Wow. 65 years old. Glad I stopped smoking.
My guitarist, nihilist father will never forget the day he heard Running with the Devil on FM radio, he knew immediately that disco was over. I was supposed to be thankful for that really smiley guy who was so good at guitar that he made me want to quit. That's the guy who saved you from disco, that guy is the reason you don't have to stand in a crowded room wearing platform shoes while the DJ plays the worst music ever created and girls go nuts for it.
Eddie Van Halen is a fucking legend.
I have always hawked Jimi Hendrix as my #1 rock guitarist of all time but Eddie is 100% #2, and some days, he takes the cake. I just listened to Eruption Live and holy shit, there is nothing on a guitar this man couldn't do. People often look at a Picasso painting and remark "I could draw that." The difference is Pablo Picasso was painting photorealism and classical Renaissance-style when he was 14 years old. He became a cubist because he could, because he had mastered the replication of reality and wanted to do something beyond. Eddie Van Halen is like Picasso, he was so good at traditional guitar, he created a whole new genre. He is very well known for his tapping style and playing tap solos that are so fast, they sound like synthesizers using computers to make arpeggios. Maybe he didn't exactly invent tapping but it is indisputable that he revolutionized it, did it better than anyone, and owned it. I know what you're saying. So what? Tapping is lame, everyone did it to death and even though I don't play guitar, or maybe I do, I think it's easy, even though I can't do it very well.
You need to listen deeper.
The solo in Hot For Teacher? He flat picks that whole thing. There is not one tap in that solo outside the repetition of the riff from the end of the intro. He is SMOKING through that thing, doing hammer-ons and speed picking like a maniac. It's hard as hell to play that solo, let alone write that solo - let alone write that fucking riff, damn man, so many riffs. There are guitarists I classify as riff-meisters. Keith Richards is one, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Tom Morello. All of those guys can just shit out an all-time rock and roll guitar riff while they're eating their Cheerios. Eddie Van Halen is a Master Riff-meister: Hot for Teacher, Panama, Running with the Devil, Beautiful Girls, MEAN STREET. The list goes on and on, and none of those other guys can play both sides of the ball like him. Riffs, rhythm, solos, songwriting, Eddie Van Halen was a 360 degree guitar master, there was no category of guitar that he didn't dominate.
Listen to Dance the Night Away, that riff comes in over the cowbell and it's soooo groovy. The breakdown is awesome, when he's teasin' the riff and making it all chunky and fat by adding harmonics. Best part, there is not a guitar solo on this song. That's song craft from a guy who slayed 24/7, the guy who played the solo on Beat It, the guy who Marty McFly looked up to, the guy who saved us from mother fucking disco.
You know why Van Halen could play like that? He loved it. You can see that shit-eating grin right now if you close your eyes and concentrate. He never put that guitar down, he was a perfectionist in an obsessive way. He did interviews playing guitar, took the guitar in the bathroom when he had to shit. When you watch him play, it's effortless, the guitar is an extension of his body, his fifth limb, there is no filter between his musical stream of consciousness and the amplifier - it flows through. I love a lot of guitar players and I always figure out how to replicate them, it can take a long time depending on the guy but eventually, I get it. I can do Clapton, Page, Richards, Harrison, Townsend, Frusciante, Morello, Hendrix, Gilmour, Garcia, I can play so you hear the influence and in the same style, I can replicate their solos and know the musical choices they would make in different situations, I studied the masters. Now, I can FAKE Van Halen, but I can't play that shit as clean as him, nowhere near. It's unreal the way this man surgically operated a guitar. I have played the guitar millions of hours over the last 25 years and I am nowhere near close to that level of precision and speed. The only other guitarist I put in this Eddie Van Halen category of being unplayable is Prince, those two guys make me put my guitar down for a few days and rethink my life.
No one can play the guitar like Eddie Van Halen. You can mimic him all day but that mother fucker invented it AND played the notes. Truly a musician for the ages, a talent and dedication unmatched. History will show that he truly changed the instrument for all time after him.
Sad day on Mean Street,
Currently Listening to: Mean Street by Van Halen
I got my wisdom teeth yanked out this week by some manic mutant who has dedicated his whole life to the defense of mastication and it gave me four full days of nothing but time, a rare commodity in the Boring 20's. I spent most of it on a diet of yogurt and vicodin re-exploring the worn fretboard of my timeless friend Larry Goldtop and the mixolydian mode but at some point, I needed to veg out so I popped on Long Strange Trip, a six-part documentary on the Grateful Dead that is streaming on Amazon right now.
Whether you're a fan of the Dead or not, this documentary is pretty damn neat. I'll spare the entire laundry list of gory details and get to the point. It all starts at the Acid Tests. To anyone who doesn't know, Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, was introduced to LSD by the CIA during project MKULTRA and decided to introduce it to pretty much everyone he could. Kesey would throw massive parties in warehouses called Acid Tests where the Grateful Dead would jam out and everyone would have some LSD and explore their consciousness, have a good time, and yuck it up. There's a fantastic book about it called The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. Sounds fun, right?
During one particular Acid Test in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, they pull over the bus and get out to view the Watts Towers. Again, wow. I didn't know about these things but apparently, one dude just built them for shits and gigs and they're massive. His philosophy was you only get remembered if you're "good good or bad bad" and he wanted to be remembered for being good good. He spent his whole life painstakingly building these massive things until one day he fell off one and got hurt.
So Jerry Garcia is looking up at these massive things with a head full of the most amazing LSD ever made, produced by Owlsley Stanley, and he can't get over it. The time, the energy, this guy labored his whole life over this one art installation, tortured himself because he wanted to be remembered. Eventually, he gets into this thought loop about fun, he just wants to have fun. He doesn't want to labor over his art alone in the sun for 50 years and die, he wants to live in the NOW, he wants life to be fun, he wants to play his guitar.
The Dead never tried to be commercially successful, instead basing their career around playing live, spreading psychedelics to the masses, and having fun. They made a great living but they never sold out, never tried to make a shit song for a few bucks. They allowed their shows to be taped, didn't like being photographed, and once dosed a film crew to get out of being the subjects of a documentary. Life was about fun, free spirited in the eternal now.
In these Boring 20's of modern civilization, we are often pressured to assign ourselves value based on our own wealth, our career, or our accomplishments. Taking time off from work is looked down upon as if you're a heretic and a lack of hustle is perceived as a lack of character. Pay no attention to these bullshit rules. They are perpetuated by human garbage who are jealous of the free, jealous of those who fill their days with silent enjoyment of their own pastimes with no expectation of wealth accumulation. They will get to the end of life and realize that it was never a race, never a game. The number one regret of people as they lay in hospice is working too much.
You only get so many minutes in your life, no one knows how many you'll get but we all know it will be a finite amount of minutes. Use them wisely. Read a book, write a poem, take a fucking nap. Be you, do not compromise, and do not let the rat race turn you into a pig. Don't get to your death bed and realize you didn't have enough fun. Fly your freak flag high.
Do No Harm but Take No Shit
Currently Listening to: Morning Dew - Grateful Dead, Europe '72
Currently Listening to: Dry the Rain by the Beta Band
Happy Birthday, Hunter S. Thompson.
Oh, what would you have to say on your 83rd birthday? The United States has been crumbling and gasping for air since 9/11 and a pandemic looms in the midst of race riots and massive protests, economic disparity, homelessness, evictions. I’m sure Hunter would have had far more and far better words than I could ever write.
As I sit at my desk and watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for the 10,000th time, one quote sticks out. “All energy flows according to the whims of the Great Magnet.”
Below is a piece I wrote around November 2019 and it has only become truer as time has passed. I hope everyone out there is safe, well-fed, sheltered, and eating gobs of delicious hallucinogenic drugs.
There is a human issue, transcending borders and cultures. It has nothing to do with political parties or affiliations, nothing to do with nation-states as it effects us all equally and worldwide.
We are sick, ill, the world around us is sick and everything and everyone keeps getting sicker. It’s almost like we have a huge hangover from the 20th Century. The worst part is we sit back and watch it all happen in complete and utter denial that we are in any sort of danger.
Something is fundamentally wrong.
I know you feel it - I feel it too. We’re angry, we’re depressed, we want to kill ourselves, we want to take others out with us. We have anxiety that prevents us from enjoying life at all. We crave numbness and distraction, burying our heads in glowing screens of ads, pornography, and empty entertainment. All of us traverse the globe with our sunglasses on, our headphones cranked, and our faces in our phones, hoping that no one tries to actually talk to us.
Something is fundamentally wrong.
We hate Mondays and we love Fridays. They’re the same but not to us. We sit at our jobs and wish away huge portions of our lives – I wish this day were over. Every human life is finite but we sit and pray for the end of a day, ask for hours of our lives which we will never get back to disappear as if we are serving lifetime prison sentences.
Something is fundamentally wrong.
We are so full of hatred, we hate each other, we hate ourselves. We walk into malls and schools and kill as many people as we can while hoping the police end our lives, police dressed like marines, strapped with incredible weaponry, juiced up for a war they’ll never see, beating protestors, locking up non violent offenders. We go to political rallies and spit in each other’s faces, we beat people to death over differences in sexual orientation. Women are stoned to death for not wearing the right religious garb.
Something is fundamentally wrong.
Corporations have more rights than individual humans. The air is poison, the drinking water is poison, the ocean is a landfill, and no one wants to cut off the endless cycle. Politicians in the USA spend more than 50% of their time in office begging corporations and lobbyists for more money to run again. The will of the few outweighs the will of the many.
I don’t know when it happened, maybe it’s always been this way. Globally, 300 million people suffer from an anxiety syndrome. In a time where mass murder, war, genocide, and sex trafficking run rampant, 1.5% of global deaths are actually suicides. We have more empty homes than homeless people. The number one irrigated crop is grass and people live without clean water or fresh produce. Our souls are suffocating under the endless race to have the biggest house, the nicest car, the newest phone, all to impress people we don’t even like in the first place.
Something is fundamentally wrong.
Turn on, tune in, and drop out.
So it's October 3rd, 2019, which means that Frankie and I are both officially 36 years old. It's fucking gross and I hate it.
Happy Birthday, ya filthy animal.
I have so so much stuff and so little time these days, which is the opposite of my original problem. I just posted three albums from the Jay Bones Archives to the Images Page.
One album is from the day we made the Long Gone video with our awesome buddies Cesar Kuriyama and Tommy Agriodimas. They shot the whole thing using still photos in burst mode and we moved in super slow motion. A bunch of it was shot while we weren't around but these pictures are from the band day.
Another album is from the Trocadero Theater on April 26, 2006. This is a great photo set, we had a horn section that night. The Troc was a really awesome room and growing up in Philly, it was a big time bucket list venue for us. The Troc was supposed to closed down in May but from the looks of it, it's still going strong 149 years after it opened. Frank's dad used to cut school and go see burlesque shows there when he was in 4th grade, or so the legend goes.
The final set is from the demolished and famous Philadelphia Spectrum, where we played on the ice during a Phantom's game for WMMR. That was a really cool gig, Jay and I were checking each other into the boards and talking about the Flyers and the Soviets when the booker realized we were South Philly sports nerds and took us on a tour of the whole place. Another awesome bucket list day.
Dropping audio in the near future, Bitter End New Year's Eve is definitely on deck, first album CD Release Party is on deck. I have about 25 more shows now that I got the last dump from Jay, just going through them to see when we were too drunk and when we played good enough to upload it.
Currently Listening to: Do You Feel It? by Chaos Chaos
Been an interesting September. I never thought I'd get to say this but I have so much new content, it's hard for me to keep up. Let's break it down.
I have a ton of sorting left to do but Jay just gave me 15GB of pictures with about 20 live shows of audio coming to my house this week. There ARE four new videos on the Video Page from Jay's collection, they're from a March 2009 show at Not The Viper Room. I had never seen them before, I think they're pretty solid. I promise to get everything up on the website as soon as I can.
Full grown man, Mike Vivas, just gave me a 29 minute long recording of us playing live at the Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip circa February 8, 2008. I haven't seen it since it was recorded, the production value is slightly.....dated but it's nice to have. I am wearing a leather jacket on stage, I must have been sweating like a hooker in church. The video is posted on our Video Page.
Tom gave me all the audio from when we played Live on 93.3 WMMR so I posted that to the Audio Page and the SoundCloud. I have a few short videos of the day from Jay but I don't think they are really worth posting, Tom's audio is pretty great.
I don't know if everyone is aware of this but Jay plays in a cover band with Brett Talley of Ike fame called Bangarang. Turns out Vivas, Frank, and I were able to make it to the same show yesterday. Great times were had by all, shout out to Al and Joe Smith for sharing their punch bowl drinks and to Fran for buying us pizza. Keep your eyes on the blog, a ton of new stuff dropping very, very soon.
Currently Listening to: Althea by the Grateful Dead (Live, 12/31/79, Oakland Auditorium
Buy Us Pizza,
Holy shit, Jay has so much audio.
I got the pleasure of hanging out with Jay Bones the other night and he showed up at my house with a phone book sized CD case of Fat City audio and pictures. Unfortunately, I have no way to get data off of a CD right now and we'll have to make it a slow leak.
For now, I have posted NEW AUDIO. That's right, brand spanking new, old shit. Jay also came with an old school iPod and I figured out how to rip what he had on it. Stuff I thought was lost forever.
There's Hookahville 29, the amazing festival we were lucky enough to play in May 2008 with the crazy talented Ekoostik Hookah, there's Grape Street 9/21/2006 with Jaxon telling us we suck in the beginning and a ridiculous rendition of Juicy at the end where Frank plays bass and Vivas plays guitar and I can't stop talking into the mic. There's also a really cool five song recording from sometime in early 2009 when we played a place on the Sunset Strip that totally wasn't The Viper Room.
It's all up on the music page. Look forward to a bunch of Bitter End shows, a bunch of Grape Street shows, and who knows what else from Jay's vault. I also heard a squeaky little rumor that Vivas has video of us playing the Whiskey A Go Go that I am trying to investigate as quickly as possible.
Currently Listening To: Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound ft. Frankie Pedano
August 25, 2003 - Fat City Reprise plays their first show ever at Doc Watson's in Philadelphia, opening for a band called Hilliard. It was a Monday night.
Sixteen years is a long time, a lot of people born and dead in that time period. It's pretty trippy to even think about, we were mostly 21 at the time, sixteen years before that we were 5.
In recognition of spending the day struggling with my own mortality, I just dropped a massive photo bomb. There are 183 new pictures in the Random 2004 album, 56 in 2005, 5 in the Press Pictures, and a NEW album with 93 Halloween pictures. I spent the other night hanging out with Trov and he gave me the mother load. Still no new audio, I'm thinking we'll have to take a trip to New York for that. Maybe when Frankie gets back from Kentucky.
I also got the right artwork up for the Black CD Demo and the Monkey EP, again thanks to Trov. Artwork on the Monkey Demo by Johnny Zito.
Another anniversary treat, on the Apparel Page, the original Fat City Reprise Sound Wave shirt is back up and for sale. Before Al Bruno's famous classic logo, we used this guy. Artwork by Johnny Zito, font by Microsoft Word.
One last Easter Egg, in the first blog we ever posted back in 2004, we detailed the story behind a bet between Trov and I about whether or not I could run a mile in less than ten minutes. I ran it in 7:20, at 1AM. We posted pictures that I thought were lost but BOOM SON!
Currently Listening to: Chariots of Fire
The working man is a sucker.
Got caught up slinging fish this week. Thanks to everyone who is buying shirts and sending files, I really appreciate it. I just got a huge photo dump from my favorite Ohio resident Liz Maher (sorry Junebug, I love you too.) You can see these pictures in the Hookahville gallery as well as the Midwest Tour gallery. There's more pictures in the Random 2008 gallery too, we played Brew's on one of our cross-country jaunts, either coming from or going to Los Angeles some time July 2008.
Minor details escape me, my brain doesn't have a ton of miles just yet but most of them were off road - I'm dinged up.
I have probably talked to Frank more in the last three weeks than the last year. Jay was supposed to hang out with me this week but I think we are bumping it. As always, I will post when I get more stuff. Trov has a MOTHERLOAD of really old stuff I lost years ago, I'm really excited to get my hands on it.
Currently listening to: Life is a Carnival by The Band (Live, Winterland 1974)
Been a nice week in Fat City.
I talked to Tom for a few hours via text and he is currently crate digging. I will probably have a big dose of early stuff from him in the next 5-10 days. He's a Papa Bear now so he's got priorities.
I'm sure everyone has heard from Frank because he is blasting me pictures and gig requests like a frenetic animal. Thanks to the Sisters of Davis for shooting over their pictures. If anyone would like to reach Frank directly, you can do so here: Frankie@FatCityReprise.net.
The Sanner Unit hit me up with some of his pictures. For those who do not know, Dave the Artist Sanner is the artist behind our Ganesh artwork as well as all of the gigantic hand-painted banners we used to drag everywhere and play in front of. I am dropping his pictures here as well as in the Random 2006 folder on the images page. Dave was also the inspiration for the lyrics to our song 'You Are The Art.' Always nice to hear from a homie.
Judging by the blog archives, we played the Bitter End in NYC at least 11 times and I know Paul records everything that happens there for posterity so Frank and I are working on setting up a road trip to grab the files and get groovy with Monsieur Rizzo. We'll get them online as soon as we can.
Currently Listening To: Much Love in the Evil Sound by Diet Kong (Hi Keith)