OFF! – First Four EPs

15
Feb

OFF!
First Four EPs
Producer: Dimitri Coats
Released: 2010

Keith Morris – vocals
Dimitri Coats – guitar
Steven McDonald – bass
Mario Rubalcaba – drums

1. Black Thoughts – 1:01
2. Darkness – 0:48
3. I Don’t Belong – 1:00
4. Upside Down – 1:13
5. Poison City – 1:33
6. Now I’m Pissed – 1:01
7. Killing Away – 0:47
8. Jeffery Lee Pierce – 1:21
9. Panic Attack – 1:01
10. Crawl – 1:15
11. Blast – 1:09
12. Rat Trap – 1:20
13. Fuck People – 1:12
14. Full of Shit – 0:34
15. Broken – 0:49
16. Peace in Hermosa – 1:32

Let me start by saying this is pretty good. But my opinion seems to differ from everybody else as to how good.

Everyone I know, friends to musicians view this band as the return of punk and the album the Holy Grail. I like this, but not as much as everybody else.
If you don’t own it, give it a listen. Rating: ** * two out of three stars

On to the story . . .

Back in 2001, I was unhappy with the way my daughter was being raised. Her mom dropped her off at my mother’s so she could chase after some Hispanic guy in Vegas. That attempt at a relationship failed.

So my daughter lived locally for a while. Everything seems to be going well for a while. Slowly my ex and my family starting fighting with each other over the phone, and one weekend my ex’s sister took my daughter for the weekend but instead popped her on a plane to Vegas to her mom.

From Vegas, they took a Greyhound to Florida and never came back.

My brother and I had no idea she was out of state. We staked out any and all relatives on my ex’s side of the family with the police to try and track her down.

Three or four of our “raids” we eventually found out that she was in Florida. I was blown away. I had no clue that an out of state move was on the horizon.

My wife went to work in securing me a lawyer to get my daughter back. She hired the lawyer that handled divorce between Joan Collins and her husband. He represented the husband and bilked Joan Collins. My thinking was he’ll work hard for the “man’s side” of this.

I had to max out a credit card to get the $1,500.00 retainer to the attorney. Then every time we met with him, it was always another $500.00 bucks. My brother assisted as much as he could.

After months, the judge granted me custody. My lawyer told me to board a plane for Margate, Florida, show local law enforcement my judgment, and they would come with me to my daughter’s place of residence and we would come back to California.

My brother gave me a pocketful of cash, and my brother-in-law Richie agreed to come along with me on the trip. Richie was handy for two reasons, one the guy can fight like it’s nobody’s business, and secondly, he had the charm of a campaigning politician. I figured if the shit in Florida got too thick he could help me out one way or the other.

Throughout out our trip, it was one extreme or the other. The first night we got to Florida, we head to a Denny’s. The waitress starts hitting on Richie. Her arms are covered in meth scars. She tells us what time she gets off work, and asks where we are staying. When we ask where the bathroom is our waitress points towards the corner of the restroom, as she points some three hundred pounds Bubba jumps up and yells at us, “So, what’s up?” We look at each other in confusion. Richie quickly defuses the situation by asking the guy if he’d like to eat pancakes with us. The guy looked me confused than us, sat down, and said, “No, it’s cool.” Turns out he was the ex-boyfriend of our tweaker waitress.

The next day we are at the Margate Police Department. They automatically hate Richie. He’s a bit darker than me, and it’s hard to make out his background, so they’d ignore him or get annoyed when he spoke. The first time he asked about us serving the custody notice one of the cops said, “Why are you talking?” I got kind of pissed. I said, “He is my daughter’s uncle.” The cop fired back, “Well, uncle, this has nothing to do with you.” I really wanted to slap this hillbilly bastard, but my brother-in-law defused it. He said, “You’re right, in this town it has nothing to do with me.” The cop looked at him twice and went to photocopy my custody papers.

After an hour of hanging out with the cast members of Deliverance, they finally said that they wouldn’t help us. They said it was a California case, and if we took my daughter without the mother’s permission they’d lock us up for kidnapping.

So, we needed a new plan. We went to Hooters for lunch. This was in the early part of 2001, and Florida still had smoking sections. So, Richie lit up. And some yuppie dad started to complain, turns out he smoking area was six inches to the left, so Richie held his arm over about a foot, and he was now in the smoking area. Our waitress comes over and says, “Some people have their head up their asses.” Then sat down and shared Richie’s nachos.

On the cab ride back we were driven by a man from the Dominican Republic. And . . . how do I say this delicately? He hadn’t showered in at least a week. We get into the cab, and almost pass out. Richie is coughing, I’m holding my nose. Richie decides to have some fun with the guy, and says, “Wow, you last fare really stunk up your cab, if I smelled that bad I’d kick my own ass.” The guy looked around real nervous-like, then said,” I’m Christian I don’t judge anyone, no matter what they smell like.” Too funny.

Later that day we went to my daughter’s house and Richie served the papers and said we could take her back to California today. My ex claimed that my daughter wasn’t in town, “Sorry.”

So, we had to buy tickets coming home for two instead of three. That Monday I called the lawyer and said that I need him to really buckle down and get my kid for me. I added that I’m out another thousand bucks after running around in Florida for no reason. Later that afternoon he called my wife to say he is resigning as my lawyer, saying that “We don’t see eye to eye on this case.” Punk.

Because of the wonderful law enforcement in Margate County, and iffy lawyers, I never physically got my daughter. I spent fifteen thousand dollars and got custody on paper, but never maintained the physical custody.

 

 

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Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Michael Essington – Reading

15
Feb

Saturday, March 4, 2017, at 4 PM – 6:30 PM

MeowMeowz Retro 80s Thrift Shop
2423 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, California 91107

Michael Essington will be signing copies of Misconceptions of Hell, Born Frustrated, Life Won’t Wait and Last One To Die.

Essington will have first and second print copies of Life Won’t Wait & Misconceptions of Hell, first print copies of Born Frustrated and second print copies of Last One To Die for sale.

Also, Michael will be reading selected stories from Last One To Die.

 

 

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Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Volbeat, Danko Jones, Spoken – LIVE

08
Feb

Volbeat, Danko Jones, Spoken
House of Blues, Los Angeles, CA
Friday, March 15, 2013

As I sit down to write this, I’m scratching my head trying to figure how to write this. Is it going to be a review or the story of how I almost died? Well, here it goes.

On March 13th, my 47th Birthday rolled around, and I wasn’t the least bit excited about it. It’s one of those things where you, kind of, reevaluate your life and feel like you haven’t accomplished shit. Besides putting out a little book, I was feeling like I hadn’t done much of anything.

Almost a month before my birthday, my brother surprises me with tickets to see Volbeat at the House of Blues on Sunset. In case you haven’t heard of Volbeat, they are a band from Denmark, described as James Hetfield’s favorite band. They are a combination of punk, rockabilly, death metal, and a pinch or Johnny Cash. Confused? You shouldn’t be. This is a great mix of music.

Anyway, my brother, his girlfriend, my wife, and I, hop in the car. Stop to get something to eat. We pull into a parking lot with a McDonald’s and an El Pollo Loco (my brother treats a homeless guy to dinner). Now the thought of eating another burger is turning my stomach, but I’ve been allergic to poultry since birth. Over the years I have tried a bite of chicken here and there to see if I’ve outgrown the allergy. I found that if the chicken is extremely overcooked I can eat it. I have tried El Pollo Loco’s Pollo Bowl and did fine. But I didn’t want a whole bowl of shit, just a little something to get me through the night. So I decide to order a burrito, my wife warns me that it’s a bad idea. I tell her it’s the same chicken as the Bowl, she disagrees. I order it because I don’t listen (Rebel Without A Clue).

The whole time I’m eating everyone is watching me. Kind of a “We’re worried you’re gonna die” thing. This makes me more determined that this fucking chicken isn’t going to do me in. I finish it, and everybody asks how I’m doing, and honestly, I was fine, then 4 or 5 minutes later — like a bomb went off, my throat closed up and the eyesight in my right eye starting failing. My face started itching and so did the palms of my hands. It must have real noticeable because instantly my brother’s girlfriend, Christine, GPS’ the local drugstore.

We run for the car, my eye is now draining down the side of my face and the rest of my face is covered in hives. In less than a minute my wife is at a Rite Aid, I jump out of the car, on Sunset, grab a box of Benadryl (well — generic Benadryl). Paid, ran back to the car. They give me a bottle of water and I take two Benadryl’s. But my throat has closed up so much that only the pills, slip in and I’m gagging on the water, so I spit out the water and wait for the pills to kick in.

They start debating if they should take me to the ER. Not that I’m a trooper or anything, but I’m cheap. So, if you spent good money on tickets and parking there’s no way I’m going to let this go to waste. I insist we park, but now 15 to 18 minutes have passed and the Benadryl isn’t working. My arms and legs feel like sandbags, I don’t feel like I’m controlling them, I’m just swinging them along.

In the parking lot, I am given 2 more Benadryl, I try to choke them down with water and again the pills, slip down, but I gag and spit the water.

Now, I’m getting spooked. This is the worst attack I ever had and both eyes are failing and watering. So, I go into my defense mechanism, I’m cracking jokes, talking and doing everything to deny my body is failing.

We get in line, which is now wrapped around the corner, after 10 or 15 minutes I feel a bit of relief. My left eye clears up and that stuffed cotton feeling in my head starts to go away. Every 3 steps I have to hack up god-knows-what as my throat is trying to open up again.

We get to the front of the line and they have us empty our pockets and purses and get waved over by the metal detector wand. We get through; ask the security guard where our reserved seats are located. We sit, I pass out. I come around a little bit before the first band.

So, I straighten up in my chair, the first band, Spoken, comes on. The music is great. The singer charges out and his first few words come out and guess what? They are cookie monster vocals! So, even though I’ve only been coherent for 30 seconds I’m still here to review, so I yell “Oh fuck this.” But I spoke too soon. The rest of the set the guy sang pretty damn well.

The next band up was Danko Jones. Danko Jones knocked out some really good, fast, energetic music.

My only issue with the band is the in between song dialogue. “Every person that rejected me, every label that didn’t sign will look up at me, and I’ll look down on them from the highest mountain.” It was horse-shit. Music-wise cool, but whatever was going on with Danko – well, troubling to say the least.

Volbeat put on a damn near flawless set. They did great songs like The Mirror and the Ripper, Heaven Nor Hell and Fallen, from their latest album.

One of the highlights was Michael Poulsen bringing out an acoustic guitar and singing Ring Of Fire. The low point was bringing out Danko Jones to cover Angel Fuck. Not because he was a bad singer, but because his voice isn’t fit for a Glenn Danzig song.

Now back in the early eighties when slamming became the staple of hardcore punk shows, it was based on the pace of the music, the energy in the room. Nowadays, a band could be playing a ballad and these jerk-offs will go ape-shit.

Here’s my theory on it: you get a roomful of people that weren’t loved enough by Mom, and loved too much by Dad (follow me so far?) they will fill up on booze, hit the slam pit with one goal in mind, “God dammit, I’m going to prove to the world that I am a man!” That’s great; if it helps you sleep on your tear-soaked pillow, then slam, ass-hat.

Anyway, Volbeat put on a great show. My overall assessment, great night!

 

 

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Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Under A Broken Street Lamp by Michael Essington and David Gurz

31
Jan

Under A Broken Street Lamp
Written by: Michael Essington and David Gurz
Essex Digital Media
2013

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, and 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.

TSOL – Weathered Statues

31
Jan

TSOL
Weathered Statues
1982 – Alternative Tentacles
Producer: Thom Wilson

Jack Grisham – Vocals
Ron Emory – Guitar
Mike Roche – Bass
Todd Barnes – Drums
Robert Taylor – Keyboards

1. Man & Machine – 1:37
2. Weathered Statues – 3:09
3. Thoughts of Yesterday – 2:37
4. Word Is – 2:34

I picked this one up at Moby Disc in Sherman Oaks the week it came out. It came out on the heels of Dance With Me. They had left Frontier and put this out on Alternative Tentacles.

Opening with Man and Machine, a fast-paced hardcore tune similar to those found on their first EP, but from then on TSOL goes to a more Dance With Me sound.

Their two EPs (TSOL’s self-titled EP, and Weathered Statues) sandwiched TSOL’s 1981 debut album Dance with me, one of the finest pieces of American punk ever.

Topped off by Ron Emory’s great guitar work, and a smoking bass line, the Weathered Statues EP ends with Word Is, which has a bit of a ska vibe. And after this release, TSOL would go in yet another direction.

If you don’t own it, you may be in the garage mixing radiator coolant and Sudafed.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

The standout cuts are Man & Machine, and Weathered Statues.

If you can find it, buy it.

On to the story . . .

Sometime around November of 2009, I was sent an “Event” notice on Facebook. I get one or two of these a week nowadays. Someone is promoting a club, a concert, a seminar, or sometimes a movie premiere or having a birthday party. I’m a real flake, I always reply with a maybe. If it’s in the Valley, and I don’t have to do much driving, I’ll say I’m attending.

Anyway, this guy Eric that I was friend’s with for a time, back in school, wrote to everybody who he was still in touch with from High School and said this girl Terri who had moved to Texas was going to be in the Valley for two weeks.

So, he wanted everybody to get together at a Coffee Bean, and shoot the shit. He set up an “Event” page on Facebook. With two dates, one right after Christmas (I think the 27th), and another one right after New Years.

I clicked that I would attend the one after Christmas.

I mark the calendar and come that Sunday I plan to do my regular weekend routine. Breakfast with my Son; maybe swing through the local Goodwill (I buy books, DVD’s, and an occasional video game for the boy), and the necessities for the house at Wal-Mart.

Unfortunately, this Sunday was screwy. We did breakfast, and then the Wife called and said her elderly Uncle was in the hospital. He had been fasting during Christmas (he is an Orthodox Catholic), and became weak and fainted. He’s a real good guy and digs my Son, so after breakfast, we head to Northridge Hospital (hey, I was born there), and visit him for a while.

Then we head for Porter Ranch to find the Coffee Bean. Stroll in, look around and. . . nobody! My Son and I order our drinks (chocolate milk for him, and decaf for me). After about after 20 minutes to a half an hour, Terri walks in. She looks around, and says where is everybody, and I say “I’m it, so far.”

It’s been about 25 years since I’ve seen her so . . . I don’t know what to say. My Son took over the conversation for a bit, he starts showing her his Nintendo DS and starts explaining how the Mario and Sonic Winter Olympic game works.

Then she utters the funniest thing, I see her hemming, and hawing and she says, “Um, I remember you in high school, you were kind of into . . . . I guess new wave.” Her face is now red as if you just confessed the most embarrassing moment of your life.

I looked at her for a moment, and said: “I think you mean punk.”

You just looked at me, then “yeah, I know, but I didn’t want to say that.”

I kind of laughed and blew it off. But the more I thought about it, the more it tripped me out. Being into punk is like saying I did a 15-year bid on a manslaughter charge. It brings out that kind of shame and embarrassment.

So, my Son and I hung out for about an hour, and shot the shit, about who we could remember, and who is up to what. All the while compiling a list in my head of what I want to buy at Headline Records once I get the hell out of there.

Then two more classmates of ours (they met up later in life, and married) come walking up, they sit for a while.

Then the “Wife” says to me: “I remember you used to have spiked hair, and a razor earring, didn’t you listen to new wave or something?” I smile and say “I think it was punk.” She looks away, and smiles, and says “Oh, OK.”

Then, the “husband,” oblivious to the prior conversations looks at me, and says, “So, how are you?” I say “Good, yourself?” He says, “Fine. Weren’t you into new wave or something? I remember you in a leather jacket; it had TSO . . . something painted on it.”

At this point I gave up, I said: “Yep, loved me some new wave.”

 

 

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Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

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