Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Countdown to the Weekend

Lots of stuff going on this week.

Thursday night, July 28th, I will be guest DJ'ing at La Polla Loca. Also performing that night will be the latina synth-pop duo, Cebollitas Bonitas. La Polla Loca takes place at Little Pedro's, just on the outskirts of Little Tokyo. Click on the flyer below to go to the website for directions. This is a free event and the drinks are cheap, so come on down and hang out! 21 and over...bring your fake id.

Friday night, July 29th, Anti-Market Retail Gallery presents: Silkscreens by ZEROXED! and Photographs by DAWN WIRTH (early punk era). Art Reception: 6:30pm-9:30pm, Music starts at 10pm. Featuring Live IN-STORE performances by: Punkoustica and The Sirens.
Click on the ZEROXED flyer below to visit the Anti-Market website for more details.

I hope to see you at one or BOTH nights!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Le Tigre In L.A.

Should be a fun dance party tonight at the Avalon with Le Tigre, Gram Rabbit and Electrelane. If you're a Le Tigre fan, I'm sure you'll be there. If you aren't going to the show, but still feel like getting your groove on "Le Tigre style," you can head down to Little Pedros for Rudy Bleu's La Polla Loca club on Thursday, July 21 at 11pm to catch Le Tigre's own JD on the turntables. Here's a fun Le Tigre video to whet your appetite:

I will be guest DJ'ing next Thursday, July 28 at La Polla Loca along with Rudy Bleu. Expect my set to include everything from Bollywood dance tunes to Gloria Trevi. I'm looking forward to having a great time and hope you can make it. And best of all...it's free!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Dinah Cancer on Indie 103.1

Sorry for the short notice, but I just found out about this today. Dinah Cancer will be a guest on Indie 103.1 fm's Mighty Morning Show on Tuesday, July 19. The show begins at 7 am and guests usually roll in around 8am. Supposedly, Dinah will be getting a tattoo live on air while the host interviews her. Please listen on your radio, or you can stream it on the internet at

Call in to the station at (877) 900-1031 and let Dinah know you're listening!

Dinah is one of the real pioneers of what has come to be called "horror punk" or "death rock." And I suppose it's time to officially announce that members of Castration Squad, including Dinah, will be reuniting for a one time only show in September at the Key Club in Hollywood. More details to follow soon.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Women In L.A. Punk - Part XIV - Rover

Rover is one of those girls who added life and color to the early punk scene and made it so interesting. She received one of the first wounds (six stitches in the scalp) in the "us against them" skirmishes that seem to occur whenever people are afraid or intolerant of those who look different from them. It's hard to imagine a time and place when having short, crazy-coloured hair could provoke a violent reaction from a stranger, but that is what it was like in the 1970's.

I had no idea that it was Rover who came up with the idea of selling "best friend" status for a quarter. After awhile, the idea caught on at the Canterbury and people would offer to be your friend for the price of a burger or if you agreed to help them out with something.

Rover's interview captures the youthful innocence that was part of the early punk days but which is often overlooked for the more sensational aspects of the scene. She remembers the "in crowd" being an "impossible clique to penetrate" and says that it was "self-protective, justly so." I only recall that my friends in the scene, Rover being one, made up a sort of extended family of like-minded individuals who were similarly outcast from "normal" society.

Click on the thumbnail to read Rover's interview.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Punk = Attitude

I've heard from a few sources that I'm in (for a few seconds) the new Don Letts documentary entitled "Punk = Attitude", which apparently was shown on cable TV over the weekend. I don't have cable and I barely watch TV so I missed it, but I thought I'd repost a blog entry I wrote last August, right after the interview was conducted.


A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed by Don Letts for a movie he's doing on punk rock and he asked me about the difference between punk now versus punk back in the seventies. I responded that the attitude still remains alive in certain new bands, even if the sound is not what someone would describe as "punk". For example, a band like The Gossip is much more punk to me than a band like Sum 41, even though the latter band plays what is generally considered to be "the punk sound". The Gossip is extremely talented, but beyond that they have the attitude that they're gonna do what they like because they damn well feel like it! Their sound will change as they gain experience and they become more proficient but hopefully they will not change their sound or style to fit what a record company is looking for.

That's a big difference between bands nowadays and bands when I was playing with The Bags. Back then, before the internet, the major record companies really did control distribution. They didn't like punk rock because it was anti-establishment and it was too different from what had come before, so they didn't think they could sell it to the masses. Alot of the LA bands were laboring under the mistaken impression that if we just worked hard and polished our sound enough that we would be signed to a record label. Well, that just wasn't going to happen for bands like The Bags, Weirdos and Screamers.

In looking back at some old live footage of The Bags, I realized that at a certain point, I became so focused on my vocal performance that I lost much of my energy onstage. See, I used to sing off key quite a bit (no!) during performances because I was so busy going crazy. Once we started trying to polish our sound, I had to tone it down alot to keep my singing on key. It was the beginning of the end. It would have been better if I had gone on barking out the words onstage because, in retrospect, there was no way that we were going to get signed anyway. Once we started trying to be "label worthy," we lost the energy that made the Bags and punk rock unique.

People accuse Hardcore of killing off the original LA punk scene but I wonder if that scene hadn't already served its purpose and run its course. Bands that came after us, like Black Flag and Minor Threat, absorbed the lessons at which we'd failed. They took the D.I.Y. ethic a step further. They knew they were never going to be signed, they had no interest in being signed and so they refused to compromise on any level.

Which brings me to my conclusion. Kids nowadays don't have to tame their shit down because they're wiser than we were. They learned from my generation's mistakes. They know that they don't need a major label to make their music heard and they know that a record company will try to control them if they get signed, anyway.

That's the true legacy of punk, not the mohawks and studded belts, nor the Warped Tour nor any of the mega-successful bands. It's the hard-earned knowledge that you can stay true to your vision, you can do it yourself, without compromise and without a major label behind you.

arf arf,

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Bags In Portland

This is kind of a cheater post because I'm rehearsing with Punkoustica tonight, but I heard that my old Bags bandmate Terry Graham is in town and was on Indie 103.1, talking about the L.A. punk scene. I knew that I had this video that even Terry probably hasn't seen, so I thought I'd share it.

This short clip of the Bags performing "Survive" comes to us courtesy of Michael Lastra and is taken from a video he shot when we played in Portland in 1979. This lineup is the group of musicians most people know from the Dangerhouse recording sessions: Craig Lee on rhythm guitar, Terry "Dad Bag" Graham on drums, Pat Bag on bass and Rob Ritter on lead guitar. I can only share a small portion of this with you, but I'm happy to be able to share even this tiny bit because Bags recordings of this audio/video quality are extremely rare. The full song appears in Michael Lastra's soon to be released documentary on the Portland punk scene.

I hope you enjoy it. Click on the picture to launch a Windows Media player file. It's a large file, so you'll need a high speed connection.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Women In L.A. Punk, Part XIII - Genny Body

One of my strongest memories of Genny Body is of her, onstage with Backstage Pass. She had one half of her face very glamorously made up with lipstick, eye shadow, etc. and one half with no makeup at all. It was a very interesting look and reminded me a bit of the cover of Bowie's Pinups album. I was thinking about this a few nights ago and it occurred to me that Genny's makeup could be a metaphor for the time and place that her band, Backstage Pass, occupied. I thought that the made up half represented the glam scene which was then being replaced by the new punk scene. The half with no makeup represented the punk scene. It was raw and real, as opposed to the more showy, artificial glam side.

I was trying to explain to someone what it was like before punk started to take off in L.A. Alot of the people who went on to form punk bands were very into Glitter/Glam, which in my mind was the most exciting style prior to the advent of punk. Glam encompassed acts like Bowie, Queen, T-Rex...even Elton John had a Glitter element to his persona. The New York Dolls kind of pointed the way forward towards punk rock and allowed other things to happen musically in a more raw and stripped down way. But there was a brief period in L.A. before punk became firmly established (which it did quite rapidly) where people were kind of transitioning between glam and punk and that's when Backstage Pass began playing. It's important to note that Backstage Pass was an all-female band at a time when it was still very rare to find even a single woman playing an instrument.

Backstage Pass by Jenny Stern/Lens, as published in the May/June 1977 NY Rocker. Genny Schorr = Genny Body

Backstage Pass was made up of more polished and proficient musicians than most of the punk bands around at the time. Their music bridged the gap between glam and punk and was inspiring to many female musicians, who eventually went on to form their own bands.

Thanks once again to Jenny Lens for putting us in touch with one another. Please click on the Women In Punk thumbnail to read Genny's interview. Have a nice, hot Fourth of July weekend. Remember, play it Safe and Sane! No walking on bar tables!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Mumps CD Release Party

June 30th is the last day of the academic school year. Although classes for students are over on different days, the contract year ends on the 30th. A new school year begins on July 1st. What that means to many teachers is that on June 30th you must pack up your things and put them away, or if you're like me and are leaving the school, you must pack everything up and take it home. After twenty years of teaching, packing up is no small task. I spent all day sorting through things, throwing away lesson plans that I'd developed over the years, keeping only the most essential things. It was difficult physically as well as emotionally.

In the evening, my good friend Kristian Hoffman held a record release party for The Mumps new CD anthology, "How I Saved the World". The Mumps were a very early punk band that boasted well crafted songs and the charismatic Lance Loud on vocals. Because the CD has been released after Lance's death, Kristian asked various L.A. musicians to guest star on vocal duties, including me. I turned down the opportunity because I expected to be moving out of my classroom and into my new condo on the 30th. Unfortunately, due to extremely inept flooring installation, courtesy of Ikea, we are about a week and a half behind schedule and cannot move into our place yet. Anyway, that's a different story.

Let me get back to The Mumps release party. The band was absolutely brilliant. Kristian is not just a talented keyboardist/songwriter/singer; he is a witty and charming frontperson. He ushered his numerous guests up on the stage and they were all top-notch. Stand out performances for me were Lisa Jenio and Mink Stole.

I was sitting, lady-like, sipping on a Mandarin tonic when Kristian asked for volunteers to go up and play the cow bell. A young man went up and played and won a Mumps poster as a reward, but Kristian was not satisfied. "Another volunteer!" he demanded, so before I could stop myself I was up on the stage. I grabbed the cow bell and tried to walk on top of the tables while keeping a steady beat. HA!! Did you know that bar tables don't have 4 legs? The ones at Tangier have one center stand that would not support 150 pounds on platform shoes. So I fell.

Everyone gasped. Of course I'm made of rubber, so I got back up and tried to pretend that it was all part of a well rehearsed act. I got my Mumps poster and the chump award too!