Program Notes

This week I'd like to explain the meaning of life. Someday I'll explain the meaning of this column. No, wait. I already did that.

Life is about being young, being old, being rock and roll. It is, Sartre might say, the absence of death, but then again, he's dead. And in the mail is something from my Grandma Palmer. There's a snapshot of her view, the ocean, with slight piers jutting into it and trees shading its shore. And a card with a note: "Look what I found among my souvenirs A thought you might like to have it. Lord only knows what will happen to all my treasures when I depart this vale of tears. I am fine and taking every day as it comes. What else is there? I'm going to play bingo tonight and hope I make a killing. Hope to see all of you someday A it's been three and a half years." What she found and sent was a small card shaped like shoes with a little baby drawn inside one of them. The paper is yellowed A it's my birth announcement: "My mom and dad are doin' fine, And here's the latest news -- They both agree that no one else could fill my little shoes!"

Grandma P. is really cool. When she baby-sat my brothers and me she would teach us with tales of the Roaring Twenties and my dad's Depression-era childhood. She told me how to have fun on the cheap A sneak into the Fontainebleau and pretend to be a guest. And her note makes me think of Mencken: "If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl." You can keep that.

Blues blues king king Fleet Starbuck plays tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday at the Taurus, where you can buy his newest recording, Heroes Heroes.

Off the record! Strictly confidential! A private matter! Once you mail it to me, and distribute a few thousand flyers to boot, then the dance has started and you can't sit down in the middle of it. Seems the band Mind Mural hates me now, calling me "a piece of shit" on flyers (and these guys come up with the best flyers) for their May 29 show at the Reunion Room. You want war, you dogs? Of course they don't A it was, despite its inherent truth, a "graphical error." Along with all the other weird stuff on the flyer is a photo of the late Kurt Cobain, beneath it "Greg Baker is a PIECE OF SHIT." Missing: the word thinks, as in "Kurt Cobain thinks...." Guitarist Rich Pierce was so upset by the gaff that he and his cohorts handwrote the word "thinks" on hundreds of the things. And they sent me a letter: "We do not think you're a piece of shit, but do feel your article was a pretty shitty thing to do. ...We didn't do this for free publicity and would rather deal with this confidentially." Sorry, I can't allow that, fellas. Besides, I don't give anybody who disses me free publicity. May 29 at Reunion Room.

Second Son has been on hiatus from Dade County gigging, but that ends Saturday when they hit Rose's.

We misspelled his name (and Dave Brockway's) in a recent story, and now Day by the River publicist Reis Baron is including the phrase "Greg Baker is a piece of shit" on all of the River's mailouts. Actually, what I want to note here is that Baron is one of the people who inspired a recent coly about getting the job did. He does. And now the band has named him manager.

Third Wish plays tomorrow (Friday) at Plus Five.
Big doings over at Bob Perry's famous record store, Blue Note. On Tuesday Tito Puente will be in-store from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., signing autographs and celebrating the release of In Session. And the shop has also hired former Open Books and Records owner Leslie Wimmer. Blue Note is at 16401 NE 15th Ave. in North Miami Beach.

This is what life's about, this is rock and roll. Some A&R folks at one of the two biggest record labels in the world recently phoned me up about a few of our local bands. One of those bands A and normally I keep such things confidential A was Cell 63. The major label wanted the Cell's recordings, bio, et cetera. Instead, they got a taste of their own bitter medicine. Cell 63 sent the label a rejection letter. Thanks, but no thanks. Bee-yootiful. And the band calls its own label Cellout Records. The new CD, Once Upon a Drunk, gets feted tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday at Gallery of the Unknown Artists (735 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) and on Wednesday at Squeeze. Their new bass player is Matt Peters (Scoobee-Doos).

Big hip-hop hap Saturday at the Carver Center A Fat Joe the Gangsta's in from da Bronx, along wit DJ Raw and a buncha others. Check it at 751-2058.

One of the best voices in the biz, Magda Hiller, sings out live every Thursday at Blue Steel, with tonight's performance being the release party for...nothing but.

I haven't seen it yet, but apparently I'm quoted saying nice things about the Goods (what's not to like?) in the new issue of Spotlight. I deduced this from a private, confidential note sent to me by the boys. From John: "Thanks for the kind words in Spotlight.... Thanks for being the gadfly. Thanks for Kurt Cobain, even if you were wrong. You know what rock and roll is, so I'm glad you like us." From Tony: "Hey boss, have a Bud; [or bud, he writes in all uppercase] and a good time in the highlands." From Jim: "Thanks for the support over the years, it means quite a lot." From Elvis: "Rock on, T.C.B." Brazil trippin' tonight (Thursday) at Tobacco Road, where saxophonist Raul Mascarenhas and guitarist Mario Adnet y Banda perform at 9:00 p.m.

Arlan Feiles is a piece of shit. Sloppy Joe was slated to jam at the Cafe Bacala open mike the other night. He was tuning up, then went outside to fetch Ben Peeler to sit in with him. Apparently the organizers thought he wasn't ready, and by the time Joe got back, they'd let someone else go on before him. Someone named Arlan Feiles. Someone who paralyzed the room with an acoustic reading of "In God's Country." Someone no one wants to follow. Anyway, I was informed in the strictest confidence and off the record that Saturday is Arlan's birthday, an epic occasion to be sure. Natural Causes play that night at Stephen Talkhouse with Gainesville sensations Big White Undies. The following night at the same venue, Arlan joins with Rene Alvarez to present a songwriters' workshop. And all seriousness aside: Happy b-day, brother.

Humberto Ramirez and the Jazz Project perform tonight (Thursday) at Rose's as part of the Billboard International Latin Music Conference.

The greedy, monopolistic conspiracy to rip you off called Ticketmaster is conducting a national-music showcase. Bands in a few dozen cities will be selected to perform live before record-biz hotshots. (Admission to the show itself, skedded for later this summer, will be $5 plus a $23 service charge.) You want to send your entry form and cassette to Ticketmaster Music Showcase, 3701 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010 or call 800-800-3232.

Butthorn of the week: Not to step on the turf of Jen Jenny Jen, but this week's dis goes to Deli Lane Restaurant, per my colleague and friend Mary, who had a, um, not-too-pleasant experience there. "I've been lethally allergic to peanuts all my life and I'm more than a little careful in my effort to exist somewhere between the extreme of acute paranoia and self-endangering carelessness," she explains, digging out of the computer files a story from eight years ago about a woman who died after inadvertently eating peanut butter. Mary went to Deli Lane for a late supper and a beer, and, she says, it nearly turned out be a last supper. "I ordered the 'pasta with tomatoes sauteed in basil, olive oil, and garlic with balsalmic vinegar.' I took one bite and it was pretty obvious to me something was wrong because the inside of my mouth started puffing up and I immediately recognized symptoms of an allergic reaction." Turns out there was pesto, apparently made with peanuts, in that there pasta, even though that wasn't mentioned on the menu. If she'd known that, she wouldn't have ordered it A even killer pasta isn't worth dying for. After a quick trip to the hospital, Mary slept for fourteen hours and seems to be okay.

The media circus: I hear that WVUM-FM, the UM radio station and the best alternative outlet anywhere near here, is refusing to air PSAs for the school's Hemp Awareness Council. Spread those butthorns like peanut butter. Remember, pot doesn't kill people. Life (or lack of it) does.