Under A Broken Street Lamp – REVIEW


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.



Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Wasted: A Tribute to Black Flag – Various Artists


Various Artists
Wasted: A Tribute to Black Flag
October 10, 2002 – Sanctuary Records
Producer Various

1. Exene Cervenka & Henry Rollins – Wasted (0:53)
2. Driller Killer – Rise Above (1:56)
3. Ice-T – Police Story (1:33)
4. Henry Rollins – TV Party (3:33)
5. Jeff Moreira – I’ve Heard It Before (1:37)
6. Mike Patton – Six Pack (2:15)
7. Pennywise – Gimme Gimme Gimme (1:24)
8. Keith Morris – Nervous Breakdown (1:57)
9. Cedric Bixter Zavala – I’ve Had It (1:22)
10. Lemmy Kilmeister – Thirsty & Miserable (2:12)
11. Hank III – No Values (1:35)
12. Sepultura – Rise Above (2:00)
13. Neil Fallon – American Waste (1:32)
14. Iggy Pop – Fix Me (0:54)
15. Nick Oliveri – Jealous Again (1:43)
16. Casey Chaos – Depression (2:15)
17. Rancid – No More (2:12)
18. Henry Rollins – My War (3:47)
19. Tom Araya – Revenge (0:53)
20. Chuck D and Henry Rollins – Rise Above (2:11)
21. Dean Ween – Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie (1:45)
22. Pennywise – Nervous Breakdown (1:47)
23. J Mascis + The Fog – I’ve Had It (1:24)
24. A.R.E. Weapons – Breakdown (3:10)
25. Henry Rollins – Black Coffee (4:49)
26. Fu Manchu – Six Pack (Black Flag Cover) (2:51)
27. Good Riddance – My War (3:43)
28. The Spark – American Waste (1:23)
29. Chuck Dukowski – What I See (1:55)
30. Corey Taylor – Room 13 (1:58)

I don’t remember when I got this, but I have to say there are definitely good and bad things about this compilation. I think it may be a bootleg, taking the stuff from the Rise Above album and a handful of tracks floating around out there. First the positive, the packaging and sound quality are top notch. And any die-hard Black Flag will love the variety of artists that took time to give the mighty Flag a nod. The bad part of this the variety of artists that took time to give the mighty Flag a nod, meaning by adding some of these people to this compilation drives the album’s value down.

Ice-T? I don’t want to hear a fifty-year-old, who still attends pimp conventions, continue bitching about the police. Come on, once you reach a certain financial demographic police aren’t really an issue anymore, are they?

I dig Henry’s new version of Rise Above, Chuck D’s intro brings a new level of intensity to the track. The track smokes. Rollins really stepped up his game, this is the best I’ve heard him in years.

Also, Corey Taylor of Slipknot does a scorching version of Room 13, not one of my favorite songs, but good just the same. Taylor used to date a girl who lived next door to my Mother, the girl was a porn star, so they used to invite my Mom along to get-togethers and parties, and I’ll be dammed if she didn’t pull out pictures, a few months back, of her hanging out with Corey Taylor. He’s not easy to recognize without the crazy mask, but it’s him.

Rise Above
“Jealous cowards try to control
Rise above
Were gonna rise above
They distort what we say
Rise above
Were gonna rise above
Try and stop what we do
Rise above
When they can’t do it themselves

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us its no use

Society’s arms of control
Rise above
Were gonna rise above
Think they’re smart
Can’t think for themselves
Rise above
Were gonna rise above
Laugh at us
Behind our backs
I find satisfaction
In what they lack

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us its no use

We are born with a chance
Rise above
Were gonna rise above
I am gonna have my chance
Rise above
Were gonna rise above

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us its no use

Rise above
Rise above
Rise above
Were gonna rise above
Were gonna rise above
Were gonna rise above.”

Henry just celebrated his 53rd birthday in November; check out this interview with him on the Swindle magazine site, he’s always got something to say – so it makes for a decent read. Check it out at: http://swindlemagazine.com/issue10/henry-rollins/

This album should have been condensed a bit further. If you don’t own it go, and pick up for the Chuck D. and Rollins version of Rise Above.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars.

On to the story . . .

First off, I want to say that this month is my eight-year anniversary writing for Strange Reaction. I have written at least one article a week for eight years now. This is article . . . I don’t know, two million. Damn, I didn’t think I could pull off enough paragraphs to submit a month’s worth.



Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Civet, Continental, Plexikill, Fem (or Fam?) – LIVE


Civet, Continental, Plexikill, Fem (or Fam?)
The Echo, Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, April 23, 2011

I’ve a fan of Rick Barton’s from way back, and a massive fan of Everybody Out. So when I heard EBO split I was pretty bummed out. About a year back Bart had posted some demo tracks from his new band, Continental. Unfortunately, I was too scared to listen to this stuff. Let me clarify this, not scared, scared, but more worried that after loving Everybody Out, what if this didn’t measure up? Because this time Rick Barton sang, played electric and acoustic guitar, and wrote the material. What if, after juggling all these tasks, I didn’t like it?!

Continental hit Los Angeles, about, six to nine months ago, opening for Street Dogs (whose last album was co-produced by Barton). I can’t remember why, but I wasn’t able to make these shows.

Fast forward six to nine months, and Continental have two tours going, a solo tour, and a tour with Hellcat Records artist Civet. Rick Barton had posted a little one or two sentence shout out about the tour, and the need for publicity. So, I told him I could knock out a couple of flyers for him. I got the dates from his Son Steven (the band’s bass player), and I noticed a show here in L.A. So, I had to go.

For a while the band offered their new EP, Death of A Garage Band, free on their site (which I will review soon). And let me say it was great.

Anyway, my Wife, and I, hop in the car, and get to the Echo inside of 30 to 35 minutes. Get in the door to see an empty club. Ouch.

Only the other bands, and merchandise people are milling around. Barton comes out with his, somewhat, famous, Boston terrier, Brutus. We talk for a bit, about this and that, and how the place is empty. He left to walk Brutus, and I’m in fan-boy heaven.

The first band on was Fem (or Fam?). I couldn’t make out their name. It was two guys, one playing guitar (and singing), and the other guy on bass. They did about five songs, and on one of them the guitarist put down his guitar, and switched to a Casio keyboard with a built-in drum machine, and played a song that way. There were a couple of times I wondered if this was being done legit, because the guys seemed have this ongoing monologue going, and it appeared to be, kind of, a parody. All in all they were decent.

The next band up was Plexikill. Plexikill is, in my opinion, a combination of Rancid, and the Ramones, with pop-punk harmonies. Much better than I expected, being I hadn’t heard of the group.

These guys are seasoned professionals.

The band I was waiting for! Continental! There are so many great influences rolled into this group that it’s hard to categorize them. I think I compared them to my Sister-In-law as the early Rolling Stones, the stuff you hear on Hot Rocks, Mother’s Little Helper era. Just great, straight forward rock and roll.

Rick and the guys ran through the bulk of the EP, and an old Dropkick Murphys song he wrote, and a couple other cuts. All in all it was a great thirty-minute set. The club filled up, and everybody was singing along.

I kind of wished they played another hour or so.

The last band was Civet. They played a good strong set. One of the highlights was the Tim Armstrong penned song off of their new album.

My overall assessment, great night!



Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Stalag 13 – In Control


Stalag 13
In Control
February 18, 2003
Dr. Strange Records

Ron Baird – vocals
Blake A. Cruz – guitar
John Morris – bass guitar
Dave Casillas – guitar
Larry White – drums

1. Conditioned
2. No Excuse
3. Black Stix/Silver Badge
4. Sometime
5. Clean Up Your Act
6. Black and Grey
7. What Are You Looking For
8. The Choice is Yours
9. In Control
10. Selfish (Bonus Track)
11. Violence In America (Bonus Track)
12. I Don’t Need It (Bonus Track)
13. Make A Change (Bonus Track)

Straightedge Nardcore. An old review from Flipside in 1984 sums up the whole album really well: “A real solid, good-sounding LP taking up where Minor Threat left off with live your own life. Hardcore of the best kind.”

This is exactly the sound of hardcore in the clubs back in the eighties. It’s a sound that is difficult to explain. But if you were there, you understand what I’m trying to explain. Raw, Barebones, amateurish, but somewhat edgy. Dr. Strange records did another bang-up job here.

If you don’t own it, give it a listen, my review may be wrong.”

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

On to the story . . .

In the late nineties, I was working at an ad agency, as the sole designer for a woman who prior to starting her company was a secretary for a very high-profile ad agency.

She borrowed money from her gay (literally gay, not an insult) husband, and her shrew of a mother-in-law, and rented to offices in a Woodland Hills complex. She identified herself as the owner, and art director. One of the main problems with this was she could not operate any of the programs people design in. No Photoshop and no Illustrator. She could poke around in Quark.

I started working for her as a freelance designer, working from my in-laws guesthouse in North Hills. I worked this way for a few months, and then one day she asked me to come in for a chat. I came in; she offered me a full time gig. I accepted, it sounded good at the time.

I was primarily a Photoshop artist at the time. I had been profiled in about eight different design publications, and feeling pretty confident about my skills. During the final interview/chat with the owner I had brought up some of my “press.” And being she couldn’t really design my being written about seemed to rub her the wrong way.

Once I become the on-site designer Photoshop couldn’t be used anymore. I had to take individual images, and stack them in Quark, so that she could move things a quarter of an inch here, and a quarter of an inch there. So, that she felt like she had finished the project.

The more I protested, the more she would find ways to belittle me. If we were in a meeting, she would tell everyone that I was going to stand at the board, and do highlight points, and illustrations to enhance the meeting.

So, I started to do this little passive-aggressive thing. Prior to me starting there she had a very low budget facelift done. There were scars right where her cheeks meet her ears. So when she would talk to me, I would stare at the scars. I wouldn’t say anything, and I wouldn’t make eye contact.

I hate to stereotype people, but I have never had a female boss, that wasn’t this way. The constant need to let you know that they are in charge.

One of the final projects I worked on was a three-foot, by four-foot poster for an electronics company. They were having their annual company convention in Las Vegas. Their idea was to have a vintage Harley Davidson-biker poster created.

They were having some of their international sales people fly in. And to make the convention a “big deal,” they were going to raffle off a brand new Harley Davidson. So, she wanted me to put together a “fantastic” poster. I said of course, but not in Quark. She stared at me for a bit. I think it clicked that by forcing me to work beneath my abilities, it ultimately made the company look sloppy.

So I spent a week, finding images, and scanning stuff, and finding retro-fonts, etc. Some images I found on a couple of royalty-free websites.

I printed out a full-color proof for her at a quarter of the actual size. The client loved it. They wanted the fonts to be more “boring.” I changed the fonts, and a large-format company printed the full-scale poster.

Now the owner, she seemed confused by the whole finding images on the web thing. When the client came to see the poster they loved it. Then the owner piped in, “I’m not sure how to bill you for this, as all the images were stolen from the web.”

I applied for another job that afternoon. Then quit over the phone the next week. They tried to refuse to give me my final check until I came through for an exit interview. I basically told them to blow it out your ass, and if they wanted to f’ with my check I’d sue. A courier brought it by the next day.



Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Samhain – Initium, Unholy Passion & November-Coming-Fire


1984 – Plan 9 Records
Producer: Glenn Danzig

1 – Initium / Samhain
2 – Black Dream
3 – All Murder All Guts All Fun
4 – Macabre
5 – He-Who-Can-Not-Be-Named
6 – Horror Biz
7 – The Shift
8 – The Howl
9 – Archangel

Glenn Danzig- Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Drums on Archangel
Eerie Von – Bass
Steve Zing – Drums on all songs except Archangel
Lyle Preslar – Guitar on tracks 2, 4, 6 & 7
Mike Gutilla – Keyboard chimes on tracks 6 & 7
Al Pike – 2nd Bass on Archangel

Once you get through this long as hell title track . . . you’ll discover Samhain is much darker than the Misfits, with lyrics about the occult and eventually the horrors of reality, as opposed to the sometimes cartoonish ghouls, and ghosts of the Misfits. Samhain’s musical style was a dark, gritty, and experimental combination of punk, gothic rock.

Danzig originally planned Samhain as a side project, but after The Misfits dissolved, it became a full-time band. Samhain is the least-celebrated of Danzig’s music; it bridges the gap between the punk of the Misfits, and the metal sound of Danzig.

If you don’t own it, it’s worth a listen, but not worth buying.

Rating: * ** one out of three stars.

Unholy Passion
1985 – Plan 9 Records
Producer: Glenn Danzig

1 – Unholy Passion – 3:10
2 -All Hell – 2:19
3 – Moribund – 1:43
4 – The Hungry End – 3:06
5 – Misery Tomb – 3:24
6 I Am Misery – 3:40

Glenn Danzig – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Eerie Von – Bass
Damien – Guitar
Steve Zing – Drums

Samhain released two full-length albums, and one EP during their three-year career as an active band. Some criticized their first album for being merely the Misfits slowed down, but Samhain demonstrated noticeably superior musicianship. However, as their career progressed, they evolved into their own unique style of lo-fi gothic-doom, and gained a cult following that surpassed the modest fanbase The Misfits had while they were active.

A Samhain show was an energetic, and unpredictable event. Sometimes Danzig could be seen donning a bizarre demon-shaped leather S&M mask and occasionally he, and his bandmates went onstage covered in mock blood.

If you don’t own it, it’s worth a listen, but not worth buying.

Rating: * ** one out of three stars.

1986 – Plan 9 Records
Producer: Glenn Danzig

1 – Diabolos ’88
2 – In My Grip
3 – Mother of Mercy
4 – To Walk the Night
5 – Birthright
6 – Let the Day Begin
7 – Halloween II
8 – November’s Fire
9 – Kiss of Steel
10 – Unbridled
11 – Human Pony Girl

Glenn Danzig – Vocals, Keyboards, and Drums (tracks 1, 4, 6, 8, and 11)
Eerie Von – Bass, background vocals
Damien – Guitar, background vocals
London May – Drums (tracks 2-3, 5, 7, 9), background vocals

Samhain III: November-Coming-Fire was the band Samhain’s third release. It was issued in 1986 on Danzig’s record label, Plan 9. It is considered to be the band’s best piece of work, as they were evolving their own style of music, which was often described as gothic metal despite a lack of musical connections to the genre. It contains a re-recorded version of The Misfits’ “Halloween II.” This was the last LP issued by the band during its existence.

Danzig took the name of the band Samhain, from the ancient Celtic New Year, which influenced the modern Halloween. The band’s name is pronounced “sow-win”, although the name is often incorrectly pronounced as “Sam-Hane”. Both Samhain, and its successor Danzig use the same horned skull image originally drawn by artist Michael Golden for the cover of the 1984 comic book Crystar, Crystal Warrior #8, published by Marvel Comics (http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=212228&zoom=4).

If you don’t own it, it’s worth a listen, you might want to pick this up, and it’s closer to the old Misfits sound.

Rating: *** three out of three stars



Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

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