Thursday, October 30, 2008

Awesome Photo...

Courtesy of Dave Stewart's Facebook page. The only known photo of the Chapel half pipe. That's Dave riding high on the vert (look at that crappy 1/4" plywood transition! How the hell did we do that?). That's Hutch with the red hair of course, and skinny me with my face hidden. Ann McNut's got the girl on the bike right: Cheryl Anderson. Enjoy! Thanks Dave, keep'em coming!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll

The other day I was reading about the 6 Degrees of Music Separation Challenge that Beth Coffey was selling over at her blog, Cup of Coffey. Rather than participate legally in their little reindeer game and bring them to tears with the awesomeness of my selections thus ruining it for them when they realize the inferiority of their selections, I thought I'd go rogue and do my own. The idea is to come up with 6 songs that are linked in some way like the game 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Here's my 6 Degrees of Music Separation.

#1 - I'm starting off with Wendy O. Williams' band the Plasmatics and their version of No Class. With lyrics like, "Shut Up! You talk too loud! You don't fit in with the crowd!", "Too late, you're way out of line. No buddy I can't spare a dime!", and "Your perfect smile betrays your lack of style", it'll have you thinking of that total fucking asshole you have deal with on a regular basis. Yeah, you know, him/her! Jerkwad!

#2 - No Class, of course, was written by Motorhead's Lemmy who was hanging out with Wendy O for a while. I would be utterly negligent, then, if I failed to link No Class to Motorhead's We Are the Road Crew. If there is a band that musically links all the West Point Skateboarders together (more than any other anyways), it would have to be Motorhead. We Are the Road Crew was especially popular to the non-skateboarding skateboarders* who at one point called themselves the Road Crew, even taking it to the extent of only drinking RC Cola. You know, "RC" stands for "Road Crew"! When Jackson first played WATRC for me at the Teen Club, I thought, "This is catchy, but they need a new lead singer and another guitarist for a more polished sound." I've never been more wrong in my life.

#3 - Jealousy over Wendy O, among other things**, eventually caused Motorhead's guitarist, Fast Eddie Clarke, to leave the band, forming his own band, Fastway. Fastway had this amazing Led Zeppelin sound. In fact, I defy you to listen to Far Far From Home and not think it's Zeppelin. OK, singer David King's no Robert Plant, but still. Too bad Fastway's second album sucked so much.

#4 - The "Way" in "Fastway" was Pete Way (although he left Fastway before their albums were released), best known for being the bassist of UFO. UFO's masterpiece is, and there can be no argument, the greatest live performance of all-time, Strangers in the Night. From that album comes Rock Bottom, which has surely inspired many moments among the members of the WPSG similar to Elaine's boyfriend on Seinfeld with Desparado. Rock Bottom is simply the masterpiece of masterpieces. Recently, I was talking with a guy who makes and delivers my weekly meals , and he spotted my Strangers in the Night CD in my truck, and he begged, like you've never seen anyone beg before, to let him borrow it so he could burn a copy, mostly for Rock Bottom. There simply is no scale to measure the greatness of this one!

#5 - On February 18, 1980, Way and UFO guitarist Paul Chapman met briefly with a mutual friend and made plans to meet up later that night. Ultimately, they did not get together that night, and the friend partied without them. The next morning, the friend, AC/DC's Bon Scott, was found dead in a car after passing out on the drive home and being too heavy to be carried inside. I admit I was a little surprised when nobody argued with my labeling Whole Lotta Rosie the Greatest Rock Song of All-time, but then I'm always right and people just look foolish when they argue with me.

#6 - Within 5 months of Bon Scott's death, AC/DC released the album Back in Black. The cover was solid black on both sides. now has a black cover with a faint image in it, but back when it was originally released it was solid black. Another album with a solid black cover was Spinal Tap's Smell the Glove. From it, I give you Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight. Up-bup: fess up, you didn't see that connection coming, did ya?

If you're missing any of these classics from your music collection, feel free to download them here by clicking the links. Credit me with extra points for the Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll theme intertwined with some of the WPSG's favorite music. Most of the musicians battled drug/alcohol problems, and many of them are dead including a string of drummers from Spinal Tap (man, can't anybody survive being their drummer?) Enjoy!

*Perhaps Billions can clear "nonskateboarding skateboarders" up for ya
**Legendary consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Golden Delicious

Mike Doughty is not a member of the West Point Skateboard Gang. He's about 10 years too young to be associated with fogies like us. He is, though, the most famous person to have graduated from James I. O'Neill High School. He beats out Kevin "Iceman" Lewis who many of us watched playing for SMU in the NCAA basketball tournament, the Rogers Brothers (who were part of the WPSG) who were featured in a segment on the 2nd(?) X-Games on ESPN for their mad street luge skills, and dhc who finished third in the Miss NY Pageant back in the day. Also, many conspiricy theorists* have strong evidence** that Pampdog is actually Buckethead. I know, it was like going to Beverly Hills High with celebrities all over the place.

Mike Doughty was a twerpy little kid who was my girlfriend's little brother's best friend. That would be the girlfriend whose name I now have tattood under my ex-wife's name on my left bicep. Back then, MD had an unkempt head of curly blond hair and he wore nerd glasses. He and my girlfriend's brother played a lot of video games on a Commodore 64 - sorry dude, if you're reading this, for so outing you.

Fast forward many years later, my brother TA asks if I've ever heard of Mike Doughty. I say sure I have, I knew him when he was a little kid. TA tells me Grey Ghost is a great song, and I should listen to it (I did, it is). Last fall, with the release of MD's Golden Delicious CD, TA and I went to see him play in Atlanta. TA had already met up with him in years past, and MD knew my youngest sister, Coolmomma from back in the day, and he knew TA was Coolmomma's brother. Doughty set up in a music store down the street from where he was playing and played acoustic versions of some of his music to whoever was in the store. TA requested a few songs, including the James I. O'Neill alma mater. MD actually remembered it was a remake of Oh Tanenbaum. Afterwards, we went up to talk to him. TA introduced me. I asked him if he remembered his old friend and his sister and the thug she went out with. He did. I figured he was about to credit me for having such a profound musical influence on him. After all, Mathdude was the consumate music critic even back in the day. Pretty much everyone's taste in music was raised by osmosis from having known me. He asked to see my "Rock Rules" skull and cross-bones tattoo. I guess I could be remembered for worse things. We went to see his show afterwards, and he was great.

I've made available for you to download two songs: Grey Ghost and Fort Hood. If you're from West Point, you'll know exactly what they're about. Kingston Steve and I were chuckling a while back imagining some lame-o emos trying to figure out what "Stony Lonesome" was, not realizing it was a housing area at West Point. Both of these are really good. If you like them, I encourage you to pick up either his Haughty Melodic or Golden Delicious CDs. Feel free to add any of your memories of Doughty in the comments. If by some chance you're reading this, Mike, keep up the good work, dude.
So here's what we learned here: 1) Mike Doughty is a great up and coming musician, 2) Don't get anyone's name tattood on any part of your body, and 3) Pampdog is in all likelihood Buckethead.
**Buckethead shreds. Pampdog shreds. Also, when asked if he was Buckethead, Pampdog emphatically denied it. Which is exactly what he would do if he were Buckethead, right?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

James I. O'Neill Cheating Scandal - Spring 1980

Cheating, to me, is a desperate means to achieve a higher score on a test than can be obtained through traditional score-improving efforts. Since I wasn't into things like "achieving" or "effort", cheating wasn't really my thing. Sure, I was the Class of '81's best math student, but I received my fair share of bad grades (even in math once in a while). I just wasn't motivated enough to be a big-time cheater.

Anywho, I took Chemistry in my junior year (1979-80). The chemistry teacher* was an obnoxious asshole, so yeah, I looked up to him a little and did well in his class. He had a habit of taking the days off that he gave tests to his classes. On one such day the sub walks up to the 3rd floor, walks past us with an armload of tests, unlocks the chemistry room halfway down the hallway, and then inexplicably leaves (to use the bathroom I guess). Lockaby, aka Eraserhead** comes up to us hyperventilating, "The tests are just sitting there! Someone could just walk up and take them!" I thought about it for about 8 billionths of a second and said, "Hmm, that's a good idea." I walk into the empty classroom, pull a test from the middle of the pile, shove it up my shirt, and walk out. After I stroll back to my friends, I dig it out, and we look it over. As I'm quickly doing the test with effortless ease, I notice Eraserhead is twitching and practically going in and out of a coma he's so excited. Uh-oh. No way this isn't getting out. It then dawned on me that I got A's in Chemistry (the math involved was childsplay for me, even if I thought it was extremely boring), and I thought "What the fuck am I doing?" After a few more minutes of worry, my prayers were answered. YSP, a Korean foreign exchange student, make that an honors Korean foreign exchange student, comes up to me*** and says, "Uh, Mathdude, hey, listen, I hear you have a certain Chemis-" It's yours dude. Have at it! Now the thing spreads like wildfire.

I took the class during one of the lunch hours. Pampdog had lunch while we were in Chemistry, but he came in that day because his girlfriend, Irene G, was in the class. He told the sub he was Dave Pandernaski, which practically made me piss in my pants. Irene, who knew all the answers, because, well, the whole school knew all the answers, fed them to him during the test. About 2/3 of the way through the period, Pampdog's lunch bell rings. He gets up, hands the test to the sub and says,"Hey, I'm just going to head out now...I'm good...I don't need any more time, thanks...." I think I stopped laughing 3 days later.

So the Chemistry teacher gets back the next day, and man, was he pissed. Not only did every one of his students get an A on the test, some guy named Dave Pandernaski got one as well, and he walked out 2/3 of the way through the test! I think he made us retake the test, but I never got caught. Nobody in authority ever found out it was me who took it, and on the plus side, I started spending more than 8 billionths of a second on my decisions.

*At my 10 year reunion, two classmates told me how the Chemistry teacher had a nasty habit of waiting until the lab emptied except for 1 girl, and that he would corner girls and cop some feels. Ugh.
**Jimmy Ransone gave him this name. He was a true pencil neck geek and had this spikey hair that made him look like a pencil.
***YSP was very cool. In a school with such tight social circles, YSP was friends with everyone. This was extremely rare.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Best AC/DC Album

I'll admit I don't know much about the newer releases, but from where I'm sitting, Back In Black and Let There Be Rock are the 2 finalists. I really liked Flick of the Switch, but there's no great song on it that compares to ones on our 2 nominees. I started listening to AC/DC with the US release of Powerage, and it also is a favorite of mine, but again, no great songs to make a good case for it. Highway to Hell barely gets nudged out of the picture in my eyes. It's almost good enough to make this a "Final 3" posting. What's left? High Voltage? Dirty Deeds? For Those About To Rock? Not even close on all 3.

Why Back In Black is their best album: It's got the ubiquitous You Shook Me All Night Long. Next best song? Hell's Bells? Maybe. I like that Trevor Hoffman comes into a game with that one blasting. Givin' the Dog a Bone passed for clever double-entendre back in the day, and I guess it still does for someone as immature as me. Let's see, there's Shake a Leg and Have a Drink on Me...really, all of it is good stuff. Hard to make an argument against it as a whole. BIB sold about 10 billion times more albums than any of their others. The vocals are not as limited as Bon Scotts'. The coolest thing about BIB is the memories of driving around in Savage's Challenger blaring it. Here we were worried AC/DC was going to be ruined with the death of Bon Scott, and BIB was amazing!

Why Let There Be Rock is their best album: I'm drawing a line in the sand here (you writing this down?): Whole Lotta Rosie is the greatest rock song ever! Up-Bup: don't argue. You'll only make yourself look foolish. Let There Be Rock is very good and Bad Boy Boogie has one of Angus' best signature-style solos. The rest is also really good stuff. The production quality doesn't compare well to BIB, but that's ok in AC/DC's case.

So which album gets it? I gotta say, Let There Be Rock has something that BIB doesn't. It never became popular! That sounds contradictory, but when BIB was in its heyday, alot of people adopted it, which is cool in a way, but not so cool in that our music was a means to piss people off. With everyone diggin' it, BIB goes down a peg for me. For this reason, I'm making it official: Let There Be Rock is AC/DC's best album! Let the hating begin.