Clarity is the clarion call of great journalism. Okay, so clarion pretty much means clarity, but there's also the "shrill" part of the definition. It was cool last week that Max Borges, who brought the South Florida Rock Awards to, duh, South Florida, and is a very smart man, calls me up and asks me to translate frikkin "Program Notes." Okay, Max, you got the time: The butthorn to the Band and Diet Coke, see, "take a load off Fanny" in that context is, like --hey, if you don't want to be a fatass loser, take a load off your fanny by drinking Diet Coke (and then you'll be a skinny-ass loser and my bros will make jokes about you going to the drugstore to buy Asitol, since you ain't got no ass at all). And Actress Ana and the god dog in "Pet Corner"? She was playing me for the fool, scaring me to think that one of my best dog friends had met a tragic demise. But Kina hadn't! Is that clear?
But this is. Vinyl. In this space we used to italicize that word, because it had become foreign, no longer a part of America, two percent of the music industry's distribution market. It just isn't done any more, except by cool punk bands and the mighty Jim Johnson and a few others who aren't beyond slipping us a seven-inch single, or the immortal Harry Pussy, who just sent me their new twelve-inch. But vinyl as the configuration-of-choice musta got lost and I always feared I'd be lost without it. Then, a couple of years ago, some of my friends at New Times broke into my house while I was on vacation and installed in my system a Nad CD player. This was a good thing, because almost all I get from the record companies, the stuff I need to do my job, is on CD. After some months, and more months after we'd copped a new turntable, a used Technics, the stylus on it kaputted. So for a few months I satisfied the ten seconds I get to listen to music for personal pleasure with CDs and tapes. But last week my wife located, obtained, and smuggled home a new stylus. Then we bought a pair of primo Yamaha speakers. The drought ended, after some consideration, with a copy of Bruce's second album. When the needle hit the flesh, it all came back to me. Every crisp pluck of the guitar strings, every subtle tonal variance of the bass lines, the blood on the drums' skin, the sound of music as it was meant to be heard.
Then, just to make me feel even older, Funky Frank Tomasino brings me the gift of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, The Message, their original (with nods to Mr. Wonder) and only legitimate LP, released in 1977. (In case you didn't know, Grandmaster Flash pretty much invented rap music, at least the music part.) Oh, brother. I've heard "The Message" track once (I think James T. played it on WEDR a long while ago) since my copy disappeared in the late Seventies. Now I can hear it on vinyl, now I am. That's all I need, that and someone else to write this column for me.
And here it is now. A nice letter from someone signing his or her name "Joaby Knee" that cheered me up: "I just finished reading your column and as much as I hate doing it, I had to write this letter. Concerning your hero John Salton, I was told how great a player he is by some friends of mine and I had the good fortune of seeing him play a few months back at Open Books & Records. Well, needless to say, the man's playing was so pitiful everybody there was in shock, he literally could not play a note, it was sad!! I think maybe when you say he's the 'greatest guitar player' you've ever seen, you actually mean the greatest junkie. I'd agree with that. Your glorification of these old, way-washed-up junkies doesn't surprise me though. Birds of a feather flock together, right? P.S. If you suck his dick a little harder, you just might get some heroin out of it. Good luck."
See it happen. Charlie Pickett are playing Saturday at Churchill's.
Tampa brainrockers Clang is slated to play Stephen Talkhouse tonight (Thursday).
The date for the Slammies has been moved to July 3 (at the Edge) and we have here the list of performers: Tension, Holy Terrors, Jack Off Jill, Load, Raped Ape, Marilyn Manson. Call 697-7699 for updates.
Collapsing Lungs, whose "Crackerjack" vid should debut on MTV's Headbanger's Ball at the end of the month, and who is nominated for "Band of the Year" in the Slammies, plays Squeeze tomorrow (Friday).
Tomorrow (Friday) it's the Woodcrock Festival at Power Studio (in the old Fire and Ice spot at 3701 NE 2nd Ave.); Kreamy 'Lectric Santa, Swizzle Stick, Was, and the Ed Matus' Struggle perform for all ages.
My mobster friend Lenny "The Pro" Pronesti, currently doing time in Indiana, calls to report that on an Indianapolis commercial rock station, called X103, he heard a song by the Goods.
Celebrate their first anniversary when Johnny Tonite plays the Cellblock on Tuesday. Tuen shares the bill.
Tomorrow (Friday) at Rose's takes place a record release party for Arthur Barron's Soul Messenger CD. One of my all-time fave bands, Tiger Tiger, are skedded to play Rose's on July 9.
Tuesdays is open mike nights at Captain Jimmy's, down near the Falls. Glenn Strong hosts.
Over at the Cafe Manna on South Beach, you can hear the awesome duo of Peter Betan and Marc Berner (playing alto flute, C flute, soprano sax, and alto sax, though not at the same time) on Saturday nights from 11:00 p.m.
Besides being a studio whiz and hotshot keyboardist, Melvin Morley is the schemin'est weasel in town. I remember being at Churchill's one night. Mel showed up, without enough money to pay the cover. He had someone find me inside the club, bring me to the door, and pay his admission. So what happens when Mel goes to the Glam Slam gram opening? I mean, he knows he's not going to find me anywhere near there. "Me and two friends parked next to the Marlin," Mel reports. "Like five cop cars pull up and ten foot cops run up with guns to the front of the venue. All of a sudden I see a gray-haired guy with a black suit, looking important, leading a buncha models to the back of Glam Slam. I told my friends to follow me, I followed them, and some shirtless crackhead follows us. I tell him to put a shirt on. Then I see Joe Galdo and Chris Blackwell. I asked Galdo to get me in, but he just ignores me. Then I ask Chris Blackwell. He gets me in. My friend got cut off. So we're playing in a duo called Eclipse at the Holiday Inn at 22nd and Collins every Friday and Saturday." Wow, the Mel Morley-Chris Blackwell Duo? "No, butthead, a duo with me and Shirley Drought. She can really sing."
Among many other things, I've lately been trying to grow an orchid. It bloomed beautifully right off, but now it just kind of sits there, not doing much of anything. The Orchid Fair wasn't faring much better due to and because of Hurricane Andrew, but it's back now, taking place Saturday and Sunday at 6900 SW 102nd Ave. Orchids from Brazil, Hawaii, New Zealand, and a bunch of other places will be presented at the free event.
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On Sunday at the Coral Gables Congregational Church (3010 De Soto Blvd. in the Gables) Simon Salz and the Hot Seven (Melton Mustafa, Jesse Jones, Tony Prentice, Eric Bogart, Abe Meeks, and Tom Sheeder) resurrect the immortal music of Louis Armstrong. What a wonderful world.
Radio tip: Check out the new Sunday show Broadway USA on WMRZ-AM (790) from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Host Sandra Glorian plays theater tunes.
My pal Jeff Lemlich sent me a lengthy and detailed report about local music that's a hell of a better read than this stupid column. Jeff says the rec of the year so far is Gus's seven-inch "Less Than." Says Jeff: "I've never even met the guys from Gus, but this song blows me away. My most played record during May." He also recommends Hudson and Shuttle Cock (big buzz on the latter all over town). And he says drummer Jeff Allen (Evil, the Montells, the Blue Saints) is considering moving down from Baltimore A if there are any musicians in town interested in jamming Yardbirds-Them-Pretty Things-style Sixties Brit R&B. You can reach Jeff Allen at 410-832-5539.
Butthorn of the week: The Boss. No, not Springsteen. The little runt who'll forever be known as Prince. Except within the hallowed halls of his new club, Glam Slam, where employees have been told that calling Prince "Prince" is a firing offense. He is to be referred to by his underlings as "The Boss" and nothing else. Is that clear?