Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Name Dropper's Symphony

A couple of years ago a friend of mine published his memoirs and it was easily the most shameless display of name dropping I've ever seen. Each and every page relentlessly referenced folks both famous and obscure with a bombing frequency that would put Operation Desert Storm to shame. I believe that the writer assumed that if enough people saw their names in print the book was a sure fire bet to sell tons of copies.

The book of course tanked miserably because the book resembled a lopsided phone book with its endless list of names. Ultimately his book (in the words of Phil Ochs) wouldn't interest anyone outside a small circle of friends.

But, zounds! What an inspiration: I have decided to write my own memoirs and hope I can drop as many high-profile names as this sagacious scribe. All of the following tales are real and star-studded, honest. I will try not to disappoint. Excelsior!


I remember when Richard Meltzer had his radio show "Hepcats From Hell" on KPFK and my friends The Human Hands, The B People and Monitor all played full-length sets broadcasting live at KPFK studios in North Hollywood. It was an all-night show on a Saturday from 12 midnight to 4 AM.

My favorite Human Hands songs were "I Got Mad" and "Trains Vs. Planes" with the late, great David Wiley delivering some very dramatic vocals while the keyboards and propulsive drumming from Dennis Duck set up the suspenseful wall of sound. They were great.

As a side note, it must be added that Dennis Duck also played in The Dream Syndicate and The Los Angeles Free Music Society, the latter which featured Ace Farren Ford, who also played six-string bass in Crowbar Salvation, the band fronted by Marty Nation, star of Richard Kern’s film “Fingered”.

The B People were equally excellent with my friend Pat Delaney on sax, who I played alongside for The Screamers and Arthur J. And The Gold Cups. Pat was also in The Deadbeats. Alex Gibson was the leader of the band and had this great sing called "Can Can't".

Where did I come in? I was asked to bring my horn and play along on a free jazz finale version of The Beatles' "Hey Jude" with Alex crooning the Paul McCartney part. All three bands played on this hoary chestnut and Pat and I got to wail or horns at 4 AM. We made enough of a row to even wake Ringo Starr (who probably lives in the Valley) up.


In 1981 I lived in New York as a guest of Arto Lindsay, who had a band called DNA at the time and were part of a compilation called "No New York". He was house-sitting John Lurie's apartment, John Lurie star of several Jim Jarmusch films. Arto was also in a band with John called The Lounge Lizards and was gracious enough to let me stay there. He promised me a gig in The Lounge Lizards Big Band, which never materialized. Oh, well.

I hit The Village Voice want ads looking for a cool band to play in. I had a very strange phone call with Rudi Protrudi of The Fuzztones, who then promoted something he called "Popodelic Wave", which to this day I still don't understand!

I did audition, however, for Jeffrey Lohn of the Theoretical Girls who was putting together a guitar orchestra much in the style of Glenn Branca and Rhys Chapman. I valiantly tried hard to sound cool with my Fender Mustang guitar but couldn't read music, which was a requirement for the band. Yes, there was sheet music on real metal music stands!

Jeff was very patient, however and said I probably wouldn't work out, but he had some friends who were looking for a second guitar player. He scribbled a phone number on a piece of paper with the names Thurston and Kim written on top. Whoa. I never called, however, because I thought any band with a guy called Thurston in it might be pretty scary. It's cool, though, I think things worked out well for them, anyway.


In 1974 my brother Peter had a classmate from school named Shelly Ganz who used to come around the house regularly. Shelly asked me if he should get the new Emerson, Lake & Palmer album or the latest from Genesis. After briefly choking, I told him that if he really wanted to blow his mind he should check out Iggy & The Stooges or The New York Dolls.

He followed my advice, loved both bands and then asked me if there was anything else like them. I said, “Nobody’s like them, but I think I know something close enough you’ll dig”, and took him to Moxieland, a garage rock record store down the street from my home on Pico & Robertson. I introduced him to Dave Gibson, owner of the store.

Well, one thing led to another and Shelly Ganz started his own garage rock band The Unclaimed, which at one point or another included Rich Coffee of Thee Fourgiven and The Tommyknockers. The Unclaimed played a great version of The Sonics’ “The Witch” that knocked me totally flat on my ass.

Shelly used to rehearse at The Masque, owned by Brendan Mullen, and probably accounts for how he met Paula Pierce, future leader of The Pandoras and Masque hanger-on. She dated Bruce Moreland of The Skulls prior to hooking up with Shelly. The last time I saw Paula play with The Pandoras was when they opened up for Nina Hagen at The Greek Theater.


I was jealous when my wife Rebecca, formerly of Frightwig, told me about the time she shoved Axl Rose of Guns 'N Roses at the dance floor of English Acid, or maybe it was White Trash A Go Go. Then I relaxed after recalling the story about how in 1984 I crossed Sunset Boulevard in my hand-painted Chelsea high-heeled boots after seeing Gun Club (okay, so sue me) and hearing a very familiar voice coming from a devil red limousine, "DUDE THOSE ARE SOME SWEET KICKS! WHY DON"T YOU CRUISE OVER!" Yes, it was David Lee Roth from Van Halen.

No, like Hell was I going to sell my hand-painted boots, besides, I heard he's notoriously cheap like Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, but that's another story. There are many stories and even more names I can drop, forever and ever.

To tell you the truth this name dropping business is pretty tiresome. I don't know how this boring cunt did it, I'm already exhausted about bragging about people I haven't even thought about in years. I guess it takes a certain gumption to brag endlessly about people all the time. And no, I never dated Courtney Love!

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