Readin’ & Rockin’- Literate Books For Illiterate People


RETURN TO SENDER

 With the exceptions of the Fleshtones (1976- present), Wild Jimmy Spruill’s Hell Raisers (1955- 1996) and possibly the Jive 5 (1959- 2006) the Senders where the longest running real rock’n’roll band in NYC history, I think they lasted for twenty five years (1976-2001).

And they were one of the best. I’ve probably seen the Senders five hundred + times. I never saw them do a bad show. What brings me to such a non-topical subject is something that arrived in the mail last week courtesy of Legs McNeil. It was a proof (in English) of a book which has so far only been published in French Au-dela’ de l’Avenue D. New York City 1972-1982 (Broche’ 2007) by Philippe Marcade (or Flipper as he’s known to New Yorkers) the Senders lead singer and one of those guys who has always been at the very center of New York City rock’n’roll.
The Senders began in 1976 with Flipper starting out behind the drums and Johnny Thunders’ occasionally filling in on guitar (seen in the above video clip). In their earliest incarnation they were kind of a New York version of Dr. Feelgood, covering classic R&B and R&R tunes in a greasy, bar band style. Dressed in sharkskin suits with pointy boots, pinstriped sock and greasy pompadours, they cut a striking figure. And one that stood out among the then fashionable spiky hair/bondage pants combo that took over New York in the wake of the Sex Pistols.
     After many personal changes and Philippe stepping out front as lead singer and harmonica player they settled into what became the classic Senders line up with Wild Bill Thompson on guitar, Steve Shevlin on bass and Little Moe Trucks on drums. This group cut a 45 that they issued themselves (“The Living End” b/w “No More Foolin'”, 1977) and a seven song EP on Max’s Kansas City’s own label issued in ’79. Since I don’t have a turntable w/a USB port plug I can’t post them. Later, after a brief break up they would reform and record two full LP’s Return To Sender (Skydog, 1998) which unfortunately Thompson only plays on half of, and Goodbye Cruel World (Action, 1999), their best and most representative waxing. Here’s “Takin’ That Train” from Back To Sender recorded with a later line up with Simon Charbonet on second guitar (Simon’s another one of those great, unheralded NY rock’n’roll institutions whose ship will probably come in the day after he dies) and Chris Cush on bass. For a decade the Senders played every Monday night at the Continental on 3rd Ave between St. Marks and 9th St, before that it was called Jack The Ribber and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins played every Monday, and before that it was a very scary drag bar called Frida’s Disco whose doorway always seemed to have a large, black, drag queen with an askew blond wig and a head to toe five o’clock shadow draped over a bar stool blocking the way. I never ventured into Fridas.  But Monday at the Continental was always fun. In those days I bike messengered from 2-9:30 PM, I’d go home and shower and head out to see the Senders. It was a great place to meet girls, usually skinny one with too much mascara, straight blond or black hair, black cotton tights and spike heeled shoes. They were always crazy and I still walk around the block to avoid some of those one night stands (nowadays they’re often pushing baby strollers on their way to AA meetings). The Senders’ brought ’em out– rockers, hipsters, strippers, nut cases, anybody with the vaguest notion of cool would end up at the Continental on Monday nights from ’83-’93.
Here’s a few of my Senders’ favorites from that era: their version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Do The Do“, their rendition of Glen Glenn’s “One Cup Of Coffee (and A Cigarette)
and best of all, their spidery take on Sin Alley fave “Crazy Date“.
Beyond Avenue D. (the English title) brought back a flood of memories. Opening with Flipper facing a prison sentence in Arizona, 1972 the book takes in the rock’n’roll scene in New York, Boston, Paris and Amsterdam in what in retrospective was a sort of golden decade (’72-’82), and a partial list of names encountered– Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan, Sable Starr, Dee Dee Ramone, Nancy Spungeon, Cookie Mueller, Nan Goldin, Willy DeVille, et al gives you a pretty good idea of the type of wild and woolly times recalled (ie sex, drugs, and drugs). Of course it’s also a very sad book since most of the characters died, but I did laugh out loud a few dozen times. Whether he’s a fly on the wall, or at the eye of the hurricane (c.f. the Ramones first NYC show was at Phillipe’s birthday party in an Elizabeth St. loft around the corner from CBGB), Flipper has an extremely funny way at looking at the world, bemused, honest, perceptive, discerning, clever but never bitter or jaded. He never became a big star, but he’s cool enough to know that stardom wouldn’t have brought him the things he really wanted– like the freedom to play rock’n’roll Senders style. I hope this book is published in English, its author instinctively grasps more about NYC rock’n’roll life than a hundred Clinton van Heylins with all his didactic horse poop could ever fathom.
BLEEDIN’ THE TRUTH
Every week when I’m in New York City I get on my bicycle and go to St. Marks Books and buy something. I do this in hopes the place will always be there. I can usually get the book cheaper by waiting for the Strand to get it (always half price!) or buying a discounted copy on Amazon, delivered to my front door, but St. Marks Books has been in NYC even longer than me, and since I long ago bonded with one of the owners, a guy named Terry, over a love of old rock’n’roll it would traumatize me if the place, like so many other staples of my NYC life was suddenly gone. On a recent weekly trip over there I spotted a book I didn’t even know existed, paid full price, and proceeded to read it twice in a row.
The tome in question is Josh Alan Friedman’s Tell The Truth Until They Bleed (Coming Clean in the Dirty World of Blues and Rock’n’Roll) (Backbeat Books, 2008). A hell of a title to live up to, but it does that and more. This volume, made up of fifteen short pieces not only tells the truth, but is funny, unflinching, and most of all literate.
Opening with a long, very telling interview with Jerry Lieber (of Lieber-Stoller fame) which will tell you much about the music business that has never been printed (the only subject he really won’t broach is the Mafia who used Morris Levy (Roulette Record, owner of Birdland, etc.) and George Goldner (owner of End, Gone, Gee, Rama, Tico and many other labels, Lieber & Stoller’s partner in Red Bird records)as a wedge into the record biz, that’s a shame for any book on early New York rock’n’roll that doesn’t mention Corky Vastola is only telling part of the story. There’s a long, extremely fine hagiography for songwriter Doc Pomus (who was cutting rock’n’roll records while Elvis was still at Humes High, unfortunately teenage girls preferred their singing idols wiggle their hips, not fall off their crutches). As an aside here’s some of Doc’s early 50’s rock’n’roll classics: “Work Little Carrie” ( Derby, dig Mickey Baker’s guitar playing!), “Bye Baby Bye” (issued as Doc Palmer on Dawn), guess what this one’s about– “My Good Pot” (Savoy), and finally a live one w/Mickey Baker and King Curtis circa ’55– “My Gal’s A Jockey/Bye Bye Baby“. Now here is a bizarre one by Doc and Phil Spector issued under the name of Harvey & Doc & the Dwellers– “Oh Baby”  (Annette, 1962).  The funniest part of the Pomus chapter is when wheelchair bound Pomus’ van driver disappears leaving him stranded stage side at a Bruce Springsteen concert: “Man this stinks,” Doc said. I never saw him so pained to leave a show, as Springsteen, a great crowd pleaser kept pouring it on. Make ’em bleed indeed!
Pomus, who story is told in more detail in Alex Halberstat’s Lonely Avene: The Unlikely Life & Times Of Doc Pomus (DeCapo, 2007) emerges as the book’s hero and conscious (and provided the title). Friedman spares no one, not even himself. In the book’s funniest chapter “Mr. Nobody” he recalls the trials and tribulations of being Ronnie Spector’s boyfriend in the mid-1980’s. I quote: “I am what some in the business refer to as a “ponce”. That is, I’m the emasculated man behind a famous female, from whom I derive my sense of self-worth, and from whose stardom I live through”. Honest enough for you? This is a must read.
I possess (on the hardrive of this very computer) another, as yet unpublished, book by Mr. Friedman, called I think Black Cracker which concerns being the last of two white students left at a pre-integration Long Island high school. It’s a hoot, I’m tellin’ you.  I hope there is at least publisher left with enough balls to put it out. It’s a masterpiece.  

The above photo is me and Philippe Marcade at the Please Kill Me book release party, 1996.

Nico- Last Of The Ice Cold Inamortas*





Had she lived, Nico (Christa Pafgen, my typer won’t put the umlaut over the a in her last name) would be 70 years old today (Thurs, Oct. 16 no matter what the above post time says). Her history in a coconut shell: She born in Cologne, Germany, in 1938, her father was killed by a French sniper fighting for the fatherland. Her mother moved her to the country were she stayed until her early teens, her family owned the brewery the Obergarige Hausbrauerei which produced the Paffgen brand of beer. She quickly grew to her full adult height of six feet tall. She has alternately claimed her father to be a Turk, Sufi mystic, and the disinherited black sheep of the family. Only the last claim seems to be true. She also claimed to have been raped by an American soldier in the final days of WWII.
Her mother Grete, a Catholic was only 5’3″. When the war ended the two of them lived in a small apartment in Cologne and her ambitious mother pushed her already peculiar daughter into a career in modeling.

She modeled in Berlin, Milan and Paris (where she sired a child, son Ari, with actor Alain Delon, who would never recognize the brat as his progeny). Next our heroine (ouch….it’s bad pun week here at Houndblog) shows up renamed Nico in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) and a flick called Striptease (credited as Krista Nico, she also sings the theme song in Ye-Ye girl French). Nico turns up in London in 1965 and becomes Brian Jones’ occasional girlfriend (“He was scared of her”, according to Ricard Watts’ Nico: Life & Lies of An Icon (Virgin Books, 1993) as well as cutting a 45 for Andrew Loog Oldman’s Immediate label (produced by Jimmy Page) called “I’m Not Saying“. The same year she moved to New York City, fucked Bob Dylan (who wrote “I’ll Keep It With Mine” for her), met Andy Warhol and became one of Andy’s “superstars” appearing in Warhol flix like The Velvet Underground & Nico, I A Man and Imitation Of Christ. Warhol hooked her up with the Velvet Underground, and she sang (or is that chanteused?) three songs on their classic debut — “Femme Fatale”, “I’ll Be Your Mirror” and the incredible “All Tomorrow’s Parties” (here in an alternate mix from that rare acetate of the first LP, someday I’ll post the alternate takes of “Heroin”, “Waitin’ For The Man”, “Venus In Fur” and “European Son”). She also consummated affairs with Lou Reed and John Cale. By early ’67 the Velvets fired her after she stopped a rehearsal dead with the proclamation “I can no longer sleep with Jews…”.
Her solo career really begins with the Verve LP Chelsea Girls (1968), the Velvet Underground backing her on the track “It Was Pleasure Then” as well as writing half the album. She began appearing in the Cafe part of the Dom on St. Marks Place while the Velvets headlined upstairs in the big room, backed by Jackson Browne who provides three tunes for Chelsea Girls, including the first recording of soon to be soft-rock standard “These Days”. Chelsea Girls is a great album marred only by some cornball string arrangements on a few tunes. I believe it was in 1967 that she accompanied Warhol, the Velvets and the entire Exploding Plastic Inevitable entourage to L.A. and had an affair with Jim Morrison (retardedly re-imagined in Oliver Stone’s goofy cartoon The Doors). The real scene, played out in a rented castle was much more interesting than the movie. Danny Fields (then the Doors P.R. man) introduced them, knowing a good potentially volatile situation when he saw one. See pages 29-30 in Mcain & McNeil’s Please Kill Me (Grove, 1996) for details.
Back in New York she acquired a harmonium and began writing songs. Somewhere in there, Nico shows up in Ann Arbor briefly to become young Iggy Pop’s girlfriend, moving into Stooge Manor. I’m sure she loved Ron Asheton’s collection.
The above footage is from Evening Of Light, an art film by Francois Demenil in which Nico and the Stooges stumble around in an Ann Arbor corn field. She knits a sweater for the Ig while the Stooges record their first LP in New York City with John Cale producing. Iggy– “She taught me about good French champagne and good German wines”.
In 1968 Nico recorded her masterpiece The Marble Index (Elektra, issued 1969) her first album of original material. With stunning medieval arrangements by John Cale, The Marble Index is a haunting, icy, homage to alienation and there is nothing quite like it in any musical genre. This album is so far beyond cool I only play it during blizzards. Here is my favorite track: “Frozen Warnings“. She went on to record two more classic LP’s with John Cale– Desert Shore (Elektra,1971) and The End (Island, 1974). The End features her notorious version of “Das Lied Der Deutschen” aka “Deutchland Uber Alles”, the Narzi anthem. It didn’t get much airplay. I would love to have been a fly on the wall at the weekly sales and marketing meeting when they issued that one. Did Island Records think she was going to compete with Led Zeppelin and Allman Brothers as the latest teen sensation? I’ve met Chris Blackwell twice but both times I was stoned and forgot to ask (that’s Jamaica for you). Island dropped her when she told a Melody Maker interviewer “I don’t like black people….”. She had to flee New York City after a violent incident with one of Jimi Hendrix’s girlfriends whom she was convinced was a Black Panther Party member.
The next twelve years for Nico are a descent into heroin hell as she attempted to eck out a living touring and recording for nickle and dime indie labels, a period documented in James Young’s classic book Nico: The End (Overlook Press, 1993), and Susanne Ofteringer’s documentary Nico Icon (man, that one needs a laugh track!) A tough enough life for a healthy 20 year old, it could not have been any easier for a 40+ strung out mom.
I only met her once, I think it was in 1980 or ’81. My friend, the late Bradley Field (drummer for Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and the craziest person I ever met who could dress them self) was asked to babysit her for a few hours at the Chelsea Hotel then walk her to the gig at the Squat Theater a few doors west where she was appearing. I’m not sure why she needed a sitter. I came along out of curiosity and to get my copy of Marble Index autographed. It was a very easy job, she was very high and quite friendly in a taciturn sort of way. We watched Cecil B. DeMille’s Sign Of The Cross on a little black and white TV. She snored loudly through much of it, waking up to laugh in her booming she-baritone when I let out a beer belch as the Christians were being fed to the lions. When it ended she proclaimed it one of her favorite movies. I agree it was (is) a masterpiece. The only other things I think she said were to ask if we had Iggy’s phone number and just before showtime proclaimed “It is time to go” as if we were all about to jump off a cliff together.
After a season in hell in pre- “Cool Britannia” Manchester Nico eventually moved to Majorca, Spain where in 1988 she fell off of her bicycle and died.
I asked Danny Fields, a close friend of hers what his best and/or worst memory of Nico was and he replied:
I have no really “bad” memories of Nico. She was/is immune to moral (and to mortal) classification. Still, my terrible, horrible and continually tragic recollection of her is of a goddess consumed all those dreadful years by the poison heroin. She endured a very long, very slow living-death, and it was in fact merciful to learn that she had finally died. I’m aware how cruel it is to say “finally”, but there it is.
In every other way she was a joy and a terror simultaneously, which I adored. I remember once being with her on a quiet street near Gramercy Park, when she stepped off the sidewalk into a narrow space between two parked cars, unbuttoned her pants and announced, “I must pee, you know”. She was squatting there when a patrolman walked by, glaring disapprovingly, then tapped my elbow and muttered, “Hey, mister, your friend ain’t no lady,” before moving along.

* I’ll save you a trip to the dictionary. Inamorta: a woman who is loved or in love. Funk & Wagnel’s Standard Desk Dictionary Vol. 1

All Aboard— the Night Train!


The October full moon, some times a “harvest moon” (a full moon right after the fall equinox, we’ll see one in 2010) or the “hunter’s moon” has always made me a bit nuts. I can feel it pulling on my skull. When I was young it usually led to crazy alcohol benders, now, in my old age it just causes terrible insomnia. So I didn’t sleep last night, just puttered around and listened to records.  I was filing records and came across several versions of “Night Train” then got all obsessed and started pulling out different versions of “Night Train” (sometimes spelled “Nite Train”).  Like “Louie Louie” or “Route 66”, “Night Train” seems almost impossible to fuck up. I don’t think I’ve heard a version I couldn’t stand, and there’s at least a dozen versions that, as Phil Schaap would say enter “the pantheon of sides”.

The first recording of “Night Train” was (still is, come to think of it) by Jimmy Forrest on Chicago’s United label (on beautiful clear red wax) in March of 1952 and had a twenty week chart run where it eventually hit #1 R&B.  Jimmy Forrest a seasoned jazz tenor saxophonist had played in Andy Kirk’s Clouds Of Joy and Jay McShann’s band (where Charlie Parker got his first national exposure) before replacing Ben Webster in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.  The Ellington band had been playing “Night Train” which was in reality written by the great alto sax man Johnny Hodges under the title of “That’s The Blues, Old Man” also using the famous riff as a vamp in the “Deep South Suite”. Ellington version here.
When Forrest left Ellington he took “Night Train” with him, claiming composers credit. I assume the title is a tribute to the fortified wine favored by skid row bums.
That must’ve burned Hodges’ ass as it became a very valuable copyright with dozens of cover versions recorded over the coming decades, the most famous being James Brown’s 1962 smash on the King label (the above version is from the 1965 T.A.M.I. Show) and here’s one from the Live At the Apollo LP.
With it’s infamous bump and grind beat, “Night Train” became a  sort of national anthem for strippers right up until Motley Crue ruined music in strip clubs for ever.
According to Nick Tosches’ The Devil & Sonny Liston (Little, Brown 2000) Liston used to train to a tape that played “Night Train” over and over again. In the U.K. Nick’s book is called Night Train, the American publisher changed the title over here because Martin Amis had a novel of the same title hitting the marketplace as the same time as Nick’s. I can just imagine Liston, perpetual scowl on his face pounding away on the speed bag to it.
Even groups I usually hate have recorded killer versions of “Night Train”. Here’s a truly perverse rendition by the 4 Lovers (who would change their name and mine gold as the neo-castrato 4 Seasons).  Here’s a version with lyrics sung by feral child  Wynonie Harris. Now compare that to this blazing gonzo guitar freak out courtesy of Travis Wammack . He was seventeen when that was cut (in 1966, best vintage of the entire ’60’s for recordings). Here’s one from the Viscounts (of “Harlem Nocturne” fame).  They really sound like they’re playing at a strip club near the airport. Now here is a version that smells like chitterlings with a side of grits and red gravy courtesy of Brother Jack McDuff and King Curtis (Marc Ribot told me when playing with McDuff he showed up late for rehearsal once and McDuff pulled a knife on him, Curtis was stabbed to death on the stoop of his Upper West Side brownstone by a wino in 1971).  Another unique and classic version is this junkie vs. speed freak drum duet from Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. Rich might’ve been technically the better musician but I prefer Krupa’s thudding tom toms any day. Is that Jethro Tull on the flute? To quote Rich at a later date “there’s no sound in flutes”!
  Even the clean cut Duane Eddy sounds greasy playing “Night Train”.  Eddy drew his backing bands from the formidable ranks of Kip Tyler’s group The Flips (including at various times Steve Douglas or Jim Horn on sax, Sandy Nelson, Jimmy Troxel on drums, Bruce Johnston and Larry Knetchel at the piano, Mike Deasy on guitar, Kim Fowley was their roadie for a while) who were managed by Phil Spector’s soon to be institutionalized sister Shirley.  As an side dish here’s both sides of their best single: Rumble Rock  and it’s flip side: She’s My Witch  (Ebb. 1958), one of my all time favorite discs. I wish Kip Tyler would give me (or somebody) an interview, there’s a great story there waiting to be told.
I think I ran off the track (ouch! sorry….). Yup, “Night Train”, great song.
Addendum To Yesterday’s Post: In response to Tom Sutpen’s comment (see comments below) here is the Louis Prima/Sam Butera version of Night Train.

What Went Wrong?

I posted this as a sidebar but here it is again. If you want to pinpoint the moment that caused the collapse of the house of cards that was our banking system (March 28, 2004) check out this video footage courtesy of the New York Times.  That’s Paulson himself, now head of the SEC (then running Goldman-Sachs) calling for the deregulation that led to these idiots taking on thirty times the debt they’d previously be able to take on legally.

All based on a rigged computer model of risk assessment. 

Why is he still in charge? Why hasn’t he been strung up? “If anything goes wrong it’s going to be an awfully big mess”, no shit.  Notice the nervous laughter in the background. Now we’re supposed to pay for it.  A tax revolt seems like a good idea about right now…..

I’m back to Canada for Canadian Thanksgiving, I’ll be posting when I get back.

Quine

With Lou Reed at the Bottom Line, ’84 one of his last shows w/Lou



Checking out the box of 45’s, Hangover Hop, ’92, Brownies.

Me, Jeremy Tepper and Quine, Hangover Hop, ’92. (photos by Michael Macioce)
It’s very hard to write about Robert Quine. Quine, (nobody, not even his wife or mother called him by his first name) was the best and most original guitar player of his generation, and the best player in New York City since Mickey Baker (one of his heroes).
Quine was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1942, and discovered rock’n’roll in the mid-50’s, catching the Caps’ (of Red Headed Flea) fame at the Fair Lawn Bowling Lanes in 1956. He saw Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly in ’57. He bought the Johnny Burnette Trio LP when it came out in ’58 (I have his copy now, one of my most treasured possessions). He soon got a guitar and learned to play listening to I’m Jimmy Reed, Rockin’ With Reed, and lots of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley records. He joined a band called the Counterpoints (with the sax player from the Caps) in which he played bass. A tape exists but Quine refused to ever play it for me because the sax player didn’t show that night. He refused to do the dance steps, or modulate the key during the cover of Duane Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser”– a man of principles even then. His family was rather wealthy and owned a factory that manufactured some sort of industrial parts. I forgot what they were exactly. His uncle was the philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine.

He went to college, and then law school in St. Louis, where he led a mixed race group called the Garbage Vendors, playing guitar and rack harp like Jimmy Reed. He also had a blues radio show on the college station, his theme song was John Lee Hooker’s “Hoogie Oogie”. While at school the CIA attempted to recruit him into “the company”.
After law school (he took a law degree, passed the bar in California and New York but never practiced law) Quine moved to San Francisco where he attempted to join or form a band, however his short hair and straight appearance worked against him. He did see and tape the Velvet Underground in both St. Louis and Frisco and the best parts of those tapes where issued in 2003 by Polydor as a three cd box called The Quine Tapes. He first met Lou Reed in Frisco at the Matrix Club, bonding over their mutual admiration of Roger McGuin’s guitar playing.
Quine moved to Brooklyn in 1973 and friends attempted to get him a job playing with Art Garfunkel who punched Quine in the snout when Quine exclaimed “I thought Simon & Garfunkel were for people too dumb for Bob Dylan”. He moved to Manhattan, and settled in a tiny apartment on St. Marks Place, downstairs from former Modern Lovers drummer and Viet Nam vet Bob Turner. He worked writing articles for a law journal and briefly at the bookstore Cinemabelia where he first met Richard Meyers nee’ Hell. I think those were the only two real jobs he ever had.
It was Hell who had been an original member of Television and the Heartbreakers who gave Quine his first national exposure, building his band The Voidoids around Quine. Here’s a live version of “You Gotta Lose” (Hell was a better speller than the rest of the Heartbreakers who issued their first single “Born To Lose” as “Born Too Loose”). Notice Quine’s solo quotes the solo on Jack Scott’s “Baby She’s Gone”. Here’s their version of CCR’s “Walk On The Water“. He stayed with the Voidoids for two albums (although the recent re-issue of Destiny Street has Quine’s guitar parts erased and re-recorded by Marc Ribot and Bill Frissell) and a non-LP 45 (this is the b-side) and two European tours and when the band dissolved he was hired by Lou Reed on the recommendation of Reed’s then wife and manager Sylvia. Quine gives a hilarious recalling of Reed checking out his playing at CBGB in Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me (Grove, 1996), Reed threatened to punch him in the face.
Quine played with Reed on his best solo albums The Blue Mask and Live In Italy (where they played while being teargassed), most of his guitar parts on Legendary Hearts where mixed so low as to be inaudible. After Reed fired him he did session work with Marianne Faithful, Lydia Lunch (Queen Of Siam, her best) Tom Waits (Swordfish Trombone where Keith Richards’ overdubbed parts play off of Quine’s basic tracks), Mathew Sweet, John Zorn and many others. He produced Teenage Jesus & the Jerks first recordings. Quine recorded two duet albums, the first and best Escape with Jody Harris (of the Contortions and Raybeats) takes all its song titles from Three Stooges movies. The second, with Fred Maher- Basic is a collection of basic rhythm tracks with no solos. Quine loved weird chords and odd voicings, and this record is better for practicing guitar to than listening.
I first met Quine the day I moved to New York City, May 1977. I was staying in a loft in a basement on Warren St. (pre-Tribeca) called The Home For Teenage Dirt. It’s inhabitants were Lydia Lunch, Miriam Linna, the utterly crazed Bradley Field, Phast Phreddie Paterson (visiting from L .A.) and Todd Abramson (owner of Maxwells, he had arrived about an hour before me). It was also the Cramps rehearsal space. Jody Harris was the only other resident on the block and the Contortions, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, the Erasers, and other bands practiced at his place.
I went outside to have a cigarette and Quine came walking down the street with Lester Bangs and Richard Hell, both whom I already knew a bit via phone. It took about four years of bumping into each other over the oldies and rockabilly bins at record stores but eventually (I think around ’83) we exchanged cassette tapes from our 45 collections and soon we were fast friends, we talked on the phone nearly every day and made a ritual of Saturday dinner in Chinatown which lasted for decades (except when he was mad at me, he could freak out over the slightest thing, although he’d always eventually apologize and give me some treasure from his record collection as penance). He was one of the funniest motherfuckers I’ve ever met. He loved to use the word “little” as a term of condensation i.e. “I saw your little friend at the guitar store today….”. He would make a noise from the back of his throat like a chipmunk being stepped on that always drew strange looks from women. He was heavily into handwriting analysis and could spot a nut, liar, or thief via their penmanship. I always showed him handwriting samples from whatever girl I was dating, and he was always dead on even if he had never met them. The few times I ignored his warnings I would live to regret it. We turned each other onto a lot of great music, the one he kept coming back to was Robert Wilson & the Groovers’ “Cranberry Blues” because it reminded him of Thanksgiving 1957 when all cranberries were recalled for some reason. I didn’t know much about jazz and he turned me onto Charlie Parker, Charlie Christian, Lester Young, and Miles Davis among others. He made me a 120 minute cassette of electric Miles circa 1972-4 (Get Up With It, Pangea, Agartha, the rare 45 “Molester”) that I played for exclusively for two winters running. I remember the day that the U.K. Ace label released the six CD Little Richard: The Specialty Sessions box set. I’d just put in seven hours on the street as a bike messenger and just wanted to take a bath and pass out, but Quine showed up at my door with a copy of the box for me and a bottle of Jim Beam Green Label. We listened to the whole box and drank the whole bottle. Later we went out to cop and ended up with fentanyl (remember Tango & Cash anybody?) instead of what we really wanted and both almost died. My super found him on the sidewalk on East 11th St. and put him in a cab, his downstairs neighbor found him in the door way and dragged him upstairs and got him into his apartment. New York used to be more fun. I introduced him to Billy Miller at Norton Records and he got to play on Andre Williams’ Bait & Switch LP, as a Fortune Records nut it was one of his proudest moments. Billy told me when Quine took a mandolin like solo Andre yelled “Go Italian”!
He also appeared as a hustler in the 1992 film White Trash and can be seen in several live Lou Reed video releases, as well as playing himself in a 1980 film called Blank Generation starring Hell.
I don’t remember the exact date but it was August of 2003 around 6:15 PM when I got a call from Quine. “Alice is dead”. I packed enough drugs to sedate a herd of camels and headed to his loft in Soho (where he’d moved a decade earlier, he still hadn’t unpacked his records). His beloved wife Alice Sherman was dead on the floor, laid out in front of the bathroom door, she’d died in the shower, her heart gave out from a combination of overwork, anti-depressants and xanax. Quine was in shock. We were told we needed to find a doctor to sign the death certificate and it being a Friday in New York City in August every doctor was in the Hamptons so we had to wait six hours for the city Medical Examiner to officially declare her deceased, then another ten hours for the meat wagon to take her body to the morgue. As the sun rose I took him to where me and my wife were living in the West Village, an open space with a sleeping loft and no walls. Quine was shattered, although since he asked if he could raid my wife’s vitamins I assumed he wouldn’t kill himself, at least not then. He stayed five or six days and despite the trauma had my wife in stitches when he wasn’t crying his eyes out.
Quine’s last ten months saw him sink into a black depression. Without Alice he could not fend for himself. He didn’t know how to use a computer, pay his mortgage, health insurance, electric bills. His benders got worse and the come downs unbearable. Man, he was a mess. We had a Thanksgiving dinner that year at my house for twenty people and he passed out in his food twice. In early 2004 one of his neighbors hired him to record a soundtrack to a film (which I’ve never seen and don’t even know the title of), these were his last recordings and reflect his tortured state of mind. Here are four excerpts:
film music 1
film music 6
film music 7
film music 9
In May of 2004 he took his own life. I believe it was an assisted suicide. There was at least one person who stood to benefit from Quine’s death and my guess is that is who administered the hot shot (thus canceling out a $20,000 debt; moral: no kindness goes unpunished). For those who knew Quine my suspicions are directed at the one he always referred to as “pizza face”. He never learned to use a syringe and was way too much of a wimp to shoot himself up. There were fifty empty glassine dope bags and a note in his handwriting that said “Robert Quine: 1942-2004”. His recently amended will was missing. Also fifty bags won’t fit in one shot, it probably took two or three, he definitely had help. Had there been no one around to shoot him up, he would still be alive today. I truly believe that. The week before he died he had been on a coke bender and the come down from that made his depression even worse, the person who helped him knew this, but he also knew Quine wanted his $20,000 back and there was no way he was going to pay it.
Quine didn’t live to see the release of the un-issued Link Wray Cadence LP, the alternate takes of the Buddy Holly Decca sessions, the Miles Davis’ On The Corner box set, and the alternate takes from the first Velvet Underground LP, things that would have made him very happy.
I’ve never really talked about Quine since his death, at the memorial I tried to be as vague as possible. Now I’ve said my piece on the subject I’ll try and hold my tongue (and typing fingers) for good.

A Modest Proposal….





Given that both American political parties, and perhaps capitalism itself is utterly discredited, perhaps it is time to move towards a new type of political thinking, or in this case reviving and fine tuning one from the past that went a bit off the rails. The SPK (Socialist Patients Collective or sozialistschen Patienten kollektiven in it’s native German language) is the only political party that ever made sense to me.

The SPK members were mental patients recruited from the Psychiatric Neurological Clinic of Heidelberg University by Dr. Wolfgang Huber who politicized them and sent them out to fight the good fight. They soon joined forces with the Red Army Faction (better known as the BaaderMeinhof Group) and became known as the nut wing of that movement.
A bit of background for the unfamiliar, the BaaderMeinhof group were a hardcore
left wing political action group with a fairly incomprehensible philosophy (big deal,
isn’t all political thought incomprehensible to a reasonable human?) formed in West Germany in 1970 by Andreas Baader (pictured above with his brains splattered across the floor of his prison cell), Gudren Ensslin, Thorwald Proll, Holger Meins (who would die after a long hunger strike in prison), Jan-Carl Raspe, and would soon include a respected German journalist Ulrike Meinhof among it’s dozens of members. They took to the streets, targeting ex-Nazis and representatives of American imperialism in an orgy of arson, murder and kidnapping. They would make world headlines by hijacking a jet (in collaboration with PLO), bombing American military bases in Germany and the murder and kidnapping of many West German industrialists who had been Nazis in WWII. More on the BaaderMeinhof group can be found here.
Dr. Huber’s theory was that the pressures and hypocrisy inherent in capitalist society is enough to make a sane person nuts. How’d you think I got this way? I was the smartest kid in my school until sixth grade when I was proclaimed a delinquent by teachers and school administration, and I’ve had to live on the borders of society ever since. Huber was onto something, something we need to look into and fine tune into a real workable political theory.
The SPK itself didn’t work out too good. On April 24, 1975 SPK members seized the German embassy in Stockholm, Sweden and demanded the release of RAF/SPK members imprisoned in Germany. They made a mess of the action, one members blew his own leg off mishandling a bomb and the police were soon in control of the ground floor of the embassy. A blood bath ensued. The SPK might not have accomplished anything but you gotta love their moxie.
It’s not just mental patients who need an organized political action group like the SPK but anyone with medical problems (meaning all of us as some time in their lives).
As one who carries an incurable and life threatening liver disease (hepatitis c) I can attest to the corruption and incompetence of the medical establishment. Dealing with doctors who refuse to diagnose, hospitals staffed by morons and insurance companies run by thieves and liars is enough to send anyone into a blind rage. After eighteen months of mis-diagnoses and apathy I’ve been told there’s little that can be done for my condition. But I should come back every six weeks for more testing so they can keep billing me and my insurance company (which tries to deny every claim). Had I never gone to a doctor at all, nothing in my life would have been any different. Except I’d have many thousands of dollars lying around that now lines their pockets. I’m left to sit and wait for my liver to rot, and ponder my revenge…..

The Hound Saves Capitalism!


As the House Of Non-Representatives leans towards passing the 700 billion dollar Wall Street bail out, now swollen to nearly 900 with all the extra pork that had to go into buying off the Reagan ideologues and the Democrats who understandably don’t trust the bankers, we ask ourselves, what kind of idiot would trust these greedy pigs with all that money? They are obviously going to take a huge chunk of that cheese and line their own pockets. These are the same creeps that got us in this mess.

There is another way, it took me five minutes of thinking to come up with it. Here’s my economic bail out plan. Take the 700 billion and whack it up between all 250 million American citizens, that gives each person roughly $4,100. Each person must sign a promissory note to keep the money in a savings account for at least six months.
That gives the banks a huge influx of cash and some time to get themselves solvent.
That will be followed by most people taking the money and buying shit with it, money that will be directly injected into the economy, like a good fix of smack. Because as Americans that’s what we are programed from birth to do– buy shit. This will provide cash for retailers, jobs, etc. Western capitalism is saved. You’re welcome.
The above photo is of Mr. Samuels Tire Re-Capping place on St. Claude Ave in New Orleans (pre-Katrina), also where we shot Andre Williams’ Bait & Switch (Norton)
album cover.
As a soundtrack to the above rant may I suggest this little nugget from Jerry Lee Lewis & the Nashville Teens captured live (and on a thousand prellies) at Hamburg’s Star Club circa 1963: Money.
Also, pertaining to yesterday’s Jerry Lewis post, here’s the x-rated out take of the radio spot for The Caddy courtesy of the ever indispensable Brian Redman. Haven’t you always wanted to hear both Jerry Lewis and  Dean Martin say cocksucker?  

The King Of Comedy


Jerry Lewis is an amazing guy. Anyone who has seen the original version of the Nutty Professor can attest to that. I won’t make any French jokes here, I’ve always been treated well in France.  Check out this phone conversation taped by Mr. Lewis himself (here). Some asshole politician is trying to get Lewis to recognize one of his campaign

contributors from the stage that night, he thinks he has Lewis’ assistant on the phone but it’s obviously Jerry himself.  A more hateful and hysterical six minutes would be hard to find.
There’s also the x-rated reading of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin’s radio spot for the Caddy, I can’t pinpoint it on any old aircheck but it’s somewhere on either of these pages (these are radio shows I did w/Nitro Nick Tosches as special guest, I think the first one is more likely to have the Caddy on it, unfortunately it’s bleeped for airplay, try here or  here).  I love the way he pronounces grease ball.
My favorite story about Jerry Lewis concerns a film that was never finished called The Day The Clown That Cried.  Lewis (who also wrote and was set to direct) was to play a clown who led the little children in a Nazi concentration camp happily to their deaths in the gas chambers. After several days of filming the financing fell through and the set was shut down. Lewis tried for years to finish the film and had the negative of the existing footage in a steamer trunk that he never let out of his sight. I once saw him at a book signing to promote Jerry Lewis In Person and a flunky was struggling with the trunk following Lewis and his entourage. I’d like to have a go at  making that film today with Michael Jackson in the clown role. Somebody get Scott Rudin on the phone.
ADDENDUM: A good bio of the historical John Joel Glanton, scalp  hunter and prairie rouge, can be found here. William Goetzman has an entire website devoted to
Samuel Chamberlain’s My Confession including audio and some of Chamberlain’s artwork (this all relates to the post concerning Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian posted in September).

Turner Classic Movies and why I never leave the house….

Turner Classic Movies will be showing Godard’s Contempt featuring Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance and Fritz Lang (pictured above w/snazzy monacle) on Oct 5th @ 2 AM EST, set your Tivo (or as my cable company calls it DVR). They’ll also be showing a Todd Browning triple feature of Mark Of The Vampire/Freaks/Devil Doll on Halloween which is a bit of a disappointment as they’re the easiest Browning films to see. Last year they showed the silent versions of West Of Zanzibar (which William Cohn remade in 1932 as Kongo with Walter Huston in the Lon Chaney role as Phroso “Dead Legs”, perhaps the most chilling character in film history, TCM is showing Kongo Mon, Oct 20th @ 6 AM EST). and the Unholy Three (remade in 1930 as a talkie by Jack Conway, it was Lon Chaney’s only speaking role). Mr. Browning is pictured above second from the right (it’s from a snapshot the wife found). Browning started out as a carny and entered the world of film through his old Louisville pal D.W. Griffith serving as the assistant director on Intolerance. Browning directed sixty two films (found here).
He was also a writer, producer, actor, and sport. He made his last film in 1939 and was shunned by the industry until his death in ’62.
Another oddball TCM double feature coming up is Tim Carey’s The World’s Greatest Sinner followed by Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels (starring Ringo Starr as Zappa) which I haven’t seen since I saw it at Ft. Lauderdale’s seven screen Thunderbird Drive In in 1971. They’re running on Friday, Oct. 24, starting @ 2 AM EST. The Carey flick is truly unique, I lack the words to do it justice. Zappa and the Mothers recorded the theme song as Baby Ray & the Ferns and it was issued on Donna (a Del-Fi subsidiary), it’s easily his best record. You can hear it here. The flip side is called How’s Your Bird. Both tunes feature Zappa’s best Johnny Guitar Watson impersonations.
On Oct. 30 @ 1- PM EST they’re showing Freddie Francis’ Torture Garden with Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith and Peter Cushing. Hoo-boy, that’s a good one. Too bad they’re not following it with Edmund Goulding’s Nightmare Alley, although that Tyronne Power classic (produced by George Jessel, who also owned the exclusive U.S. rights to the Scopitone machine) seems to be shown weekly on the Fox Movie Channel. If you can find William Lindsey Gresham’s original novel it’s even better than the movie.
A few updates. A few days after my post concerning Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian a curious item arrived in the mail. A Reader’s Guide To Blood Meridian by Shane Schimpf. It’s basically a set of footnotes for a proposed annotated volume of Blood Meridian which of course Mr. McCarthy vetoed. It’s quite interesting and there’s a few bibliographical sources that were new to me. I’m currently on the hunt for the fall 1962 issue of The Smoke Signal which features an article called “John Joel Glanton, Lord Of The Scalp Range”. Anybody out there have a copy they can xerox for me? The only problem with A Reader’s Guide…. is that it seems Mr. Schimpf doesn’t speak Spanish, and many of McCarthy’s sources were from Spanish documents that have never been translated into English. Que lo hace incompleto. Para decir lo menos.
The bass player in the Ike Chalmers video clip is Matt Fiveash. He claims he met me and I was talking in a Bostonian accent and pretending to be from Boston. That doesn’t sound like me and I don’t remember it. Matt, there’s photos of me in the Aug. Kelly Keller postings and on Eric Ambel’s Knucklehead NYC site if you want to check.
I’m still looking for a copy of a Hound WFMU air check from May ’96 with Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain as special guests and will trade something nice it.

A Thought For The Day From Woody Guthrie

Just got back from a week in Nova Scotia, a couple of days in Halifax and the rest deep in the woods. I like Canada, it’s like the white parts of the U.S. if Jimmy Carter was still president. Didn’t find too many records (a Soul Stirrers album I didn’t have, a Sister Rosetta Tharpe LP, and a copy of Jackie Wilson’s Baby Workout LP to replace the one I traded away a couple of months ago), but our rent a car soon grew a huge library of cheap used books. I returned to find NYC (and much of the world for that matter) teetering on the edge of economic collapse. I predicted this all two years ago, ask my wife. How is it a brain dead deadbeat like me knew this and the people who run everything didn’t? Not a good sign, not at all. We can safely say the worst people are running everything. It’s hard not to feel a touch of schadenfreude seeing these Wall Street morons walking around with their tails between their legs. Which brings us to my favorite Woody Guthrie song. Let’s face it, New York worked better when the Mafia ran things. As one old timer told me– “Frank Costello was the best mayor this town ever had”. I concur. I’ll try and post more tomorrow or Thursday of this week. And on a more interesting subject.

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