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No Easy Story to Tell

I do a lot of genealogy.

I began after being inspired by my uncle who, back in the 70s, began researching one branch of our family. Genealogy was tough business back then. He had to do hard copy research, planning trips to various county courthouses, and Washington D.C. in order to pour through microfiche and archived documents.

After passing on himself in the 90s, his work sat dormant until one of his sisters self-published a book on his work. Upon reading her manuscript, and cogitating on it for some time, I decided to take up the task of completing his journey through time. The television show ‘Finding Your Roots’ provided additional impetus. After all, it was 2007, and the Internet could bring all of the documents to me. So I opened an account on and, using his work as my foundation, set to work.

Sometimes, when I feel like it, I’ll spend the entire day exhuming the remnants of individuals long since forgotten. The task may be a more convenient one, but is no less difficult. Names were rarely unique in any given period. It is amazing how many people were named ‘John Henry’ or ‘Francis Marion’ back in the 1800s. Throw in an uneventful surname such as ‘White’ or ‘Smith’, and the field broadens rather than narrows. Sometimes documents must be browsed rather than accessed alphabetically. Sometimes there’s no index to these documents. Sometimes individual court books hold thousands of records. Also during these periods, court documents were hand-written, and sometimes it may have been late in the day and the stenographer wanted to go home, and with speed, their handwriting became atrocious.

As with many others, genealogy often goes from a past-time hobby into a full blown compulsion. Determining where to stop becomes difficult. With every generation back that one goes, the workload quadruples. Many families consisted of at least eight children in those days.

After three years of fruitless attempts in finding my maternal 3nd G grandfather, I finally discovered that my 3rd G grandmother had given birth to my 2nd G grandfather illegitimately, and that the family surname was that of his mother, rather than that of his father.

Consider, if you will, that everyone of you reading this has sixteen 2nd G grandparents. And that every one of those people is responsible for your being here.

Consider that I have successfully researched back to my 9th G grandparents in some branches. It becomes easy to see how having over 8,000 people in one’s family tree is nothing special.

I can recall one Summer day at my paternal grandmother’s house. All ten of my grandparent’s adult offspring were there – along with their spouses – and were either sitting on the front porch, or in ladder-back chairs out under the tall Willow Oaks. Over a dozen grandchildren were easily present. I recall one of my aunts talking to the others regarding my uncle’s time-consuming passion.

Finally one called out across the front yard to him, “What do you expect to find out anyhow, Tip?”

He gave a boyish grin and replied, “Aw, you don’t ever know, we might be kin to somebody rich and famous.”

I recall the hearty laughter which followed.

With that Summer day long gone, not only has my grandmother been swallowed, but her old house, my father, and all but two of his siblings, and even a few of my cousins. Soon enough, all that will remain of that day will be my memory of it.

My uncle would be vindicated, were he still alive, and all of his siblings in awe of his objectivity, for thanks to his humble quest, I have determined that everyone gathered there that day were cousins to both the rich and the famous, for instance: Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler, along with Lem Motlow, who inherited the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. As my cousin likes to say, ‘Everytime someone has a Jack & Coke, it’s a family reunion.’

I also discovered that they were all the 7th great-grandchildren of a woman named Sally Field and her husband Thomas Jefferson – grandparents of the father of our country – who was named after his grandfather.

However, I happen to feel the closest kinship to my 5th cousin novelist William C Falkner. I wonder if he might agree that, for many people, sometimes the simple truth proves no easy story to tell.


My Thoughts Since the Passing of Walter Becker

It seems we rarely give pause in respect to the passing of time, until we reach a certain point in our lives, and only then do we regard it peripherally. Additionally we give little thought to the passing of time in the lives of others as well. Especially those figures who are of the semi high-profile sort. As much as some of us like to think that we know about what they do, in the end, we find that we know very little, and that in reality they were little more than punctuation in our own lives.

The weight of this observation didn’t hit me until this past Sunday evening as I lay in bed. I had, as one could guess, been preoccupied with listening to music the majority of the day, and had not listened to the news until switching on my radio that night.

As soon as I heard the announcer mention the name of Walter Becker, I knew what words were to follow. Walter was one whose name would rarely be mentioned in context with anything else within the past forty years. One had to know who Walter was in order for his name to be familiar.

Walter looked like the guy you’d see in the seventies, sitting outside the mall waiting for a ride. One of the most unassuming bottom-to-top-to-bottom-to-top-again success stories in modern American music, Walter lived out his life in obscurity, in plain sight.

It occurred to me that this man had lived and died within a period of 67 years, and all that I knew about him could easily fit into a thimble. Even though throughout the years, I had painstakingly reverse-engineered his guitar leads and his bass licks, and had attempted to capture his ultra clean, rich lead tones to no avail.

Had Mr Becker not partnered with Donald Fagen during college, both men may have easily faded into the backdrop which is composed of the rest of us, and aja, one of my ten favorite albums of all time would never have materialised.

With the death of Glen Campbell last month, and now that of Walter Becker, the passing of time has become all too apparent to me.

We never know when we’ve caught our last trout, or completed our last composition.

The World Is Changing and Has Taken Me Hostage

Many years ago, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to own a shortwave radio. Nevermind the fact that I didn’t know anything about shortwave, or what would be waiting for me there. The medium simply offered the capability of hearing things I’d never heard before, and the radios had all kinds of knobs for adjustments and tweaking. Besides that, nobody else I knew listened to shortwave broadcasts, and that gave me even more reason to pursue the endeavour.

My first exposure to these fantastic devices came to me by way of the thick annual Radio Shack catalogue which at one time came through the mail. Radio Shack seemed to have one of everything back in the days before mobile phones and computers came along. They should have never attempted to change their business model, because they had a developed a unique niche in their market, and lost their identity in the newly booming digital world.

But out of all the items that the catalogue featured, my favorite section was all of the specialised radios they offered. There were receivers specifically designed for eavesdropping on police, medical teams, fire departments, train yards, ham operators, and yes, shortwave stations.

The primary impediment for me at this time, was of course money. Multiband radios were generally big, and expensive. Back when twenty dollars could purchase what two hundred will now buy, $229. for a radio was a dream that I could only envision. I used to think to myself, ‘If I were rich, I’d buy a shortwave radio.’ The thought of boats, automobiles, and houses never entered my mind.

My initial infatuation with the shortwave waned, and as years passed I married, and started a family. But within three short years, my fate once again changed as I found myself single again and embroiled in a messy divorce. The year was 1981.

With young daughter in tow, I moved back to the town that I was raised in, got a couple of part time jobs, rented myself a small house, and concentrated on the acquisition of new audio recording equipment in order to re-immerse myself in the music industry.

One Friday evening, after getting paid, I dropped my daughter off to visit my parents for the night, and then stopped into Radio Shack to pick up a couple of microphone stands. Something in the window caught my eye and made me stop in my tracks before even entering the store: The big DX 200 shortwave that I had lusted after so many years ago was displayed there, with a hand written sign which read, Closeout Item! Last one left. 50% off!

I walked out of the store that day, not with mic stands, but instead a big box with the coveted radio inside. I stopped at the corner market and got a six-pack. This party had been a long time coming.

As the sun sank lower, I popped a beer and began to build a long wire antenna, which would be required to hear the transmissions on the radio. I didn’t bother to ask my landlord if I could install it, because I knew that it would be all but invisible. I stealthily twisted a screw hook into the eve of the house and, tying a length of paracord into a slipknot, slid it onto the hook and tossed the other end of the paracord into my window. Once back inside I assembled the insulators and bare copper wire and waited for nightfall.

Soon it was dark, and I tossed the finished antenna out the window, grabbed a ladder and sneaked to the garage apartments behind my little house. Propping the ladder softly against the building, I uncoiled the antenna, climbed the ladder, cranked another screw hook into the apartment building and, hoisting the antenna up, pulled it taut and tied it off and scurried back inside with my ladder. My covert work had gone smoothly, and undetected.

I filled a bong, and when it was cashed, I went back into the room with another beer and prepared for the moment of truth.

After attaching the antenna lead to the radio, I turned it on. The big drum dials lit the room up with a warm glow, and the static was punctuated with unfamiliar undulating howls and electrical crackling. I cranked the dial and before long, a big, strong station was booming through in English. However, the news programme was full of strange headlines and weird stories of World War II. Finally at the top of the hour, a powerful voice boomed out, “This.. is the External Service of Radio Moscow!”

I flipped out. I was listening to a Soviet broadcast!! I turned down the volume and looked around. I began to wonder if this was even legal activity, or if I would be viewed as a Communist sympathiser if anyone found out.

I reckon I stayed awake most of the night listening to Radio Beijing, Swiss Radio International, Radio Yugoslavia, and the BBC World Service, among others. I was in complete awe that I could lie on my bed and listen to a radio station on the other side of the World. The impact of how amazing this was at the time will probably be lost the younger reader. These days, we’re so used to turning on the computer and getting Tweets from all over the globe, and news broadcasts from Al Jazerra, the world seems like such a small place in comparison. During the eighties, when cable television was just coming into widespread availability, I was the only person that I knew who was able to get news from other parts of the world, without being at the mercy of the American news services ‘filtering’ what they thought I ‘needed’ to know.

Flash forward to a couple of nights ago.

I climbed into bed, plugged my Sony MDR-7506 headphones into my android, opened the University of Twente website (which is located in the Netherlands*), accessed the Wideband WebSDR, and began sliding my finger across the screen to tune into shortwave stations that were audible in that area of Europe at 2:00 GMT.

As I lay in the darkness, I stared into the screen, and wondered why this hobby no longer held the excitement for me that it once did.

* For anyone who may be interested, go to: Faculty for Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science

The Mercurochrome Link to White Knuckle Gaming

That does it. I’m suing everybody for everything. Nothing is my fault and I just realised it.

I thought I was over it. The Nintendo 64 had been sitting on the shelf for years, untouched.

Sure, I’d played the 64 with my son when he was a kid. You know, why not? I had the toys, the candy bars, the paregoric, the mind-numbing Loony Tunes. I had the comic books, the Matchbox cars, and the model locomotives. Shouldn’t he have had a chance to enjoy it all, too?

So his mom bought him a Nintendo 64. The games were largely innocuous and cute: Zelda, Mario 64, Rainbow Six, Mohammad Ali Championship Boxing, Madden 98 (nothing to make him want to go out and mutilate anyone like the Black Sabbath, the Judas Priest, and Blue Oyster Cult did that I used to listen to), Aerial Assault, Star Wars… Oh…..and Mario Kart.

I looked at the dust covered gaming console too long. I remembered too much. Suddenly, I was a recovering heroin addict who was having his old drug of choice proffered to him again.

God damn Mario Kart. Images of Peach and Yoshi drifted through my mind. My blood boiled anew. I slowly reached for the device, and my palms were already moist with perspiration.


When I was a kid, we’d all be outside playing, and sometimes one of us would fall and tear part of our tender little bodies open. It was an occurrence that we all dreaded and that we would try to wish away. One day, I ripped my knee open pretty badly. All of the other kids stopped playing to assess the damage as well, and looked at me solemnly.
“Are you gonna have to go home?” they’d ask.
Another would inquire, “Do ya’ll have Merthiolate or Iodine?”
“No,” I’d answer, “all we have is Mercurochrome.” My response would send a shudder throughout the group that you could feel and see.

Mercurochrome is how I developed my four octave scream. Even today, uttering the word even makes me tingle in a way that is vaguely uncomfortable. It conjures up something dark, evil, and foreboding. Mercurochrome.

Now, any compound which has, as its root words Mercury and Chrome, can’t be too good to smear into an open wound of any organic being. But as a kid, we were all routinely dipped up to the neck in this shit.

The kid who lived across the street from me rocked incessantly and would cry when jets flew overhead.

Another who lived farther up in the neighborhood would suddenly snap and beat other children up. He’s the only twelve year old I ever knew who had the “hundred yard stare.”

Me? I had a little fling with OCD. I hid it most of the time, but I’d give it free run when I was out playing by myself. I say the same word over and over and over and over and over and over and over. I’d hold my breath and then stagger it until I got it all back in time with something that I didn’t understand. I was a slave to ADD all throughout my time in school, although I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my forties. All of my afflictions came out in the form of art or music or mailbox bashing. I got over the bat wielding, but the effects of the Mercurochrome still make themselves apparent in my music from time to time:


Or…..when I play Mario Kart.

And before I know it, there I go. I’m hooking up the console…desperately seeking RCA patch cables. I can’t find them after a two hour sweep of the house, and I find myself hunkered over my project bench, soldering cables up in the sweltering heat of the halogen lamp… and I know that it already has a hold on me. By God, I’m giving it to Mario Kart. Next I’m blowing in the cartridge, washing my hands, using alcohol and then talc.. getting ready.. to win. Charlie Sheen is right. It is all about winning, and my son’s ancient Nintendo 64 has shown me the way.

I go white knuckle so fast, and want to kill Toad and that stupid little lizard. As a matter of fact, I get to where I can’t stand my own driver. I’ll crash him into walls and see if he can virtually die if he pounds the wall hard enough. I hate the controller. I want to jerk the game out of my mind by the roots because I know that I’ve blown the lid off of my self-imposed moratorium and am completely re-addicted. I won’t stop until I win every course, curse every driver to hell, or hurl the controller through the television screen in total disgust.

Or until drained, I slowly rise from the couch and turn off the set and awaken from this video induced hypnotism. My God, it’s two thirty in the morning. It seems like it was just eleven a.m.

Telling myself to just unplug the game and put it away, hide it in a closet, or take the evilness to the Goodwill outlet to bait some other poor fool, I go to bed and cry myself to sleep at night.

But the console sits in the floor still. Until the next time that I look at it, and feel that shiver of excitement… and then the uncontrollable rage.

So you see.. none of this. is.. my fault.

I’m suing everybody.

Johnny Nowhere is a songwriter who is currently undergoing therapy.

Recording Mythology, Pt. 46 / Twenty Years After Hell Froze Over


New Years Eve.


I didn’t have anything to do.


I refuse to give the police state more leverage against me, so I didn’t get on the road at all, nor did I set off any fireworks.


The county that we live in has outlawed fireworks, restricting our ability to celebrate freedom from oppression. Right. Naturally, thousands of normal folks are forced to become ‘outlaw for a night’ and take the scenic thirty minute drive just over the county line where mobile firework stands appear and disappear within a week. Needless to say, the skies around here burn on the holidays.


The dude down the road must spend a fortune on thunderous nuclear warheads which he patriotically detonates with fierce defiance every July 4 and New Year, so we just watch his money explode instead.


I quit drinking.


I no longer allow the government to tax my pleasure. It had become apparent that they, as well as big alcohol, profited far too much from addiction, depression, and violence, and I despise crony capitalism. I still miss a good glass of wine, but my CFS had gotten in the way anyhow.


As far as pot goes, I used to enjoy it when it was a inspiring buzz rather than a useless stone. The new stuff sucks. And once the government gets a taste of the revenue they can obtain in taxing the stoners in Colorado, we’ll see who “won”.


Coffee is my drug of choice now. French Roast.


To be completely honest, I had no yearly resolutions to make. I work on big things in a nine year cycle, so this was a typical night for me.


I decided to settle in and review a concert documentary which I’d stumbled across a few days before.


Jeez,” I thought aloud when I came across the DVD, “twenty years have already passed since this concert was recorded!? Where has the time gone?”


Believe it or not, 2014 marks two decades since hell reputedly froze over.


The Eagles formed innocently enough back in 1973 when Glenn Frey and Don Henley sat down to try and write a few songs together. Things coalesced, and the band got really big, really quickly.


In the ten years that followed, there were minor personnel changes. There was the addition of Don Felder, later the departure of Bernie Leadon, the addition of Joe Walsh, and finally the departure of bassist Randy Meisner whose shoes were filled as well as could be expected by singer/bassist Tim Schmitt.


The perfection that such an act expects from themselves and one another takes a toll over the years and as the old saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. In many ways it had gotten to where they were competing only with themselves. By 1980 the fellows couldn’t stand to look at each other so they parted ways.


The friction was supposedly the worst between the two who had started it all. When asked if the band would ever perform together again, a frustrated Henley replied, “Yeah…when hell freezes over.”


Tough odds to overcome. 


But hell froze over fourteen years later. The members last comprising the band were carefully reunited with the assistance of Irving Azoff, everybody shook hands, and rehearsals quietly began.


If only everything could be done so expertly.


Now, I was always impressed, above all else, with the quality of the songwriting of the members, thus was a fan of the band off the bat, so my objectivity in this respect may be drawn into question, but few acts have garnered my monitary support throughout their entire existence, and the Eagles were no exception.


There was one album which I didn’t buy due to my severe distaste for all things cowboy.


Never caring to stand out, I certainly never have gone out of my way to fit in.


The explosion of the urban cowboy fad in the mid seventies was too much for me. I heaped scorn on anybody who wore boots, and especially a hat. Pure Prarie League, Michael Murphy, Marshall Tucker, and many other acts that ‘went cowboy’ received the butt of my ire. To this day, I do not own a copy of the Eagles ‘Desperado’ album, so that should prove something.


Finally, the band hit their stride in bucking trend and playing to their strengths. Dead-splat in the middle of the disco era, the Eagles were writing gems like Hotel California.


The performances presented in this reunion concert were absolutely spot on.


Most of the best songs throughout the band’s tenure were there, and the absence of Meisner was held in silent respect by their not attempting to perform any of the tunes which he’d penned and sang. A sensible move. Schmitt did a couple of his own memorable songs instead. He’s a fantastic bassist, and also sings as good a high harmony as anyone, but there’s only one Meisner.


This is a sticking point for me: I’ll always remember Tim as being a member of the band Poco. He wasn’t in the Eagles long enough to replace the image I have of Meisner in the lineup. To be honest, it took me a while to get comfortable with Walsh as a member of the band. He’ll always be part of the James Gang to me.


The guys claimed to be nervous their first time out before an audience in so long, but once on stage, the professionalism which they’d honed from previous years and countless tours came back in a performance which melded the five into one, and it all appeared so effortless.


When the band began the opening chords to songs such as ‘The Last Resort’ and ‘Wasted Time’, I held my breath. These fellows were really putting themselves to the test, but they delivered with astounding accuracy. This was no half-assed concert put on on in an attempt to make some fast money. It was obvious that the band was hell-bent on proving, not only their durability, but their merit, and they did it with colors flying.


Professionalism at this level is something to behold, and nothing short of mesmerising.



4 July, 2013

I used to think of myself as a rebel. I thought that my generation would be instrumental in rearranging the rules of the game for the betterment of mankind. We all seemed to have great, lofty paragons, and spoke as if we knew exactly what was wrong with the world and what needed to be done to repair the damage.

So we sat around, smoked dope and made fun of the ‘system’. We were, in our minds, what constituted ‘Rebels’.

Forty-something years later, I now realise what idiots we really were. Some of us are still wearing what hair we have left in thin little ponytails, some still smoking dope, and some of us are still blowing smoke up each others asses, talking about how much we’ve changed the world, when in reality, we haven’t changed anything one iota; in fact, through our primarily passive ‘resistance’, we’ve only succeeded in making things worse.

I remember all of the talk of ‘love’ and ‘peace’, and the ‘freedom’ to do what the hell we pleased, and the anti-government ‘Down with the Man’ and ‘Fuck the System’ mantras. Clapton was God and Lennon was Jesus. Both men turned out to be little more than human.

Likewise, we’ve bullshitted ourselves into believing that we’re capable of changing things that can’t be changed, imagining ourselves ‘saving the planet’ (or at least our portion of it), and obnubilating equal rights with ‘special treatment’ (equal rights having been granted several decades before). Our generation will be remembered as the first generation who thought of nobody but themselves.

Our parents busted their collective asses to make the world a safer and better place for us, and in a way diametrically opposed to how they’d lived most of theirs: destitute child laborers, farm-hands, cold, hungry, and shoeless during the summer. Children without a childhood. Kids who were forced into the hard reality of life from the time they were old enough to work in the field, chop firewood, cook, sew, milk cows.

Those of whom, by the time they’d reached their twenties and having rarely left the county they’d grown up in, were then called upon to participate in a war half a world away, and from which many of them would never return.

The war also forced women to re-evaluate their purpose in life and fill a void in industry and technology that the young men had been expected to fill. They cut sheet metal, welded, and drove rivets, building the B-52 bomber, the Sherman tank and the P-51 Mustang.

And even though the government sent their young-men-without-a-childhood off to die in another country for a cause they couldn’t fully comprehend, they gave it their all unquestioningly, because they had an undying desire to change the world for the betterment of mankind. And for their own children. That is, for those men fortunate enough to return in one piece, get married, and have children.

My generation are those children.

We grew up being given a childhood that our parents never had the opportunity to experience. We had Bugs Bunny, breakfast cereal, electric trains, a proper education, and Rock ‘n Roll. In a word, our parents had provided us with everything that they’d never imagined themselves as having. And they shared it with us. They also attempted to give us a standard of values which we had no chance of being able to appreciate. Although they meant well, they created a monster by spoiling the shit out of us.

Our accomplishments dim in comparison to those of our parents. Although our parents’ generation had already proven that women could do anything that men could do, be it plough fields or build battleships, my generation imagined unparalleled ‘accomplishment’ with Billie Jean King’s defeat of dinosaur tennis star Bobby Riggs , and Gloria Steinham’s idiotic bra-burning ‘statement’.

And even when we’d basically grown into adults, all of our parents talk about ‘responsibility’ and ‘planning for the future’ sounded like so much nonsense. We’d been living carefree for this long, why should it stop? Why should we ever have to take anything besides ourselves seriously as long as we could extoll our imaginary virtues?

Dream on. That’s our motto.

We’re a generation of girly-men and manly-women, and we’re damn proud of it. We do ‘important’ things such as keep up with the Hollywood elite, watch sporting events on television, drink beer, and screw around on the computer. In actuality very few of us know how to do anything at all in order to survive. How far we’ve fallen.

Rebels, my ass.

George Washington was a rebel, as were John Hancock, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. These men were willing to, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “hang together or most certainly hang apart”. Our ancestors’ generations were those of action. Ours is a generation of slogans, banners and protest marches. Ours is a generation who gets ‘offended’ when someone says something ‘hurtful’. What a spineless, disappointing lot we all are. The white Americans, having done nothing to apologise for, are constantly apologising for something, even if they have to make up a reason. The black Americans, most having never even seen a field of cotton, awaken every day, reminding themselves that they’re black first and Americans second, burdening themselves with all of their imitative anger, and sneering as if they were still in shackles. The truth is far worse. All our shackles exist only in our imaginations, but by God, we’ll justify wearing them, using all sorts of gallant arguments in defense of our ’cause’.

We will leave behind a legacy of ruin. We can’t blame Roosevelt and Nixon forever, they only played a small part in our demise. We must charge Bush and Obama as well.

China owns us, Saudi Arabia owns us, Mexico owns us, and Japan owns us. And every other nation, under the guise of the UN, dictates what we can and can’t do, all the while doing anything they choose. The most amazing thing is that we host these manipulative parties within our very own borders. Our dollar is worthless. We manufacture nothing and buy everything. Especially the bullshit that our politicians and the media serve up. They’ve confused us so, the blue collar worker entrusts the blind trust-rich politician to regulate his employer out of the country, and the destitute families entrust their representitives to keep them in chains, preferring their petty welfare allowance to true freedom.

As Hyphenated-Americans proliferate, and patriots are aspersed as conspiracy theorists, the Constitution, being depicted as ‘old-fashioned’, is systematically disassembled by a group of sharp dressed traitors up in Washington.

Our country is slowly becoming that very beast from which our forebearers desperately fled.

Happy Birthday, America.

You Can’t Think Of A Band Name? Are You Serious?

Back in 1993, there were establishments known as ‘record stores’ and at that time I was attempting to hold down the assistant position of ‘managing’ one. In those days, there was an individual medium of storing and selling music that didn’t involve earbuds or smart phones. This medium came in the form of a little silver platter called a ‘compact disc’. These ‘CDs’ were sold at such stores.

Richard, the manager, upon arriving to work one afternoon, mentioned on his way back to the office that he needed a new band name. “We can’t think of one. Why don’t you guys come up with one for us?”

“You can’t think of a band name? Are you serious?” I prodded from behind the front counter. “Hell, Gregoravich and I can come up with one for you. Ain’t that right Pete?”

Petior just gave the grin of the mischevious twelve-year old boy that permanently dwelled inside him. Petior’s parents were rocket scientists, and they had defected over to the States from the Soviet Union when Pete was a youngster. NASA, being greatly interested, paid them prodigous sums of money for the honour of systematically de-programming them of all things Russian and rocket. As a result, Pete spoke both Russian and English beautifully, but it had cost him his sanity. He was capable of coming up with the most ridiculous combinations of English words I’d ever heard.

I picked up a legal pad said, “Okay everyone,” I stated aloud in faux-commander fashion, “Richard’s band needs a name and it has become our responsibility to arrive at a suitable one. When you think of something acceptable, write it down on this legal pad. That’s an order.” and then tossed the pad back down on the counter.

“This is the reason no work ever gets done around here, Sven”, announced Hell Mary, the goth waif with the black-hole hair, rolling her eyes, ” I don’t want to play your insidious games.”

“You must, or you’ll be taunted and severely beaten.” I informed her.

Yian walked up to the counter. Her parents were first generation Chinese immigrants and she spoke a lovely mixture of Chinglish. Yian was another lunatic. “Do we get spanked if we don’t do it, Sir?” she asked with her illustrious smile.

“So let it be written, so let it be done,” I declared, “as employees here, we…”

“PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE COUNTER. I AM THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ!!” Richard’s voice blared through the phone intercom.

We were a crew of the aforementioned plus a confused seven foot tall stickman who was infatuated with fat women, a self-centered redheaded Irish lass, a perpetually depressed drama queen who promptly severed every rope I’d throw down to her, and a self-deprecating example-of-genetic-engineering-gone-awry mulatto who insisted on being called ‘Tarbaby’, who also had the coolest looking green eyes I’ve ever seen.

The customers were eyeballing all of us suspiciously. I had to work with these people.

Later on, when I was back up front, I’d noticed that someone had dutifully begun the list in ernest, and sensing great fun, I scribbled down a couple of my own and went about my work. As the day passed, the list grew, and as time went on, the pad became a more or less permanent fixture on the counter for the duration of my tenure at the store. The list soon became a medium of vague social commentary, and no one ever complained except once. They were quickly informed that everybody was having too much fun for some crybaby to start running interference.

Fortunately, I had the forsight to abscond with the pad when I left that retail establishment for a more promising future by securing a job at a ‘music store’ which sold all types of instruments, mixing boards, and outboard gear. It was a ‘picks and sticks’ kind of place. Everyone in town that played music came there. (FYI, instruments and ‘gear’ came along before computers, software, plug-ins, loops, and beats. They were the only things that people had to make music with at that time. It took years to learn to play an instrument or run a board. Only then could you refer to yourself as a musician, an artist, or a ‘producer’. Back then, you actually had to know what you were doing. Cutting was done with a blade & block, and pasting had been left behind in grade school.)

Work on the list progressed farther there, assisted by those whose input reflected their chosen field. Sometimes the stuff got pretty weird if not downright questionable when a theme would begin to emerge.

Twenty years on, I still have the old legal pad. It is a sight to behold. The original pages were eventually filled up and new, additional pages stapled on top in order to accomodate the ever-expanding list. There is a black Dymo label on the top spine that proclaims:


While trying to locate an old back-issue of Recording magazine this morning, I came across the list and began flipping through it. (For those of you who may not know, before there were smartphones and iPads, ‘magazines’ were a medium commonly referred to as ‘periodicals’ or ‘publications’, consisting of several pages of paper, wherein ‘articles’ {which is something that predates blogs} covering different subjects were printed. These magazines were regularly subscribed to, delivered to the home through what was called the ‘mail’, and read voraciously.)

Re-reading the band names list, I am at once amazed at how everyone has a comedian deeply hidden somewhere inside of them. I have decided to forgo the formalities, choosing to waive exercise of copyright for this occasion, in order to share some of these ‘band names’ with my readers. (Band names cannot be copyrighted anyway, only trademarked. Feel free to make use of any if you dare. I don’t believe that anyone else ever did).

As is said, without further ado, and in quasilogical order, here they are:

Plastic Casket Gasket

Mama Casket

Pipi Longshoreman

The Mate Baiters

The Bait Maters

The Toe-Maters

The Poe-Taters

Semen Fraud

The Tennesseemen

My Dixie Wrecked

Spermicidal Maniacs



Death Grows Old

Princess Die

Hopped Up On Goofballs

Ebola Cola


Dapper in Diapers

Smokey Mountain Gigolo

Huban Rebains

The Innocent Bystanders

Flying By the Seat of John Denver’s Pants

Tanked, but Empty

I Puff Hashenstuff

J.R. Tolkenstuff

The Locksmith Monsters

Appear Up Here

Striking Posers

Karen Carpenter’s Sad Luck Tapeworm

The Skull of Frank Sinatra

The Emperor and The Whimperer

Impervious to Submission

Spit Pee Soup

Sugar Ray Cyrus

Cunanan’s Ill-Fitting Trousers

The Banned

Duck Shovel

Chicken Horn

Allen Wrench and the Truss Rods

Don’t Lick a Dead Horse in the Mouth

Norman Cunningham and the Clever Swine

Damn the Tortillas

Damn the Tomatillos


Wallowing at the Edge

Addicted to Myself

The Blank Stare of Lyle Alzado

Grandma’s Chains

Jose Julian Marti’s 24 Hour Party Club

Castro’s Overinflated Self-Importance

The Wrath of Cecil

Deaf, Dumb, and Astigmatic

The Stoned Temple Co-Pilots

God Is My Stone Temple Co-Pilot

The Shirley Temple Pilots

Hung Like an Angel

The Amish Electricians

The Horse Mechanics

Pastor of Muppets

God Wears a Bowtie

Christian Restraint Device

The Forever Endeavour

Jimmy Staggard

Dying is Not an Option

Anal Roberts

God Jam (christian rock band)


God Is My Washroom Attendant

Go Forth and Subtract

Out Of My Way, You Offend Me!

Jesus Swept

Loincloths of Distinction

Sister Grecian

Christian Formula 44

The Chosen Juans

Juan On Juan

Don Was Juan?

Juan Tortilla Rides Away

Bubba Lopez Sippin’ Tequila

Pato Hernandez-Vega-Francisco-Garcia-Smith

Seeing Eye Cat

Dead Man Drumming

Mrs. Doubtfire Goes to Sweden

Swedish Hendrix

Hey, Sven

Bjorn Under a Bad Sign

Swedish Army Knife

Blue Swede Shoes

Blue Wazoo

The Blue Dads

Blue-Eyed Hog

Dirigible With An Ankle Tattoo

Ballerina Sweathog

Bloated Beyond Redemption

Slowly! To the Fat-Mobile!

The Bogus Highlights

Hellbent For Spongecake

Eat Beastily

Walking With Wood

Paraplegics On Parade

Quadraplegic Uprising

The Crippled Bastards

I’m Super-Special, Get Out Of My Way, Too!

God Was Mean To Me

Eddie and the Tweak Freaks

The Gay Headhunters

The Mighty Dykes

Bi For Now

I’ll Be Homo For Christmas

I Left My Masculinity In San Francisco

Out Of My Way, Honey, I’m Special, Too!

The Sweet Police

Queer Wizard

Queen of the Wild Frontier

And Flamboyant, Too!


Swollen Hose

Inflates On Impact

The New World Orderlies

Haulin’ Oats

Stovepipe Stuffing


Elevator Silence

Toe Clevage

Amy Grunt

Rage Against the Coke Machine


Mice Capades

The Sparrowkeets

Agony Is My Playground

Monkey See, but Play in Ab

Interstellar Dust


Chuck Wagon and the Buckboards

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Hell


Saginaw Over

Freeze-dried Raindrops

Bass Cleft Pallet Jack

Good, Clean Fun

Nashville Triple Bypass and the Passers-by

Flamingo Mandingo

I’d Still Deep-Six Number 9

I’d Still Deep-Six Julie Andrews

I’d Still Deep-Six Emma Peel

I’d Still Deep-Six Greta Garbo

Garbo is dead, you dumb ass.

Skippy the Conqueror

Mississippi Churning

Adobe Shithouse

Tortilla Shingles

The Deep-End Rowdies

Under the Overpass

Over the Underpass

Under the Passover

Pass the Overalls

Lass in Underalls

My Dad Can Kill Your Dad

My Dad Can Die Faster Than Your Dad

My Dad Was A Dad Before Your Dad

My Dad Is Your Dad

My Dad Is Your Brother’s Sister

My Dad Never Met My Mother

My Dad Was A Coolie

Yian, I Am Your Father

Whore Monica

Attila the Clown

I Tilla the Ground

I Ground the Tortilla

(what’s your deal with tortillas, dude?)

Keebler Death Gods

Elfen Secrets

Tantric Elves

Elvis’ Twelve Shelves

Velvet Elvis

Afghanistan Banana Stand

Time for Your Daily Compounding

Silent Horse Whistle

Whispering Whistlers

Sleeping Lispers

Pumped Up Has-Beens

Bellowing Zero

Topless Miners

Mopless Two-Timers

Doppelgänger Moonshiners

Bermuda Love Triangle

Lesbos Sextangle

Falopian Tube Driver

Tubular Hell

Edward Rock, Scissor, & Paper Hands

Kenny Loggins Drives an Aerostar

The Salt & Pepper Factor

Spike-Haired Judas

Enormous Disappointment

Kenny Loggin’s Menopause Hangover

Chew With Chagrin

A Streetcar Named Pestilence

Hand-Me-Down Dentures

I Inhaled the Heir To the Throne

Herd of Mexican Sea Cows

Spanglish Jugglers

Debutante Brawl

Beers of a Clown

The Zantax Man

The Subliminals


A Pit To Hiss In

Opie From Muskogee

Fugly Ucklings

The Absent-Minded Proctologist

The Overly Aggressive Breeders

Ghandi’s Playhouse

Honking Donkeys

Damn Hammer

Wattage By the Pound

Trampled By Horsemen

Around the World in Jennifer’s Bedroom


I See Your Daughter and Raise You a Grandson

Karaoke Queen

The Cynic Route

The Brick Pitchers

Glutton Mutton

White Knuckled Meat Packers

Hell Razor

Funt Cunnel

16 Tons Is What You Get, You Dumb Ass

The Accumulators

Waltzin’ the Dog

Handmade Lovin’

Crazy About Sanity

Scratch N Lick

Substance Abuse Remover

The David Lettermen

That Weird Jackson Thing

A Double Shot of My Baby’s Mother

Endangered Feces

Jurassic Parking Lot

Tom Waits For No One

The Significant Others

Hotter Than a Urinary Infection

Dick’s Hat Band

The Used Rubber Band



Warped Fork

8 Women Who 8 Women

Unidentified Obscenities

Nursery School Flak

Spank Me In Chinese

Confucius Say ‘Undress’

Wok Like A Man

Duck Sausage

The Gooks of Hazard

Eschew Lao Tzu

I’d Lao Tzu

Sizzling Happy Family

Seoul Food

Chau Daun

Chu Yu

Dong Hang Lo?

Yu Chau Sum?

Mi Chau Yu

Dong Go Long

Cantonese Peachfish

Johnny Boom-Boom

The Eternal Yee-Haw

Johnny Everywhere

Sven Johnny

Johnny Narwhale

Midget Whale

Aloha, Dead Man

Doc Martin Boots & Black Hair Dye for Everyone

Jesus Had A Stunt Double



Jesus Crust Self-Rising Flour

God As A Kid

My Brain Is God’s Wastebasket

Armed Like A Guerilla

Waltzing Guerilla

Dr. Kevorkian for Surgeon General

The Wick Dippers

Bend & Deliver

Come & Stumble

The Cat Slingin’ Seamen

The Rolling Boils

Squid Man of Alcatraz

Granny In Jackboots

Cranky Face

The Rattling Pipes

Goose Motif

Stormin’ Norman Rockwell

Stormin’ Mormon

Mormon Nailer

Ray Charles Staredown

The Five Boys Who Can See Just Fine

Cellular Redneck

Goat Ropers Annonymous

Cow Tipping Homies

White Boys Can’t Rap

Dead Men Can’t Rap

Gold Vest on a Dead Man

Cracker Smack

Black Boys Can’t Speak English

Whack Cracker

All Smoke, No Fire


Are Those Your Pants or Is Your Diaper Just Full?

Slim Whiteman & the Funky Caucasians

Tipper Gore Can Kiss My Red, White & Black Ass

Darwin Never Met Puff Daddy

The Lawn Jockeys

The Cotton Pickers

Pavlov’s Homie

Honky Sage & His Jazzy Ass Crackers

Low-Tar Baby

The All-American Niggers

*how about Simply REDNECK*

(how about “Go To Hell If You Can’t Roll”)

yo, he mean “The African-American Negroes”

“The Touchie-Feelie Colored People”

No Rules Allowed

Meaningful Dialogue

(hahaha! “The Politically-Correct Non-Offensive White Girl Band”)

Spoil Sport


Civil Whore

Hoe Cake


Feminist Fartblossom

…And Fairness For All

Click Your Heels Together

Disneyworld Imagination

Heaven On Earth

White Guilt Was Killing My Marriage

The Self-Effacing Whities

It’s My Parents Fault That I’m White

Reluctantly White

We’re White But We’re Terribly, Terribly Sorry

Kick Me, I’m White

Kick Yourself, You’re White

(on “Appearing Tonight” street marque) No Colored People

(ditto) Irish Need Not Apply

(Ditto) No Irish Swine

(ditto) No Fat Chicks

(ditto) Nude, Hot Girls

(ditto) Free Russian Roulette Nightly

(ditto) No Cover Charge

The Riffmeisters

The Guitar Pounders

The Quarter Pounders


Jimbo and his Corn Squeezin’s

Neil Jung

Drastic Sludge


Toothless Cheese Eaters

Futt Buck Ugly

Broad Daylight

Sound Funnel

Solar Windsock

The Cocky Pops

Chick Dinner


Belch Metal

The Slammers

Trumpet Lullaby

Jockstrap Molasses

Daddy House

Son Duplex

Sister Complex

Acid Reflux

Save The Flashdance For Me

Tube of Plenty

George the Wondergoose

Ex-Wife’s Worst Nightmare

Hitler’s Cookbook

Swollen and Angry

Hitler’s Prerogative

Free Train Rides

Steely-Eyed Stare

Insane Maestro

Kruschev’s Shoe

Red Faced Raging Fury

Slap Happy Goose Steppers

Sherman’s Bataan Death March to the Sea

My Beautiful Ego

Rapid-fire Magic Wand

Knocked Unconscientious

Hot Glue Enima

Public Enima

Public Enigma


Canadian Cakewalk

Canadian Tubeswallow


The Flaming Hosers

The Blazing Cadillacs

The French Foreign Lesion

Nose Trombone

Laughing At Dumbo’s Mother

The Spam Doctors

Eating Juice

The Test Ticklers

Jocular Fallout

Flaccid Fallout


Custer’s Soiled Pantaloons

Schopenhauer’s Soiled Bermudas

The Cockhounds

Hard Discharge

Oedipus Tex

Rogue Hacker

Throes of Chapter 13

Godspeed Galore

Hidden Valley Raunch

Linda Evan’s Big Valley

2 inches of fun, 3 feet of remorse

Death Sneeze

The Unabashedly Gay Power Rangers

Whoopee Tampons

Social Senility

Bells of Madness

Gin & Lyme

Shining Brightly on the Electric Dress

Shimmering Zebco Halo

Fuck Tourette and His Goddamn Syndrome

Mauled By Tarbash

Balsa To the Waltza

Ghandi Khan

American Injunuity

Indian In-Law

Womb With A View

The Lackluster Muffbusters

The Skinboats of Tuna Lagoon

Pump, Jiggle, Quake & POP!

Dripping With Gratitude

Trailer Park Triplets

Mister Corrugated’s Neighborhood

Happy Valley Hellraisers

Trailer Park Hotheads

The High-Rise Trailer Park Highbrows

Clipper Madness

Hip Hair Mestress

Shearlock Combs

The Hobbling Felines

Possum Death Mask

Tar Pit Tango

Shut Up, You’re Next

Shroud Of Turin Beach Towel

Accidentally Gorgeous

How Much Is That Doggy Inuendo?

She’s On the Tip of My Tongue

Deep C Diver

The Yankers

The White Sox Monkeys

The Black Sex Junkies

The Pocket Fishermen

Splay Footed Toe Tappers

The Pistil Packing Stamens

Smells Like Teen Chlamydia

Lap Sap

Stone Mountain Oysters

The Mimekillers

Obnoxious Stuttering Oxen

Coveralls of Shame

Possum McNuggets

Vengeful Possum

Blackie Clueless

Slackie Jawless

Manson Family Values

The Maimtones

The Things I’ve Done With a Singlecoil

The Indigo Guys

Color Me Invisible


The Coagulators

Videl Bassoon

Fidel Baboon

Infidel Bistro

Interuterine Chamber Orchestra

The Vienna Sausage Boys Choir

Swollen Colon

Agent Orange

Mohammad Smoked Camels

Mad Mohammed’s Diary

….and they continue, far into the night. Believe it or not, I actually omitted a few as I was making the transcription for fear that some folks may become…offended. (as if some of you aren’t already).

Oh, well, the truth, as they say, hurts.