The Jans Project play the 4th annual Record Store Day at 4pm this Saturday, April 16th at Euclid Records, 601 E. Lockwood, St. Louis, MO 63119.
Here's the full live performance line up for Euclid's Record Store Day celebration on Saturday:
11:00 AM John Doe & Jill Sobule
12:00 noon Humdrum
1:00 PM The Deciders
2:00 PM Sleepy Kitty
3:00 PM Troubadour Dali
4:00 PM The Jans Project
5:00 PM The Sights
6:00 PM The Skeletons
7:00 PM The Bottle Rockets
Thursday, April 14, 2011
The Jans Project play the 4th annual Record Store Day at 4pm this Saturday, April 16th at Euclid Records, 601 E. Lockwood, St. Louis, MO 63119.
Posted by steve scariano at 7:04 AM
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Posted by steve scariano at 6:12 AM
Monday, November 08, 2010
A few videos of my participation in the September Gurls and Boys tribute to Alex Chilton show at Off Broadway.
The Jans Project (Nick Rudd: vocals, guitar Jeff Evans: drums Steve Lindstrom: guitar Steve Scariano: bass)
The Remodels (Toby Weiss: lead vocals Brian Smith: drums Steve Staicoff: guitar, background vocals John Ellis: guitar, background vocals Steve Scariano: bass)
The Burch Society (Edward Burch: lead vocals, acoustic guitar Alex Moore: drums John Horton: lead guitar Steve Scariano: bass)
Posted by steve scariano at 7:07 PM
Monday, October 11, 2010
I'm participating as a member of my wife Diane's "Team Paglusch" in the Lung Cancer Connection Second Annual 5K Fun Lung Run Walk for the support of lung cancer patients and their families on Nov. 6 at Creve Coeur Park in St. Louis. Please help me meet my fund raising goal and donate a little something to the cause. All proceeds go to the Lung Cancer Connection. Click here and then click "Sponsor A Participant" to make a donation.
Posted by steve scariano at 12:46 PM
Friday, September 24, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Lineup and set times for the September Gurls & Boys tribute to Alex Chilton this Friday at Off Broadway. I'll be performing with The Remodels, Edward Burch, and The Jans Project for this show:
8:10 Grace Basement
8:30 The Remodels
8:50 The Deciders
9:10 Prairie Rehab
9:30 The Mercy Twins
9:50 Edward Burch
10:30 Wormwood Scrubs
10:50 Magic City
11:10 Beth Bombara & the Robotic Foundation
11:30 The Jans Project
11:50 Adam Reichmann & the Ghosts of Electricity
12:10 Jimmy Griffin All Star Band
The Jans Project: (left to right) Jeff Evans, Steve Lindstrom, Steve Scariano, Nick Rudd.
Posted by steve scariano at 6:32 AM
Friday, August 06, 2010
This Saturday at smoke free Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave, St. Louis MO, 63118:
The Love Experts (10pm)
The Educated Guess (9pm)
Uncle Sam & The Minutemen (8pm)
21 & Over: $8
Under 21: $11
Posted by steve scariano at 6:30 AM
Monday, April 19, 2010
My camera doesn't get the greatest sound, but what the heck, some video documentation of the fun Finn's Motel had performing at Record Store Day at Euclid Records. Gigantic thanks to Brigid Costello for shooting this for us.
Posted by steve scariano at 7:48 PM
Monday, March 22, 2010
I guess I'm one of those of people Bob Mehr wrote about in his must read essay, The Great Crusade: Birthing The Cult Of Big Star, in the Big Star box set Keep An Eye On The Sky. The first I ever heard of the band was in 1973 when I read a review in Phonograph Record Magazine of Big Star's (now legendary) appearance at the Rock Writer's Convention in Memphis, May of 1973. What was described sounded like a band I might go for.
So I went searching and soon found #1 Record in the "2 for $1" bin at a local discount department store. The record completely blew my then 16 year old mind to smithereens! And what was also so powerful and important about that record for me was that being at that age, this was some of the first music I had discovered as a teenager completely on my own and free of any influence from older siblings, friends, or the radio. I took a chance on something all by myself and BOOM---it was all so great and it was all mine! I thought how could this record be so great and no one know about it? I felt like I had just joined some sort of club where I was the only member. Very powerful stuff indeed.
And then a few months later I'm reading Phonograph Record Magazine again and come upon a review of the "September Gurls" single, with the memorable headline, "Innocent, But Deadly..." Holy shit, there's a new Big Star album! I actually cut that review out along with the photo of the band and hung it on my wall with all my other rock posters and photos. Couldn't find the album in a store yet, but one morning before school I turn on the big FM rock station in St. Louis at the time and the DJ says, "This is new from a group called Big Star..." and "O My Soul" comes crashing out of the speakers. It was unbelievably great! And looking back now it's pretty amazing how that station was still free form enough to where that particular morning DJ not only played "O My Soul," but played it A LOT.
I soon found a copy of Radio City and that was that. The course of my life was truly changed forever. Like so many of the people Mehr writes about in his box set essay, the power of that record was so great I too was drawn like nothing before in my life to try to find the source, no different than a blues man going to The Crossroads.
I darn near played Radio City nearly every day. A couple of years later I worked up the nerve to call Greg Shaw at BOMP Magazine. Somehow I was able to con him into thinking I was some kind of writer (I wasn't) and that I could get an interview with Alex Chilton. Greg said, "We've been trying to get him for years. If you can pull that off, sure, I'll print it!" And so like so many others at the time, I found the Chilton family's local Memphis listing and gave the number a call and the next thing you know I'm talking to Alex fucking Chilton! And yes, the first thing he asked me was the date of my birth. "Ah yes, the Year Of The Monkey..." was his reply after I told him. I made my interview proposal and he said "Sure, I'd love to be interviewed. It might help me get some of these new demos I'm working on get looked at. Please come on down."
So in September of 1976 I went to Memphis to meet and interview Alex. When he let me into his tiny studio apartment in Midtown, he was wearing a long old school night shirt and nothing else. His apartment had no furniture. There was a turntable, a few records, and his Strat strewn across the floor and nothing else, and we had to sit on the floor. Alex sat crossed legged about two feet across from me with his night shirt pulled up a bit and his stuff hanging out for the entire world to see! Needless to say, I was already pretty freaked out enough about being in the same room as my hero, but never bargained that his thang would be in the picture too, and no less than five minutes after meeting him! After a few minutes of introductory conversation, Alex says, "Hey, you should see Ardent---let's go down and do this there..." I quickly agreed that this was a great idea, and then Alex says, "Hey I gotta shave before we go. We can keep talking while you watch." I then went to the next level of freak out as I watched Alex fucking Chilton smear Vaseline all over his face instead of shaving cream, and listened intently as he told me about The Year Of The Monkey while he shaved.
On the short drive from his crib to Ardent, Alex had me pop a cassette into my car stereo. He says "These are some new demos Arista just said no to..." I pop the tape in, totally losing it in anticipation, thinking I'm going to hear something new along the lines of "Back Of A Car" or something, and out comes "My Rival." It was a lo-fi cassette Alex had recorded with one mic in his living room with him singing and playing electric guitar and some friend banging on a coffee can. Up to that point in my life it was one of the strangest and most primitive sounding things I had ever heard. And I was also listening to Alex graphically singing about actually killing someone! Wow. No longer innocent I guess, but still plenty deadly. Quite a shock indeed and the second big indication in the first 15 minutes of meeting the guy that he was nothing like I imagined he was going to be.
And so that afternoon Alex gave me a tour of Ardent and then we sat at the fountain in the courtyard where he patiently and enthusiastically answered every last fanboy question I had about every song on the first two Big Star albums. As I was turning off the tape recorder when we were finished, Alex says, "You know we made another album." "WHAT?" was all I could muster back. "Well it was just me & Jody, but we kinda were still calling it Big Star. It's different than those other two records." When I asked if I could maybe hear it, Alex said, "No, I don't think that would be possible."
We went out that evening and had drinks, but not too many. Alex invited his pal (the great) Ross Johnson to join us, and I couldn't believe such fascinating people were letting a totally green 20 year old from the suburbs of St. Louis hang with them. Ross invited Alex and I to come see some friends of his rehearse the next day. He said, "Oh Steve, you're really gonna like them and you should write about them. They're called the Scruffs..." Alex and I joined Ross at the Scruffs rehearsal the next day and sure enough, the Scruffs blew me away.
Right before I left Memphis that weekend, Alex and I discussed the possibility of maybe getting him a live gig as Big Star up in St. Louis. We both laughed when he said, "You get me the right amount of money, I'll get a couple of guys here and we'll come up and you can call it anything you want!" And I almost pulled it off, too. Had a club across the river in St. Louis in Illinois that was willing after months of hemming and hawing with them, but by that time Alex was about to split for New York and his CBGBs era.
My meeting the guys in the Scruffs that weekend also became the start of what became a tight friendship with lead guitarist Dave Branyan. Dave and I spent many a weekend over the next few years visiting and hanging out with each other in our respective cities. And after Dave left the Scruffs in '79, he asked me and my friend Jeff Evans to be the rhythm section in a solo thing he was putting together. We cut some stuff at Ardent with John Fry producing that unfortunately was never finished or released. But my god, what an experience! The first day of cutting basic tracks they had me plug my bass into the house 100watt Hi-Watt head and 4x12 Marshall cabinet. When I said to engineer John Hampton, "Man, this amp really sounds GREAT!" he replied, "Yeah, Alex used that same rig for his guitar on Radio City." Are you kidding me?!?!?! Talk about your total mind fuck! I still can't believe I was able to continue and make it through the rest of the session.
Shortly after I started making regular visits to Memphis to hang with Dave, I fell into possession of one of the test pressings of the original version of Big Star's Sister Lovers LP that Ardent had pressed up to promote the record after it was recorded. A few copies had been circulating around Memphis. And my life was changed once again.
And then soon came another total life changer: Like Flies On Sherbert, the second masterpiece Chilton made with the legendary Jim Dickinson. I think it's one of the greatest pure rock and roll albums ever made, right up there with Exile On Main Street and every bit as important. And if your copy doesn't include "The Baron Of Love, Pt. 1," then you really don't own a copy of Like Flies On Sherbert. Accept no substitute!
And of course there was also The Singer Not The Song EP, the "Bangkok" 45, the Cramps records Alex produced, Bach's Bottom, Live In London, Feudalist Tarts, and on and on. One life changing record after another, every one of them. And then there were all those years of so many great solo live shows from Alex. All I'm gonna say, and I still find myself arguing about it all the time with people who still disagree, is that I thought Alex walked on water every time I saw him back then. A master at the top of his game and on the same level of genius as Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters. And every guitar solo an abstract work of art!
I live 120 miles from Columbia, MO so of course I was excited to drive down for the reunion show in 1993, but I was nowhere near as giddy as the majority of the crowd there for the show that day. I was certainly curious, and no dis at all towards the Big Star songs, but for me those songs had become the least interesting part of those amazing Alex solo shows. So I guess you could say I had mixed expectations. A lot has been written and mythologized about that show over the years. It was truly, truly wonderful to finally get to see Jody Stephens play drums, but what left the most lasting impression on me that day was how much Alex came alive and his demeanor lit up when they got to the cover songs in the set, especially when he broke into "Kansas City." After seeing so many Alex solo shows, this certainly came as no surprise to me. I enjoyed "Kansas City" more than any other song that day, and thought it a very beautiful and special moment, and oh so definitive about the guy. As so many of the hipsters in the audience who had traveled so far to see this show stood around with "WTF?" looks on their faces, I smiled and shouted "YEAH!" Once again Alex Chilton was winning the day on his terms. Just like always.
Posted by steve scariano at 7:49 PM
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Blue Moon (Alex Chilton)
Let me be your one light
And if you'd like a true heart
Take the time to show you're mine
And I'll be a blue moon in the dark.
While you sleep you'll see me there
Clouds race across the sky
Close your eyes and don't ask why
And I'll be a blue moon in your eyes.
Morning comes and sleeping's done
Birds sing outside
If demons come while you're under
I'll be a blue moon in the sky
Let me be your one light
And if you'd like a true heart
Take the time to show you're mine
And I'll be a blue moon in the dark.
Posted by steve scariano at 8:44 PM
This Saturday, March 20th at the Duck Room, 6504 Delmar in The Loop, St. Louis, MO 63130 • (314) 727-4444:
Finn's Motel (11pm-ish) Featuring the return of Matt Meyer on guitar!
The Great Crusades (10pm-ish) From Chicago, featuring former members of Suede Chain and The Last Gentlemen.
The Handcuffs (9pm-ish) From Chicago, featuring current Romantics drummer Brad Elvis, formerly of The Elvis Brothers.
And best of all, this is a NO SMOKING show! Thank you, Duck Room!
Posted by steve scariano at 7:48 AM
Saturday, January 02, 2010
For me the most important release of 2009 was the Big Star box set, Keep An Eye On The Sky. Big Star set what would be the musical compass of my adult life when I discovered the band in 1974, and thanks to the wonders of this box set I never dreamed I would be rediscovering their music in so many continually rewarding and deeply meaningful ways some 35 years later. Heck, I would have been satisfied with just the release of the original three Big Star albums with this incredible remastering, so all of the amazing previously unreleased outtakes and demos and the book and it’s three outstanding essays and all of the never before seen photos included in this box set is quite the overwhelming mother lode. And then there’s the devastating Disc Four: Live At Lafayette’s Music Room, Memphis, TN! Adequate words to describe fail me. If there can be such a thing as the perfect box set, then in my opinion Keep An Eye On The Sky may just be that perfection. Eternal kudos and gratitude to John Fry, Cheryl Pawelski, Andrew Sandoval, Alec Palao, and everyone else at Ardent Studios and Rhino Records who had a hand in putting this box set together.
The best out-of-nowhere album from an artist new to me that I heard in 2009 was Painted Hills. Painted Hills are a great band that effortlessly melds the various eras of classic LA/Southern California psychedelic pop with a touch of Brit Pop shoegazing. I can’t remember the last time I heard a debut album where EVERY SONG completely blew me away! The official release of the Painted Hills album comes in February 2010 on Rick Menck’s Bird Song Recordings label, which means I get to include it on my 2010 list of faves as well!
The rest of my favorite music of 2009, in alphabetical order:
The Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet---Crazy 8's
The Beatles---The Beatles Remastered Box Set - In Mono
Cheap Trick---The Latest
Jarvis Cocker---Further Complications
Lloyd Cole---Cleaning Out The Ashtrays (Collected B Sides & Rarities 1989-2006)
Earth---The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull
A 2008 release that I was turned on to in 2009 by Nick Rudd. Thank you Nick!
Liam Hayes And Plush---Bright Penny
Heavy Trash---Midnight Soul Serenade
Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey---hERE aND nOw
Ian Hunter---Man Overboard
The New York Dolls---'Cause I Sez So
Old Californio---Westering Again
Outrageous Cherry---Universal Malcontents
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers---The Live Anthology
Chuck Prophet---Let Freedom Ring!
The Raveonettes---In And Out Of Control
REM---Live At The Olympia In Dublin
Rough Shop---Just Because It Was Christmas
The Soundtrack Of Our Lives---Communion
Sparks---The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman
The Symptoms---Always Heed The Symptoms: "Live" In '78
Troubadour Dali---Troubadour Dali
The Dwight Twilley Band---Live From Agora
Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets: 1965-1968 (Box Set)
My favorite live shows of 2009, in alphabetical order:
Leonard Cohen---The Fox Theater, St. Louis, MO
Future Clouds And Radar---SXSW, Austin, TX
Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey---Wood House Concert, Euclid Records, and Off Broadway, St. Louis, MO
Magic Christian---SXSW, Austin, TX
Chuck Prophet---Wood House Concert, St. Louis, MO
Raymilland/The Welders---Off Broadway, St. Louis, MO
Matthew Sweet---The Duck Room, St. Louis, MO
That Petrol Emotion---SXSW, Austin, TX
Posted by steve scariano at 10:55 AM
Sunday, December 27, 2009
1979 was definitely in the house at Off Broadway last night as original St. Louis punk/new wave scene legends Raymilland and The Welders played live for the first time in almost 30 years. Both bands looked GREAT and sounded ferocious! It was great to see so many faces from back in those "music war" days at the show, as well as the great reaction both bands received from the younger folks in the audience. A very inspiring evening indeed. Look for upcoming reissues from both Raymilland and The Welders on BDR Records.
Posted by steve scariano at 3:36 PM
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Some photos from Ian McLagan's wonderful in-store performance at Euclid Records. Look for a single from the performance to be released in early 2010 as part of our Euclid Sessions 45 Series.
Mac and Bump Band bassist/guitarist Jon Notarthomas.
The guy who played on Itchycoo Park & Lazy Sunday and me. I am so not worthy!
Posted by steve scariano at 10:24 PM
Monday, November 16, 2009
Chuck Prophet done tore it up at Rick Wood's house last night! The best rock show I’ve seen all year. Two sets full of one jaw dropping moment after another from Chuck and his great band, the Mission Express: Stephie Finch (Vocals & Vox Continental), Kevin T. White (Bass guitar), Todd Roper (Drums & vocals), James DePrato (Guitar). And the totally out of left field icing on the cake was their most brilliant and devastating cover of Alex Chilton’s "Bangkok".
Posted by steve scariano at 7:02 PM
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Steve Carosello, John Ellis, Fred Gumaer, Andy Ploof, Brian Smith, and I will be playing three Warren Zevon songs at Roy Kasten & Scott Swartz's Warren Zevon Tribute Show & KDHX Benefit at the Off Broadway, this Friday, October 23rd.
Our little one-off combo will be playing under the moniker Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School for this event and we go on at 11:45pm.
Posted by steve scariano at 7:03 AM
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Finn's Motel returns to the wonderful smoke free Off Broadway this Friday, September 18th. We play second on the bill, around 10pm. The Incurables headline the show around 11pm, and Hook Echo plays at 9pm.
Posted by steve scariano at 5:11 AM
Thursday, August 27, 2009
"She was the greatest melody writer of all time"---Brian Wilson.
God-like genius songwriter Ellie Greenwich has passed.
Of course there are all the legendary classics and hits she is best known for, but Ellie’s 1973 Verve solo album Let It Be Written, Let It Be Sung is an underrated and overlooked gem worth discovering. It’s one of my all-time favorite albums. I used to play several selections from it all the time on my old KWUR radio show thirty years ago, and would often close my show with the album’s wonderful waltz/lullaby remake of “Be My Baby.”
An old friend stayed with Ellie in her NYC apartment back then when her sister was getting married to a guy who was working with Ellie at the time. Aware of my total worship of all things Ellie, she brought back this stunning 8X10 glossy for me. I still get goose bumps every time I read the nice little note Ellie wrote to me on the back of the photo.
Posted by steve scariano at 6:19 AM
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Five years ago today a horrific highway accident took the lives of my dear friends Mike Shelton, Carrie Lindsey, and their daughter Emily. In a town full of rock and roll characters down through the years, Mike Shelton was one of St. Louis’ most memorable. He was an old school friend of the stars and star to his friends, and was the living embodiment of that line You wanna be there when they count up the dudes… from (his beloved) David Bowie’s "Rebel Rebel".
Mike was a really great older brother to me as well as an out of control 13 year old younger brother all at once. A sex, drugs, & rock and roll Gilbert Bates if you will, always ready to lead us gullible little Beaver Cleavers in his universe into yet another crazy adventure. An evening out with Mikey was usually filled with all sorts of mischief and narrow escapes, and certainly never dull.
Through all of our fun together I learned a whole lot about life from the guy, and there was a great big heart and a lot of soul and wisdom underneath his Jerry Lewis-like exterior. He always had my back no matter what, and no one gave more encouragement and support to me in my so called career in rock than Mike. Whether in person or on the phone, at some point in every conversation I ever had with Mikey, he would ask, “When you playin’ again?” Before I was ever in a band and still unsure of ever being in one, Mikey kept pushing me to go for it. Like a scene from a cheesy movie, one day Mikey said to me, “Kid, you HAVE to do this. You got what it takes. Trust me, I know about these things…” And that was all the confidence I ever needed. Next thing you know I was in my first band, and I’ve never looked back…
So tonight I play another rock show, and like every rock show I’ve played with all of my various combos over the last five years, Mikey will be there with me once again---sitting on my shoulder and yelling in my ear: “TURN YOUR DAMN AMP UP, LAMEASS! PLAY FASTER! LOUDER! JUMP! MOOOOOOVE! C’MON, MOTHERFUCKER! GIMME SOMETHIN’ TO LOOK AT---THIS IS ROCK AND ROLL!"
Hang on to yourself Mikey, I promise to bring it hard tonight.
(left to right) Tony Fafoglia, Mike Shelton, and me rocking at Off Broadway, Jerry Durwachter Xmas Show, 1988.
The evening was supposed to be a celebration of the holiday season, but sure enough we wound up with some typical Shelton chaos. Seems a very drunk member of the audience didn’t approve of some of my & Mike’s stage antics (don't ask), so after the show he was in my face in the middle of the dance floor all hot and ready to kick my ass. As I tried to talk the guy down, Shelton of course egged the guy on, doing all he could to get a fracas going. Things started to get a little scary, so Mike and I resorted to a move that had saved us from harm a couple times prior in our travels, the old act-crazier-than-the-guy-who’s-about-to-kick-your-ass move. We escaped yet again with no blood shed, and Shelton wound up getting a hug from the guy’s girlfriend. So very Mikey...
(Snapshot from a video by Chris Ballew, original photo by Carrie Lindsey)
Posted by steve scariano at 1:24 PM
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Finn's Motel plays smoke free Off Broadway this Saturday, August 22nd. We play second on the bill, around 10pm. Matador recording artist Sally Crewe And The Sudden Moves from Austin, Texas are headlining the show, and our old pal Tommy Keene is playing bass with Sally on her current tour. How cool is that?
The 75s from St. Louis open the show at 9pm.
Posted by steve scariano at 7:13 AM
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Another shining testament to the diverse brilliance and originality of the late '70's CBGB's scene has passed. Mink DeVille's Jack Nitzche produced Cabretta is a timeless masterpiece and one of the greatest debut albums in the history of rock. Cabretta’s pleasures are eternal, and thirty years on I still listen to it all the time. When it comes to this particular stylistic turf, I think Cabretta is a better album than Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run.
By sheer dumb and typical ‘70’s rock booking luck, the original Mink DeVille played the old American Theater in St. Louis in 1977. If I remember correctly I believe the headliner was the dreaded Mahogany Rush. Can’t say for sure as we didn’t stick around after Mink DeVille’s short, maybe not even a half hour set. And they were absolutely tremendous as they ripped through all of those classics from Cabretta like "Venus Of Avenue D," "Little Girl," "Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl," "Gunslinger," and show stopper, "She's So Tough."
Willy of course was such a riveting and brilliant singer, with an absolutely commanding stage presence. I had seen Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band in 1975, so that was my immediate easy comparison. But Mink DeVille’s version of that template had the aura of something far darker and grittier underneath its musical beauty, stemming from a world so completely alien to my then 21 year old white suburban ass sitting there in the Mid-West. I'm sure if you had met Clarence Clemons or Miami Steve back then they’d probably share a beer and let you hang, but it was easy to see that after a show these Mink DeVille guys were headed straight to neighborhoods I had no business ever setting foot in. They looked so elegantly cool and exotic, yet simultaneously prepared for any sort of trouble and rough business that came their way. More like a gang than a rock band. These were guys who probably carried guns and knives in their pockets along with their guitar picks. And drugs. Very hard drugs.
And in that brief and intense half hour onstage in front of an audience that didn’t give two shits about them, Mink DeVille blew away the dozen or so of us who knew Cabretta and were there just to see them. I’ll never forget how great they were. Those guys earned every illicit pleasure I hope they went out and found after their show that night.
Willy DeVille, you were so very much the real deal.
Posted by steve scariano at 11:29 AM
Friday, July 03, 2009
I totally loved the brilliant records the Jackson 5 made. I liked a big chunk of Michael Jackson's solo records. But when I heard he had died I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. I still don't. And now I know why:
Comment on Current Events by the Author of "The Long Emergency"
"The Man in the Mirror"
By James Howard Kunstler
June 29, 2009
As America entered the horse latitudes of summer, befogged in a muffling stillness on deceptively calm seas, we were distracted for a while by visions of a pale death angel moonwalking across the deck of collective consciousness. Eerie parallels resound between the sordid demise of pop singer Michael Jackson and the fate of the nation.
Like the United States, Michael Jackson was spectacularly bankrupt, reportedly in the range of $800-million, which is rather a lot for an individual. Had he lived on a few more years, he might have qualified for his own TARP program -- another piece of expensive dead-weight down in the economy's bilges -- since it is our established policy now to throw immense sums of so-called "money" at gigantic failing enterprises (while millions of ordinary citizens wash overboard, without so much as a life-preserver). Anyway, Michael Jackson was on the receiving end of one huge bank loan after another long after his pattern of profligacy was set and obvious. They threw money at him for the same reason that the federal government throws money at entities like CitiBank: the desperate hope that some miracle will allow debt servicing to resume. Michael could burn through $50-million in half a year. It didn't seem to affect his credibility as a borrower. When his heart stopped last week, he was living in a Hollywood mansion that rented for several hundred thousand dollars a month. You wonder how the landlord cashed those checks.
Like the USA, Michael Jackson was a has-been. He hadn't recorded a song worth listening to in over two decades. He had done almost nothing but spin his wheels, hop around the globe from one place to another at enormous expense, and make himself available for award ceremonies to stoke his ego (and give advertisers a reason to promote some televised award show). He existed strictly on image, an anorectic figure nourished by moonbeams of attention, famous for saying that he loved his worshippers when the truth was he merely sucked the life out of them. In his last years, he even looked a bit like Nosferatu, the personification of the un-dead, and his fascination with ghouls was the basis for his biggest hit way back in the last century. A zombie
nation deserves a zombie mascot.
He was a poseur, vamping in weird military outfits as though he were a five-star general in the Honduran army, or a character from a melodrama by the reprobate Jean Genet. He once materialized during halftime at the Superbowl in a shower of sparks, thrilling the multitudes while grabbing and stroking his sex organs, as though that was a heroic activity -- and indeed the nation seemed to emulate him as its culture became dedicated more and more to acting out masturbation fantasies. America was a fat man jerking off on the sofa watching a vampire of no particular sex vogue deliriously on the boob tube.
More than once the authorities tried to pin charges of child molestation on him for suspicious activities at his boy-trap, Neverland Ranch, with its carnival rides, private zoo, video game galleries, and inexhaustible supplies of sugary treats. The first time he settled with the alleged victim's family for $22-million. They just walked away with the loot and happily shut up. The second time, he moonwalked out of a court-of-law while weeks later jurors mysteriously went on TV to say, well, they did kind of think after-the-fact that he really did those things he was accused of, but, you know.... The defendant himself behaved as though his trial were a TV celebrity challenge show on another planet, arriving on one occasion twenty minutes late in pajamas with some lame excuse about a backache. He spent the last years of his life wandering a few steps ahead of his creditors, gulling concert promoters into "comeback" schemes (with walking-around money up front), and with three bought-and-paid-for children, obviously not his own, for consolation.
When he dropped dead last week, the nation's morbidly maudlin response suggested a cover story for the relief of being rid of him and all the embarrassment he provoked. One CNN reporter called him a genius the equal of Mozart. That's a little like calling Rachel Maddow the reincarnation of Eleanor Roosevelt. A nation addicted to lying to itself tells itself fairy tales instead of facing a pathology report. Yet, like Michael Jackson, the undertone of horror story still pulses darkly in the background. The little boy who grew up to be the simulation of a girl was really a werewolf. The nation that defeated manifest evil in World War Two woke up one day years later to find itself stripped of its manhood, mentally enslaved to cheap entertainments, and hostage to its own grandiosity. Maybe in grieving so exorbitantly over this freak America is grieving for itself. All the loose talk about "love" from the media and the fans gives off the odor of self-love. America is "the man in the mirror," the gigantic, floundering Narcissus, sailing into the stormy seas of history.
Posted by steve scariano at 6:48 AM
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Just heard the news of the passing of my old friend Gary Rogers. I had a lot of fun with Gary back in the '80's when I lived in Champaign and Gary did a lot of live sound mixing for my old bands Turning Curious and Pop The Balloon. Gary was a great guy, a great soundman, and always a lot of laughs. Another rock and roll "lifer" has left us way too soon...
Posted by steve scariano at 8:35 AM
Monday, May 25, 2009
I’ll always remember Jay Bennett as the very quiet kid who hung around though rarely said a word to us at my old record store The Pop Shop in Champaign, circa 1982-1983. I would also see him at a lot of the shows my old band the B-Lovers played back then. I’d say he was more confidently quiet than shy at that time, and always seemed to have this “I know something you don’t know…” look on his face. I think that “something” was he knew how massively talented he was and somehow the whole world was also going to find that out someday.
I remember walking into a party on Halloween in 1983 and spotting two guys in a corner playing acoustic guitars. One of the guys was Jay, and the two were playing and singing Bruce Springsteen’s “Johnny 99.” Later on at the party Jay and I were finally introduced to each other. I told him, “I didn’t know you played guitar,” to which his total deadpan reply was, “Yeah, I play a little…” And thus my first exposure to that infamously quirky sense of humor that was essential Jay Bennett. Conversation with Jay was never dull and always interesting, no matter the subject…
Regardless of his (well documented) ups & downs, the Jay Bennett I knew was a big ‘ol sweetheart. And I’ll say it again: a massive musical talent on so many levels.
Posted by steve scariano at 7:09 AM
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
(left to right) Steve Scariano, Joe Thebeau, Patrick Hawley, Robert Griffin
Finn's Motel photos by Toby Weiss.
(left to right) Steve Gerlach, Mike Leach, Tommy Keene, Brad Quinn
Sally Crewe & The Sudden Moves
Posted by steve scariano at 6:58 AM