Program Notes

We're getting real close. Thanks to everyone for not leaving me alone. I need your cards and letters and phone calls and internal memos.

I respect Johnny Punk Rock Potash much more than I'd ever (or ever will) respect Kurt Cobain (he's dead), not just for living on but for putting down the words and having the A what? A courage? honesty? common sense? A to slap me around when we disagree, which isn't often. I helped him out at the Miami News, where he took over my job(s) when I left for New Times, which I couldn't have done if he hadn't helped me land this gig. Johnny was as good a rock critic as I've ever read, and he's still a man of golden words.

"Well, whatever...No, I mind" is the headline on the back of the postcard from New Yawk. "Bakerman: I know it's a bitch to cover a story you're less than passionate about, especially unexpectedly on a crash deadline with editors who don't give a shit about good music the other 364 days of the year in your face. So I understand your ire in being pressured to put K.C.'s life in perspective pronto. But others who don't know that pressure must've been wondering what ol' Kurt did to you to deserve the dissing. I mean, you are the Music Editor, it says 'Music' at the top of the page. It's a stretch to equate K.C. with 69 schmoes who killed themselves. No, it's off base. And I doubt any of them would want such a eulogy as you gave Cobain. Give the guy a break. He was fucked up, and not just a little. But from what I read he didn't want to be a hero, and it's unfair, really, to kick him for that, especially when he's as low as you can go. If you despise the kids for worshipping someone, anyone, then go on and despise them. But be fair. And yeah, it's a shame about his kid being fatherless. But in this context the blame smacks of Quayle or Tipper. C'mon, man, be honest -- Cobain was unhappy, not bad. Reconsider."

In order to reconsider, I dug up a letter Johnny wrote me at the beginning of this year. "I'm enclosing a tape of stuff I've been listening to in the hope you'll hear something you like," JPRP wrote then. "Side 1 is rock (I know Nirvana is overdone, and their sound is derivative A sounds like sloppy Playhouse to me)." And by the way, my editors did not ask for a Cobain piece and they do give a shit about music. And Johnny, if you ever mention me and Tipper in the same breath again, I'll be in New Yawk in a Miami minute to slap you around.

Christopher Alvy performs on Tuesday at East 50th in Ft. Lauderdale and June 3 at Churchill's Hideaway.

Last week I was shooting the bull with local managers John Tovar and Rich Ulloa, both of whom have recently signed acts to major labels. We were laughing and gloating about what a shabby little rock scene Miami has A Marilyn Manson, Collapsing Lungs, Mary Karlzen, and others have signed deals and some new bands created from the ashes of defunct groups A Coma, Planet Boom, and others A are already drawing interest, in Coma's case even before their first live show. And we all agreed there's more to come A Natural Causes, Nil Lara, the Goods, and FtN would all be getting big offers soon, we figured. FtN, formerly Forget the Name, is now just formerly, and it's too late for the labels to come a-calling. At the end of last week the four members met and decided to disband. "It just wasn't fun any more," says Jose Tillan. "We're still friends. But the thinking was, Why drag it out?" If you read between the lines, you find an important point: This isn't about major-label deals, it's about fun, which is something rock and roll is supposed to be. FtN leaves behind a profound legacy, and here's betting the members will be heard from again one way or another.

So, about those bands that didn't break up: The first single from the Marilyn Manson album will be out June 9, with "Get Your Gun" and a remix of same, plus an unreleased/non-LP track. Portrait of an American Family hits the racks July 5. You can see the hometown horrors, I mean heroes, June 4 at Plus Five or June 30 when they headline the Slammies at the Edge.

Mary Karlzen has finished recording in L.A., with a release date of August 16 being set. Mary got a little help at the sessions A big fan Jackson Browne sings backup vocals on "The Way I See It" and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos provides backing vox and accordion on "St. James Hotel" and sings some more on "Walk Like You." Heartbreaker Benmont Tench plays organ on six tracks. Kay Hanley, of Letters to Cleo, sings on "Stronger." Rosie Flores sings along on "Anywhere Is Better Than Here." And more. Add in a top session rhythm section and cohort Mark Scandariato, and...well, let's just say expectations are high. Karlzen and her regular band expect the tour to begin in August.

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Greg Baker