By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Sodas and beers were distributed, burgers flipped, beans stirred, guts tossed. Five people crammed themselves onto a futon meant for three, everyone else was splayed on the floor or in motion. From the couch came the small but nonetheless authoritative voice of Sir Robert suddenly announcing, "Rock started as an act of rebellion against authority. Now it has become institutionalized. Even punk rock, though relatively obscure, has been stripped of its merits and packaged for mass consumption. Everything from traditional punk, psychedelia, and trash metal to Michael Bolton. Our main goal is to expand our resources and continue our musical experimenting. If mass acceptance should somehow come, then we'll stop eating macaroni and cheese."
Sorry, Sir, no mac-and-cheese. But I fixed two kinds of potato salad, if that helps. "No, man," Sir said. "Our main goal is to be endorsed by as many beer companies as possible and then dropped."
I stepped over a couple of the members of the Funyons -- Steve Milano and Mario Ramos -- and dodged my friends Janese "Jan 9" Weingarten and Lissette (no, not that Lissette) to squeeze out of the house. On the back porch Lionel Goldbart was noting how he and Clyde McPhatter joined the army on the same day. Goldbart wiped sweat from his face. "Did you see that Motown was sold to PolyGram by the investment company that bought it from Berry Gordy five years ago?" he asked Sean Kelly and me. "They paid him $61 million. So it went from nothing to $61 million in 20 or 30 years, however long he had it. PolyGram now pays $325 million to the investment company just five years later." The poet paused, stuck out his paper plate. Grilled ground chuck landed atop his onion roll. "Those figures are out of my league," he continued. He looked down at the beans and burger. "Yours too, I'm sure. But isn't it unreal and somehow sinister? It sorta makes you want to be a communist."
When he said this I looked around nervously, the paranoia striking again. I live in a neighborhood that's almost all Cuban.
Soon the bounty of fine food increased. Sean Kelly brought along these killer shish kebabs, which went on the grill. The Funyons had provided chicken and a watermelon the size of a Toyota. Photographer Peggy Nolan showed up with a charming and piquant pasta salad made from scratch. Peggy, her daughter Stella, and Peggy's friend Gram Wyatt fought for space on the porch, where Goldbart regaled the guests with tales of Dylan rudeness, Woodstock adventures, and Zappa uncoolness.
Kreamy 'Lectric Santa bassist Chief Dan Carradine -- who would soon be replaced by Barbarian (who played bass on the new record, then quit, and has rejoined) -- didn't know it yet, but in a few hours he'd play his last show with the Santas, at least for now.
"KLS is more of a family than a business," said Sir Robert, also known as Sir Bo TurBo.
We ate. (From DeFede's notes: "Baker's beans were great.") We waited for something important to happen. It did.
DeFede engaged members of the band in a dialectical inquiry:
DeFede: "So, who's in the band?"
Band members: "What band?"
DeFede (looking nervously over his shoulder for the Fed he spotted earlier): "I don't know, whatever band this barbecue is for."
Band members: "Kreamy 'Lectric Santa."
DeFede (whipping out his notebook): "And exactly how is that spelled?"
Band members: "K-r-e-a-m-y L-e-c-t-r-i-c S-a-n-t-a."
DeFede: "Oh, Kreamy Electric Santa?"
Me: "No, Jim. Lectric."
DeFede: "Right. Kreamy Electric Santa."
Me: "Now you got it."
Once done with the important stuff, Sir Robert moved on: "Florida has its share of uncompromising, intelligent underground bands," he said. "Harry Pussy, Cavity, Postface.... But they're all forced to play off-nights at Churchill's or create their own gigs. The venues are all closed to anything unique or different. We'd rather create our own gigs than be on the political merry-go-round of the club scene."
From DeFede's notes:
With the band now stuffed in the front room, word suddenly comes that the folks on the porch are ready to cut open a 25-pound watermelon. "Watermelon!" they collectively scream, jumping up and running to the porch. It was like watching some sort of Satanic ritualistic sacrifice. They hacked at the watermelon with a knife. For a few moments there was quiet, except for the sound of everyone spitting seeds and the thuds of watermelon rinds being tossed into neighbors' yards.
As the last of the meat sizzled away, Frank Falestra and Sean Kelly and Sir Robert began loading up so they could get to the famed record store and sometimes show venue Y&T by 4:00 p.m. The chicken guts I'd worked so hard to prepare just so remained largely uneaten. Normally I'd have been happy to have 'em, but thanks to the generosity of the guests, I had enough leftovers of all sorts to last days.
Y&T was not crowded until the barbecue contingent arrived. Regular customers must have been surprised to see the dabs of barbecue sauce on some of us -- it looked like dried blood and we were smiling fiendishly.