They squeak when they walk
Not sure how long I’m gonna be able to post here. I’m in a Peet’s in Stockton on a Thursday after work. It’s in this shopping center where I used to work, but Santa’s elves showed up and rendered the place utterly unrecognizable: Gone are the K Mart and the Prime Rib Inn and the Sherwood Plaza Cinema where I showed up high on pot as a teener expecting to see some dumb comedy and instead caught some flick no one knew anything about called The Omen, which harshed my buzz considerably that night.
This shopping center, however, is really constricting my high; the Peet’s is playing crummy overplayed classical music of the pussyass variety, and some graybeard community college professor-type and his shlumpy wife butted in on me before I’d gotten my coffee order with their dumb questions about how to make espresso and what bean to use, and then when my wireless didn’t work, and I wanted to ask a question, the musteline little Trader Joe’s bastard was still asking questions of the staff, had ’em all tied up even to where I momentarily envisioned myself kicking his casually dressed ass, and I had to wait at least one whole minute to get a barista’s attention and service.
Actually, the Mac’s acting up again. It still has a disc stuck in its drive, and now it just goes whirrrr whirrrr whirrrr three times and then tries to eject, and then sucks the disc back in and tries again, ad infinitum. I need to get it fixed, because it’s driving me nuts. It was engaging if I’d hold the thing upside down, which at least would stop the battery-draining ejection attempts, but that ain’t shaking now.
Sooo, well, last night I saw my old pals the Authorities play some place called Plea for Peace on Weber Avenue in downtown Stockton. I used to drink with the Authorities back when I was a drinker, and now all that’s left of them is Curt Hall, a singer who looks kinda like Steve Perry of Journey and sounds like a more punk-rock helium-infused version of, well, not Steve Perry, but someone. Me, you, I dunno. Anyway, my old pal Brian Thalken is the other guy left from the early days; he plays guitar. He was in Fall of Christianity, too, and also Death’s Ugly Head, the latter one of my few claims to musical fame. The other three guys were some random Canadians that Thalken knows, because he moved to Vancouver 20 years ago. Actually, the drummer’s from Liverpool, which I understand is somewhere slightly south of Scotland.
I laughed my ass off. The songs were great. Most rehashed punk rock played by veterans of the scene now in their 40s or 50s leaves me with a firm desire to go sit in a bowling alley lounge and hope there’s some Domenico Modugno or Dean Martin on the jukebox. Al Martino, even. But this was the shit from start to finish. I mean, from “I Hate Cops,” penned by the late, great Nick “Slurb” Kappos, who met his end in 1989 or so in the bathroom at the downtown Stockton Greyhound depot where he’d temporarily retired to fix some shit he probably, uh, copped on the bus, and they found him nodded off to eternity with a spike in his arm and one supposes a smile on his face, and how classic a demise is that, not even Robert Johnson can lay claim to that, much less any of these other wankers: “I hate cops/ They’re all fuckin’ piggers/ They all got mustaches/ They squeak when they walk/ I hate cops.”
The yoks were nonstop: Thalken’s “Radiation Masturbation,” slowed to a dirge then sped to a monkeyfuck gallop; “Nobody Likes Him,” which sent the guy it was written about storming out of the club in a snit, 30 years later; “Achtung,” “Shot in the Head,” and a bunch of other tunes whose names I didn’t recognize. I kinda remember writing the lyrics to three of the songs: “Slam the Ham,” which me and Thalken wrote once after drinking a bunch of Regal Selects and Kessler; “Jarhead,” which I think I had a part in; and the evening’s showstopper, “Teenage Piss Party.” The latter culminated with Hall onstage with Vince Voodoo from Hot Spit Dancers, the Slurb’s post-Authorities band, and Eric “Sprinkler” Engelken, frontman for the Young Pioneers, which later was became the Straw Dogs.
If I remember right, one day me and Thalken and this other guy named Theron Knight, who was in Fall of Christianity with Thalken and Gary Young, who also was in Death’s Ugly Head with me and Brian and Kelly Foley and Sam Harvey, were driving around the insta-ghetto duplex-hell suburbs of north Stockton one overcast day in Thalken’s dad’s Dodge Coronet smoking cigarettes and drinking from a bottle of Old Overholt rye whiskey, when we found this band in a garage. We decided to take them under our wing, Malcolm McLaren style, and I think Foley and Jeff Clark from the Mixers and later Shiva Burlesque got involved, too, and we renamed them the Young Pioneers, and we wrote a bunch of bogus communist firebrand songs for them like “Teenage Piss Party” and “Running Dog Lackeys of the Bourgeoisie,” and I was so hammered and pickled I can ill recall the other numbers. But anyway, um, the played that shit for a while and then they revolted, because their bass player, a quiet kid named Steve Malkmus, thought we were a bunch of assholes and that they might be up to making some art.
Anyway, tonight the Authorities are opening for Malkmus’ later band, Pavement, at the Bob Hope Theatre for the Performing Arts or some shit, which we used to call the Fox. Our old drummer Gary, who recorded Malkmus and Scott Kannberg when they were trying to get something going 20 years ago or so, is gonna pound the skins for Pavement. If it’s anything like last night, it’s liable to be epic. —Jackson Griffith