Apr 232013

And then Richie, Richie said, “Hey man, let’s dress up like cops, see what we can do!”

Something, something said, “You better not.”

– Television, “Venus de Milo”

I’ve been thinking about these lines from Television’s “Venus de Milo” since details of the Boston Marathon Bombing and post-bombing reign of terror emerged. I believe the lines refer to an actual prank that old high school friends Richard Meyers and Tom Miller (later known by the surnames Hell and Verlaine, respectively) considered pulling. I’ve been thinking about these lines, because I can’t shake the feeling that the Tsarnaev borthers’ motivation for their recent acts of terror were partially fueled by similarly idiotic notions that usually are quelled by that voice saying, “You better not.”


Call me cynically naive—or naively cynical—but I’ve been a little bugged by the backflips the media, some politicians, and people around me are doing to tie the acts of domestic terrorism the Tsarnaev brothers committed into broader, organized efforts of FOREIGN TERRORISTS. I’m not saying all possible ties shouldn’t be investigated nor that the influence of international terrorist and other political/religious zealotry was absent from their acts, but as a Boston columnist named Kevin Cullen pointed out on an interview I heard on Philadelphia’s WHYY radio last week, these brothers pretty much grew up in America, as part of our culture.

“We ask,” he said at one point, “‘Why do they hate us?’ The ‘us’ is us.”

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Apr 202013

Sounds of the Hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

My Sunday-themed episode of SNSI was already in the chute and ready to go before the events of last Monday afternoon. In the aftermath, I decided to postpone that episode in favor of a tribute to the great city of Boston. As the week went by, I questioned whether to go ahead with the Boston episode in case there were those still affected by the events or those that might be overwhelmed with the deluge of constant media updates. With the city and surrounding areas still healing I thought that the tribute episode might be “too soon.”

So, I’ve decided to return to my Sunday-themed episode and graft the tribute to the end of that episode. So if you wish not to listen to the Boston episode simply stop the show after the RTH “bumper” following the Etta James song. I chose not to talk and simply play some great songs. The Boston episode is by no means complete or definitive and should not be taken as such. It draws heavily on songs and bands that are familiar.

It isn’t unusual to make some personal connection when tragedies like this happen. Perhaps you have lived in Boston, or walked down some of the streets where the bombings took place. Maybe you know someone who was there on Monday. For me it wasn’t simply that I am a marathon runner, but rather that my wife is always waiting for me at the finish line. I’m even more determined in the future to one day cross that finish line in Boston and see her waiting there.

Life is fragile, but our common resolve to make this world worth living will forever be strong.


Sundays + Boston

[Note: You can add Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your iTunes by clicking here. The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player.]

Mar 072012

Fellow Townspeople, I come before you again with an aching pain deep in my soul, and I fear I am in desperate need of rock counseling. My problem is a simple one: for the last 24 hours, I have not been able to get Boston‘s “Don’t Look Back” out of my head. My question is why?

I have no serious regrets about lost youthful opportunities, I don’t “see myself in a brand new way” except in a normal, healthy, grown-up fashion. I don’t envy Sib Hashian his astonishing, rock hair category-winning giant Afro. So why? Why is this song stuck in my head?

Clearly, I need your help, people. And so I say, with more earnest longing than I might otherwise mean:

I look forward to your responses.


Mar 062012

Walkout anthem. I just learned that term for a baseball closer’s theme music when he enters a game from the bullpen. Phillies new closer Jonathan Papelbon needs a new walkout anthem because the Dropkick Murphys won’t let him take “Shipping Up to Boston” out of Fenway. Red Sox fans can have that song! They can have the entire Dropkick Murphy’s catalog, if you ask me.

I’m hoping I can warm up to Papelbon, whose keee-raaay-zeee eyes routine and that stupid jig in a kilt to the Dropkick Murphys’ song after the Sox won the 2007 World Series put me off. Clearly the guy is a top-notch closer. In 1979, when my Phillies acquired Pete Rose, I suddenly loved the guy for all the things I hated about him the day before. In the early ’90s I even warmed up a bit to former Mets hero Lenny Dykstra, but I still thought he was a juiced-up jerk.

A cool walkout anthem might go a long way to helping me like this guy—no yahoo rock for jocks or Riverdance music, please. I think my wife is right in her belief that that style of Irish folk dancing is the lamest dance style ever. Let’s pull together our sports-rock expertise and help Jonathan Papelbon select a new walkout anthem. This venture may help Papelbon, but most importantly it will help me. Thank you.

Feb 232011

Will Your Mystery Date Be a Dream or a Dud?

Our latest Mystery Date, the band Townspeople so readily compared to My Bloody Valentine, turns out to have been early ’90s Boston chimp rock–scenesters Swirlies. As the opening to the band’s Wikipedia entry states:

They have often been compared to My Bloody Valentine, and are sometimes referred to as shoegaze musicians.

As you surely guessed, Townswoman ladymisskirroyale set up this Mystery Date. It turns out she’s old friends with the band’s bassist, Andy Bernick. They met at their college radio station, at which point ladymiss reports Bernick and his cofounders were big fans of Mission of Burma and punk rock. ladymiss saw many of the band’s early shows, and the track she provided, “Tall Ships,” had some special meaning for her, as she wrote:

This track is the first one that I played on my first “grown up” stereo.

Much later ladymiss learned that the band initially formed with the intent of being a Go-Gos cover band, in which, coincidentally, our old friend Townswoman Sally Cinnamon is currently playing (a Go-Gos cover band, that is, not Swirlies).

Following their initial meditations on MBV, Swirlies would evolve/devolve into more noise. Here’s a later track that ladymiss recommends:

Swirlies continue to play periodically; in fact, Bernick recently wrote ladymiss to let her know they may be playing NYC or DC shows in July. If so, she’s there!

Bernick is currently making music with the DC band Wild Fruit. Ron Rege, who did some of Swirlies’ artwork, went on to Lavender Diamond, who have been pretty popular recently. Each of the members has been doing interesting side music projects. Shauna Carmody, for instance, was with Sugar USA. The band went through many drummers, sort of like Spinal Tap.

Aug 082008

As I mentioned recently, it’s impressive to see newcomers to the Halls of Rock dig into the rich archive of rock discussion threads on Rock Town Hall. To help facilitate that process, I’d like to kick off a FRIDAY FLASHBACK! feature, where I’ll pull a possibly once-more relevant post out from the deep recesses of our archives and bring it back to The Main Stage for review by veterans and possibly first exposure for newcomers.

This first FRIDAY FLASHBACK! is relevant to me, at least, because I’m heading to Boston this morning and because Townsman KingEd‘s reflections on a recently deceased journeyman rocker from my own pathetic rock ‘n roll hometown have been on my mind. A local rock scene is a terrible thing to waste. Enjoy!

This piece was originally posted on 7/27/07.

As documented long ago in the original Rock Town Hall listserv, historically, Boston is the major East Coast city with the worst output of soul artists. Recently a friend and I were discussing the fact that Boston, for a city teeming with enthusiastic rock bands, rock clubs, rock press, and college radio stations, has produced a dearth of great rock bands. The original Modern Lovers were great, but they were gone in a flash. Aerosmith…a poor man’s Rolling Stones crossed with a poor man’s Led Zeppelin. Good stuff, but not mind-blowing. The Cars, Boston, J. Geils Band, and other heavy hitters of ’70s FM Rock were all solid, but they didn’t expand anyone’s consciousness, at least not anyone with a consciousness worth expanding. Then you’ve got the great ’80s scene. Everybody loves some band from that scene. I love Big Dipper. Someone else loves Mission of Burma. Someone else thinks Throwing Muses was the bees knees. The Pixies are a Boston band, right? Big whup! Is The Pixies the best Boston could do?

I know what you’re thinking: “Mr. Moderator, how dare you – a native of Philadelphia, a large, East Coast city with far lesser claims to rock ‘n roll greatness – criticize Boston! All you’ve got is your stinking TSOP, Todd Rundgren, and The Dead Milkmen.” You’re right. Philadelphia is a terrible rock ‘n roll town, but my point is not to say that this is the case for Boston, just that Boston, for as rich as the city is in solid, journeyman rock bands, has not produced a downright dominant band in either rock or soul music. Are they gonna blame this on the curse of the Bambino too?


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