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Category Archives: boston rock city

Video

the misremembered ’90s: Fuzzy, “Flashlight”

If you wanted to do an archeological study of a particular time and place, and that particular time and place was “1994” and “Boston, Massachusetts”, you could do worse than to watch this video.

I mean, besides the fact that it’s awesomely catchy and all, “Flashlight” – by former Boston popsters Fuzzy – features a video that was probably filmed in their back yard, with lots of black and white slow motion guitar chuggin’.  If you live around here, you recognize that back yard.  Heck, you might have even been to a party in that *exact* back yard.  It’s in back of a triple decker apartment building in… something makes me want to say Jamaica Plain, but it could just as easily be Allston or Somerville.

There’s an adorably “look at us, with our crazy tanning foil like our parents used to use before they invented skin cancer” cutesy retro-vibe here, although it’s undercut by the black and white, which makes the whole thing seem more threatening than it probably meant to.

Ok, the video itself isn’t great.  But I still love this damn song, to this day.  It’s one of those local tunes ‘FNX used to play in the OK Soda era and, if you were a kid in the ‘burbs, it made you think that Boston was the coolest place in the entire world and you’d never, ever leave.

I’m still laboring under that delusion.  Thanks, Fuzzy.

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POST #500!! Wheeper-diddly-doo!

Yep, folks, looks like we’ve made it to post 500 on ol’ Geek USA.  We’d throw a party, but seriously, no one’s reading this crap anymore.

However, today something happened that, frankly, has never happened, ever.  I made it to work *early*.   You know all those modern conveniences we humans have invented?  All those wonderful machines we own and patronize in order to drag our sorry, sagging asses around this great big blue world?  The cars and trains and buses we drive or ride every day in order to get places on time, and sure, maybe we’re burning up the Earth’s resources and polluting the air to do it, but that’s the price we pay for a civilized society where everything moves at the speed of light?

Yeah – f**k that noise.  I biked to work and got here *early*.

I’d love to drop some snark and say “Boston’s the only place where it takes an hour to drive 5 miles,” but apparently, Atlanta and Dallas have it worse.  I know DC does.  If you ever plan on getting on the 495 in DC during rush hour, I recommend packing your car as if you were planning for a space mission.  The words “recycled urine” may be in your vocabulary sooner than you think.   It won’t be pleasant.

But anyway… of course I love Boston, especially all of the adorable little quirks that make our town so darn special.  Like our adorably hideous city hall, which High Fallutin’ Architecture Monthly actually named “The Ugliest Building In America.”  Awww.

First of all, my Mother was a tour guide there back in the 60s when it first opened, and she has some theory about how it was designed to represent the water and the earth and democracy.  I don’t know.  Every time I go in there, I feel like an extra in MC Escher’s production of 1984: The Musical!  Still, I have a certain fondness for the place, which means that I want someone to buy me this shirt.

That’s brutal, y’all.

 
 

2010: Our Hideous Future

Having been busy writing, producing, and recording a musical, I haven’t had much time to talk about how I wrote, produced, and recorded a musical (with my friend, Boston Playwright Carl Danielson and a score of talented local actors and theatrical artisans.)

So: Okay.  It’s called 2010: Our Hideous Future – The Musical! It’s a satire of Blade Runner/The Matrix/Max Headroom type stuff, but it’s also a queer-friendly romantic comedy.  Basically, it’s Thelma and Louise meets 2000 A.D.

It premiered at the Boston Playwright’s Theater last August to ravenous applause, and we just performed it at Arisia 2011.  We’re trying to find other places to perform as well, because dammit if we don’t believe in this little project.

The whole point of this is: here’s our official blog site.  It has music.  It (will have) pictures.  It has info and updates.  It has everything you need to navigate your scary spooky no good future.

We think that’s nice.

 

songs you don’t know: “No Way Out”, D Generation

Way, way back in the day, like 2007 or so, I declared Deconstruction’s “L.A. Song” a “RAGE TV song”, a term which I promised to explain and, of course, never ever did.

Okay.  A “RAGE TV” song is an “alternative rock” single from the early-to-mid ’90s that didn’t quite make it into heavy rotation on your local rock station.  In fact, one of the only ways You might have heard it (assuming “You” is a Boston-area youngish adult between the ages of 25 and 35) would be if you happened to be watching WSBK-TV 38 at 2 in the morning on Saturday.  You know, the same time I used to be on the radio.   For at that hallowed hour, the nice people at Channel 38 gave over the airwaves to a cheaply produced program called Rage TV.  It was hosted by some blonde guy with a leather jacket, who used to go around Boston meeting semi-famous rock and roll types.  And while they played videos by Green Day and Oasis and Cracker and other bands you may have actually heard of… and while Blondie in the Jacket occasionally got to interview such stars as Shirley “Garbage” Manson, the show was packed, mostly, with videos and interviews from the likes of Green Apple Quickstep, Ruth Ruth, and, yes, D Generation.  None of whom you’ve ever heard of, but trust me, they were great.  Green Apple Quickstep, in particular, is notable for being a “Two-No Hit Wonder Band”, having released two great singles that failed to go anywhere: “Feel My Way” and “Dirty Water Ocean.”   Alyssa still likes them.

According to the internet, there’s no proof Rage TV ever existed, except for this clip of legendary Boston ska band The Allstonians being interviewed by Blonde Guy (Eric?), who doesn’t have his leather jacket on today.

D Generation is notable because a) they’re such a New York Dolls rip off, it’s adorable, and b) the lead singer is one Jesse Malin, who you may now know as a vaguely folky/countryish guy who duets with Bruce Springsteen and hangs out with Ryan Adams in the sorts of New York bars where Ryan Adams hangs out.   But back in the day, Jesse Malin was pretty f*cking punk, that’s for sure.

The song “No Way Out” (which premiered on Rage TV in the summer of 1996 and I still have a copy of the Glorious VHS tape somewhere) was almost a hit for them, and is catchy and angry and you would have loved it when you were 15.   The video is standard ’90s alterna-fare, featuring several flash cuts, jumpy editing, and overlit shots of “freaky alternative” people doing freaky alternative things in unsanitary locales, such as the NYC subway system (which features prominently).

Merely hearing this song takes me back to a simpler time when a line like  “send us all to high school/make us pray to statues/so we hang on corners lookin’ bored”  actually made emotional sense.  Eric Bogosian wrote a whole play/movie about it, called subUrbia.  When U Maine produced it, it was notable for two things:  a) I wasn’t in it, despite the show requiring one of the cast to play the guitar, and I was the ONLY PERSON WHO COULD PLAY THE GUITAR in that department, and b) it used this song in the pre-show.

I’m not bitter, mind you, but godDAMNit…

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2010 in boston rock city, music, songs you don't know

 

WBCN: requiem for the rock

This Guy Right Here, at a WBCN event at Harper's Ferry

Note: In case you hadn’t heard, WBCN, the Rock of Boston, is closing up shop in mid-August after 41 years of broadcasting.  You probably know this, but I’m a DJ there.   This is mostly about my experience at the station – there have been plenty of obituaries written about 104.1 in the last few days.   Go read them, especially Danny Schecter’s.

It was January 2003.  I was driving back home from work, with a take-out order of egg lemon soup from the Greek place that I had ordered in hopes of fending off one of my nasty sinus infections.  I was driving on 495, it was about 5 o’clock at night, it was snowing lightly, and my phone rang.  It was my mother, telling me that she had received a phone call from Steven Strick at WBCN.

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niiice!: NKOTB, “Games”

Perhaps you remember the New Kids on the Block.   They were a “funky” band of Boston kids from the early 1990s, and may very well be the first “boy band.”  They were huge, but like anything else, then came the fall.  Like any phenomenon, the backlash wasn’t far off, and people started hatin’ on them.

Me, I actually used to dig them.  I made fun of them at the same time, of course: I remember Christmas of ’89, I got Hangin’ Tough on tape and first heard the hi-larious tune “New Kids Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”  There was no shame, not yet, in liking something and realizing it was also sort of dumb.  I was a very mature 10 year old.

This is the New Kids post-backlash single, and you can tell.  First, they’ve changed their name to the more “street” sounding NKOTB.  Secondly, the song’s all about tellin’ the haters where to go, even if its done in the name of “positivity” and no one in 1991 knew what a “hater” was.   Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2009 in boston rock city, Niiice!, nostalgia

 

Cover #16 – Bill Staines, “River”

Cover #16 is “River” by Bill Staines, originally released on his 1979 album The Whistle of the Jay and later on his 1984 live album Bridges.

Bill Staines was the first concert I ever went to.  Actually, he was probably the first several concerts I ever went to, not counting Rosenshontz, or the performance of Jesus Christ Superstar I attended while in utero.  I think my parents knew Bill from their days running the George’s Attic coffee house back in the ’60s.

I was raised in coffee houses.  Did I ever tell you that?  Coffee houses, church basements, VFW halls, school cafeterias… anywhere that folk music types were allowed to come and play, there you would find Alan and Peggy and little Andy.  Bill was a mainstay in that scene for years around Boston – still is, I suppose, but there was a time when he was the man.  And deservedly so.

Bill lives in New Hampshire these days.  It’s like he stepped out of an alternate dimension, one where country music came out of a different tradition; not out of cowboys and prairies, but of loggers and maple sugar farms.   You’ve probably never heard of him, which is really too bad.   You know that song “All God’s Critters Got A Place In The Choir?”  From camp?  That’s his song.  He wrote it.

Of course I liked that song when I was a kid, because my parents would bring animal puppets and their friends and I would all make them dance around in the audience (thus priming me for a lifetime of audience participation-related events, from Rocky Horror to Blue Man Group to my college thesis project, a staging of The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, which was 50% audience participation and improv and included puppets) but that’s not the point.   “River” was the song I always wanted to hear.  It struck a chord with me as a kid, and I never knew why.  Now, further on down the river of life, it still makes me think.

And in case you’re experiencing some sort of whiplash, going from The Dresden Dolls to Bill Staines in the space of a day, know this: both Amanda Palmer and Bill are graduates of Lexington High School, where the teachers are apparently doing something right.  Both artists inspire their audiences to participate in the show, and both write songs with that inexplicable New England crispness.  “I was born in the path of the winter wind”/”I’m half my mother’s daughter, a fraction left up to dispute.”  Am I stretching?  Oh yes I am.  It’s late and I’m tired.

This is a fairly straight cover.  I’m not a particularly good finger-picker, so I went with my typical flat-pick-no-subtlety acoustic style, with occasional nods towards folksy pleasantries.

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Next up…: It’s a definite maybe.