Monday, May 31, 2010

Heineken? Fuck That Shit!

Dennis Hopper's Dead!

Pabst Blue Ribbon!!!

Dennis Hopper: May 17, 1936 – May 29, 2010
Dreams Don't Die - But He Does

Dennis the Menace passed away this Memorial Weekend and the bartender at Baltimore's Sidebar paid homage to the Hollywood Bad Boy turned Nutter Character Actor and latterday Neo-Republican and Ameriprise Financial "Dreams Don't Die" TV pitchman with this sign referencing Hopper's Pabst Blue Ribbon-loving character "Frank Booth" from David Lynch's cult classic BLUE VELVET.

Early on in his career, Hopper was a James Dean wannabe, a rebel without a pause - except for the pretentious "Method Acting" that Dean and Brando whole-heartedly embraced - or a purpose or a direction, who purposely self-destructed his career and fucked over anything and anybody that got in his way. And, again like BLUE VELVET's Frank Booth, he also would "fuck anything that moves."

In Laid Bare: A Memoir of Wrecked Lives and the Hollywood Death Trip, author John Gilmore quotes 20th-Century Fox casting head Lee Wallace opining of Hopper: "Hopper is a boring and shallow person - not a pretty boy but a runt, though maybe if he drives himself crazy enough some spark will fly so at least he'll appear interesting, until he burns up. Not only is he a boring actor and a boring person, he is devoid of any screen personality. Without that, you have no commercial appeal - the only unforgivable sin in this town. When he's older he might make an interesting character actor, but right now he's what we call 'dead meat'..."

Boy did Wallace hit the nail on the head! Despite a starring role opposite Linda Lawson in (Kenneth Anger pal) Curtis Harrington's cult indie Night Tide (1961), his much ballyhooed directorial debut in the cartoonish anti-Hollywood calling card Easy Rider, and a few decent latter-day dramatic supporting roles in Hoosiers and Elegy, Hopper remains best known as a Kook Character Actor in independent films. And, of course, those "Dreams Never Die" ("Wrong!") Ameriprise TV commercials. I'm talking Hopper's crazed American photo-journalist in APOCALYPSE NOW, Feck in RIVER'S EDGE, "Lyle from Dallas" in RED ROCK WEST, and of course, Frank Booth in BLUE VELVET. That said, here are some of the finer moments from Hopper's character acting Nutter's Hall of Fame.


"Don't You Fucking Look at Me!"

"Check's in the mail!"; "Did you love her?"

Lyle says "Choose life!"

Manic Yank photojournalist who says of Kurtz: "The man's enlarged my mind!"

APOCALYPSE NOW may have provided the inspiration for Hopper's subsequent Ameriprise catchphrase ("What will they say of him [Kurtz] - that he was a kind man? That he was a good man? WRONG!!!"). Of course, Hopper's performance was even better when reimagined in the body of Piglet in Todd Graham's APOCALYPSE POOH. Who knew?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

John Astin Goes Psychotronic!

The John Astin Interview
Psychotronic Video #11

Issue #11 of Michael Weldon's Psychtronic Video was one of the best ever, not only for this profile of Baltimore's own great John Astin, but for its other great pieces on Drew Friedman (including his Mark Newgarden collaboration Toxic High School!), Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo (Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla!), and Ken Smith (Mental Hygiene!). Those are some heavy hitters - and Psychotronic Video is one of the reasons I can NEVER throw anything away!

Here's the John Astin interview/retrospective:

I like that the article not only references Astin's film and TV work (besides playing Gomez on The Addams Family, Astin also appeared in two Batman episodes as The Riddler!), but the film he wrote, produced, and directed: Prelude (1968). Astin's Oscar-nominated short Prelude commented on consumerism and "noise pollution" and has been described as "8 1/2 with shopping carts and veggies." It starred former Miss Scotland Quinn O'Hara as Astin's wife and was lensed by Vilmos Zsigmond, who would rise to prominence in the 1970s lensing films like Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye and Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I was lucky to have caught a rare screening of this short at Astin's alma mater, Johns Hopkins University (where Astin still teaches), during the 2006 Johns Hopkins Film Festival.

Related John Astin Links:
Gomez-en-Scene (Accelerated Decrepitude)
Gomez Gala (Accelerated Decrepitude)

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Want My Empty Vee!

My All-Time Fave Music Videos

An eclectic countdown...

OK, my GF Amy looked at my list and blew it off with a perfunctory raspberry, saying, "Pffft! You just like videos with girls shaking their butts around." I do not deny it. But I also like a lot of other videos that don't appeal to my inner Beavis or Butthead...videos that may be basic but also primal or seminal in that they were the first visual cues I had for a favorite group like Devo, Buzzcocks, or Pizzicato Five. Iconic images that stick with you through the vestiges of time in an age of constant over-stimulation (admittedly those shaking butts don't help!) Videos like...

Pizzicato Five - "Sweet Soul Revue"

This was my first glimpse of my fave J-Pop band Pizzicato Five and the images of Miss Maki Nomiya shaking those maracas and evoking the style and charm of Audrey Hepburn in the roof concert scene while P5 mastermind-maestro Yasuharu Konishi boogies away on his Hofner bass and original guitarist Keitaro Takanami strums his Fender guitar have become iconic for me...This was my first transmission from a band that never made a bad or uninteresting video and it always stuck with me. I read that this song was a big hit in the Philppines and that it was used on Japan's Ranma 1/2 syndicated TV show. A real treat!


OK, here are the the requisite "girls on film" viddies to get out of the way straight away!

Make The Girl Dance "Baby Baby Baby" ( official video )

Visually arresting (in fact, I'm amazed no one was!) and educational to boot (it's a great way to learn "street" French!).

Cheeky Girls - "Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)"

When the Cheeky Girls sing "This is life: Touch my bum" it's an ontological refutation of philosopher George Berkeley (Bishop of Cloyne)'s "immaterialism" theory, which held that individuals can only know life through ideas and not physical matter. Samuel Johnson famously refuted this theory by kicking a stone; Cheeky Girls refute it by clenching the taut junk in their trunks. These babies have back, and it matters.

And speaking of back...

Sir Mix-a-Lot - "Baby Got Back"

Sir Mix-a-Lot offers an urban refutation of Bishop Berkeley's ontological theory of "immaterialism." A literal exercise in Form over Substance.


Food For Worms - "It Needs a Haircut" (1983)

Food For Worms were the cleverest/funniest band of My Generation...This was the video they made in 1983 and submitted to MTV, only to have it rejected for being too morbid. Shame, because in the early "desperate" days of MTV, just about anything got on air (remember the local Slickee Boys and Bootcamp videos on there?). My GF Amy Davis is in there somewhere as a veiled mourner, as well as her friend Liz.

I actually helped inspire this song when I told FFW songwriting-keyboardist Mark O'Connor about my barber Charles, who used to groom corpses for funeral viewings; this was back when they had that barber shop in Cross Keys and I recall Charles regaling me with stories about how he worked with morticians to restore the faces of the deceased who had met with violent ends from traffic fatalities and homicides (he even gave me a coffin crank-lever that I still have). It was actually a conflation of influences, because Mark then recalled having a long-haired biker friend who died in a motorcycle accident and, upon his passing, was promptly "cleaned up" by his parents to look like a choir boy. It seemed like a sure-fire idea for a summertime hit, kinda like going to the beach...

And speaking of going to the beach (and the Slickee Boys)...

Slickee Boys - "When I Go To the Beach" (1983)

I love(d) DC's Slickee Boys and was delighted to see a local band appear on MTV! Now, of course, MTV doesn't play music videos anymore and this stab-from-the-analog-past has been relegated to YouTube. But the song itself was featured in the 1987 retro-surf movie Back To The Beach, which starred Frankie, Annette and an O.J. Simpson cameo!

Thomas Dolby - "She Blinded Me with Science"
(Director: Thomas Dolby, 1982)

My heavens Miss Sakamoto, you are beautiful! And, truly, poetry in motion. I wonder who she was and where she is today (finding outremains remains one of my life's great quests).

The old man shouting "Science!" is real-life British scientist and TV presenter Magnus Pyke.

Amy likes this viddy because the guitar solo was courtesy of XTC's Andy Partridge.

OK Go - "Here It Goes Again"

Brilliant. What else can I say? Other than I wish OK Go's treadmill routine would become part of the gymnastics program at the next Summer Olympics.

OK Go - "This Too Shall Pass"

Wow, they did it again! This is the famous Rube Goldberg video. Never has educational instruction in physics been so entertaining!

Devo - "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
(Director: Chuck Statler, 1978)

All the Chuck Statler "videos" (actually shot on film) are great, but General Boy chaperoning, Booji Boy sticking a fork in a toaster, the punk rock kid somersaulting himself, the herky-jerky robotic band footage...these are enduring images I'll never get out of my head.

Buzzcocks - "What Do I Get?"

This is a "bare-bones, no frills" standard band-lip-synching-to-recorded-track video that is no great shakes on a technical level, but it was my introduction to the Buzzcocks when I saw it on a (late 70s/early 80s?) TV music video show called Rock World. As such, it is indelibly stamped on my cerebellum (right next to its expiration date)

Bob Dylan - "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (1965)

Another simple video that remains iconic and revolutionary at the same time. One of the most parodied/reference music videos of all time. (Check out "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody "Bob"!) Most people first saw it as the opening segment of D. A. Pennebaker's film Dont Look Back, which documented Dylan's 1965 England tour. The cue cards were written by Donovan, Allen Ginsberg (who can be seen standing in the background), Dylan crony Bob Neuwirth and Dylan himself. I love the cue card spelling of "Suckcess." Conceptually, it spawned everything from VH1's "Pop-up Music Video" to Make the Girl Dance's "Baby Baby Baby."

David Lee Roth - "California Girls"

David Lee Roth actually won a technical award for this video - and it wasn't for the girls' silicone injections! (It was for color effects - in his bio, Diamond Dave claims he was zonked out on chemicals and just mucked around with the saturation until he achieved...genius). I don't know why I find DLR so amusing, but I do, especially when he leers at healthy young women and croons "Hot diggity dog!"

Robert Palmer - "Addicted To Love"

Greatest. Backing. Band. Ever. OK, I'm not a deep thinker, but this one really grabs me - for all the wrong reasons!

Chemical Brothers - "Let Forever Be"
(Director: Michel Gondry, 1999)

Ah, the great Michel Gondry. We showed this on Atomic TV back when we used to get all the Astralwerks promo Daft Punk's "Around the World"...

Daft Punk - "Around the World"
(Director: Michel Gondry, 1997)

Cibo Mato - "Sugar Water"
(Director: Michel Gondry, 1996)

The Memento of music videos, with everything filmed backwards to forwards, and yet another Michel Gondry film (and yet another video aired on Atomic TV!).

Prodigy - "Smack My Bitch Up"

Greatest. Music. Video. Ever. I'm proud to say Atomic TV aired the uncensored version on Baltimore City cable years ago, as this is what many of my friends would call "a perfect night out on the town." Sex, drugs, rock & roll - and Asian carryout! How can you not love that?

Pardon the commercials at the beginning, but it's hard to find an uncensored version. Why did rock music have to get so clean and Disneyfied? Hip is what is centrally located between the toe and the tip, as they say. That is hip.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Footy Finales: Keeping it Real

It started off as the best of years for Real Madrid; it ended as one of the worst.

The biggest soccer story last fall was the resurgence of the "Galacticos" era at Real Madrid where once and future president Florentino Perez spent a record $250 million dollars at the start of the 2009-2010 season to sign international superstars Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United ($80 million), Kaka from A.C. Milan ($65 million), Karim Benzema from Lyon ($35 million), Xabi Alonso from Liverpool ($30 million) - and countless "lesser" millionaires - in a vain attempt to overtake bitter rivals Barcelona, who were coming off their 2008-2009 treble-winning year (on on their way to winning a record six titles over the course of 2009-2010). With a lineup like this, surely Real Madrid would regain its domestic league title and achieve glory as well in the Champions League - whose 2010 final was to be played in Madrid's home, El Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

But those plans went horribly awry...While all those pre-season moves pointed towards a "can't lose" season, Madrid, in fact, lost everything. They didn't win the league title ('twas Barca again - with a record 99 points); they got booted out of the Champions League; and they were eliminated in the Spanish Primera Liga's consolation trophy event, the Copa del Rey. Oh, and to add salt to their wounds, they lost both of their "superclassico" matches this year against arch-rivals Barcelona. Those are their accomplishments as a team.

Individually, Cristiano Ronaldo played in the shadow of Lionel Messi all season, as it was Messi's who was named FIFA Player of the Year and won La Liga's "Golden Boot" scoring title; his 34 goals tied the Barcelona single-season scoring record set by the other (Brazilian) "Ronaldo" during the 1996-1997 season (before he defected to...Real Madrid!). Kaka was injured and had a sub-par season by his standards. Benzema showed flourishes of quality but had trouble breaking into the starting line-up and became increasingly frustrated with his playing time; he looks likely to move on as a result. And the best player on the Madrid team turned out to be a low-cost player they already had: Gonzalo Higuain. All Gonzo did this year was score 29 goals (27 in the Spanish league) - his second straight year leading the Madristas in scoring, a period in which he's scored 53 goals and 15 assists for Los Merengues. And though he's signed through 2013, he's clearly not happy with his salary and looks to be on the market (a current rumor has Real offering him to Chelsea for $50 million). Last but not least, the man ultimately charged with insuring that everyone not only got along but won some silver along the way, coach Manuel Pelligrini, will almost certainly be let go at the end of the season. Rumor has it that Jose Mourinho may be the next in line. (And already Rafa Benitez has started carping about Mourinho's qualifications - like Rafa has any room to talk after Liverpool's dismal 2009-2010 season in which the Reds let Spurs take their spot in the English Premiere Leagues's "Big Four"!)

But it was a great year for the English, Italian, and Spanish domestic football leagues as the races for the regular season crown went down to the final weekend: Chelsea edging Manchester United by a single point, Inter Milan likewise holding off Roma by a point, and Barcelona finally pulling 3 points clear of Real Madrid after Los Blancos drew in their last game at Malaga 1-1 while the Catalans trounced Vallodalid 4-0. And, you could make the argument that every one of these results was effected by Real Madrid.

Without Cristiano Ronaldo around, Man U.'s Wayne Rooney re-emerged as the superstar striker he is (and a goal machine who chased the Golden Boot up until the final game), but while Antonio Valencia filled Ronaldo's big boots admirably, Man U. sorely missed having a "game-changer" of Ronaldo's brilliance on free kicks and inside the penalty box. It was just enough of an opening to allow Chelsea to top the table.

Over in Italy's Serie A there was never any question about Inter Milan winning its fifth consecutive Scudetto (especially with an aging, injury-prone, poorly coached, and Kaka-less side at A.C. Milan), but there were questions about whether Jose Mourinho could deliver Champions League glory to them. Well, Internazionale Milano's in the final at the Bernabeu, where the Nerazzurri will meet a resurgent Bayern Munich squad. This match-up is a clear and direct result of the "Dutch Clearinghouse Effect" at Real Madrid.

First, injury forced out striker Ruud Van Nistolroy, then the bloated payroll and addition of Ronaldo and Kaka made winger Arjen Robben and playmaking midfielder Wesley Sneijder expendable. The cast-off Sneijder went to Inter Milan, where his creativity in the midfield playing just behind strikers Milito and E'to helped Inter secure its fifth consecutive Serie A league title and a place in the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich. Of course, Bayern already boasted one superstar winger in Franck Ribbery, but then thanks to Real Madrid's Galacticos surplus, was able to add Robben to the other wing. Germany's title race may not have gone down to the wire, but Bayern Munich's 22nd Bundelisga title was certainly helped by Robben's presence (especially when Riberry was injured or suspended). Of course, Robben's pace and goal-scoring ability was even more crucial to their Champions League campaign. Who's laughing now, Madristas? I'd say Sneijder and Robben, about to play in the final at their old Bernabeu stomping grounds, should be laughing like hyenas!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's the Buzz, Hons!

Buzzcocks @ The Ottobar
Baltimore, MD
May 12, 2010

The 2010 "Another Bites" Tour

Unlike so many rock bands from the '70s, Buzzcocks remain more than just nostalgic entertainment for aging rockers - they still maintain a sizable fan base of young devotees as well. Pete Shelley's famous line about "Nostalgia for an age yet to come" may well refer to their ability to add new fans - across a diverse age range - to the Buzzcocks template. Case in point: the day after seeing the Ottobar show, Amy and I were having lunch at Atwater's when our Twentysomething waiter spotted my Buzzcocks "Another Bites" t-shirt and said, "Hey, I was there last night; great show!"

The Buzzcocks sound may be rooted in late '70s pop-punk, but as the five albums - Trade Test Tranmissions (1993), All Set (1996), Modern (1999), Buzzcocks (2003), and Flat-Pack Philosophy (2006) - that Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle have recorded under the Buzzcocks moniker since their 1981 breakup prove, it's far from a static template (like, say, The Ramones - who picked one sound and never deviated from it, great sound though it be). While the trademark fast tempos and buzzsaw guitars are still there at the core of the sound, Shelley and Diggle have added a lot of new colors to the palette over the years, even toying with snatches of electronica at times. And a recent listen to 2006's Flat-Pack Philosophy has resulted in me not being able to get "Credit" out of my mind - not just because it reminds me of the financial hole I've gotten myself in, but because it's clever lyrics and melody could easily have fit in on Singles Going Steady from the Glory Days.

Steve & Pete: Something goes right again

This year's edition of the Buzzcocks added a new rhythm section in the form of bass player Chris Remington (who's played in Diggle's solo band Flag of Convenience - and is a veritable Steve Winwood lookalike!) and drummer Danny Farrant. As with the vintage-era 'cocks bassist and drummer - Steve Garvey and John Maher - they also happen to be the best-looking and have the best hair. (Ah, youth, there is thy sting!) The newbies replaced bassist Tony Barber and drummer Phil Barker, who had been 'cocks from 1992-2006.

Photogenic new 'cocks Chris (L) & Danny (R) ugly up
to try & make Dave Cawley (center) look good. They failed.

The 22-date North American "Another Bites" Tour is so named because the Buzzcocks were playing their first two albums - Another Music in a Different Kitchen (1978) and Love Bites (1978) - in their entirety, following an increasingly popular touring trend that has seen bands as diverse as Devo and Megadeath play live sets of entire classic albums, more in less in their original track order.

Thus the Ottobar show (which represented the second leg of the North American Tour that kicked off the night before at Washington, D.C.'s Black Cat club) - gave us Another Music 's "Fast Cars" (Shelley-Devoto-Diggle), "No Reply," "You Tear Me Up" (Shelley-Devoto), "Get On Our Own," "Love Battery" (Shelley-Devoto), "Sixteen," "I Don't Mind," "Fiction Romance," "Autonomy" (Diggle), "I Need" (Diggle-Shelley), and "Moving Away from the Pulsebeat," which concluded with Danny Farrant's ferocious drum solo as the 'cocks left the stage for a brief intermission...

...followed by Love Bites' "Boredom" intro, "Real World," "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)," "Operator's Manual," "Nostalgia," "Just Lust" (one of two songs Shelley co-wrote with "Alan Dial," nom de plume of Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon), "Sixteen Again," "Walking Distance" (a Steve Garvey tune!), Diggle's acoustic "Love Is Lies," "Nothing Left," "E.S.P.," and the outro instro "Late for the Train."

The five encores were: "Harmony in My Head" (Diggle), "Promises" (Diggle-Shelley), "What Do I Get?" (Shelley), "Orgasm Addict" (Shelley-Devoto), and "Love You More" (Shelley)...

Spiral Chit-Chat

Before the show started 'cocks connoisseurs traded barbs and anecdotes and fact, Dave Cawley - wearing his rare "Buzzcocks 1989 Reunion Tour" t-shirt underneath his mod Ben Sherman jacket - loaned me his copy of Tony McGartland's out-of-print Buzzcocks: The Complete History (from which I learned such essential trivia as: the awkward syntax of "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" is actually a line from the musical Guys and Dolls!)...

Tony McG's Buzzcocks bio the way, while Tony McG's book is fact-filled (I never knew that Smiths drummer Mike Joyce was briefly a Buzzcock in the '90s or that Steve Garvey 's bandmates called him "Paddy" to avoid confusion with Alpha "Steve" Diggle), Amy says it's not nearly as fun as Steve Diggle's bio Harmony in My Head, which she bought used on Amazon UK and described as "Nothing but non-stop shagging and rocking!"...

Harmony in His Bed: Diggle gets his 'cocks off

...Amy brought her Diggle book along in hopes of getting it signed - which it was, afterwards, by the ever affable and accomodating Mr. Diggle.

Steve dedicates HARMONY IN MY HEAD to Amy

(Amy also stole a "Different Kind of Ecstasy" kiss from Steve-o, which left her beaming! Schveetich!)

Meanwhile, in the lead-up to the show...Dave Cawley, whose affection for "Godzilla Vs. [Insert Monster Name Here]" scenarios often leads him into pointless This Vs. That (aka "Highlander: There Can Be Only One" or "Beatles Vs. Stones") comparisons, was holding forth to all who would listen his opinion that Another Music in a Different Kitchen was far superior to Love Bites (to quote Dave: "It's my opinion - but it's correct")...when Amy and I responded that we thought Love Bites was more memorable, perhaps because the band had moved beyond Howard Devoto's influence and come into their own (or as Tony McGartland backs me up: "With Howard Devoto no longer around, Shelley's penchant for unabashed pop songs about the cauldron of relationships flourished"), Dave's voice rose with his signature "It's Debatin' Time" squawk. (Oh Dave, must Ape kill Ape? Can't we just get along and love both albums? Some battles just aren't worth fighting, or as Eeyore would say, "Oh, bother")

A pensive Dave Cawley pauses, momentarily,
to consider whether his opinion could be
wrong. "Nah, no way!" he concludes.

Milling about the crowd we saw a number of old friends, including Janet and (Microsoft-certified rocker) Mike Ramsey, former Beaver's Cleavers guitarist and (TSU grad) Greg Breazeale, former Puts-Outs bassist Tim Conder, and my former Thee Katatonix bandmates Adolf Kowalski (whose daughter Allison wanted a t-shirt, but Adolf the overprotective Dad was worried about her wearing anything with the word 'cock on it at school!) and Mr. Urbanity (Charlie Gatewood, who had wisely inserted cotton into his concert-tested lobes).

Tim Conder hails Satan while Adolf Kowalski signals both a
thumbs up AND a hands down (Palmolive - you're soaking
in it?) in Patti Jensen Vucci's drink

Jealous that Adolf K. got a Tim Conder hug,
Dave Cawley asks the former Put-Out to put out

Dave also ran into the dude who runs Towson's Celebrated Summer Records...I forget his name but he's a nice guy and shares Dave's hyper-accelerated passion for punk, as well as all things Japanarama - hence his Kamen Rider poses with Dave below:

Kamen Riders on the Storm

On a scale of 1 to 10, Dave grudgingly gives his
friend's Kamen Rider stance a "1"

Oh, and Donnie Darko's friend "Frank" was also spotted in the crowd:

He's Frank

And now...On with the Show!


During the show, I soon realized that the room was so packed that any body movement was limited to verticality - you could jump up and down (if your feet could separate from the congealed wad of spilled beer on the floor), but overhead the ozone was cluttered with upright flashing iPhones, Droids, and (in my case) Flip cameras snapping and recording away. The show easily exceeded the Ottobar's 700-peeps capacity (it was so packed you needed lubricant just to slither your way through the teeming minions to the bathroom!), though one attendee later claimed there were about 100 people there. (As Keith Olbermann says of half-term governor Sarah Palin, "That an idiot!" To which I would add: or bad at math...or very drunk...or both!)

I also realized that there was a stinky "vapor lock" surrounding us where we stood...someone nearby either let loose a methane emission or pooped their pants (whether from excitement or too many beers I dunno!) because I recognized that "excited little kids" aroma that's familiar to anyone who's ever been in the library's Children's Department during a Harry Potter book release. I looked at Dave Cawley and Amy, but my nostril scan picked up nothing but excess adrenaline secretions.

He who smelt it did not dealt it!

I had never seen the Buzzcocks live before, having missed the chance to catch their 1979 A Different Kind of Tension tour stop in Philly and then missing them in Baltimore two years ago (again at the Ottobar) when Dave Cawley tried to get me to go but I was recalcitrant for some reason. But I noticed, with some surprise, that Pete Shelley is Mr. Understatement onstage, making subtle faces, knowing winks, and the occasional eye roll, while it was Steve Diggle who was Mr. Excitement, delighting the crowd with his Townshend-esque windmill guitar riffs and audience repartee.

Diggle clearly is having a good time and looks like he wouldn't trade places with anyone when he's up there playing rock and roll; Shelley, meanwhile, is content to quietly navigate the proceedings, keeping the ship on course.

Strange Thing: Pete Shelley is starting to look a lot
like my brother-in-law Bill Aspinwall!

And it was a thoroughly pleasant sea cruise, two hours filled with irresistable hooks, ringing guitars, beautiful minor chords, and choruses you can't resist singing along to.

But all good things must end at last...until the next time...

Danny Farrant says goodnight...

...while Chris and Steve thank the fans for coming

One thing I noticed though...Buzzcocks need to expand their wardrobe. I mean, looking at their touring pics over the years, Pete always seems to wear the same Mondrian color block shirt and Steve the same mod white polka dot shirt (Dave Cawley called it "Weller-esque"). Guys, find yourselves a sartorial sponsor - even Wal-Mart would be an improvement!

Up's Where We Belong

After the show, we went upstairs to see if any 'cocks were hanging out (there's a joke in there, but I won't touch it!)...and spotted Steve Diggle drinking Guinness, chatting up birds and blokes alike, and graciously signing records and posing with fans. He was later joined Chris and Danny. No sign of Pete Shelley; he must have gone straight to the tour bus to chill out.

Photo op with Steve Diggle makes girl get all Emo

"Hmpft! What's that girl got that I don't?" fumes Amy,
spotting Diggle with another bird, as Greg Breazeale looks on

Diggle signs a fan's copy of SINGLES GOING STEADY

Amy and I briefly chatted with Steve Diggle and then shamelessly posed for photo ops...

Tom, Steve & Amy: a match made in R&R Heaven

Dave insists that this is an even better shot

Tom looks on as Dave enters The Diggle Zone

Tom & Amy hover while Steve and Dave have a heated
debate over whose jacket is more mod: Diggle's leather
or Dave's Ben Sherman windbreaker

Tom, MaryAnn Tom & Chris Remington look on as
Steve and Dave continue the Great Jacket Debate

"Dude, your Ben Sherman jacket totally rocks!" an
anonymous drunk tells an obviously impressed Dave Cawley

"C'mon, doncha love my jacket?" Dave pleas in
Danny Farrant's ear after being rebuffed by Diggle

Greg Breazeale looks on as any annoyed Chris Remington (L)
starts stomping on a prostrate Dave Cawley (not seen, but heard)

But amidst all the fawning over Buzzcocks music, I had to ask Diggs the most important question you can ask a native Mancunian: City or United? Oasis be damned, Steve didn't miss a beat to respond "Oh, Man U. all the way! See, I grew up following a bloke called George Best..." Ah, Bestie...long before David Beckham strode the pitch at Old Trafford the Red Devils' "Ace Face" was this legendary "play hard/party harder" playboy-playmaker who was dubbed "the fifth Beatle" for his long hair, good looks, and extravagant celebrity lifestyle. No wonder they still sell those shirts that say "Pele good, Maradona better, George Best." (Of course, I was too afraid to reveal that I support Chelsea; them's fighting words to a Mancunian!) (Especially in a year in which the Blues edged the Red Devils for the title!)

Time's Up

As the clock neared 2, 'twas time to down the hatches and bid adieu...People emptied out of the Ottobar, guys making one last attempt at taking home a stranger, including Dave Cawley, who quickly snared a homeless Rent Boy (as shown below):

Dave makes the grade with some Rough Trade

And, as Steve Diggle and the Buzzcock boys boarded their tour bus, Amy realized that her rock and roll fantasy was nearing its end and she clutched me, her Romantic Backup Plan. (Plus I drove!)

AMY: "I had wonderful time!"
TOM: "Yes, me too. Peace out!"

And with that we had Nothing Left at all.

Except a desire for food. Which at that hour meant the Paper Moon diner...except that it was closed! (Blaspheme!) So the backup food plan was a no-brainer: Go Korean. Korean eateries always stay open until 4 in the morning, and that's about the time we hit Nam Kang on 22nd and Maryland Avenue with a bunch of friends and new acquaintances that included Dave cawley, Greg Brazeale, MaryAnne Tom, Joe Tiger (dunno his last name, but he went to TSU), and Jim Linthicum - the latter sharing the same last name as Amy (no relation). All of us except (St. Mary's College grad) Amy went to Towson State University back in the day.

"Let's eat!" say the Towson alumini gathered at Nam Kang.
(Note Amy's coveted Steve Diggle book on the table nearby,
always near her like Pig Pen's security blanket!)

And all of us were secular Buzzcocks fans, except for Jim Linthicum, who is a priest ordained in the Church of England and lives in London. (I think he likes Chelsea because he confessed to being a Madness fan.) All of us were also Beatles fans except for Jim, a Stones fanatic, who made the mistake of sitting next to "Beatles Vs. Stones" debater Dave Cawley.

"You walk in darkness," Dave informed Jim. "Now it's my opinion - but accurate - that the Beatles were the greatest band in the history of music. C'mon," he squawked, "nothing else comes close!"

"That's cute the way your voice rise up like that," said MaryAnne Tom, who had never heard Dave hit his Charles Nelson Reilly-esque high note.

Amy and I ordered light, as we had already had dinner before the show at Nok Won - yet another Korean restuarant down the street! (Hmmmm, seafood pancake!) Dave Cawley, however, made the wise decision to soak up his dozen or so beers with chicken fried rice and half a bottle of hot sauce. (Oh the humanity!)

No doubt patrons like Dave are the reason Nam Kang pre-emptively displays this "Don't Wash Your Anus" sign in their Men's Room:

Must. Fight. Urge.

More Ottobar Sights & Sounds

OK, here are my crappy videos from the May 12 Baltimore show...

But first, to kick things's a video clip of the opener "Fast Cars" shot by someone with a good camera - as opposed to my small but Pixel-challenged Flip camera.

Watch Buzzcocks perform "Fast Cars."

Same dude (usbomb99) was in front row with the snazzy camera to capture these high-quality clips:

"Love Battery."
Watch "Nostalgia/Just Lust/Sixteen Again"
"Love Is Lies"
"What Do I Get/Orgasm Addict"

My Crappy Buzzcocks Videos

OK, time for my Gumby Vision crap...Watch Buzzcocks play:

"Love Battery"

"Autonomy" & "I Need"

"I Don't Mind" & "Fiction Romance"

"Boredom," "Real World" & "Ever Fallen in Love?" (incomplete)

"Nostalgia," "Just Lust" & "Sixteen Again"

"Nothing Left" (Part 1)

"Nothing Left" (Part 2) & "E.S.P."

"Harmony in My Head" (first encore)

My Leftover Buzzcocks Pix

Pan-Asian Persuasion: Half-Chinese MaryAnne Tom
and Half-Japanese Amy Linthicum bond over their whole-hearted
love of Buzzcocks

" 'Ello, who's this then?" says Steve Diggle, spotting MaryAnne
Tom standing next to her namesake, Tom (Warner)

MaryAnn Tom & Chris Remington say hey

MaryAnne & Chris Remington say cheese while Greg
Breazeale & Jay Leno lurk behind Steve Diggle

Tom, Tom & Chris Remington

Greg Brazeale's buddy "Joe Tiger"

Related Links: (official site)
Secret Public fansite

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