Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Well, I've been away for a while, mostly because I've been working on a comic book about the gritty truth behind the rock n' roll scene here in New York City. It took up pretty much all of my free time.

You can check out most of it here, and if you enjoy it, the whole story is available for $1.99 on Kindle or $6.41 for soft cover.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Bars and promoters like to get as many bands as they can to play in a day. The reason is that each band will bring its own fans, some may come just to see their band's show, some will come a little early, and you better believe they want people to stay late.

It's great for the bars, but what about the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th band in the evening. What if you get there, and here the band play much of your set? How are you going to kick their ass? Will the crowd want to hear "Heart-Shaped Box" or "She Will Be Loved" or "Layla" or "Walkin' the Dog" again?

One surefire way to kickass at a bar is audience involvement. Not kareoke, but something as simple as hand-claps, or repetition, or songs everyone knows but maybe hasn't thought of in a long time, or one-hit wonders. I asked Rockers of rockandrolltribe.com for tunes they'd like bands to cover--but never, ever do.


Not handclapping, but it's got repetition (and hey, is that a handclap I hear in the background?)

DRINKING SONGS are always great. People are there to drink and have a good time. They will definitely be howlin' if you play...

If you have a few RARE OR B-SIDES songs in your pocket, some of the audience might even think they are your originals...

This was originally by The Crazy Teens in the 50s:
(embedding disabled)

AND FINALLY...it takes more time and effort, but stealing from a genre you consider opposite your own and making them your own can make some memorable results:

Better as disco or metal?

Better as Old School Punk or Country?

Saturday, August 27, 2011


512AM--I woke up after 5 hours of sleep. I turn on the weather channel, and have the frozen yogurt I was too tired to eat last night. Al Roker is on Long Island, and one of their other regulars is standing in the wind on Nag's Head Island, NC. I know I can't function properly on 5 hours of sleep and go back to bed.

837AM--Is that really the time? I woke up with my arm over one of my eyes. It won't focus. I fight denial and recheck the time on my phone. It is 839 now! The trains are going to stop running at 12NOON. If you live here you know how hard it is to get around without public transit. It costs an arm and a leg, and with all the traffic lights, it can take forever. I make instant coffee and imagine working while I start getting clothes together.

915AM-- My eye starts focusing. I give up hurricane evacuation denial. I do not have time to work out. I will have to bring a real, rolly suitcase. Passport, vitamins, laptop, hip flask of gin/flashlight (if I run out of one, I can use the other), books to inspire me, books to entertain me.

I close all the windows, put tarps over the beds, and over the closet bars, feed the cats enough for a few days.

By 1011AM--I am showered, and packed. I choose a pair of jeans that look good rolled up and plastic flipflops. If you think this is fripperous or vain, this is NYC where people think of leaving beautiful corpses.

1030AM--Ready to leave, yet not. I spend 10 minutes rechecking everything, and that no cats are locked in the closets.

1039AM--I hurry. Sirens are coming from all directions, but I do not see the source of them. It's raining lightly and cars that usually plug along at 40 mph are racing down the main drag at 60 or 70 miles an hour.

1050AM--There is an attendant at the Coney Island station, but the doors are open. The train is FREE. There is no security. My 9/11 PTSD kicks in and says, "great day for a terrorist attack".

Only two Chinese men get off the incoming train. The rest of us get on--probably 100 for a train suited to more like 1000.

1130AM--The train is also local and running slow.We're going over Manhattan Bridge. It's unusually quiet. I look out the window and there are almost no cars going over the bridge. I count 14 in the 10 minute ride.

1206PM--I arrive at my safe house for the next few days, safe and sound. But the weather's not too bad. I decide to take a walk before I'm stuck inside. Most of the chain stores are closed. I am sure that is in part because having some stores open with a reduced staff would confuse their accounting and human resources depts.

I wonder how many stores that were near closing will finally fold over losing a few days' sales. I've seen a lot of stores close in midtown recently, including "Everything Must GO" which has been going out of business for more than 40 years.

A hipster man is explaining to his son that today is just like Thanksgiving--everything is closed. One thing is different than Thanksgiving. I check out the movie theater nearby and it is also closed.

Pricey restaurants are open though, and packed with people seemingly oblivious to the restaurants' hurricane preparations.

Tourists are standing outside scratching their heads, unsure of what to do in closed New York. A lot of the higher end restaurants are open. Many delis and Duane Reades are open, with check out lines extending to the back of their stores.

1258PM It starts to rain harder. I finally see a hand-drawn hurricane safety station sign for over on 59th and 10th Ave. I'm glad homeless and near homeless have somewhere to go.

130PM I finally decide to have lunch at a bar on 8th Ave. called Matt's. It's not too full. Service is slow, and I am pretty sure the owner was the acting busboy today. People read their facebook "keep safe" messages to each other and talked about doing shots and doing laundry. I guess in Manhattan it will be a regular day until it isn't anymore.


637PM--If I am going to stay away from home for a few days, I am going to need clean clothes. On the way to the nicer neighborhood laundromat, I pass by a family dinner of 8 sitting on folding chairs and on the stoop on the street. The small children are tossing a ball back and forth, the adults are eating fried chicken and the grandmother is sitting quietly.

This laundry is very crowded, but only a block from the beach. I walk ankle deep in the water and call my mom, tell her where I'm staying, what I am doing for my cats while I'm gone. My mother says the city cares about us: we're getting evacuated. I don't have the heart to tell her that evacuation means that if you stay after the warning time, emergency services may not come if you need them. Tough love.

A policeman in uniform stops me in my walk. Part of the beach is already closed. Strange to see a policeman in full uniform so close to the surf. I start back toward my chores.

Outside the laundry, a woman is shouting across the street to another:" The line at the liquor store is like a line at PATHMARK! It's true! All those drunks know there will be no booze till Tuesday! They're gonna be SICK!" True, I thought.

710PM--I moved my clothes from washer to the dryer, and then walk toward the liquor store next to my house with the dusk settling in. The family party on the street is breaking up. The children are now holding their toys, not tossing them. The adults look at each other with their arms folded. "But where are you going to BE?" one asks. One asks the grandmother who she is going with. Someone else is asking if they are going to be okay. The answers were all accompanied by shakes of the head.

I hit the liquor store. It's on my way. People have carts full of booze, 4 people in each line. It is just like Pathmark on a Saturday morning. I return home to fill all of my tupperware and bottles with water and stick them in the freezer, hoping the power won't go out for too long, and my grocery shopping from last week will be saved. I call more friends and tell them I'm leaving and where I'll be. Not that they can get to me. It's just hard to do this by myself.

815PM When I finally pick up my laundry, the place was empty, except for a large latino woman in skintight white teeshirt and a well-kempt Chinese man cleaning up. I asked him if it is usually like this on Friday nights, and he says usually is. The woman confirmed it must be the storm that took everyone away..

I dragged my laundry home and then ran straight to the Pathmark.

On my way I passed a woman in a housecoat feeding a dozen hungry feral cats. She stood watching them eat with her hands on her hips. She told me she was worried about them in the coming storm. I told her that feral cats know what to do. I hope I was right.

Sirens wail. They've been going all evening. They seem more frequent and ominous than usual. My landlord calls me. He wants to remind me to leave, but close the windows first.

The parking lot was completely full. So many people, you could trip on anyone's heel at any moment. And it seems like every other shopper is a pregnant woman. A thickly built man in his 40s with a mullet pulled a dolly full of water to its proper section, chanting loudly, "I work the hours, I make the dollars, WATER anyone want WATER? I work the hours, I make the dollars, WATER..." Before he made it to the water section, customers mobbed him. And then he pulled the empty dolly back, chanting only,"I work the hours, I make the dollars..."

I broke my can opener last week. And the supermarket did not have any. I am not worried about food where I am going, but it might be nice to have something at home in case the food in the freezer does go bad. I take this as an opportunity to buy raisins, packets of tuna, bread, and about $40 worth of junk food, including EZ CHEEZ that needs no refrigeration. I would never eat such a thing if it weren't an emergency.

The selfcheckout line is empty, even though all the other checkouts are 7 or 8 carts to a line. People are frantic, and next to each checkout line there is a magazine shelf of unwanted food, some of it meat going bad already.

930PM-- I get home, chores done, make dinner. My new bf calls. He doesn't want me to feel alone. I feel good until...

10PM--It's time to eat. I hang up. As I sit down, there's another siren, and then the sound of firecrackers--more than usual, like they are trying to use up the extra ones, like it'll be the last time. It may be. Not only because of this storm, but it's the end of summer.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


So you're playing out somewhere, and you are up there doing your all. The light's in your eyes, you are sweating your ass off, playing your heart out. And you look in to the audience and no one is dancing. No one is even standing in front of you. What is going on? Is the audience a buncha weenies or what?

Having been married to a very good drummer who had as many paying blues and rock gigs in a week as he could schedule, plus his own art band, I can safely say I've been to thousands of gigs, listening on both sides of the stage--not left and right, but in front of the stage, talking and listening to the crowd and behind the drums/backstage listening to the band. So I'm an interested 3rd party. I want everyone to have a great time at shows.

First off, the audience may be a buncha weenies. It could be true. But if they are in a bar, listening to you, then they want to be a buncha weenies letting loose and having a good time. If they are standing far away from you, and not really dancing, it could be caused by many things:

1. It may be early and they may not be drunk enough yet. Not much you can do about that except remind them to get another beer.

2. The acoustics of the place may not be right for your normal volume level. If you are playing in a place with lots of brick and/or glass, the soundwaves are going to be reflected off the walls and hurting your audience's eardrums. You don't really want to hurt them, do you? They are paying for your performance, either directly through a cover, or indirectly by buying booze. Did you remind them to get another drink?

3.You may be blowing their minds. Honest. You may be so far out of their usual sounds and ideas, your audience may be struck dumb. It may be great to open their minds like that, but you probably want them dancing and acting all crazy anyway. The solution--your interpretation of a song everyone knows. I'm not asking you to do kareoke here. In fact, the exact opposite--when you show an audience YOUR interpretation of a tune, you are showing them who you are AND what they can expect from you at the same time. This isn't something you should do as a first song--or else the audience will think you are a cover band--but not the last either or it's a waste. Probably 3rd or 4th song in the first set.

Here's an example of how covers can be revealing, and exciting, starting with the original:

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I am just not going to get ALL of the Punk Island stages. I just have too many other responsibilities. I suppose there were showers I could have skipped, maybe not gone to work one day or helped my kid with his homework, but...I think everyone is grateful I showered. Really. I will put up the last 3 stages of the lineup here, and try to find a youtubes for each one.

Stage 6: Wombat Stage
Daycare Swindlers

No Service Project

Pig Invasion
Rats in Rigor
Wombat in Combat
Skum City
Blackout Shoppers
In Circles

Stage 7: Independent Media Stage
White Collar Crime (reunion show, after 8 year hiatus)

Punk version of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"

The Furiousity (Boston, MA)

No Vice!
Crazy Pills
Social Standards
Radar Fiction
Kitsch Kitsch
the Cr@ss cover band (a.k.a. "Creep Dog", etc.)
Todd Colby (poet)
Sparrow (poet, both poets are published by Soft Skull Press.)

Stage 8: Tinnitus Stage
Cinema Cinema


High School Confidential
Grey Market
Shit Show
Love Bullet
American Thighs
Flesh Control
Desekilibrio Social

NO MATTER WHAT I PUT DOWN HERE, nothing beats just going to the middle of the big field (see map in the next blogpost) and listening. You'll hear everyone at once, but quietly. Follow your ears! :)


This is what I was lacking last year. This picture of a lamb chop, or perhaps a surveyor's map from 1917 clearly has the stage numbers written on it. Sideways. It took a little searching for me, but Stage 8 is on the far right.