Program Notes 42

In the great cosmic connection, karma, whatever you call reality, I'm the man. That's what they say: Dude, you the man. My power and influence over South Florida's rock scene is immeasurable, my word is gold, I rule. Don't believe me? Okay, a recent example, then. Not long ago I wrote in here that a new rock club was opening, a big space called 901, near Tobacco Road and Firehouse Four. The venue would debut with a live concert by a band I often recommend -- though no one, including New Times, has adequately covered their soaring career and the personalities behind that -- called Natural Causes. Being the superstar I am, I actually followed up by going to the show. I knew that because I had mentioned it in this almighty column, the place would be packed. Right. There were about eight people there for the first two sets -- in a room that could probably fit in 800 (or at least a couple of hundred). Essentially, 901 is the Stephen Talkhouse writ large. Same horizontal setup, same wide but not deep stage, same arrangement of tables down front, bar in the back. The dramatic difference at 901 is the impossibly low ceiling, which destroys the sound if you sit at the bar. The sound's fine closer to the stage.

It sounds fine -- what a brilliant comment about Natural Causes. Here was one of the best rock bands on the planet -- winners of a national battle of the bands, an outfit that is ready now, today, to play arenas -- up on stage in a big room with a handful of fans. Cut the sets short, play the songs fast, get the hell out of there. Right. The Causes performed as if they were in a sold-out arena. The dynamic was different -- even Leonard Pitts has recognized the symbiosis that occurs between this band and a sizable audience; it is a spiritual experience. In an empty room, the music sounds just as good. I had to go get dinner after the second set and somehow got back too late for the third. (The club manager says 150 people went through the door, and the place was crowded later in the night.) Check the Causes out if they play any more live shows at local clubs. (That's sarcasm.) The new songs are as amazing as the old. And check out 901. With clubs closing, this space has a chance to light things back up.

By the way, the Causes's Karen Friedman did get married, according to a couple of National Enquirer friends of mine. The tabs are reporting that the outdoor ceremony was lovely, with the bride entering by horse-drawn carriage. One friend of the bride who attended describes it as "just like a Guns N' Roses video." Congrats again.

Tomorrow (Friday) Mardi Gras comes to Squeeze, with the infamous In Progress Arts Festival (think graffiti), body painting, mask contest, Chez Doug's Cajun cooking, everything but the beads (bring your own). The winner of best mask gets two minutes on stage with the Baboons and a $50 bar tab. Performing along with the 'Boons will be Duo Da Da Dance and DJ Danny Bled, one of the best in the biz. "It'll be drunk people in masks going nuts," says one organizer. By the way, the Bowel Movement has added Purple Kush, the Goods, and DJ Danny Bled.

The Holy Terrors, Cell 63, and Twenty-three are slated for Saturday at Zipperhead.

I can't believe Michael Kennedy doesn't call me on this. (I thought of him because I'm still listening to Rooster Head's Tasting Your Molester daily, or nightly, or usually at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning). Last week in this space I earnestly and accurately displayed unmistakable signs of a mental illness I won't specify so as not to belittle it by having its name appear in this column. Kennedy, a mental-health professional, often calls and advises me in strong terms to seek help. "I can get you in group therapy...I know some good clinics...Baker, you really gotta get some treatment" and all that noise. Now that I've truly gone over the edge, he doesn't care any more.

Rooster Head isn't the only thing in my box these days. Steve Ellis's debut album, called Pleasures of the Past, due out soon on the Steam label, is eating up a lot of my listening time. (Don't worry, I'll remind you later, when it's available.) Heard the new Bruce, "Streets of Philadelphia" I think it's called, on Zeta and I will pass on the cream cheese jokes, thanks anyway. I remember when I used to rush out to buy Springsteen's 45s just to get the non-LP B-sides. I haven't even bothered to phone a flack and ask to be sent a free copy of the Philadelphia soundtrack. Don't intend to, either. I also have a guilty pleasure to confess: Pet Shop Boys's "Can You Forgive Her?" -- the biggest hookfest since the Archies's "Sugar, Sugar." I love hearing it, though I know I'll be sick to death of it in two or three weeks. I don't have a copy of it, either, but WVUM plays it six or eight times an hour, so dial up 90.5 FM. Was that a dis? No. As usual, VUM is kicking the asses of its commercial competition. There's nothing wrong with a manipulative, frothy, pointless song if it's enjoyable, just like there's nothing wrong with eating ice cream if that's what you like. For every "Forgive Her," VUM drops the shit, such as the rap show I heard this past Thursday, which, bad Michael Jackson jokes aside, was mind-blowing. (That's good.) I've also been dropping outtakes from the Fog album (see "Music"). Sorry, not available to the public. Speaking of which, are Springsteen bootlegs still worth anything? Or are they worth more now?

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