This was about three weeks after I graduated high school.

I’m old enough to remember when they had concerts at racetracks. Hard, hot, shadeless, ugly, barren places. Put people in a big green field, that’s how you get Woodstock. This kind of place gets you Altamont.

Anyway, when you’re 18, who gives a crap. Drove to this show with a guy named Granny. Don’t remember much else, other than BOC, who came on last – after dark – had “lasers” and played Don’t Fear the Reaper.

On each side of the infield ran a tall chain-link fence, from the stage to the back, a good 100 yards. To get to the food or bathrooms you had to go all the way back, around the fence. As I started the hike I noticed a guy had found (or cut) a flap in it – in fact, he was holding up the flap for me, and beckoning me through. What a gentleman! And as I bent over and stepped through, he kicked me in the ass as hard as he could.

This kind of thing will make one very angry. But there was no way to get to him – I’d have to bend over to get back through, and then he’d kick me in the face. Then I heard laughter; I was standing in a crowd of past kick-ees who were over their anger, in fact they were laughing. At me. Once they were victims; now they were an audience, even co-conspirators. And they waited in anticipation of the next victim.

Just then I noticed that Asskick Man was welcoming another concertgoer though his idiot portal, and I thought, this is gonna be good.



Monday pick-to-click. Classic Lennon sweet n’ sour verse stitched to a big broad McCartney chorus via The Hook from Hell, punked up for the times (late 80s.)  An Andy Partridge song, it went top 10 in the UK, but got mainly college radio play in America. That hook did sneak it on to a few AOR playlists as well; that’s where I first heard it, and the name XTC. A fair blossom in the the dead-soul corporate hair-rock desert of the time, it came out just as the band stopped touring due to Partridge’s stage fright, costing them what little professional momentum the airplay provided.

Did you know that Partridge produced Thomas Dolby’s earliest demos and refused payment? That’s him playing harmonica on Europa and the Pirate Twins. Truth.

For a time, I contributed capsule CD reviews to the Austin publication Pop Culture Press. I just came across the ones I saved – this is from 2007. Inspiration (in the case, obviously Robert Christgau) is never enough; still, undeniably pithy, for what that’s worth.

The Vexers – The Vexers – Ace Fu Records
The words don’t matter more than ever, but that doesn’t mean singer/guitarist Jennifer Taylor doesn’t mean every word she says. On their first album, The Vexers bring to bear what would be an update of early-80s women-led punk, if there were anything new about it, but there isn’t, and that’s good. They stay true to the the barbed-wire guitar licks, pogo beats and touchy subjects demanded by post-punk-punk, and Taylor delivers her lines with a combination of I-don’t-give-a-fuck and please-like-me, a one-woman good cop/bad cop. “I don’t ask for much” she snarks on “The Saint,” “just what I deserve,” and you can’t help but wish her luck with that. The rest of the band – Tres Warren on guitar, Michael Hammel on bass, and drummer Jess Van Anglen – gild hard-edged, distorted-guitar grooves with dollops of power-pop’s efficient melodicism. “Human Machine” is all forward locomotion about to collapse on itself, and cooks like an early Attractions rocker. The shadow of the Pretender’s first album looms here on choppy rockers like “Rat-Bite Fever” and “Something Dirty,” with its effervescent bassline, while “Get Up Get Out” suggests what Pat Benatar might have sounded like with a drug habit. Something for everyone.

Did Frank Chu really feel that Gerald Ford should be retroactively impeached, or was it all an act? It was the way-late 90s, after all, and any damage Ford may have done to the Republic had to have been mitigated by time and political tide.  Then there was the fact that the same sign listed Nixon, Carter, and Clinton as theoretical impeachees as well.

The other side of the sign stated plainly, “Twelve Galaxies Guiltied to a Zegnotronic Universe.” It was hard to argue in that, to begin with, you didn’t know what you were arguing about.

Frank is sort of legendary for people of a certain time in San Francisco. In my work as a courier I spent a lot of time walking around downtown, carrying things. I would often see Frank along the first few blocks of Pine St in the Financial District, humping his bizarre signs to the indifferent denizens of that hard canyon. I tried to engage him a couple of times, out of curiosity, but he always replied in the same odd, coded language of his billboards. I decided he was just not right. But then, who is?I left SF long ago, having been ejected, nay rejected, like an unwelcome foreign object, a human splinter sloughed off from the city’s skin. But a little bit of Frank came with me; the Zegnotronic Universe has made its home in my brain, and yes, my galaxies are guiltied.

Frank and I welcome you to TaskDoer.