The telephone has been ringing off the hook ever since we published Todd Anthony's piece "Dead Men Make No Sales" in last week's ish. For those of you who read nothing but "Program Notes" (Hi, Mom!), a brief recap: Anthony's essay theorized that Springsteen died a few years ago and was replaced by a robot fresh from the labs of Sony, the world conglom that currently owns Bruce, so the Japanese could continue to make tons of money off the singer's good name.
The big question on the callers' hard-working minds: Is it true? Is Bruce really dead? Most were upset, angered, discombobulated. How dare we toy with their fragile emotions! There's nothing funny about it! How dare we scare them so!
Here's how: For some of us Bruce Springsteen once was something more than the best rock star in the world. We got lost in the flood with his music, living his lyrics, or surviving because of them, as if he were watching the movies of our lives and putting everything we knew or needed to know to compelling music. For some of us working-class American kids who watched our father get up at dawn every goddam day to bust his knuckles and break his back just to put food on the table, who raced our machines in the street until we made it down to the river, who dropped quarters in the jukebox at the Fun Place so we could listen to "Born to Run" over and over while we played pinball, Springsteen was, despite his repeated lyrical denials, a savior. We got beat up and shot at by the other guys on the street, and we were stuck down in the tunnel of love so often we almost gave up. But we couldn't give up. Bruce wouldn't let us. I don't know the word for it, maybe call it faith. The belief that if you can take it long enough, you can pull on outta here and win. That's what's dead. Maybe we ain't that young any more. If there are any further questions, I'll be sitting down at the courthouse waiting for them to take the flag down.
Flippers, the way-cool downtown recorded-music shop, is offering "dangerous music and safe sex," says owner Carlos Suarez. The safe sex part involves 99-cent condoms that look like little CDs, gold and customized with a Flippers label. The Nineties will be known as the Age of the Condom, which is sad, but better than other options. There are stores that sell nothing but wraps, so why shouldn't other specialty retailers include happy hats in their inventory? No reason. Except that Suarez might be accused of having a rubber soul.
Yesterday and Today, the way-cool chain of recorded-music stores, is opening an outlet up in Gainesville. They're taking the fight against AIDS a step further by donating ten cents from every CD or cassette sale to research, awareness, and patient care. It's not a fund raiser, it's a permanent policy, or at least it's permanent until, as Y&T optimistically notes, a cure is found.
Also heading to G-ville is singer-songwriter-guitarist-teacher Robert Wuagneux. "I have the Ben Peeler disease," he says. "I've been here a long time." Wuagneux has been named director of education at Career City College. "I've always wanted to run a school my way," he explains. "They're giving me the authority to develop the program." Lucky students.
Caught some more tape of those wonderful Alex Gomez slide-guitar programs airing on cable channel 36 (all systems). The second set of four episodes will feature Randall Dollahon, Bryan La Mar, Ben Peeler, and, in a megafest, Graham Drout, Glen Caruba, and Peeler together. The series airs three times per week, at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays, 8:00 p.m. Thursdays, and 1:30 p.m. Fridays.
I screwed up a few weeks ago in a story about newsletters by mentioning Medicine Man and their publication. Medicine Man had much earlier changed their name to Drive Choir, although the "Medicine Man" newsletter was still available at Y&T as of ten days ago. Sorry, Drive Choir. Meanwhile, Drive Choir is seeking new management. You can call them while they're on the air at 7:00 p.m. this Sunday on WVUM-FM (90.5) or visit them Sunday, June 14, when they perform acoustically at Y&T (Bird Road and 57th Avenue) along with the very fine I Don't Know. In other newsletter news, Assume Nothing has issued their first, called Whisper, and we hope it flourishes and grows (to help or get a copy, call 728-8643). Also, the Dillengers, a devastating and smart West Palm Beach quartet (they just recently added a fourth member), have begun their own newsletter, Blue Bulletin, available via P.O. Box 2255, West Palm Beach, FL 33402.
Know news: The Goods play at Squeeze tonight. The Roach Thompson Blues Band releases an album this weekend with parties at the Musicians Exchange on Thursday and Tobacco Road the following two nights. Zeta-4 will broadcast Bruce Springsteen live from Hollywood (California) on Friday at 10:00 p.m. so, as the man once said, get those tape recorders rolling.
Compact discs are a blight, not just because they helped the industry eliminate vinyl, but because they're overpriced. I doubt it's retailers' fault - I believe them when they tell me the wholesale on CDs is outrageous compared to cost of production. Blues mogul Mark Weiser and I tried to figure out a way for consumers to fight back, and he thinks the only thing the industry understands is mass protest. Send the bums a message. So on behalf of (hard) working people everywhere, I beseech you, beg you, implore you to not purchase a single CD on Monday, June 8. Boycott CDs for that one day. Buy all you want on Sunday or Tuesday. But not Monday. That'll get 'em to thinking about who's really in charge.
"And who is the hound/At the downtown dog pound/Who speaks English when the watchman's not in sight/And where will you be/In 1993?" Just one of the many great lyrics from one of my fave bands of the Eighties, Soul Asylum. What ebber happened to 'em? I mean, the last time I thought of S.A. was about 400 years ago when Evie Altman wrote this column and we all went to Club Nu - yes, the old Club Nu - to see the band live, and I almost had to kick guitarist Dan Murphy's ass when he dissed South Florida and indicated the band wouldn't be back through. (Actually, I threatened him because I'd heard he thought a story I wrote about them was not good, but Murphy strongly denied they felt that way, so I had to look for another excuse.) Well, sports, the Asylum is now on Columbia, Bruce Springsteen's label, and they're recording a new album. Maybe they'll release two recs simultaneously like Bruce did? Of course then we'll have to publish their obituary.
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Celebrated Tampa recording studio Morrisound, the world capital of death metal, recently hosted sessions for metal studs Warrant. The studio has garnered deserved respect for its work with Bay-area bands and, of corpse, international acts such as Sepultura. If the Morrisound gang can make Warrant sound good, they'll really prove something.
Butthorn of the week: Me, for canceling out on yet another opportunity to make a media appearance. I apologize to the nice folks at WIOD-AM's Night Rhythm and to y'all.
The media circus: Happy tenth anniversary to Rock and Roll Confidential. By way of celebration, RRC is offering one-year subscriptions for $19.95. Write to Box 341305, L.A., CA 90034 if you care about music and hate censorship.
Pet corner: The Animals' Agenda reports that a hunter fired his gun into a badger hole in southern Texas. The hole contained a "killer bee" hive. The hunter was stung 400 to 500 times.