I’ve finally unraveled the mystery of successfully posting my DJ sets online for your listening pleasure!
Can you believe it? At long last I’ve aligned with the service that best suits my needs, worked hard to fully understand it and viola! I’ve posted numerous sets from the Hole in the Wall saloon that you can listen too any damn time you want. So i’m going t0 provide a list of links to all of them below
It’s that time again, or well past that time actually, just 9 days left in this year and i’m really hoping i can come up with 10 releases I find worthy. I don’t know why I’m feeling this way about it, last year I think i did two top 10 lists because there were so many records i wanted to include. This year…not so much. Perhaps it’s because so many of the bands that are making just about everyone else’s lists really did nothing for me. That’s right Kanye, Arcade Fire, Jay Z, Daft Punk, Vampire Weekend, Sleigh Bells, and many more, you just didn’t move me or even worse, you fucking repulsed me with lameness, stupidity, limp and weak tones in the style of wussy or confounding WTF’s when i listen to something everyone is raving about and really just don’t fucking get it. That happened a lot this year. Thanks Pitchfork, you out-did yourself more than any other internet music repository or forum for blivet-style music writing. For those of you that don’t know, a blivet is a 5 pound container stuffed full of 10 pounds of shit, not unlike most pitchfork record reviews, bloated by pretense and superfluous over-intellectualized hipster bilge. I’d take the blunt, direct and effective and not completely void of humor style of Buddyhead, styrofoamdrone, tinygrooves, getbent, Noisey, and Crack Magazine any day. Check out all of those sites–they’re good.
Wax Idols–Discipline and Desire
I really loved Wax Idols first LP, a garage-y tough and punchy affair with punk rock chops weaving around and through some very astute pop-song structures almost completely written and performed by Hether Fortune herself. With this years follow-up Discipline and Desire we got a very evolved and more group-composed effort that sounds a lot different, showing vast growth and a bold foray into a darker moodier musical realm. It’s meticulously produced and performed showing a band that has gone well beyond what most bands do between their first and second releases, an awkward make or break period of time that Wax Idols skillfully traversed coming out way ahead of the curve. Listening to this record you can sense the collective and advanced knowledge of great musical influences and talking with Hether and reading interviews and keeping up with her very active social media presence, I’m amazed by her archival grasp and devotion to music that was made well before she was born. She composes brilliantly structured pop songs, all hard or edgy enough in all the right places, a quality that I could only compare to one of my favorite bands ever, Wire. Then I read an interview and she names them as one of her main influences. She clearly knows a lot about music and is resolutely driven to create her own. As a multi-instrumentalist, a savvy and instinctual songwriting talent with a relentless drive to throw herself completely into performance, and a flair for being outspoken and aggressive, Hether has delivered her strongest steady flex of pure rock and roll muscle yet. Thats what you get with Discipline and Desire, an authentic unstoppable musical force to be reckoned with.
Thee Oh Sees–Floating Coffin
What is there to say about Thee Oh Sees that i haven’t already tried to say? They are truly unforgettable. One of the most pure and raw genius personifications of everything rock and roll can be that i have ever witnessed. I count myself lucky to have seen them perform too many times to count at the Eagle Tavern over the past ten years. I’m also thrilled that they have traveled and played literally all over the world and have become a massively popular sensation where ever they played. That was pretty much a given, I’ve never seen them be any less than astonishing live and i’m sure they brought the magic on tour. Floating Coffin is every bit as astonishing a testament to their greatness as a record could be, their strongest and darkest release to date, good from end to end ripe with influences ranging from kraut rock to garage rock to heavy psych to drone. They also have a huge body of recorded work and I’m hard pressed to choose even one disc that isn’t great. If you aren’t hearing Thee Oh Sees by now you are really missing out. They will stand as an important part of San Francisco’s rich musical history, in fact Thee Oh Sees just might be the last great San Francisco band. (Insert lament about artists and musicians not being able to afford to live here any more and the steady exodus of some of our best bands relocating as we speak) At a show here in SF last week Thee Oh Sees announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus–not disbanding, but not playing for a long time. I can understand that, they’ve been like the hardest working/touring band for several years straight and deserve a break but I feel sad nonetheless for the void this will leave in our local music scene. Band figurehead and mad genius Jon Dwyer is relocating to Los Angeles and Brigid Dawson keyboardist and vocalist is moving to Santa Cruz, see aforementioned lament as reasons for departure. Sigh.
Black Joe Lewis–Electric Slave
With this, his third release, Black Joe Lewis came up with a disc that surprised me by being more hard rocking and moving toward a more garage-rock edginess as opposed to the R&B Soul revue style of his previous efforts. That aspect is still quite present on this record but from the opening chords of “Skull Diggin'” with the gloriously loud, low and distorted rumble of guitar Black Joe Lewis pulls you in to his world of serious hard rock guitar heroics served up plenty funky but firmly harder edged in the axe department. I also love the song called “The Hipster” which leads me to believe that Austin Texas is going through a similar situation as San Francisco, gentrification and an influx of young dickheads every where you go being stupid and annoying. Joe says “Fuck that shit.” to the kids who wanna move into the ghetto. There’s a great long cut called “Vampire” that’s downright Cramps-ish in its subject matter and style, sounds a bit like Creedence doing “Graveyard Train.” It’s almost Shockabilly. Like I said, there’s a real garage-rock vibe to this record. His band features one of most well-placed horn sections this side of King Khan and His Shrines and vocally he can get pretty incendiary, like some of the best soulful blues screamers or even James Brown. Altogether this record is like a really cool party looking for a place to happen.
Fuzz-Fuzz Out of all the records in this list I’d have to say that this Debut LP from Fuzz is my very favorite release of the year. Before it came out in November, the band released a string of amazing singles, some are on the LP and some are not, but all of them hinted that their album would be a monster and guess what–it is! This group is a side project of Ty Segall’s, another former SF resident and musical over-achiever who has released a fuckload of great records over the past few years and with Fuzz he’s taken to the drum kit instead of guitar and he is the vocalist. Charles Moothart plays guitar and Roland Cosio plays bass. I believe these three musicians have collaborated and played with each other a long time in various other projects. With Fuzz something definitely huge and amazing is going on. They hit like a monster, big heavy guitar riffs bust out reminding me of Sabbath and Blue Cheer and Cream and FuManchu and being really stoned. The bass player fills the low-end with muscular deep grooves and drama and it turns out that Ty is a great drummer, showing instinct and a personal flair. When I saw Fuzz play live, Ty looked happier onstage than I’ve ever seen him, singing and drumming blissfully, all smiles. When they get going something very raw and primal completely hits your core, waves of sound move through your body and suddenly you’re uncontrollably head-banging. It all feels natural. Each cut is epic and powerful, some featuring quieter and more subtle instrumental breaks and even some suprisingly beautiful vocal harmonies. But the main attraction here is that indescribable heavy grind that takes over your body, kinda like the best parts of The Stooges Funhouse, those moments when you think, “this might be the the very best that rock music can ever be.” Yeah, they are that good. They also just released Fuzz Live at the SF Eagle from the night that i saw them and it captures the sheer melt-your-face-off dirgey psych-rock trip this trio creates. You need to have this.
Drenge are a two piece rock act from England, where there’s been a few hard rocking british duos cropping up this year, notably Wet Nuns and more recently Royal Blood whom you’ll be hearing about in the coming year. Drenge fit right in with the blues-based-hard-rocking-pair-of-dudes template plus they are actually brothers. I was drawn to them by their chosen cover art (above) and some clever song titles like “People in Love Make Me Feel Yuck” “I Wanna Break You in Half” “Dogmeat” “Gun Crazy” and “Fuckabout.” They are apparently quite loud when they play live and on record the vocalist has a very clear and powerful voice best exemplified in the song “Backwaters,” my favorite on the disc. I will forever be intrigued by bands with two members who make such a huge sound. I also appreciate a sense of humor which this band exhibits a lot of, like their song “I Dont Wanna Make Love To You,” a piss-take of the original Willie Dixon song “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” popularized by Muddy Waters and Etta James and Foghat to name a few. They cleverly take the song to opposite day and a whole new cruel meaning. Another highlight is the scorcher “Lets Pretend” which swells to a crescendo, moving from plaintive to menacing over the course of 8 minutes but seems like less. Overall Drenge’s debut is dark and tough and snotty and well worth a listen.
The Living Eyes–s/t:
It’s not much of a record cover but whats inside of this sleeve is one satisfying slab of Australian teen Garage-rock thats catchy as all hell and bounces around in my head all day when i hear it. This record is full of simple charm and skilled musicianship that sounds way beyond their years, as does the retro-fascination with 60’s psych influences and Texas Psych and garage and Australian garage punk from the 70’s as well as other young bands from their home town of Geelong who seem to be navigating a similar musical history and presenting their own unique or modern take on styles of the past that move them. Their name comes from a Rocky Erickson song, if thats any indication for you. How do young people become so knowledgable about music created before they were born? Is it the internet that has 0pened portals of time for their exploration? How ever it is happening, I’m really glad it is because this band has created one of the most smile inducing, hook-infested and pure psych-pop-garage-rock records I’ve ever heard. I think the vocalist provides a great deal of this bands appeal with his gritty and scratchy but higher pitched delivery, although the amazing guitar hooks help a great deal. I listened to this all the way through while writing and there isn’t one song on here that i dislike. These kids have got it going on.
The Future Primitives–Into The Primitive
This trio from South Africa maintains a pure garage-rock aesthetic and have done so with their two previous releases as well but with Into the Primitive something clicked into place making this their best effort to date and a tremendously fun disc. I do have a minor complaint about this record and almost all records that fall under the genre of Garage Rock and that is there are far too many songs about girls, too many girls names and “she’s” “hers” and “babies” flying around in the lyrics. This annoys me because i play music in a gay bar for mostly men and it renders certain cuts sort of inappropriate to play. I know this is a very nit-picking complaint but i’m just saying. The non-gender specific cuts are great enough to forgive the girly ones. The songs bounce all over varied styles from throughout the history of garage rock, a bit of The Cynics, The Lyres, 13th Floor Elevators, etc. but the album definitely has a fresh and current level of energy that could move them beyond the cult-ish realm of bowl haircuts, dark glasses and skin tight black pants from that one section at the record store. Though inspired by the past The Future Primitives are moving ecstatically in the present and looking very much ahead. Its not like countless other bands starting in the early 90’s didn’t dip their feet in the Garage Rock pool and run with it. Now in 2013 it’s clearly still happening, maybe even more and i fucking love it.
I have always pretty much loved this band until they released 2007’s Eras Vulgaris and that record just didn’t do it for me at all. Then the band toured performing their first LP to mark the 10th anniversary of its release and that show was brilliant. This was the band that I knew and loved in full effect and I was so happy to know they hadn’t lost their appeal completely. This year when they released …Like Clockwork, five full years after the disappointing Eras Vulgaris, I was a bit afraid that it might suck. Well it didn’t. This record is a return to much of what makes them great but its also a departure for head Queen Josh Homme who dips into some slower compositions exhibiting a more sensitive and evolved songwriting style that really works here. His vocals also encompass a broader range and new levels of sophistication. But the best parts of this record are the songs that hit hard like “Smooth Sailing” with its dark humorous lyrics and hard rocking funky hooks and “I Sat By The Ocean” and “My God is The Sun.” I keep returning to this record and enjoying it more and more each time. Like Clockwork debuted on Billboards hot 200 chart at number one, a first for the band, and critical acclaim has been forthcoming. I like that the band took some chances on new and different directions and it it paid off with a very solid release.
I almost forgot just how much I enjoyed this first full length release by Southern Californias hard partying hard playing ferocious surf/punk wonderkinds FIDLAR because it came out early in the year. There is a completely juvenile stoner simplicity to their lyrical content, songs about drinking beer , smoking weed, skipping school, skateboarding and calling some girl a whore but the intensity of their playing brings to mind bands way more mature and intense, like for instance the Pixies. Not a lot of bands prompt Pixies comparisons at all in my mind but with FIDLAR I definitely hear it. So did the Pixies I guess when they chose FIDLAR to open for them on their most recent tour. Some people think this band is pretty stupid and immature and they sort of are really, but that turns very appealing when they back it up with sheer, hammering adrenalin pumping ear splitting rock and roll played like it could kill you and make you want to scream along as it mows you down. It’s cathartic and untamed and isnt that a nice couple of things for a band to be? I think so.
The Wytches–Beehive Queen and more
Okay, this isnt even an album really but rather a handful of singles this young band from Brighton has put out over the last year and I dig them so much I’m just gonna act like it is an album. They have about 7 or 8 songs out there spread over three 7-inch singles and this band just fucking slays me. “Beehive Queen” is my favorite song of the year as it comes snarling out of some semi-spooky psychedelic swamp sounding surf-y, gothic, grand and grungey with clever psychedelic pastiches and vocals that sounds like an extra frantic Jack White if he were a bit raspier and british. This one song sent me tearing up the internet for all things Wytches I could find and i came up with more here and there like “Digsaw”, “She’s so Far Out,” “House of Mirrors,” and a few more. Look them up on youtube–they have some great videos and lots of live footage. It appears that this band is getting quite the buzz about it, gaining in popularity, selling out shows and possibly coming to the states in the spring. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and wait for a full length this year.
Yes its true–I certainly dont write enough at all anymore and this really needs to change. Theres plenty of great music out there worthy of definite rotation in my DJ sets at The Hole in the Wall as well as prompting me to write about some of these bands so people can read about them, enjoy and maybe buy accordingly or seek catching a band or two live even. Thats one of the functions or results of writing about music, something I’ve done for 25 years or so. It’s all about turning people on to great music they’ve never heard and might totally love. It’s education. I haven’t done this in awhile so I feel a bit rusty but I’ll just dive right in.
Thee Oh Sees–
It just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t start out with Thee Oh Sees, especially since they are from San Francisco and they are undeniably brilliant. They have a massive catalogue of I think 10 full LPs, a multitude of singles, split EPs with a variety of other bands, limited etched discs, live recordings, limited colored vinyl 7 “, etc. You could probably lay them all end to end and reach Ocean Beach from downtown. They put out a huge amount of material, and each record seems to get better and stronger and more musically evolved. Their latest, Floating Coffin is probably their most complex and dark and accomplished release to date, but when I say that I start to recall the greatness of PutrifiersII, Carrion Crawler/The Dream, Help, The Moonsick EP, etc. and it’s truly hard to actually pick a fave and you just know theres another one already in the can waiting to be released before you know it. This band is in constant motion, on a streak of creativity so prolific its baffling, touring all over the world playing blistering white hot shows to an ever-growing world-wide fan base. All it takes really is to see them play live just once and you’ll be hooked. Thee Oh Sees are one of those perfect representations of pure rock and roll, reigning supreme without question or doubt, inhabiting the present with something magical and transcendent that outshines about 80% of the pedestrian indie bands cluttering up the airwaves currently with their limp versions of re-hashed alternative music we’ve heard decades ago. Seriously, this is way better than Vampire Weekend or Arcade Fire or MGMT and countless other bands the Indie kids love and buy like crazy.
It’s pretty difficult to adequately describe Thee Oh Sees music. Their sound is unique yet shows a lot of influences working their way in and transforming into something completely fresh. There seems to be layer upon layer of styles and sounds that meld into a fiery brand of psychedelia, or garage-rock, or droning stoner-rock, or turbo-rockabilly-surf or artsy kraut-rock or alt-folk weirdness. Just a ton of things going on there and its unforgettable. We are so lucky they are from here because if you pay attention you can catch them live as they play a lot of local shows. You wont believe their huge and excitable fan base, a wildly devoted group of kids and grown-ups who explode into a joyous frenzy of motion from beginning to end of their sets. As I understand it, this phenomenon is consistent all over the U.S., Europe, Australia, the Far East, the UK, everywhere they play. They’ve built a huge international following while remaining totally D.I.Y. and Underground. They also bring a lot of other great bands from everywhere to attention by bringing them along on tour. Imagine that, touring bands helping each other out like that. It’s beautiful and has added significantly to my music collection, paying attention to who is opening for Thee Oh Sees, or who they just did a split single release with, or what new band has a release out on Castleface Records, a California label that John Dwyer, guitarist and figurehead of Thee Oh Sees, runs with two other guys. So if you aren’t familiar with this band you are missing out on the best band in San Francisco and what will be a rich chapter of this city’s musical history in the making. Oh and Thee Oh Sees are playing at The Eagle Tavern on June 8th with Total Control from Australia and Fuzz–don’t miss it.
Gay Republicans: This is the sleeve for a four song EP by Gay Republicans called Raw Doggerel and if the record inside was not very good I would have been satisfied with just this picture and the band’s name. Turns out that this record rules! The first song is called “Let’s Get Gentrified” so combined with the photo on the sleeve (which I know is taken South of Market Street) I figure this band must be local seeing that gentrification is so near and dear to our hearts here in SF. Raw and crunchy guitars bounce all over a solid funky beat with falsetto background vocals tossing in “ah ah aahhs” while the lead vocal sings “I know what it takes to make this place a little bit better.” It’s a kinetic and slightly off kilter song with an irresistible mutant funkiness and as the vocalist repeatedly screams “Let me inside,” I realize that gentrification is metaphorical here, he wants someone to open their heart to him. Isn’t that sweet? The next song, “Crust Fund” sounds incredibly familiar but I cant place what song or band it reminds me of. Again the template is catchy and funky with proficient guitar mixed way up front. When i play this people ask me who it sounds just like. If any of you figure it out let me know. “Cocaine Werewolf” is my favorite cut on the disc and its a real riff-heavy headbanger with a passionate nicely arranged vocal. Hearing this one real loud makes people feel rowdy. The Gay Republicans’ Raw Doggerel EP is a solid fun release through and through. Ask for it.
Wet Nuns: This two man Death Blues band from Sheffield England are stirring up a ruckus with a delightfully deranged hard rocking assault that has satan written all over it, as you can see from this video below for their song “Heavens Below.”
So theres a lot going on here that I like, basically. For one, these guys are sexy as fuck, I mean seriously. I’m also very enamoured by two piece bands that create such a full sound. The vocalist has an amazing effortless rock and roll snarling growl of a voice and is no slouch on guitar either. I also appreciate their sense of humor, jagged and fucked up. They only have one EP released so far but we can soon be expecting more. Find their songs on soundcloud or youtube and wait patiently for their upcoming debut LP. They have a rapidly swelling popularity in England and they’ve been hotly-tipped by the NME, The Independent, The Guardian, and Q. They have a nice logo too.
Wobbly Lamps: Theres this blog that i visit a lot called polyvinylcraftsmen at http://polyvinylcraftsmen.blogspot.com/ and they post sets of records they play or Transmissions From The Back of Beyond as they call it. These sets are available to stream or download and the track-listing is always posted. I’m continually surprised by the similarity of their tracklistings to my own set lists from my DJ sets at the Hole in The Wall. They are very in tune with the current crop of bands from all over the world that I refer to as the International Garage-rock Underground. They are real big on Thee Oh Sees and lots of other San Francisco-based bands and artists as well as crops of Garage acts from England, France, Australia, Italy, Greece, etc. A while back this group created their own Polyvinyl Craftsmen Records, a label dedicated to sporadically creating a limited amount of seven inch singles. They’ve put out two records so far and they are both by Wobbly Lamps from Sarfend in the UK. Of course Wobbly Lamps are totally fucking amazing, I could expect nothing less from the fine people behind this incredibly informed blog and their transmissions. You can order these records directly from their site (they only press 250 records at a time so place those orders you vinyl junkies) or stream them on Soundcloud or Youtube for a listen as well. You can hear “Never Ever Bloody Anything Ever” from their recent Drella EP below. It’s five and a half minutes of mindwarping epic garage-y genius
This photo wasn’t taken at the Hemlock last night but was the closest approximation of the 5 member line-up that I could find elsewhere. Too bad the drummer is cut out of the shot but anyways…they looked something like this, which seemed pretty damn young to be producing such a raw crunching bruising noise just bursting at the seams with garage rock aplomb and seasoned ability screaming from a past they are all too young to know about let alone play with such maniacal skill. They are from Athens, Greece and I’m hard-pressed to tell you of another band from there ever. Their very formidable debut LP and a handful of great singles plus a reputation for tireless touring and wildly frantic live performances firmly vaulted Acid Baby Jesus into the growing ranks of the international garage-rock underground, joining notables like Spain’s Mujeres, Italy’s Sultan Bathery, Berlin’s King Kahn and the Shrines, France’s Magnetix, Australias’ Total Control, San Francisco’s very own Thee Oh Sees, and many more bands who create an old rock and roll sound with a vitality that seems fresh and new yet primal. Bands like these are saving Rock and Roll with prolific recordings distributed indie-style and stringent international touring. They are alive and well and existing in the Underground, bypassing the need for mainstream exposure or major label support. People buzz about these bands anyway.
Acid Baby Jesus very casually took the small stage and quickly set up and the lights were down. I was really surprised by how very young they all seemed considering they play like seasoned veterans. They started in on their first song, the composition bringing each instrument in one at a time building to a powerful multilayered crescendo with tribal drumming low-end frenetic bass and a wall of guitar fuzz with slithering hints of middle-eastern psychedelic meanderings and definite traditional Greek elements that I had not really noticed in their recorded work so much. The keyboard player figured prominently in the overall construction of a very big enveloping sound and three members shared vocal duties which were often more complex arrangements than i expected. This was masterful stuff, showing up right away, supporting my theory that nothing makes a band get really really good better than non-stop touring.
The guitarist introduced their second song saying “This next song is called “Vegetable.” It’s what happens when you tour too long, you become a vegetable”. The band launched into a much louder crunchier assault, and I thought to myself, “Apparently not!” because this song was a monster. The two guitarists and bass player alternately shredded on their instruments furiously, assuming one of my favorite guitar postures, the one where they bend over their instrument as it slinks down almost to the floor. I could tell that eventually one or two of these guys would end up playing while lying down on the stage, another fave of mine. Guitars mangled each other, bantered, joined in intricate powerful patterns or impenetrable walls of distortion and fuzz and even some traditional melodic lead/rhythm guitar stuff. Every path chosen was mesmerizing. These guys played the fuck out of everything, and the drummer and keyboards definitely had some stand-out moments too, never being less than solid and consistent save for spikes of well, fucking brilliance, basically.
Another thing I noticed as they moved through songs that varied in mood from miasmic acid-tinged mind benders to more vocally dominant garage-style burners and again wonderful traditional greek-sounding flourishes (which reminded me that surf style guitar has definite similarities to traditional Greek music when compared) was that unless I’m mistaken, none of the songs in their set were ones i recognized. I found this to be totally gutsy and refreshing, to play what seemed like all new material for a crowd that very well may have song-specific expectations. To pull this off you gotta be pretty fucking good, and they were indeed that. It’s also fair to assume that most musicians are more passionate about playing the songs they wrote recently as opposed to their older material. Acid Baby Jesus knocked it out of the park with new stuff and I’ve seen only one other band do this before, skip all familiar hits and play only new and unfamiliar songs and still satisfy their assembled fans and that was Wire on the Read and Burn Tour. It was so great to finally catch this band and to be so satisfied by the unexpected. I’ll wait for a new record anxiously. It also bears mention that The Hemlock is a great intimate place to see bands and the sound quality was really fantastic, their sound man has it down. If i weren’t working I’d go see Useless Eaters there on the 28th.
It has come to my attention that my streaming capabilities with drop-box have been temporarily suspended for generating excessive traffic. I had no idea there was any limitation on this feature but apparently there is. The suspension will be over in three days so come back and try to listen again and I’ll search for another alternative to stream my DJ sets from elsewhere–this is really lame of drop box if you ask me.
I thought it should be something you can listen to! Being able to post some of my DJ sets from the Hole In The Wall in a place that you could stream them from was like my favorite thing ever on this blog. Drop box made this possible but only to a point I recently learned. You see the free drop box plan only gives you so much space to use and then you have to upgrade. I thought, no big deal, I’ll up grade when the time comes, all that available space out there in the magical mysterious infinite data storage universe cant really cost all that much now can it? Theres gigabytes, terabytes even petabytes of storage to be had out there, I’m sure theres a reasonable deal or plan for my needs. Think again. For just a little more space Drop Box wants to charge $99.00 a year! That’s kinda a lot it seems so I’m going to have to explore some other options. I know theres probably a simple and always free way to do this but I came upon this ability quite by accident because I’m kind of a retard about some computer and media and tech stuff. If any of you have some simple suggestions or solutions or services to recommend please let me know.
But back to the fun stuff, although this will be the last DJ set I post using Drop Box, I couldn’t be happier with this particular 5 hours of music from February 1, 2013. I dunno exactly what happened on this shift but at a certain point I went into a mode where nothing was too hard, too greasy, too agressive, too distorted, too filthy, too loud or too mindbending. I think it was the crowd which had slowly become peppered with some of my favorite customers and friends, people I know who find as much pleasure in Rock and Roll music as I do, so I start pouring it on real thick and somewhat personal with selections I know are gonna make a few specific people very happy. What was really great about it was the rest of the crowd seemed to get it too. It was a very effervescent jubilant group and I was having a blast rocking them mercilessly. And now you dear readers can listen to this set by going to the link below:
So listen–the minutes will fly by like hours! Lots of brand new stuff, local stuff, older stuff, hard stuff, all the right stuff.
By Don Baird
Published: April 17, 2008
Since I returned from London I’ve been staying mostly in the household of my best friend Joey in the lovely Noe Valley, where the fertile residents of this quaint neighborhood can’t seem to breed fast enough or enough, for that matter. Seriously, every Saturday on 24th Street it’s like a fucking baby fair – double strollers even, toddlers wearing outfits that cost more than one of my paychecks, mothers power-pramming, as they say in England, combining exercise with pushing a baby stroller (sounds like a good idea, looks disgusting and a bit cruel) and a general sea of proud reproducing parental faces smiling and happy and just itching to talk childbirth, pre-school waiting lists and infant movement classes or yoga for children. It’s frankly sickening, and I’m not totally sure why I feel this way, but I do.
It’s certainly not envy. I have no desire to reproduce at all and never have, kind of part of the whole being a homosexual thing. I just think I find it vulgar to create more people on a planet that is overpopulated and run by idiot war-mongers and gradually being depleted of its natural resources by civilization’s greed, the hunger for power and the unrealistic ideals and expectations society carelessly places on people and our environment. That means every stroller being pushed by new parents will usually evolve into soccer moms across America who all have to drive SUVs when everyone knows it is just plain going to kill us all in the long run, but they just don’t care.
That’s why I hate the constant baby parade, the status race of parenthood, the introduction of children into a world of classist stratification that will undoubtedly continue to propagate hatred and tension based on shallow concepts and superficial values, and money or the lack of it, and a total disregard for the bigger picture and the scary future they’ll be bringing their little trophy babies into.
At Joey’s place I’ve always enjoyed the fact that their household is sort of the complete antithesis of your average Noe Valley home. The chaos isn’t necessarily looming in the future as much as it is an everyday way of life there. There are basically four roommates in total, but due to extenuating circumstances, that number has reached more like six recently, with a plethora of interesting interlopers like myself dropping in at all hours of the day or night to take up part-time residence in the kitchen, the heart of the household. In order to do this one must clear a spot for themselves, usually by doing the dishes. This usually endears you to all of the roommates as the massive pile of dishes always seems insurmountable to people who actually live there. Clean dishes will always be met with a cheery smile and perhaps an invitation to hang out in someone’s room or even stay in someone’s room if they aren’t home.
Mr. A, one roommate hadn’t been present for almost two weeks it seemed, and since I have known him a long time, I was allowed to use his room to sleep or watch TV occasionally. It seemed Mr. A had not only been absent for awhile but had also failed to pay his rent for almost two months, causing everyone else to not pay their’s as well, as no partial amounts would be accepted by the landlord who would visit early in the mornings with angry threats to take action against them if he didn’t get the rent. Everyone knew that Mr. A wasn’t paying his rent because he had developed a horrible gambling addiction and would lose his money in casinos you had to take BART to get to. He also would not admit this to anyone, even himself. He was putting everyone’s tenancy in peril and was in complete denial, like a movie on Lifetime.
Joey is the master-tenant, and the brunt of this situation always falls on him. He has to be the bad guy, police man, the negotiator with the angry landlord, the one who finds a quick replacement for the tenants who skip out without paying. And should the household fall apart, he stands to be the one who has the most to lose, the one who will get an eviction on his rental history and likely never be rented to in this town again. Because that is how it works here in this soul-sucking city of San Francisco: one eviction and you are quite possibly fucked for life.
And people wonder why there are so many homeless people here. Many of the visitors like myself are often homeless, as it is not an unusual condition here in our fair city. However, the bulk of people stopping by this house of dreams seem to be visitors Joey meets on Manhunt.net, Men4now.com, and other online cruising sites. Having known Joey for almost 20 years now, I was aware of his “dating” proclivities but was rather surprised to witness first-hand the sheer numbers of gentlemen he entertained, and the number of times I would be banished to the kitchen whenever the doorbell rang, and of course, how many of these visitors were people I know. What can one say, he is definitely in demand, though this was during a period of separation from his boyfriend who is now happily back in the picture, and it’s not like the other roommates, Mr. B and Mr. J, who are a couple, don’t have a fair amount of visitors too, and some very interesting and unusual ones at that.
One such visitor, and I don’t know exactly which occupant he was visiting but I had met him before on the street one night and chatted with him until he started yelling at the voices in his head and I set off in a different direction, had pulled up a chair at the kitchen table where I was writing on a laptop computer. He began to tell me that awhile back his “girlfriend” (said and often repeated in that way to assert his heterosexuality in an arena where young “heterosexual” men have sex with other men based on who has drugs, cigarettes, a warm place to hang out and access to straight porn) stabbed one of his testicles with a syringe in a fit of rage and he eventually saw a doctor about his injury and the doctor told him that because of this wound his testicle would slowly start to break down and whither away to nothing and there was really little they could do about that. I questioned the doctor’s prognosis with a smirk, saying there should be something that could be done, and he continued to tell me that another doctor said that the only chance he had to save his testicle was to masturbate excessively. I burst out laughing and almost said to the compact and well-built street urchin that by all means he should start right now if it would save his precious testicle, but before I could stop laughing he continued to tell me that he could only really masturbate if he was on meth, so giving him some meth would save his testicle, and I guess provide a lovely floor-show right there in the kitchen. I was really almost rolling on the floor laughing at that point and hoping that someone in the house was overhearing this. I told him I didn’t have any meth and questioned his ability to masturbate without it. “Are you sure you can’t? If it were my testicle I’d sure as hell be trying to save it, drugs or no drugs, right now! I mean, what if this leaves you infertile?” I was cracking myself up now. He silently departed shortly after, but on another occasion did something considerably more than masturbate for a small amount of drugs with someone else in the household. This one has an unusual capacity for conspiracy theories, and as I said before, voices.
One night when I was on my way to Joey’s after work, I met a charming young man and we got to talking and found we had a lot in common. I wanted to invite him over but didn’t feel that was OK, as I am just a guest there at Joey’s. After mulling it over, I decided to phone Joey and see if it would be okay to have someone over. He said it would be fine. Mr. A was still missing, so I could use his room and all would be fine. So we went over there and hung out for awhile only to be told by Mr. B, in his charming and comical way, that he had a friend over who had just prior to our arrival made plans to actually turn a paying trick in Mr. A’s room. So we got dressed and retired to the kitchen to chat and Mr. B’s friend answered the door and quietly slipped his guest past us and into the room.
We stayed in the kitchen chatting and wondering if his friend had an hourly rate or what, because we were hoping to get back in the room for more fun, but they seemed to be staying forever. Eventually, Joey invited us in to his room, but then he had a creepy guest show up who we didn’t like so we left and found our original room unoccupied and carried on there some more. This guy was really nice and didn’t seem freaked out over the unusual household dynamics at all. In fact he quite took to it very well. Eventually he shared with me very matter-of-factly that he has a bipolar disorder. I give him credit for putting that right out there. In fact I much prefer that to the several I’ve met who didn’t reveal that for weeks or even months into knowing them. Everyone who met him thought he was great. Mr. B was being extra charming, hilarious, quick-witted and charismatic this night, a very cordial and engaged host. In fact much of the levity and humor in the household, even in its darker moments comes from Mr. B’s presence there. Later that day, Mr. B told me that the reason his friend and his trick took so long was because the trick recognized my voice and knew me and didn’t want to leave and be discovered, because I was sitting right there in the kitchen. I asked who it was, but like a good hooker, he never disclosed the trick’s identity. He still hasn’t.
At one point I left the Noe Valley house for a few days to give them a break from me, and when I returned there was a new interloper in the kitchen, a guy I knew a little bit from here and there. It seemed the plan was to move him in and move Mr. A out, and the new guy would eventually take over the room. In the meantime Mr. Chef, we’ll call him, established himself in the kitchen, both cleaning and cooking a lot. I felt a bit like I had been replaced, but not for long.
The new guy is very amiable, and I learned that he is from the same hometown as me, Medford, Oregon. We lived just two roads away from each other. We started sharing memories of home, like what grade school did you go to and stuff like that, and in a few days time we discovered a point in common that kind of chilled us both to the bone. It seems that a man my mother dated when I was about 10 or so until she learned that he was married and dropped him, was indeed the same man who brutally murdered Mr. Chef’s mother’s best friend. Mr. Chef said, “Lets not talk about Medford for awhile.” It was genuinely weird.
One of the hard parts of dwelling in the kitchen is the distinct lack of a place to physically lie down. I had been staying there for about five days and I was writing on the laptop and I kept hearing what distinctly sounded like workmen doing something on the roof, like re-tarring or clearing the gutters or something. A strong gust of wind seemed to produce footsteps across the roof of the flat at several points in the day. Just off the kitchen is Mr. B and Mr. J’s room, and they had a couple of guests over in their room and I heard the workmen again, and I said, “Hey Mr. B, is there some kind of work crew fixing something on the roof right now? Don’t you hear them? I’ve been hearing them for days.” There was a long pause and Mr. B replied, “No, but I think its kind of cute that you do.” There were audible snickers coming from the room and Joey comes in the kitchen and says, “Honey, maybe you better lie down and get some sleep OK?” in a wicked nurse kind of tone. “OK, you bitches.” I lay down in Joey’s room and got some much-needed sleep. When I woke up and rejoined the household activities Mr. J kept asking me about my new friends.
“What new friends? Who are you talking about?” “The ones on the roof,” he said. They still tease me about that.
At press time the entire unpaid rent situation had still not been resolved, and the landlord had seemingly given up trying to collect it every morning. The state of the household seems to be stuck in limbo, but the food is good, the visitors are amusing, the place is cleaner than ever and the number of current residents is…. hard to say, but I’ve found it to be a warm and nurturing place to visit for quite some time. Home is where the heart is, and in spite of the chaos and uncertainty, I heart this one and hope nothing but the best for it.