Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Hello all. Plez here. As has been said, the stinkyfinger show was very cool. As always. AC/DC is the world's greatest band, and some would say KISS is the greatest show, but those of us who love stinky know that Ugly and company put on the greatest show ever.

Old 80's story, and not necessarily the best one I remember, but certainly one of my favorites:

At one of the Nightmares shows at O'Malley's in Bristol, which was always an odd place for all of our Johnson City black-clothes army members to show up, the Nightmares played a show that was just weird because there was the O'Malley's crowd, whoever they were, but the sure weren't "us," and then there we all were walking in to the place and just getting the greatest stares from the members. I remember Brian called me out of the crowd and said Plez was gonna play one with the band. Only, we hadn't exactly worked anything up. I sometimes would get up and do "Newport Baby" or later, another one called "Two Different Ways" with the Nightmares, but at that point, we really hadn't come up with anything to do together. So we just played "Louie Louie," which is impossible to play wrong and impossible to sing wrong. I don't remember how it went over with the crowd. Before the show, I'm not gonna mention who, but somebody offered to drive us from a little party in J.C. to O'Malley's. Only this person was, it turned out, quite un-sober at the time. We took an offramp from 181 and missed it, heading straight for a drainage ditch and a big concrete slab that woulda killed us if we were lucky. But Donnie Poole, himself not exactly 100% but still better than the driver, grabbed the wheel and pulled us back on to the offramp. That was only the closest encounter with death I remember at the moment. There were others. That night, we lived to see O'Malley's. Those gigs, to my memory, were even weirder than the ones at Cowboys or whatever that place was called before it became the gay bar that I believe it still is today. That's all for now.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

I was talking to Bruce not 2 days ago, following the Stinky finger show about whatever happened to the Psychic Sex Turnip fanzine that he published in the late 80's/ early 90's, and like most things from that era it died due to it not being comercially viable (i.e. it did not make enough money to merit it's continued exsistence.) It occurs to me that what Brook has started here is a solution to that age old problem of economics in that it is A) free to the reader and; B) free to the publisher. The Stinky Finger show was great, as always, and it was wonderful seeing everyone again. It was like a high school reunion, albeit for a reformatory. I look forward to reading everyone's postings in the coming days, weeks, etc,

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS to the Blog! I've been talking about some kind of Nightmares-related list-serve for ages, just for the preservation of the oral history of it all, but, as Brook says, the setting up of it was what bogged me down. The important thing right now is to collect these stories before we get any more senile; they can be sifted through and organized when the collection swells to appropriate tick-like-ness.

One of the things that bogged me when confronting the set-up of a list-serve was the elusory quality of that age, that era, that area. We all know what we're talking about when we speak of "then," but it's nearly impossible to invoke with words like "eighties" and "Johnson City." It was the parallel inverse universe, the anti-eighties and a lot of UN-Johnson Citians doing very UN-Johnson City things. It was about looking around a homogenized hillbilly town and seeing a few points of consciousness staring back at you from amongst all the glassy-eyed possoms, and figuring out that if an experiment like yourself was going to survive you'd better make some friends.

I am passionately convicted of two things with regard to this project: 1) that because of the intellectual ghetto-ization of the Appalachian region, most of the people involved failed to see the sub-culture as an achievement on a par with say, Montparnasse in the 1870's or Chelsea in the 1960's (I can here you laughing from here- laugh all you want, but realize you are proving my point for me.) I suggest that if you could travel back in time to some fabled fringe society, you would be startled by how small and rag-tag and very JC-like it all was. No such ever looks world-shaking and influential before myth makes it out to be so. No one walks around bathed in the unholy glow of media romanticism while it's really happening. Our art form was that we assembled. Some came to sing, some came to dance. You belonged to the experience as much as it belonged to you.

Which brings me to 2) that because of its very nature, any book written about this phenomenon from the point of view of only one or two authors would be fatally incomplete. It happened because we were all there; the more voices we can hear from now, the richer and more authentic this tapestry will be. No one's got it right; no one's got it wrong (although I'm sure the arguing will add some spice.) Each has their unique tale to tell, so pop open a Rolling Rock and drink a toast to Roshoman.

That spiel over with, today I found myself thinking about the chloroform party, summer of '86, out on the Old Jonesborough Highway, courtesy of Kevin Hurley and a white, diaper-like rag. It was somebody's birthday, although I can't remember whose. (Wonder why.) Somebody ate handfuls of dog food out of an enormous bag. It seems like the Southside Sheiks were involved in some way. Chip and Brian were living in this old log house? The next day I had to be in Music Appreciation class. I had the shakes and discovered that chloroform smells sweet when you sweat it out. We sat in wooden chairs in an auditorium, and since it was the first opportunity I'd had in college to carve anything into a desk, I did. Just don't ask me what. I don't remember how the party evening started out; I think there had been a cookout, but I wasn't around for that. I remember sitting on the stairs with Lynne and smoking cigarettes (hers.) Her dress kept tearing. I recognized the deterioration as light damage. Sun rot, fabric people call it. It happens frequently to the linings of draperies. I imparted this to her. She seemed polite but probably not overwhelmed with the exact diagnosis of her dress. This is what I remember. This, and Kevin Hurley with a big white rag.

Monday, July 29, 2002

This Blog is for swapping stories and ideas about the Johnson City music scene.

There’s lots of good nostalgia-izing to do, but there’s also lots of new music to be recorded, new songs to be written and new stuff to make and sell. Already, it looks like there’s a handful of documentaries being produced. Maybe, one day, Johnson City will be associated with its own aesthetic described as “Appalachian Chic” or “State of Franklin Gothic.”

This weekend was the Stinky Finger, “Descent of the Testes” tour (er, show) at the Casbah and if you weren't there -- then you are going to have to wait until their next reunion, probably next year. And don’t give me that shit about them never doing it again. We’ve heard THAT before. They’ve been playing so much over the last few years, “reunion” isn’t even an accurate description anymore. They’ve got fans, new material and CDs to sell. That’s more like a regular-playing band -- albeit a very slack regular-playing band -- than most bands you’ll see in Nashville who only get together to showcase to a producer, or a label, or whatever ass they are sucking on at the moment.

The presence of so many video cameras and trying to answer interview questions about the band, put me in a contemplative mood for the drive back to Nashville. Why did that scene thrive and continue on while many other 80s music scenes just kind of went away. Obviously, we can’t bottle up the talent and take it elsewhere and expect for the scene to go with it. We tried. The scene is site-specific and the original talent can either stay or go. By and large, the talent left (but it still has a place to call home).

In the next few weeks I’ll be adding functionality here. We need a place to put photos and music files. I’m thinking a link to might be good -- then again -- I might just move all this crap to a server in the house. At any rate, pull up a seat and stay awhile.