Under A Broken Street Lamp – Michael Essington and David Gurz

Marius Gustaitis

Marius Gustaitis

Under A Broken Street Lamp

Under A Broken Street Lamp

Under A Broken Street Lamp
Written by: Michael Essington and David Gurz
Essex Digital Media

Middle-age can be murder. The resiliency of youth has gone. The bones have become brittle. The blows seem to sink deeper–each one making the chances of mounting a spirited attack less likely. Only stubborn pride keeps you from sinking to the mat and curling up like a fetal pig.

Pride, and the legs of that girl holding up the round card. Looking at those sexy scissors circling the ring between beatings helps. “If I don’t get KO’d, I just might have a chance at that.”

No chance at all, really. But middle-age will make a man cling to his delusions. They’re a cheap substitute for hope. Like a shrunken head necklace. Made out of fake shrunken heads.

Ah, hope. I remember rotary-dialed phones that were attached to a wall. Cigarette ads on TV. Drinking Schlitz beer through a triangle you punched in the can. Being able to go to 4th grade shit-hammered drunk.

And hope.

Don’t bother looking around Under A Broken Street Lamp for any. You won’t find it. This little chapbook is antiseptically-free of anything even slightly resembling it. It is cover-to-cover bummer and pain. For a natural depressive like me, lifts my spirits. Some weird counter-effect. Like giving speed to a spaz calms them down. Doom Lit picks me up.

It just so happens, the authors, Michael Essington and David Gurz are middle-aged. Coincidence? Hardly. If you need a strong downer fix, find an older dealer. They always have the strongest, most bestial brands. Middle-aged Misery can tie Teen Angst to a bunk and rawhide it like the little bitch it is.

In “Walter,” Essington has the middle-aged protagonist, desperately flailing in mid-life crisis. A loveless marriage. Unresponsive children. A growing paunch. Thinning hair.

Eventually, Walter has enough. He decides to Carpe him some Diem. Begins banging out a twenty-something Scheherazade that works in his company’s mailroom. Winds up taking her to Paris. Spends the kid’s college fund. Alienates everyone he knows.

Bold action, indeed. Not for the timid, or those hindered by the fetters of conscience or reason. Bravo, I say.

Well, Walter finally nutted up and followed his bliss, and surprise, surprise, it destroys his family life. As if those two could’ve ever co-existed. Without giving away how it all ends for Walter, let’s just say that suicide plays a big part–which sometimes, especially when you’re in a relationship with a much younger woman, is about as good an ending as you can hope for.

So that’s good.

Dave Gurz’s contribution, Dead Calm, is a cheery little tale featuring an aging punk who just wants to be left alone to drink beer and read his Bukowski, and the sociopathic, serial-killing, junkie hooker that decides to become his sexy friend.

I don’t know why this one particularly raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I guess Gurz is a good writer, because I could really picture this little vignette going down. And for some reason, in my imagination, at The Desert Sands Motel on Central Avenue in Albuquerque, N.M. Back in the winter of ’98.

Well, I don’t want to ruin this ending either, so like the kids today say, “spoiler alert,” because it’s not the hooker that gets her throat slit.

Sure, that’s a refreshing change, but not enough to qualify it as a happy ending. I mean, the dude really was minding his own business. She didn’t have to kill him. She could’ve taken his wallet. Given him crabs. Told him she was pregnant. Moved in and not paid any bills.

Okay. Maybe he did get off easy.

So that’s good.

Also, subterraneans and sub-cult crawlers should enjoy Dave’s Unter Kultur references. Ol’ Gurz can get as real and grimy as a bus station handshake. Always enjoy the Gurz.

Oh, and as an added bonus, there’s a poem by Essington, “Lazarus.” A delightful ditty. The subject climbs out on a ledge to jump, but, without giving away too much, thanks to a pigeon’s needy look, decides not to. The mastery here is that by the end of the poem, Essington leaves you subtly convinced that our man, made the wrong decision. Should’ve stomped the bird, then taken the Nestea plunge.

Now that’s good writing.

I realize this sort of fare might not be for everyone. Unrelenting sadness and desperation might not be your cup of tea, and I know that sometimes I have to be in the right mood for suicide or murder.

Just keep in mind, that often, it’s the bitterest tonic that has the strongest kick. Something having to do with alkaloids, I don’t know, but Under A Broken Street Lamp packs a pretty decent punch in the guts, and fucks nicely with the head. What’s not to love about that?

Pick it up and give it a read. Feel the sorrow drip off your elbows and pool around your shoes in big black puddles of gloom. It’s a short-read chapbook. You can hit it quick. Then shit-can it. Along with the rest of the failure, you call your life.

Bon Jour.



Born Frustrated is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll


Ian Dury

Ian Dury

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
Release date January 8, 2010
Directed by Mat Whitecross

Andy Serkis as Ian Dury
Naomie Harris as Denise
Ray Winstone as Bill Dury
Olivia Williams as Betty Dury
Noel Clarke as Desmond
Toby Jones as Hargreaves
Ralph Ineson as the Sulfate Strangler
Mackenzie Crook as Russell Hardy
Bill Milner as Baxter Dury
Michael Maloney as Graham
Arthur Darvill as Mick Gallagher
Luke Evans as Clive Richards
James Jagger as John Turnbull
Tom Hughes as Chaz Jankel
Clifford Samuel as Charley Charles
Jennifer Carswell as Ruby
Stephanie Carswell as Mia
Joseph Kennedy (actor) as Davey Payne

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll is a 2010 biopic of Ian Dury, starring Andy Serkis. The film follows Dury’s rise to fame and documents his personal battle with the disability caused by having contracted polio during childhood. The effect that his disability and his lifestyle have upon his relationships is also a focal point of the film. The title of the film is pulled from Dury’s 1977 single, “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.”

It’s an odd film. I watched it twice and still didn’t feel like I knew much about Dury. It would be a biopic, and then get abstract for a bit, then back to biopic. Weird.

If you get the chance, watch this, go do it.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

On to the story . . .

For those of you who don’t know, my book, Last One To Die, came out on August 30, 2011. And the company Essex Digital Media, Inc is promoting it/co-publishing it. And since the book is somewhat successful, they have rounded up a couple other unknown authors to publish.

So, the other day I got a four or five page treatment sent to me from a proposed writer. They’d like me to look it over, comment, and possibly give a review that could be used on the outside of the book. Cool enough, right?

So I’m reading this piece by the forty-something writer. And he writes that he is a self-acknowledged drug-addict, and has a bone to pick with the world. Whatever, I have no problem with former addicts, I don’t judge, but he seems to be saying he IS an addict, and fuck everybody else. There’s a whole couple of paragraphs about how stupid people are who go to jail, and how he is just too clever to have been caught. This doesn’t offend me, but for those of us that have ever been on the wrong side of the bars . . . this comes off as a bit arrogant. Sometimes, it’s just the wrong place at the wrong time.

So, the rest of the treatment is basically him calling out everybody he hates. Hey, again, it’s his story, rage on. One particular incident stands out. Why, you say? Well, because I’m name-checked. It’s a story involving a guy named Todd, who I have written about myself. Turns out this writer had room mated with him a decade or two back and is still pretty pissed with him. So, he runs down this story about Todd making a comment to this girl about her having herpes, and then to deflect the blame, saying that the “writer” told him. So, the girl is hurt and mad at the writer.

So, the writer beats his ass many times over the next year. Here’s where I was included: I’m at Todd’s house one day, and he wants to go to the writer’s house, I say “Why?” He says, “I think he’s trying to steal my girlfriend.” The same girl that had made moves on everyone I knew once Todd left the room.

So, we hop in his car and head over. I wasn’t aware that I was supposed to fight the “writer,” so I plopped down on the couch and watch them go back and forth with the “So, what’s up?” “Nothing, what’s up with?”

Finally, I get up and say, “Fight or shut up, I’m hungry.” Then we left.

So, I read the whole treatment and shoot over my comments on the incident. I got a note back saying “Great comments, we may include them.” Then the writer himself shoots over a note saying something about not liking the “voice” I used in the note. So, it turns out in his long list of people who did him wrong over the past thirty-something years . . . yours truly is on that list.



Born Frustrated is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Gang Green – Another Wasted Night


Gang Green

Gang Green

Gang Green
Another Wasted Night
Label: Taang! Records
Released: 1986
Produced: AC Peters & Gang Green

Chris Doherty – vocals, guitar
Chuck Stilphen – guitar
Glen Stilphen – bass
Walter Gustafson – drums

1. 19th Hole
2. Alcohol
3. Another Wasted Night
4. Voices Carry
5. Protect and Serve
6. Eight Ball
7. Evil
8. Last Chance
9. Fuck In A
10. Tonight We Rock
11. Sold Out Alabama
12. Have Fun
13. Crocodile Rock
14. Hate
15. Skate To Hell
16. Voices Scary
17. 17 Studio Outtake Gang Green

This is a really good album, a definite punk meets garage rock feel to it.

The covers are great Voices Carry, yes, that one is cool, and the second reworking of this called Voices Scary; their version of Sweet Home Alabama, Sold Out Alabama fun track, and Elton John’s Crocodile Rock is also good.

Some of this material is stuff that you would’ve expected The Joneses to record. This is the best Gang Green album I have ever heard.

If you get the chance to get a copy of this, go get it.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

On to the story . . .

One evening I started thinking about my old leather jacket, the one I wrote about a few weeks back. In 1981 or 1982, everybody I knew had ties to some punk “gang” out here in L.A. Whether it was L.A.D.S, FFF, The Family or the Suicidal Tendencies boys, everybody had a “gang” they favored. My uncle Rick hung out with some of the guys from L.A.D.S (Los Angeles Death Squad) and went to school with some of the guys from Bad Religion, so I leaned towards them a bit.

Well, one day when I was about fifteen, I decided I wanted to join the L.A.D.S. and paint their logo on the base of my jacket. My uncle was busy with work and school (he went to CSUN for a while with Derf Scratch), so I started to ask this guy Rob at school about the L.A.D.S. Rob was real tight-lipped about the whole thing. I was asking because I didn’t understand the gang process, did I get jumped-in? Do I get recruited? Am I a prospect, until they approve me? Rob, pretty much, answered nothing – he just said I needed to get to know them. Whatever. So, I asked him about this little guy named Jeff that always hung him. Jeff was a preppie kid who started hanging out with Rob, and took to calling himself Gonzo. Anyway, I ask Rob if Gonzo was a LAD. I had seen Gonzo walking around with a jacket with L.A.D.S. on the back. Rob said he couldn’t answer that, what a dick.

At the end of the school day I’m sitting on a planter in the parking lot at school waiting to see if I could score a ride home when, from behind, Jeff/Gonzo jumps up onto the planter (I’m assuming to appear taller) and starts to drill me about my questions about the LADS. He says, “I hear you’ve been asking about the LADS!” I reply, “Yeah, I asked Rob a few things.” He says “Yeah, well, you better fuckin’ stop!” I say “Or what?” He says “Or this may be your last day at school!” I say “No shit? Huh. Well, have a good one.” He says “I’m serious don’t ask about the LADS!”

I got home, and buzzed my uncle at work, and relayed Jeff’s threats. Rick laughed and told me to tell Gonzo “To fuck-off.” He said Jeff hangs out with the guys from L.A.D.S., but he was pretty much just a mascot, and they’d get money from him for beer.

So, from then on when I’d see Jeff, he’d be scowling, I’d laugh, and a week or so later it stopped altogether – turns out Rick introduced himself to Jeff.



Born Frustrated is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Punk Rock Swap Meet


Photos by Edward Colver & Elizabeth Essington

Photos by Edward Colver & Elizabeth Essington

Buy, sell or slam at the Punk Rock Swap Meet, an all-ages indoor swap meet and concert extravaganza, featuring Pico Rivera’s finest, Circle One; local ’80s oi pioneers Killroy; ’90s Posh Boy artists Glue Gun; Sorry State; and a few other bands. Expect a raffle, door prizes and the usual controlled chaos. There’s also a book signing for punk writer and L.A. Beat columnist Michael Essington’s Born Frustrated ($14.95, CreateSpace), the latest chapter in his gritty, polarizing trilogy of stories about people laboring against all odds at the margins of society.

via L.A. Weekly



Born Frustrated is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Gang Green – Preschool


Gang Green

Gang Green

Gang Green
Label: Taang! Records
Released: 1989, Re-released 1990
Produced: Lou Giordano

Chris Doherty – vocals, guitar
Bill Manley – bass
Mike Dean – drums

1. Sold Out – 2:04
2. Terrorize – 0:48
3. Snob – 0:28
4. Lie Lie – 0:37
5. I Don’t Know – 1:03
6. Rabies – 1:27
7. Narrow Mind – 0:44
8. Kill A Commie – 1:08
9. Have Fun – 0:54
10. Selfish – 4:48

I never paid attention to Gang Green when I was a youngster, I didn’t have much of a disposable income, actually, no job at all (until I was 17 ½), and so I only bought what I loved. And occasionally, I would buy a single from someone I had never heard of.

Gang Green was always on my list of bands to check out. TAANG Records have done an incredible job of compiling all these recordings and putting them together so that you get a great overview of their powerhouse music.

Even if you don’t dig Gang Green, if you liked 1980’s American punk, you’ll dig this style, the slow intro’s that burst into buzz saw vocals, fun stuff. Preschool contains material previously released on their Sold Out 7″ EP, and stuff from two compilations: This Is Boston, Not L.A. and Unsafe At Any Speed. The EP was recorded from July, 1981 through March, 1983 in Boston. Released in September of 1997. All ten songs clock in at a blistering fourteen minutes and one second. All in all, a fun listen check them out.

If you get the chance to get a copy of this, go get it.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

On to the story . . .

Sometime in 1981 I saw somebody wearing a pair of creepers for the first time. I thought they were the coolest looking shoes I had ever seen. I had to get a pair. Later that night I saw the guy who was wearing them out in the parking lot, so I asked him how much his shoes cost and where he bought them, he kind of looked side to side and said they were a bit under $120.00 and he bought them at Let It Rock on Melrose Ave. I almost fudged my shorts! $120.00! I was 15 years old, no job, single parent household, fixed income – I’d never get these shoes! The guy then told me that Let It Rock sold used pairs also; I could probably get a pair for $30.00. Used, no problem, did they smell?



Anyway, after a month or so I had $15.00 saved, and convinced my mom to drive me to Let It Rock and we’d buy the $30.00 pair of creepers. We get there and they tell us that they have never carried used shoes; mind you since I first saw these shoes I had close to 15 people tell to go to Melrose and get the used shoes. Now I find out they never existed. Damn lying-ass punks! The sales lady tells us that the cheapest creepers they have cost $75.00. So, I do my best to convince my mom that this unemployed, broke kid deserves a $75.00 pair of shoes. The selling point is I could pay for $15.00 of it. No go, 15 minutes later we were driving back down Highland headed towards the Valley.

About a month later a shop opened in the Sherman Oaks Galleria that carried rockabilly clothes and they stocked creepers. I went to see a movie at the Galleria one weekend with some friends, and discovered this store. All their creepers were $10.00 to $20.00 cheaper than Let It Rock.

Next day at school the local poser-patrol, a girl named Leslie (I’ve mentioned her before) came up to me and went into a rant about me being at the Galleria, and only posers go there, and how I’d be the biggest poser in the world if I bought creepers at the Galleria. I dismissed her with a comment about her and the horse she rode in on, and as I walked away, she yelled threats of the beatings I’d take from the Suicidal Tendencies gang.

So, I hatched a plan, if I told any and everybody, who asked, that all I want for my birthday, and Christmas is cash I could afford these shoes by next year. And that’s what I did, and shortly after Christmas 1982 I bought a pair of black suede creepers with a rounded front and a buckle across the top from the shop in the Galleria for $65.00. They were $55.00 when I first spotted them, and after six months they raised the price.

$65.00 is the most I have ever spent on a pair of shoes. And the downside of this is midway through my senior year of high school I had outgrown them. Shortly before graduation, I sold them to a rocker kid who dug the look of them.

My creepers and my leather jacket were my prized possessions, and I had to part with both things due to growth. Maybe Chinese women are on to something with this foot-binding thing.



Born Frustrated is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

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