Minstrels Anonymous on Bandcamp

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Talking To Myself In Public

At the height of my band’s popularity many fanzines wanted us in their latest issue but were too lazy to interview me. They always asked me to interview myself, which was a novelty the first time around, but repeated requests for me to interview myself became very dull soon thereafter. Not only did it expose a true lack of interest in what I was doing, but it always felt as if I was simply talking to myself.

So allow me to talk to myself a little bit more, but this time the subject is yours truly. Not the band I literally built from the ground up – no help, no partners – a band I created alone and dragged all the way up from the depths to The Roxy Theater and The Hollywood Palladium. Not bad. I’ve created and reinvented myself time and time again.

Since I’ve made an art form of talking to myself in public I’ve decided to mention a few details about me. Some people will believe what I’m about to say and others (fools) will think I’m merely telling tales.

Playing in other people's bands never got me much attention, and one of the great ironies was I got a record deal simply for looking cool. The head of Sympathy For The Record Industry saw me walking down Melrose Avenue, and offered me a record deal without having heard a single note of music from me, and didn’t really want to. Talk about your Lana Turner discoveries.

Four years later my group broke up, my choice, which made me a pariah on the scene. That was fine, because playing music never made me any money. In fact, at the height of my popularity I lived out of my car because I pumped what little money I had into my band. The same people who ostracized me for breaking my band up thought it was funny I was living on the streets while I was headlining some terrible Hollywood dump. Assholes.

But the next step, and there’s always a next step, was working for local government, and I always found myself in the Executive Office of the LA County Fire Department, Department of Children & Family Services, and finally the LA County Board of Supervisors (my last hurrah). During that time I worked for a varied list of city councilmen, mayors, law enforcement officials, and prominent judges. I won several citations and awards for my service to local government.

But municipal service can be as boring as playing sax behind tuneless punk singers, so I joined forces with my ex designing wardrobe for movies, television, theatre, metal bands and even video games, like Twisted Metal (some video games take live action green screen footage and incorporate it into the game, so we'd fabricate and style the costumes worn for the footage). We’d guzzle endless pots of coffee and stay up for several nights cutting fabric, sewing outfits, distressing and dyeing, whatever the job called for. I did most of the shopping and learned who the good fabric stores were and which ones to stay away from.

In between sewing jobs I began writing serials for my blog, Out Demons Out. The serials then transmogrified into novels. All my novels, except Hot Wire My Heart started out as serials in my blog. My novels, six so far with a seventh on the way, are all available on every eBook outlet – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo Canada, and they can even be taken out like library books at hoopla.com.

But it all began to get real when I took on a weekend delivery job, when I drove around on a drizzly afternoon, listening to The Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life”. The dispatcher told me to head on over to Stella MacCartney’s boutique, a lovely baroque building with vines of ivy crawling all over the entrance.

I came in for the pick-up and the salesgirl told me to take this to Olivia Harrison’s house. Holy shit. I’m going to George Harrison’s house. It was all too much, delivering to George’s widow from Paul’s daughter. All I’m going to say about George’s house is that the walls are VERY high – can you blame him? – and it’s very Spanish styled. When the housemaid came out to pick up Olivia’s dress she halted at the sight of me for a moment, smiled and then handed me a crisp twenty dollar bill. When I die that’s all I’m going to remember.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Saints & Sinners

Black velvet wonderwoods of
Venice Blvd, sky darkened like
ejaculations of squid ink
there’s a bar named Saints & Sinners
just to make sure we get it
they hang a neon halo and neon
flames jumping out of the signs

Saints & Sinners slung drinks
with handles like Fallen Angel
The Devil Made Me Do It and
Heaven’s Eleven

With walls of red and black
booths of leather, satin, velveteen
it was Satan’s crib, St. Michael
hadn’t slung his sword here…obviously

The clits here had mad game
I brought my girl here once
and it didn’t stop the saloonsluts
from hitting on me in front of her
all Hell almost broke loose…almost

The drinks were tight
the drinks were stiff
Unholy Passion Sam Hain on the juke
Everclear flames from the bar
Teasin’ a Scorpio with a TV eye

Later on the girl slithered away
I slithered back to the S&S
there was this tramp with flaming red hair
tight red dress
smelled of barbecue and catnip
told the BT
she was “waiting for her boss”
leaned over and axed me for a light
I lit her up the flame shining her deep, deep eyes
plumes of smoke billowed out

A month later Saints & Sinners burned down
to a hellish crisp
was it
Archangel St. Michael
fire and brimstone
or too much BBQ and catnip
RIP Saints & Sinners

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Sea of Intoxica

My name is Andy and I am an alcoholic. Well, I was. Let's talk about drink. After you recover you have all the time in the world to talk about the thrill of the slow kill.

When I took a drink of Irish whisky it was like drinking pure liquid gold. I could even taste the goldness of the fluid as well as savor the aroma of the aged wood from the barrel it was aged in. It would caress my throat and fill my body with a lusty warmth.

You know it's love, no addiction, when you drink not for the high but for the taste, the flavor and how it bursts all the pleasure centers of your body.

Your fingers tingle and legs relax, all your muscles untense in a comfort no one else can give you. As I drank more and more I knew how to regulate my moods according to what I drank.

Wine kept me hyper and social, scotch made me mellow, rum & coke for the obvious sugar rush, which could also be obtained from Jagermeister, Goldschlager and the other liqueurs.

Bourbon killed my fears and inhibitions. I never would have been able to front a band if not for my bourbon buddies nudging me towards the microphone. Half pints in the parking lot before the show, that's all you need. There was always something about rye that always mellowed me out.

Vodka was stealthy in the way it would go invisible after mixing with just about anything; it would hide behind any juice or sweet beverage. I'd never realized how progressively pissed I got from the way it hid behind those sweet drinks. Positively lethal.

I'm not going to tell you any funny stories about things I did when I was drunk. Things seemed funny at the time, but now they're not. I never drank during office hours but there was no shortage of tempters and temptations.

I was a good drunk, maybe too good. A friend of mine who was a recovered alcoholic saw me putting it away one night at the club and decided to drive behind me when I drove home. He said I drove as if I was stone cold sober, never weaving or running red lights.

I should have been somewhat flattered, but instead I set too good an example of what a professional drunk is capable of. It made me feel guilty a few years later when I heard he lapsed back into alcoholism and died from alcoholic poisoning.

I didn't quit cold turkey - that's for suckers. I quit drink the same way I quit smoking, tapering off day by day. A little less each day until you realize you don't really need that junk to get through the day. You do less and less until it dwindles down to almost nothing at all.

I won't lie to you. I still have a bottle of Jameson's in the pantry, but it doesn't get much play these days. If you've really conquered your poisons never let them completely disappear. Always have them on hand to let them know they're gone, but not forgotten.

Artwork by Derek Yaniger.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Rats of Autumn

You'll probably think I've lost my mind when I tell you about the night the rats knew something the rest of us didn't know...yet. You'll think I've gone mad, but somehow those awful beasts have some kind of instinct the rest of us don't have.

When rats are hungry they're pretty unstoppable; they'll go to great lengths to get to whatever food they can scrape up. Even if you're working 85 flights up they'll climb that far to get to their food.

I worked in a building that was so insane my company was just that, situated on the 85th Floor. It wasn't even the top floor, there were still about 20 more flights up, maybe more. But those goddamn rats could sense there was food this far up and they were going to climb all the way up here to get to it.

I was working late on some last minute matters which my deadbeat supervisor sat on for about a week. He called me in to his office and told me I had to put in some overtime to get it done, in fact it had to be ready for his desk the following morning. What a prick.

I had the task of reconciling our financial records, which were so poorly entered into the system it was going to take hours to clean up. If and when we get audited it's going to be a bloodbath. While I was crunching numbers and shuffling papers around like a Monte Carlo baccarat dealer I heard that familiar sound.

Scratching sounds coming from the walls, other times you could hear the thumping inside the walls and other distracting noises from the ceiling. Everyone knew what it was but didn't want to discuss it much. I think it scared a few temporary employees away. Rats.

We knew all about them without discussing them at length. The general rule was cover your waste bins before you went home, and if you didn't you'd usually find them knocked over with your crap all over the floor. The cleanup crew came in every two days, so you had to cover your crap.

When it got late the rats got bold and would run around in packs pushing over the bins and going for whatever food they could find. Finding rat turds around the carpet wasn't uncommon. Naturally the cleanup crew was terrified of these rat packs so they'd work in pairs, just in case.

As I worked I saw a small ratpack race by me, and then they did a strange thing: they stopped and just stared at me for a few seconds before they continued scrounging for food. They were headed for the break room, so I was going to stay out of there.

The clock edged closer to midnight, and as it did my head started pounding with pain. Maybe I was allergic to all the rats running around the floor. Perhaps a disgusting cocktail of rat piss and crap fumes were getting to me. As my head pounded harder and harder, I could hear the rats stopping their rummaging.

When the clock finally hit midnight they quickly scurried towards the elevator shafts and whatever cavities in the building they came in on. A mass evacuation, building wide. You could hear echoes of their putrid little bodies thundering down the shafts, hundreds of them running down the concrete and steel nooks and crannies of this oversized structure.

My head hurt so bad I decided to call it a night and go home. As I grabbed my coat and headed for the elevator I wondered what made all those rats run out of the place in one group like that. That's unheard of, and you couldn't hear them at all in the shaft. It was weird.

Exhausted, I slept in the next morning. I awoke when a friend phoned and told me to turn on the TV. I saw my building on fire and collapsing. American Airlines Flight 11 flew into the North Tower with the South Tower destroyed shortly after. I slept in the next day and the day after that.

Did the animals know? Well, the animals knew something. Their mass evacuation from the building spoke volumes. Their instincts, their intuition can speak more than human insight can. But it doesn't matter. I spent the rest of 2001 looking for another job. In another state.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Sweet 65

Prowling on the sawdust is a naked boy cracking a whip. He has a pile of tornadic ink black hair draped all over his childlike face...like a samurai orphan. He cracks the whip like a lion tamer. There are no lions in the cage, but clocks. Half a dozen clocks. They angrily prowl the cage and he cracks the whip again. They sit up on their stools, roaring and screaming at him.

The clocks have wet fangs bared at him, they also have razor sharp claws with blood stained on them from scratching themselves. They want to tear away at him with time…ravage him with painful years and decades.

Once they lost the plot and got at him..a little lunge and he went a little deaf and went a little blind. In revenge, he not only cracked the whip but made contact to them, tearing off a minute hand here and there. Let them know who’s boss. Now they obey.

Before he was born his mother was in a jail cell pregnant, expecting him and a gypsy shared the cell with her. She told his mother that the boy was going to be the loudest most cacophonic creature ever born…he would burn up every room he walked into. Outside the cell were the sounds of people rioting, burning cars, pulling down monuments and breaking shop windows.

Insane Scorpio boy, intoxicated by the darkness, turning everything upside down and frightening every beauty and every beast in the forest. Look at him now, cracking his whip and taming the clocks that want to tear him up. They’ll never succeed. Sweet 65.