (pretty weak). After what seemed like an eternity, those assholes got off stage and The Squares rocked that motherfucker with the limited time they had.
We played with The Squares a few more times after that, and they broke up after a few years, but anyone who was there for their short time knew how great they were. They got signed to a popular local label and were named a Columbus Alive “Band to Watch,” even getting the cover of the dang magazine. They were it, and good-looking to boot. Kudos to you, The Squares. Long may your legend hover around the 614.
Last night I had a dream that I pooped my pants at work, so I went directly to the dry cleaners while still wearing my soiled pants and underwear. I took them both off at the help counter, and so I was standing there bare-assed in front of everyone, obviously upset over what happened.
They had a service to help comfort people in these situations. First, they gave me a generic looking pair of underwear to put on so I didn’t have to be naked. Then, they handed me a phone and said, “Why, it’s Ian MacKaye, and he wants to say hello!,” à la the episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets a call from Magic Johnson. I told Ian that I was a big fan, and he told me a member of Fugazi had pneumonia. The entire service cost $972.
Show #9: December 4, 2004
w/ Big Ass Yard Sale
The first time I called Andyman’s Treehouse to book a show was on a Saturday night shortly before Midnight. People had been suggesting that EG should try to perform there for some time, and the website suggested Saturday as a good time to call. A harried-sounding Quinn Fallon answered the phone, and I asked about getting a date at the venue. He responded in disbelief, “You’re calling about a show at midnight on a Saturday, are you fucking serious?,” and hung up on me.
I gave it a little time and made a point to try again during a weeknight. I was studying with some classmates from my French class from Ohio State at someone’s house (don’t recall who), and I got up from my chair for my second attempt. This time a far more welcoming Quinn Fallon answered the phone and listened to my pitch. He chuckled a bit and said “Sounds interesting!” when I described to him what we were all about, and graciously offered us a slot in what Google tells me was a Saturday night.
Here’s the thing about Andyman’s Treehouse - there was a tree growing in the middle of the showroom that went through a hole in the roof. That’s right, it was a real treehouse. Quinn was the co-owner along with the late great John Andrew “Andyman’ Davis, who was a beloved and popular DJ at the Columbus alternative rock station CD101, who tragically passed away in the summer of 2010. (The tree itself was eventually removed as I believe it became more of a liability for the roof)
Joining us on the bill was singer/songwriter Bob Sauls, who went first, and Big Ass Yard Sale who closed the night. Bob Sauls had an accompanying drummer in a sort of White Stripes/Black Keys et al. set up, I remember digging what they did. I remember the frontman of Big Ass Yard Sale saying to me “We don’t care as long as we can pay our tab at the end of the night!,” and basically rockin’ out until the bar closed. We made a good first impression with our set, my friend from French class with his own band (more on them next time) brought his bandmate to see us, and I think a few other regulars might have been there.
This was the beginning of a long relationship and friendship with the bar. Quinn told us we could play there any time, which we did a total of 44 more times until we moved in 2011 (plus two more times on returning visits). Amidst all the stress and ups and downs of being in a band, it’s one of those things I wish I could go back and grip hard and appreciate every moment of. We were so lucky to have the Treehouse. When we moved to DC, then booking agent and friend Kyle Sowash said it was like “The Tree had lost one of its branches.” As much as we appreciated them, I also didn’t realize that we were appreciated. I guess I often assume the worst, that myself and the band are merely tolerated (and maybe that was true with some, haha). At our last show before we moved, bar employee/open-mic host Joe Peppercorn who was an early friend and ardent supporter made a point to come give us a goodbye hug even though he was busy that evening, and I remember Quinn smiling at me and simply saying “I’m a fan.” I was so laser-focused on what was next for us that I didn’t fully take it in at the time. Well, I’m taking it in now, and I’m getting a little emotional. Thanks for everything, dudes.
Show #8: November 21, 2004
Johnny La Rock’s Experimental Music Night
w/ Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth
Dead House Club
Zone Music Inc.
Eddie Fleisher aka Johnny La Rock is one of the better friends I made from the aforementioned Cleveland/ExBe scene. I believe we just got to know each other by chatting on the Experimental Behavior message board, and he invited us up to Cleveland to perform at an “experimental music night'' he was curating. Him and his friend Aaron aka Mush Mouth were an old-school hip-hop duo appropriately called Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth, who I believed headlined that evening. I was excited to meet them, but equally nervous to cross paths with Zone Music Inc.
The lone person behind Zone Music Inc. was a notorious ExBe message board ruffian who went by the handle of “H*machine.” (One letter is censored with an asterisk because he’s still active, acts exactly the same, and uses that name as his current act) I joined the message board around the same time that he did, but unlike me he posted with arrogance and bravado. He often bragged about being “The only famous person” on the message board, and oft-repeated what essentially became his catch-phrase, “I am the highest technology.” When we arrived at the venue, Eddie greeted us outside and filled us in on the night’s proceedings. Apparently he was not as familiar with the antics of H*machine, as one of the first things he mentioned to us was how difficult the first act Zone Music Inc. was currently being. He was already setting up, and was being very specific about his needs, telling Eddie that “He was the highest technology.” Eddie said he thought he was joking at first, but soon found out he was being 100% serious. I took a deep breath and entered the venue, prepared to meet this macho, handsome, dick-swinging force that was H*machine.
Instead, I met Joey (not his real name), a timid-looking fella who did not at all look like Val Kilmer in Top Gun. He had a TON of shit on stage, including a TV with a looping video of him dancing around CD-R's that were dangling by pieces of string from a basement ceiling. His set consisted of him sitting and playing techno surrounded by mountains of equipment, and he had a headset mic where he would periodically yell things during the songs like “I’m the best, nobody can mess with me.” It wasn’t terrible, and it wasn’t great, it was just what it was. I learned a valuable lesson that day. People who act tough online are mostly full of it and/or crazy.
I remember when we were hauling our stuff on stage, newly met ExBe member Lisa Miralia said “Hey, it’s the Electric Grandmother,” which is just one of those small things you remember. We played our set which went well, then were followed by the delightful chiptunes of Subroc and the dope styling of Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth. I don’t recall anything about Dead House Club, sorry if you were in that band and you took the time to read this. We were able to stay for all of this one, and hung out with Eddie and Aaron in the venue parking lot for a little while before we went home. Another one of those small things you remember was Eddie joking that the after-party for this gig was “Him playing keyboard in the parking lot,” which immediately endeared us to him. We’re still good buddies with him, and we try to gig together whenever we’re in town.
The epilogue to this story - “H*machine” ended up getting permanently banned from ExBe for abusive behavior. (Side note, the reason he considered himself “famous'' is because he did the music for this guy who had a public access show with a cult following in California). Later, he threatened some ExBe friends over his being banned by messaging them on MySpace something like “The knife will cut deeper,” or some other nonsensical cryptic shit. I believe I saw him one other time at a later show we did at Pat’s. Ironically, I found him to be generally pleasant in person. Joey, if you someday find this write-up, please don’t cut me, everything I said here is true. I hope that you’ve chilled out since. Long live the highest technology.
Show #7: October 29, 2004
ExBe Showcase II
w/ Scotty Boombox
New Planet Trampoline
Once upon a time there was a delightful message board called “Experimental Behavior.” It was started by Infinite Number of Sounds member Brent Gummow for experimental musicians in the Cleveland area and beyond to discuss, network, and promote their work. The website is now long gone, but for a handful of years it was a great resource and a fine place to visit. I became enough of a regular and friend of the message board that EG received the honor of being invited to perform at the second “ExBe Showcase” at a club in Cleveland called The Winchester.
This particular club, The Winchester, was not usually in the business of hosting “different” types of acts or even pop/rock bands. For the show listing on their website, they made a point to say “The bands have promised to behave in a respectful manner,” which I knew instantly we had to do something about. In addition to a planned release of balloons, I bought a football and a basketball to throw into the crowd during the set, and we were certainly going to use the hell out of our bubble machine. When we arrived at the venue, images of the bands were being projected onto a large screen, and Brent had created a .gif with a makeshift logo of our name and the words “Sitcom-Core,” with sitcom images flashing underneath. I wasn’t sure exactly how .gifs worked in those days, so I thought it was the wildest, most technologically advanced thing I had ever seen, and I was flattered at the amount of work dedicated to this logo for our band that magically changed every couple seconds.
The set up was a bit unusual in that Mary Alice projected onto that same screen which was off to the side of the performance area, while I positioned myself to sing on the stage. Before the set started, Eric Alleman introduced me to the crowd. He said something along the lines of “He’s a good-looking guy, nice long black hair,” and then poked fun at himself for not having hair. I remember the sound was booming, I could feel it on the stage beneath my feet. As promised, I went back for a pass during one of the songs and launched the football into the crowd. Later I took the basketball and began to dribble, yelling “Post up! Post up!,” before I sent the ball crashing into a bunch of tables and chairs. It was a good time.
After we performed, Cleveland locals the Colorforms played some dreamy-ambient music (and they may have had an accompanying light show?) Following them was Scotty Boombox (Scott H Shelton) from Columbus, who I had never met but had seen play with Infinite Number of Sounds. He played a cool trip-hop set while seated at a turntable, and at one point between songs said “This one’s for EG,” which Mary Alice and I thought was the coolest thing ever. After Scotty’s set, Mary Alice suggested that we head back to Columbus. “No,” I said, “We gotta stay and see J. Rhodes.” I didn’t know this person, but from their comments on the ExBe message board, he seemed totally nuts, and I wanted to see what he was planning to do. As it turns out he wasn’t nuts, but completely crazy. Scotty was his friend and they had come from Columbus together, so he supplied the music for the set. He wore this insane looking clear plastic facemask behind his turntable, while J. Rhodes wore a skeleton mask and a rainbow clown wig. I recall them having a smoke machine, and at the beginning of the set J. Rhodes slowly rose from a monitor he was hiding behind, and it was the scariest and awesomest thing we’d ever seen. The set was insane (he even “fucked” one of our balloons), and was an early version of what would become the Ocean Ghosts, a group Scotty and J did together for several years after.
Later Scotty would tell me, “As soon as I saw you throw that football, I knew we were going to be friends.” I talked to J. Rhodes before and after his set, and I found him to be eccentric but kind. (We all ended up spending a good amount of time together in Columbus afterwards). We did leave before New Planet Trampoline played, as was our habit of doing for a while at Cleveland shows. Sorry dudes. On our way home, we stopped at a gas station to pee, and this guy angrily told us they had no bathroom. As we turned to walk out, he yelled towards us “Do you have to go to the bathroom?!” We were timidly like, “...yes…?” And he snapped back, “Sorry, don’t got a bathroom.”
This picture here was taken at the show by Eric Alleman (I think?), which Mary Alice blew up and framed, then gave to me as a gift. You can see the bubbles there in all their glory. It hung in the living room of our Grandview apartment until we left for DC. I always wondered if people thought it was weird that there was a framed picture of me out in the open, and I remember saying to someone once that “It may seem weird, but it was a gift from Mary Alice,” and I recall them saying something along the lines of, “Oh, ok. I was gonna say, that‘s kind of weird.”
Late Spring, 1994
"Late Spring" is my best estimate, as I don't believe Summer vacation had started yet, but it was definitely a balmy night. My friend Brandon had dropped by to see me at home, where I was alone for the evening. We were both 16 years old, but unlike me, he was allowed to get his driver's license and his own used car shortly after his birthday, which was only 12 days before mine. It was a red car, and that's all I have to go on, because I don't remember/know shit about cars. As he was about to leave for the night, I piped up "Hey, I got my learner's permit, let me drive your car!" He hesitated at first, but then gave in to my charms, and I hopped behind the wheel.
Honestly, I don't think I had ever driven a car on an actual road before this. My parents were overly cautious and didn't particularly seem to like me much around this time, so they weren't rushing out to give me lessons. After backing out of our driveway into the street, I started frantically moving the steering wheel to seemingly get my bearings (Brandon later said he thought I was just trying to be funny). We headed slowly down the street with the intention to turn into the nearby marina, which I just calculated is all of 1000 feet (exact route mapped here).
Right before I was about to turn off the main road (Nautilus Trail), I flipped on the turn signal, but then realized I had flipped it the wrong direction. I took my eyes off the road and fumbled around to correct my error, and all of a sudden Brandon was yelling "PETER!!! PETER!!!"* I looked up and saw that I had slowly drifted off the side of the road road over the curb, and before I could do anything else, I plowed into a mailbox and comically sent the mail inside flying into the air. The expression "surreal" is often overused, but that's how it felt, like some bizarre nightmare where you're experiencing a tangible and vivid overload of instant terror.
I stopped the car and sheepishly looked over at him. He just stared straight ahead, blinded by rage and disbelief.
"OH MY GOD!! OH MY GOD!! GET THE FUCK OUT OUT THE CAR!!" he screamed.
We surveyed the damage. The plastic mailbox had been obliterated, and the wooden post attached to it had been lifted completely out of the ground. The car had a flat tire, and a headlight had been busted. It's probably my imagination, but I seem to remember steam rising out of the hood. I was repeatedly apologizing, which probably wasn't helping. Brandon drove the car into the parking lot of the marina to further investigate the damage that I had needlessly inflicted on his poor innocent car.
After a few minutes, we noticed a couple of police cars had shown up where I had hit the mailbox, which was about a few hundred feet from where we were. I saw a woman outside talking with the cops, and I think she pointed us out, because the cops then got in their cars and drove over to see us. A lady cop approached us and stated that this woman had told her that two boys wearing black shirts had hit her mailbox and driven away. We readily admitted that we were who she was referring to, and Brandon took a step toward the cop attempting to explain that we weren't fleeing the scene, we just wanted to pull off the road. "Please step back, and put your hands on the car!" the cop barked at us. We both put our hands on the car, while she radioed someone for some reason. Backup? Brandon glared at me. "Thanks a lot, Peter," he sneered.
I was taken to the scene of the crime in the back of a police car, where they talked to the person whose mailbox I destroyed. Some neighbors, who had known me since before I was born, began to gather around the scene and idiotically gawk and squint at me sitting in the car, and I tried to hide my face just like on TV. "So this is what it's like to be on this side of it," I thought to myself. The took me to the police station separate from Brandon, I suppose so we couldn't get our stories straight. They questioned me in a room that was also separate from where they questioned Brandon, where I told them the truth but alertly lied about wearing a seat belt, which Brandon overheard and later complimented me about. After we were questioned, the cops filed whatever paperwork they needed to, and advised me that I'd probably have to appear in court and that I should tell my parents about what happened. They then let us go, and Brandon drove me home in his tattered auto. While on the way to drop me off, Brandon suddenly started laughing. "God, you're like Beavis or something," he said, and then began to make grunting sounds to mimic Beavis driving into mailbox. I certainly couldn't argue with that.
Brandon driving me home that night.
Of course I didn't tell my parents what happened. I thought it would probably just going away somehow. The shit hit the fan early that Summer when my dad picked me up from work one night. He didn't say much to me on the way home, and kept staring at me while he was driving. It dawned on me instantly, "Oh shit, he knows." Sure enough, when we got home, my mom was sitting at our dining room table and said they received a letter from the police station, saying that I got in an accident and there was now a ticket on my driving record, before I even had my license. I tried to play it off like it was no big deal, but they seemed to think it was a big deal.
I had never been to juvenile court before, and my mom certainly didn't ever expect to have to take me there. But there we were, sitting and waiting for the judge to call us into the courtroom. We were seated next to a mother and her delinquent son, who were talking to the kid's lawyer about whatever was about to happen. The kid was younger than me, but he wasn't new to this situation. He was wearing just a regular t-shirt whereas I had gotten dressed up, and he was extremely agitated while I was sitting quietly in shame. His mom kept getting him to try and tuck in his shirt, and kept untucking it right afterwards, mouthing off to both her and the lawyer. It retroactively reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons where "Gavin" talks back to his mom outside the Try-N-Save.
My mom had tried to get me to cut my long hair before the court date but I refused, and while we were waiting to be called into the courtroom she kept taking it upon herself to try to tuck my hair behind my ears. The hair would slip out, and again she'd tuck. I was too ashamed to fight back, but it was totally infuriating. Once we were called into the courtroom, the judge explained that juvenile court was different from adult court, in that you don't plead "Guilty" or "Not Guilty,' your options were "Admit" and "Deny." I stood there and timidly pleaded "Admit," with my tucked hair and dress clothes in full force. The judge remarked that he thought "I was a good kid who just made a mistake," and that he wouldn't see me back there again. He was wrong.
EPILOGUE: Less than a year later, I was in a near-fatal accident that forever changed my life. Looking back, I can now "Admit" that whatever happened was likely my fault, even though I don't remember what happened. I haven't driven in any serious way since the accident, and I likely never will. I think there are some people who aren't meant to operate a motor vehicle, and I'm one of them. I'm consistently amazed that people are always constantly crashing into each other on the road.
This tale was difficult to tell, mostly because I'm embarrassed that I couldn't drive one thousand feet without crashing on this particular day. But I'm also embarrassed that I fucked up my friend's car, and while I paid the lady whose mailbox I crushed, I couldn't afford to help Brandon with the car repairs. He and I have lost touch over the years, but if one day he reads this - dude, Beavis is real sorry.
*Friends from my hometown were in the habit of calling me "Peter" instead of Pete. I really don't know why.
Show #6: October 16, 2004
Recycled Rainbow 9
the Record Exchange
The Former Yugoslavia
The Black Fives
Leia Alligator’s Puppet Show
The Damn Weiner Kids
6 Volt Haunted House
A Nick Traenkner’s presentation
As previously mentioned, on the same night of that strange Rockwood show, we skedaddled to a nearby house show hosted by a gentleman known as Everyman, which is probably where we should have been hanging out to begin with. Though it was emphasized to us that this wasn’t a “show,” so much as a “collective like-minded art dealie” known as Recycled Rainbow. Whatever it was, we got to know the folks there, handed out some EG pins, and were kindly invited to perform at the next installment of the event in October.
We were told in advance that we had to incorporate at least 5 minutes of a “Classic Literature” theme into our set. We don’t read no books, but I liked the movie “The Grapes of Wrath,” so I figured I could go dressed as Tom Joad. (There are pictures of this somewhere in time and space) I also wrote thematic lyrics over top of existing instrumentals, part of which had me saying the word “Homicide” in the style of Tom Joad, which sounded like “Homa-cide.” We started the set with that, and nobody cared. I asked the crowd if they knew who I was supposed to be, and they answered in near unison “Huckleberry Finn.” I think the alcohol was flowing freely at this point, because I distinctly remember someone doing a drunken drop kick down the stairs into the basement where we were performing.
We were in the habit in these early days of making the trip to Cleveland from Columbus for shows, and then traveling back to Columbus the same night. Probably not the smartest way to go, as we often missed people’s performances and getting to know them better. But hindsight is etc. So unfortunately we didn’t get to see too much of what the other acts were doing, but I remember the house being splashed in psychedelic garb, colors and lights. It was a cosmic freakout.
I do remember leaving on a sour note. While people seemed to enjoy our performance, someone there giddily told me I was like a “White Wesley Willis.” Now, like everyone else in the world, I loved the late great Wesley Willis. I even had the honor of giving him a headbutt at one of his final shows before he passed. But it wasn’t someone I was flattered to be compared to musically. I felt like I was writing legit pop songs over keyboard beats, not just happily yelling over an auto-accompaniment. We also received word later that someone we were acquainted with showed up after we left and insulted some of the guests (and hey, fortunately for us we were named as the people they were there to see!)
I recall being riddled with anxiety in the days after this show, and it was really no one’s fault. I feel like we had jumped with both feet first into doing EG, and I was starting to feel emotionally overwhelmed. I remember crying and telling Mary Alice that I didn't think I wanted to do this anymore, but she was able to calm me down like she seemingly had to do so often in those days. There was wrath, but then there were grapes.
I remember much less about this show than the one where we just visited after the show we did that nobody showed up for. What I do remember is being very stressed out about finding on-theme attire for at least one of us. And then nobody else bothered to dress up. I wore that dress I bought in high school made out of fabric with belts printed on it because I thought it would go nicely at that freaky scene. And nobody commented on it! I think that was the last time I ever wore it, even though it still hangs in my closet to this day.
I also feel like I remember shouting along to "Growing Pains" from behind the scenes (where I was manning the semi-broken slide projector) because that had been going on at Columbus shows and I was maybe thinking the crowd could have been a little more into it? And I think later you nicely asked me not to do that anymore and in retrospect you were absolutely right.
I remember Recycled Rainbow as being a thing that I was introduced to when I was just a baby adult that gave me an unrealistic concept of what artsy adults are like. Which is to say that this crew was far more energetic and cohesive than any other community/collective I was ever even marginally associated with. At that first show I saw Eric Alleman performing the "Red Human-Headed Bull" and was just so taken with the bizarre competence on display. It was very exciting and energizing.
I think I assumed all house shows would be like this--so richly off and yet always striving to just ART as hard as one could--and I could not have been more wrong.
October 8, 2004
Victorian’s Midnight Cafe
w/ The Teeth
This was a show that happened to fall on the same night as the second Bush-Kerry presidential debate. It was set up by our friend Jill from the previously mentioned November Loop, who invited us, two of our local friends that were playing their first show as Villa Straylight, and a punk rock band from Ann Arbor called The Teeth. It was at a venue that at the time was called Victorian’s Midnight Cafe (later renamed The Shrunken Head), which had a bit of a half coffee house/half bar feel to it.
Some absurd drama occurred before the show even started. Jack (not his real name) from Villa Straylight was standing with a group outside laughing and talking shit about The Teeth, about how they had insisted on headlining because they came from the furthest distance (which seems very counterintuitive in retrospect), saying things like “Who the fuck are you, anyway?” I was sitting at a nearby table with a guy who was resting with his head down on his arms. After another comment or two from Jack, they guy next to me raised his head up and said “I don’t know where you got your information from, but I’m in The Teeth, and who the fuck are YOU anyway?” Jack walked over to the guy and attempted to awkwardly stammer an apology, but the guy wasn’t having it. Jack gave up and walked inside with his tail between his legs, leaving me and the guy outside. I struck up a conversation with him, telling him that I had checked out their stuff ahead of time, and that I dug their obvious Minutemen influence. I was a little proud of myself for semi-diffusing the situation, and I was glad I was able to offer a more welcoming presence than what he had just experienced.
Villa Straylight opened and did an acoustic set that featured a cover of NIN’s “Hurt,” which seems fitting now, because Jack had just hurt himself outside. We debuted EG buttons at our previous Columbus shows, and I noticed friends of ours wearing them, which was pretty exciting. I felt legit. The guy from outside introduced me to the other members of The Teeth, who along with him were starting to get pretty liquored up. They asked me to describe EG’s music, and after a pause to think, I said “Synth-Pop Punk” which they thought was the greatest thing they’d ever heard.
For this show, Mary Alice blew up three garbage bags full of balloons that we planned to release on the crowd during the set. This idea came about when I had recently told her that when I was very young, my older sister drew something in black marker on a balloon that resembles the recreation Mary Alice drew today for the purpose of this story (pictured here), a cool face with sunglasses on one side and the words “Top 10!” on the other side. (A little context here - my sister and I were pop culturally deprived as kids, leaving us confused and warped. So basically my sister thought she was doing something cool by drawing a sunglasses guy and the words “Top 10!” on a balloon, and additionally repeating the words “TOP 10!” in a low grainy voice that I presume was supposed to sound like a rock ‘n roll guy. So now you know the rest of the story). So Mary Alice drew the “Top 10!” guy on three garbage bags worth of balloons, because we thought it would be funny for me to release them on the crowd during the set while saying “TOP 10!” in a low grainy voice. (More on this later)
Our set was a ridiculous length of 22 songs, and I have no idea why we thought this was a good idea. The sound was great and we were having a great time until this very drunk girl came to the front of the stage and started digging her fingernails into our inflatable dolphin. Mary Alice took exception to this, and they began to wrestle each other for control of the dolphin while I yelled at the girl to let go of it. The girl eventually relinquished it to her, but not before she had punctured holes in it during the struggle. Mary Alice and I looked at each other sadly as our beloved dolphin slowly deflated before our eyes. We then learned that shortly after this incident that the girl went outside, fell over and pissed herself while crying, so I made a point to ridicule her loudly from the stage. At some point, I reached over and released the balloons in a blaze of glory while yelling “TOP 10!” over and over (This began a long-running tradition of releasing balloons at our shows which more or less lasted until we left Columbus). The joint was rockin’ when suddenly the PA went out halfway through the set. The club owner got on a mic near the mixing board and said to me “It’s 9PM, we have to stop. People live above us. The music is too loud.” The bar apparently had planned to have a viewing of the debate which was now starting.
Now, I don’t think a lot of people there had wrapped their heads around what happened. The set was long enough as it was, so I think amidst all the chaos, people thought it was just the end of our set. There was still a punk rock band that had come all the way from Ann Arbor who were scheduled to play after the debate, and the owner had said WE were too loud, which we really aren’t. We watched the debate while members of The Teeth got drunker and drunker. At one point Jill said to me, “I wish I hadn’t booked The Teeth,” because I think she knew the shit was going to hit the fan. I think I had tried to explain the situation to my friend from outside, but I don’t think he understood me, he just kept yelling about how much he hated George Bush.
Our stuff was still on stage when The Teeth began to set up. The owner walked over to them and explained that they couldn’t proceed with what he saw them planning to do, which was perform with live drums and electric guitars. I think the owner was also pretty sauced by then, because he was taunting them by laughing saying they could “set up a drum circle by candlelight.” The drummer stood up and said, “We just drove 3 ½ hours to get here.” Things escalated from there with yelling and threats going back and forth. I remember the owner saying to them, “You wanna rock out?! Go to Bernie’s!! (a now shuttered punk venue in the city),” which again was said in an oddly ridiculing manner. The guy from outside got into the owner’s face. “HEY! You don’t talk to (the drummer) that way!!!” I scrambled to get our stuff off the stage, as I didn’t know if it was going to be destroyed in a melee. The guy from outside then got on the mic. “FINE THEN! Does anyone have a basement that we can play in?!”
Villa Straylight did a full set of covers. I remember clearly their doing a Bowie cover but for some reason I don’t recall at all which song it was. Also it was pronounced like how it is in Italian like “vee-yuh.” I hated that name.
Jack mentioned to me that he’d been to the rowdiest, crustiest punk shows and had never gotten into a fight until he played an acoustic set with his girlfriend.
Jack was alright. He and said girlfriend (to whose wedding we attended in Nashville in the mid-2000s) now live in Arlington. The last time I heard from him was like eight years ago. He hit me up to try and help him get a job. I helped him and then he didn’t talk to me after that. So I’m kind of mad.
Jack also described the scuffle with the inflatable dolphin between me and the pants-pisser as a “Marx-brothers-style tug-of-war,” which cracked me up very hard at the time and I still occasionally think about it out of nowhere. So funny.
I also recall you and I joking about leaving with the dolphin, the screen wiping, and we returned with a deflated dolphin. I believe I tried to patch it, but that never works. I feel like we found a second one but you can’t stop people at EG shows from manhandling inflatables. This lesson followed us all the way through mid last decade.
We kept the balloons up for a while. It became a huge burden for me. We kept thinking we needed more and more balloons at every show. That makes sense. But it got to the point where I’d not get it done before we left, we’d get to the venue, set up other stuff, and then while Pete would settle in with a drink and start socializing, I’d be pumping balloons and drawing on them with a marker like an idiot. I don’t remember when and why we stopped with that, but we did eventually. If you see a show where we throw balloons at the audience, it’s a throwback to our early days in Columbus.
August 7, 2004
I tried to find info about this long-shuttered venue online, and I couldn't. We were asked to be on this gig by a former area promoter that I’ll refer to here as “Cleve,” because he ended up doing some bad stuff that got him in trouble, and I don’t really want to get into that. What I will say is that I soon learned over time that Cleve had a knack for putting on shows with too many bands with lineups that made no sense. For example, we were coming from Columbus, and the other four bands on the bill were each coming from somewhere else. (I have no record of the bands who played as we were too focused on making an early exit, and I think it was after this show that I made a point to meticulously keep logs of such details)
NO, it’s not cool to bail on a gig you’re playing, but this show was total shit. We played first, half of our set to Cleve and the bartender, and then our friend Matt arrived and shelled out a $6 cover to sit at the bar for 15 minutes. I remember there was a Cleveland Guardians game on the TV, and I stopped in the middle of the set to talk about a homerun they hit. The second band arrived at the venue right as we finished, and us and Matt skedaddled out of there to attend a nearby house show where I ended up meeting a lot of people who would have been a lot more interested in what we were doing (more on that later).
As you can see, the show isn't looking particularly dynamic, though we do have the spinning light and bubble machine going anyway, because fuck you. Also visible behind us is a rare photo our inflatable dolphin that was eventually destroyed (again, more on that later). You can also see some solid acne action here.
Side note: I remember some time ago seeing someone online talking about "singers that close their eyes," like they're being all cheesy and intense with their songs? I'm here to tell you it's a concentration thing, at least it is for me. Also, I'm being all intense with the songs.
I sadly don’t recall anything additional about this show but I’ll add that when I read “Cleveland Guardians” I had a total lapse and thought you were talking about a minor league soccer team or something. It took me several rereads to untangle that spaghetti, even with mention of a home run.
August 6, 2004
Cafe Bourbon Street
Stars Like Snow (November Loop)
I had panickedly asked Colin to do sound for the EG set that night after I heard that bands at the venue ran sound themselves. I wasn’t yet comfortable with that sort of thing; around this time of my life, instead of stepping back and calmly trying to figure something out, I would presume I was helpless and that it was over my head. I remember in 2002 when on stage at Little Brother’s with Upchuck Berry, the person running sound asked me “What do you need?,” and I looked at either my bandmate Eric or Brandt with sheer terror in my eyes, and they answered for me. (Nowadays I sort of know what I’m doing, so if you ever freak out about sound at your show and I happen to be there, I’m happy to lend a hand)
Our friend Jill, who we knew from Mary Alice’s Sociology graduate department at OSU, had a shoegazey band called Stars Like Snow (which later became November Loop), and they brought a nice crowd out to see them. We played once again with Debaser who went first, followed by Stars, then us. I got on stage, and my long-running, ongoing, forever and always battle with agitation while setting up began. I think the difference between this show and the first two was that it was a slightly less welcoming environment. It wasn’t a casual show set up for weird bands to play at their leisure, and it wasn’t in a friend’s studio, it was in a venue with a lot of strangers, so the need to deliver in a more timely manner seemed more pressing. I had Colin mess with the PA, mess some more with PA, and then mess with it some more. He finally just looked at me and said “It’s show time.” I tried playing a sample track, and it sounded distorted and just bad. I looked over at Bryan from Debaser for some kind of answer, and he said in a friendly yet unassured manner, “Dude, it’s whatever, just go.”
The set was pretty awful. It was around this time that I discovered that the tabletop CD player was prone to get “shocked,” i.e. get the signal disrupted and skip. I assumed at the time that the fault lied in the venue PA, but as we learn so often in life, it was “your” fucking problem. I got off stage, and I proceeded to try and quickly get drunk to ease the pain of what had happened, which I think was the first time I ever tried that. We were sitting around talking about the show, and somehow it got twisted up in a conversation about Rick James, who had died that day. I was sitting there sadly downing vodka and 7-Up’s, and Colin walked over to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and said “I’m sorry, man. I’m sorry Rick James died.”
Here’s how Rick James came up. Colin collected the door money, plonked it on the table and said “Here’s the money, bitch!” But the way he said it was inadvertently in the same cadence as Dave Chappelle saying “I’m Rick James, Bitch!” Which is why you offered that Rick James died, but I don’t think he had cable, so it came out of nowhere.
Also I’m pretty sure this was one of many shows over the next couple of years where we sat in the car in front of our apartment building after the show and you would say “I’m not doing this anymore” and I’d say “ok, so what are you going to do?” And you’d be like “this, I guess.” And we would carry on.
Why we didn’t replace that CD player with a laptop earlier, I do not know. Except that we were broke.
July 23, 2004
Chris McCoy & the Gospel
We got set up with our first Columbus show at the studio where we had our 2004 album “Sin City Sex Mix” mastered. Our friend Jason ran the studio, and he and our friend Colin helped us get set up for the night. While we were setting up, Colin accidentally knocked over and shattered this red neon sign that we had that said “PARTY.” (I believe we had it replaced after only to have the same sign shatter again) We got some solid attendance from Mary Alice’s grad school cohort at OSU, and a few other people saw us that night that we eventually became friends with. One of these people remarked to me at a later date that she thought we were “the joke” before the real bands came on.
I’m wearing an Aloha shirt in these photos, something I briefly carried over from my time as the vocalist for Upchuck Berry, Columbus hardcore punk legends that broke up after two shows. This second show was the last time we performed the song “Dance Party,” a song that’s mostly Saved By the Bell samples, because we felt it was a bit awkward and disrupted the flow of things. As you can see, the bubble machine was in full effect, leaving the studio floor a greasy mess. I remember it being a solid show, even getting people to wave their hands in the air back and forth to the pumping dance beat of “Danny Tanner Had a Wife.” We became good pals with Bryan from Debaser, who performed at our very next show. Chris McCoy was very tall, and I admit that we wussed out and left before his band went on. We didn’t quite know how things worked yet.
It’s well worth mentioning that it was pretty unsafe to use the bubble machine anywhere without carpeting. And use of the bubble machine anywhere with carpeting I’m sure greatly reduced the life span of said carpet. I’m very glad we no longer use the bubble machine.
June 19, 2004
WCSB Cassettefest Fest (also with The Pinheads)
Pat’s in the Flats
Harvey + Felix
Dead Peasant Insurance
My friend Mike had told me on the phone in early 2004 about a “contest” of sorts being run by WCSB Cleveland State radio, where bands would send in recordings on a cassette and the DJs would play the songs on the air. I already had plenty of songs on cassettes, as I had been recording solo as “The Electric Grandmother” since December of 1999. I compiled 5 of my best together on tape, sent it off to the station and promptly forgot about it.
Some time later Mike got back in touch with me and told me that the songs had gotten rave reviews at the station, and the DJs were wanting to find out more about The Electric Grandmother. Mike’s own project called “The Pinheads” had also garnered praise from them, and they wanted both bands to perform on June 19, 2004 at Pat’s in the Flats in Cleveland, and they wanted EG to close out the show. I was stunned, as was Mary Alice, and we quickly hatched a plan. We borrowed the idea of a multimedia show from our friends in the band Infinite number of Sounds - I’d sing over the music on stage while she projected images onto a screen. We bought a tabletop CD player that a DJ would use, and an old slide projector off of Ebay that was previously the property of Georgia State University. Mary Alice gathered images for the projector online, and we contacted someone who could turn the images into slides. We also added other elements to distract the audience, such as a plug in disco light and a bubble machine.
I was actually slated to do double-duty at this show, as I was standing as The Pinheads vocalist for our friend Gary, who was unavailable. Our friend Eric joined on drums, and the makeshift Pinheads practiced for 45 minutes the night before at Mike’s house. Mary Alice and I stayed overnight at Mike’s, and I remember some nervousness being placated by seeing a video performance of David Essex singing “Rock On,” holding just a microphone on a stage surrounded by people while music played in the background. We figured if he could do it (without the addition of visual projection), then so could we.
Pat’s was normally an indoor venue, but “Cassettefest Fest” was set up outdoors. We arrived right at noon while the first band Dolly’s Crotch was playing. I remember the wild-haired guy fronting the band taking off his shirt during the set, and Eric politely applauding in response. I think it was during Black Cabbage’s set where I started to feel the nerves take over. I was sitting at the bar drinking water, and Mike was trying to talk me down some. We heard Dead Peasant Insurance start a noisy-feedbacky set, Mike remarked “Hey, this sounds cool?” almost like a mother would comfort a son, and we went outside to watch. During their set, this motorcycle-looking guy standing in the back loudly stated “You’re beautiful” to the girl in the band, and the crowd fell uncomfortably silent.
It must have been during Thursday Club’s set where I started to feel my stomach hurt from nervousness. I decided I had to do what was necessary to alleviate the pain, but the stall at the Men’s bathroom at Pat’s had no door. If you know me, then you know I went for it anyway. The only person who came into the restroom during this time was Eric, and I sheepishly told him while he looked over and chuckled, “I’m really glad it’s you.”
The Pinheads were on 3rd to last, and I felt ok jumping on the stage with my pals around me. We started with the opening acapella number “Wonder Wayne,” which was a song about Wayne from Wonder Years to the tune of The Beatles “With a Little Help From My Friends.” (It should be noted at this point that ‘Sitcom-Core” was a shared creation, even if I coined the phrase and moved on it the most. It was something that myself, Mike, and our friend Gary did together as a group called The Doldrums). I remember some guy in the crowd smirking and shaking his head when we got the chorus of “I get by with a little help from my brother.” We did about 6 or 7 more songs, including an encore featuring “Mr. Belvedere Loves Ding-Dongs.” It was weird having performed The Pinheads songs first, because Gary had written those lyrics, and I was planning to do more of the same as EG later.
After the band Harvey + Felix played, we were finally up. One of the station DJs looked at the CD player while we were setting up and asked quizzically, “That’s what you’re using?” The wind had started to pick up, and our projector screen kept getting knocked over, jangling our nerves. The Sun hadn’t even really gone down yet and people were standing around waiting, and so we took it as a sign just to give up on the projection. "No," Eric famously said. "That's why we brought it." He then grabbed some cement blocks that were nearby, and positioned them to hold the screen upright. We got in our positions, plugged in the bubble machine, and off we went.
I don’t remember what we started with, or what we finished with. For half of the set the Sun was still shining which made the images harder to see, but after a while darkness fell and the images looked pretty cool. I remember a good deal of hometown friends were there to see the show, and it was oddly cold out that night. The rest was a blur, but we got through it, and couldn’t wait to do it again.
I remember Simpsons Season 4 had just been released on DVD and streaming anything wasn't to the point where we weren't excited about a DVD release yet. I brought it with me. I just checked and sure enough. June 15, 2004.
I remember Matt Mansbach had this drawing he did of 80s Tom Hanks. I think it was a birthday card for someone? It was SO GOOD.
HARVEY + FELIX!!! I think that was the first of many, many bands where I saw them and thought "wow we're going to be best friends with these people" and I never saw or heard from them again.
I'm pretty sure we closed with "Dance Party."
Today officially marks 25 years with my best gal, best friend, and bandmate. I’ve always been a little private about our relationship in a way, because it’s something so personal. We got together approximately a year after I was in a traumatic, life-changing car accident, and now all these years later I have a grasp on how damaged and vulnerable it left me. I recently wrote a song called “The Great Swim,” based on the title of a short story Mary Alice wrote before I moved to Hawaii in 1997, about her swimming the Pacific Ocean to be with me. There’s a line in it where I say “I was a baby when you were a kid,” which initially came to be in a dream, and I interpreted it as a description of my state of mind when she and I came together. I was 18 and she was 17, but the trauma of my accident had mentally regressed me to a much younger place. That's part of what I think makes our bond so close. Not only was she the girl I fell in love with, but she had a hand in rebuilding me as a person, and that’s something that’s hard to express. That’s partly why I’m glad we didn’t have a wedding with all of our weirdo relatives, because it all feels too personal. Our eloping to Las Vegas in 2003 even seems odd to me, because I don’t think she and I can be defined in that manner. Like Del to Neal said about his wife in Planes, Trains & Automobiles, “Love is not a big enough word.”
Was putting on deodorant just now, and I flashed back to LL Cool J’s 1991 MTV Unplugged performance when he flashed deodorant cakes at everyone. He of course was ridiculed, but I always felt really bad for the guy.
First off, he obviously showered close to his performance time because he wanted to feel good and fresh, which I can totally relate to. Second of all, since he knew that he was performing shirtless, he layed it on extra thick, which is quite considerate. I’ve been to many a show where the shirtless yahoos on stage weren’t so considerate. Third, they missed a major marketing opportunity here. LL Cool J and Right Guard, which is a sporty brand that I don’t know if they even make anymore.
Kudos to you, Cool James.
The movie started with a man who had a brain damage because of a boxing match. He told a man to get his wife, and she came to see him. There was a press conference where another man said that he wanted to set up a fight with another man, but then the man's wife said he was retired. It turns out the man and his wife lost money because of something they did, and they had to move to Philadelphia.
While there he met a young man who wanted to box, and he had him for dinner. The man's son was mad because he had to leave. He became his friend, and then he was sad. He won a bunch of boxing matches, and then the other man introduced him to a beautiful woman. Him and the woman and the man started to be against him. He had a nice car, and drove away while he tried to talk to him.
In conclusion they fought outside, and it showed that he was right all along. Then the man said he'd sue him, but he punched the man anyway. At the end him and his son went to the library.
I was living in Hawaii in my small and filthy apartment at the time, getting ready to move back to Ohio that Summer. I was flipping through the channels late at night and I saw a live performance of "I Believe in Miracles" being shown on MTV2. I was puzzled as to why the channel was showing a seemingly obscure Ramones video, and at the end they had a graphic and and photo that read "Joey Ramone: 1951 -2001."
I probably called Mary Alice at her parents home, but neither of us can remember. I waited up a couple of hours until I knew it would be a semi-reasonable EDT, and I called my friend Mike and woke him to tell the news. I had this black wristband for some reason, and I wore that on my arm for a week in tribute.
Mary Alice and I hosted a radio show on KTUH Honolulu at the time, and we paid tribute to Joey on our next broadcast by playing all Ramones songs and sharing some Ramones history. During the show, this guy called and meekly asked us "What happened to Joey Ramone?" We looked at each other, as it had already been approximately a week. "He died," Mary Alice said. The guy on the phone began to sob. He was able to stammer out, "Back in 1977, KTUH was the only station in Hawaii that would play the Ramones." He thanked us for what we were doing, and hung up. That one still sticks with me.
I was lucky enough to see the Ramones play an opener-length set in Cleveland in 1995, and I wish could remember more of it. I have the pinhead bringing Joey the "GABBA GABBA HEY" sign imprinted on my mind, though. Mary Alice and I visited Joey's resting place at Hillside Cemetery in Lyndhurst, New Jersey several years back, which was really cool, because there was no one else around. It was just us hanging out with Joey. We were also able to see an amazing Ramones exhibit with Josie at the Queens museum. Joey died of lymphoma, which also was the first type of cancer that Josie was diagnosed with. I strongly dislike cancer.
Hard to believe the rest of the original lineup has passed since. What else can i say, I think they're the most important band there ever was. RIP Joey
The resurrection of Tag Team for that Geico commercial got me thinking about other songs of the era. This song "Dazzey Duks" (Daisy Dukes) has a hook that goes "Look at them girls with the Dazzey Duks on," but at the time I misheard it as a garbled call to grassroots political action, something along the lines of "Free the government yourself," or "Freedom government you sew."
I didn't have MTV, so I didn't have any visual aids to assist me in deciphering. So when this song inevitably arrived at the #1 spot on the "Top 8 at 8" countdown on Jammin' 92.3 Cleveland, I remember thinking to myself, "Ah, the government song. Interesting choice."
They can take away whatever Dr. Seuss book they want, just don't mess with my childhood hero, Dr. Juice.
In 2013 we put out the "Make a Joyful Noise" collection featuring 100 very low-fi EG songs songs spanning from 1999-2002. I made a promo vid at the time for a song called "Michael J. Fox Went to My House" that I recorded in 1999, so now 8 years later I decided to do another for a 2001 song called "AC Pee," which in retrospect can be seen as an emotional reaction to 9/11. It took me all afternoon to make it.
I had a dream last night that I somehow directed a commercial airplane to fly into a set of power lines to knock out electricity in the area. I did this using a computer while sitting in the bedroom bathroom of my parents' house. The reason I committed this act was to frame the Trump administration. The pilot of the plane blamed Kayleigh McEnany for directing him to fly into the power lines, and this was an excerpt from an interview with him in the newspaper the next day:
"She's a n-n-n-nerd," said the pilot, who was not previously thought to speak English. "I knew it was a bad idea to fly into the power lines, but I did what I was told. I'd like to thank for inspiration Jesus, MDC*, and Martial Arts."
The power came back on, and credit was given to the current administration for acting quickly. I was relieved to know that nobody was hurt, but I still felt a little guilty about what I did. I told Donna Jo that I felt everything went exactly as planned.
Electric Grandmother: Hello Man.
Marilyn Manson: Hi man.
EG: Where were you born?
MM: Canton, Ohio.
EG: That's pretty good.
MM: Thank you.
EG: Why are you like this?
MM: A lot of reasons I suppose. You're from Ohio, so you probably get it. There's not a lot to do. I guess I'm just mad.
EG: How come?
MM: My dad.
EG: I'm sorry.
MM: I'm sorry.
EG: A lot of people are saying you aren't very good.
MM: I know, and it kind of tears me up. I've always tried to be nice, despite my uproarious public image. I owe a lot to the people I grew up with, and they understand. I don't know if I'll ever be the same. Might be time to do something else.
EG: Like what?
MM: Singing. They say you should sing every day.
EG: That's very well put.
MM: I was taught to do that.
EG: Well, what's next on the horizon for you?
MM: A lot of people don't know the Pro football Hall of Fame is in Canton. I'm not sure when I'll ever get back, but I always enjoy being inside.
EG: Are you going to watch the Super Bowl?
MM: A little.
EG: Are there any misconceptions about you that you'd like to clear up right now?
MM: All I ever wanted in life was a house to live in.
EG: Like in the movie Bowling For Columbine?
EG: Well, it's time to go.
MM: (laughs) I knew it.
EG: Thank you for speaking with me today.
Written by Mary Alice
Most of the time, I don’t find myself affected by celebrity deaths, though there are notable exceptions. One such exception was Isabel Sanford, who played TV’s Louise “Weezie” Jefferson on the 1970s-80s sitcom the Jeffersons, who passed away in 2004. Not being a particular fan of the show, I was struck by how saddened I was to hear of this. At the time, I think I was mourning the loss of a notable cultural icon from before my time and the knowledge that someday, they would all be dead. I was 25 at the time and think it marked the beginning of my truly understanding human mortality and indeed my own. This detached sense of sadness stands in stark contrast to how I feel about the passing of Dustin Diamond, known to most as Screech from Saved by the Bell.
I turned 41 this year and have changed a lot from the self-centered 25 year old who was a little sad when Weezie died. When I heard that Dustin Diamond had sage four cancer just a few short weeks ago, I was 100% aware that the colossal bummer that this death sentence laid upon a man just 3 years my senior is rooted almost completely in empathy for a person who had a pretty terrible life overall and never found peace in it.
Screech was a joke-character on a show that in its time tried to present an aspirational picture of the American teenage experience in the early 1990s, which eventually became a joke in itself. Screech became a joke within a joke. The tragedy of the Child Actor trope is a well-worn cliché at this point, but doesn’t stop it from being tragic. This place in pop culture history does not excuse his behavior post-Saved By the Bell, but does kind of explain it.
I don’t need to list all of the shitty things Dustin Diamond has done since Saved by the Bell. His stint in porn isn’t itself problematic except that it’s rooted in his attempts to repair an image rooted in fragile masculinity that never existed in the first place. Which at minimum makes it really, really gross. He scammed people out of money for various reasons related to his housing situation the details of which I don’t really remember. The one that hits closest to home to me is the lies he told in his trash memoir Beyond the Bell. Among other things, he claimed to have had an affair with NBC VP of Children’s Programming Linda Mancuso, who died in 2003 of breast cancer. I don’t think it was coincidence that she was not around to challenge these claims when he made them. That’s a sensitive issue for me for some reason. Making claims about things people did after they died when they’re not around to contradict them.
After Saved by the Bell, we watched Dustin Diamond try very hard to reinvent himself into the anti-Screech. Through it all, whether it was challenging the drill sergeant on that VH1 weight loss show to a fight or the public humiliation of listing his house for sale in 2020 as a “great rehab opportunity,” it’s very clear to me that he was a very unhappy person.
He felt ridiculed and left out during the pinnacle of his career. He spent a large part of the aftermath extremely angry and persistently making moves in an attempt to get “revenge” for wrongs that were never really committed. In doing so, he permanently alienated anyone who could come close to understanding. He experienced financial ruin, was sent to jail for stabbing a man in a barroom brawl and faded into obscurity. Then, when his child-star peers did the impossible and successfully revived the franchise that made them stars, Dustin Diamond is diagnosed with stage four long cancer and passes away three weeks later.
He was not a good person, but I’ve spent a lot of time with his Saved by the Bell character over the years. His character isn’t a particularly good person either. He’s like Urkel Light and seems to feel like he’s owed something by women for not being attractive—or something. But his illness and subsequent passing reminds me only that he is a person who lived a pretty tragic life. He never found peace and now he never will. I don’t think anyone deserves that.
Sleep easy, Screech. I wish better for you.
My household didn’t have a lot of salty or sugary snacks when I was growing up, so I always jumped at the chance to eat stuff like that whenever I could. When I was in 5th grade, this rich boy named Ricky brought peanuts for a snack every day, and I would always ask if I could have some. He never wanted to give me any, but eventually he realized that if he threw a peanut on the floor, I would retrieve it and eat it. He would ask other kids to watch, throw a peanut on the floor for me to pick up and eat, and laugh hysterically.
He later claimed to me that he had put the peanuts in his mouth prior to throwing them onto the floor. I knew this wasn’t true because I had never seen him do that, and besides, I would never have voluntarily engaged in doing something so degrading.
Just in case you need any sort of reminder of the effect that recent events can have on people, here is a picture I drew of a Trump supporter firing a gun at the Capitol Building engulfed in flames.
June 19, 2004, at Pat's in the Flats
Before EG hit the stage for the first time that night, I took the stage earlier with my friends Mike and Eric as The Pinheads. I was actually standing in for our friend Gary who was unavailable, and Eric was essentially playing the part of our friend Brandt, who was probably somewhere doing something else. The Pinheads, along with The Doldrums which preceded it (which was myself, Mike, and Gary) were the origins of what we now know as "Sitcom-Core."
Mike and I had been wanting to be on stage together since we were teenage punkers, and we were finally able to here in our mid-late 20's. Eric was the guitarist for the punk rock band I sang for in Columbus called Upchuck Berry, which featured our friend Brandt on drums and our friend Jeff on bass. This marked the first time we had been on stage together since 2002.
Mary Alice and I were extremely nervous to be doing EG that night, and when the screen we brought for projection kept getting blown over by the strong wind outside, we were panicked and just wanted to forget about it. "No," Eric said. "That's why we brought it." We then got concrete blocks to hold up the screen, and we went on went the show as planned.
It's a mantra we still use to this day when we flummoxed or frustrated when trying to do something ambitious: "That's why we brought it."