Thursday, July 31, 2008

England Trip - July 31th, 1983

Sunday was Gordon the bus driver's day off and we hung around Winchester. Matt arranged for a different bus and driver to take us to the Broadlands for a day trip but we never made it. The entire group assembled for the journey but there was a miscommunication and the backup bus never arrived. Marc and I watched Sink the Bismark on the BBC and they showed commercials. I thought English TV was commercial free but this was not true.

There were many advertisements for teenagers dealing with "spots", or acne. Certain ad campaigns copied their American counterpart. The UK version of the Snickers bar is called a Marathon bar and they showed a commercial that paralleled one from the U.S. where a candy seller at the local baseball game is counseled by a mentor on how to sell it baby. After he tasted a Snickers bar he understood how the perfect blend of chocolate, caramel and peanuts lent itself to an enthusiastic sales pitch. Same deal in the UK, but with different actors, a different product name, and it took place at a soccer match. There were also commercials for Wimpy, a burger chain restaurant. Every town had one, with its orange/brown decor, and it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to the video enticements on the tele.

That night I wandered into a restaurant/pub holding a cabaret night of mellow guitar jams with pop favorites sung by a middle-aged gent who looked like Professor Falken from War Games. I requested Buddy Holly. His rendition of a nameless Holly song was too slow-core and I didn't recognize it. I kept asking for Buddy Holly even after he played it. It was a lose-lose for the lot of us. This was not my kind of place. I don't know if the Brits had yuppies but if they did, I think they drank wine at this establishment. There was a sign posted outside the entrance that banned soldiers from the nearby army base. See my pants-less push-up story from Canterbury. There was nothing to stop me from dropping trow and doing a few knee bends, except of course for what was left of my dignity, and so to bed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

England Trip - July 30th, 1983

We left Canterbury and drove 73 kilometers South South-West to Brighton on the Southern coast of the island. It was another hot, sunny English summer day and after a quick lunch, fish and chips in a rolled up newspaper, we walked down to the beach to take in the Atlantic Ocean.

I knew Brighton was the setting for the movie Quadrophenia, but to see it person was another thing all together, especially the beautiful Brighton pier. Not that it had anything to do with the movie, in fact I've never seen Quadrophenia. Something about seeing Sting ride a motor scooter turned me off, but I'll get around to it sometime.

I hung out at the beach until it was time to return to the bus. There aren't many beaches in England and there were German tourists in speedos three sizes too small and that's always a crowd pleaser, plus a few topless ladies, can't be bad.

Next stop: Petworth, a National Trust heritage site. It's is a fortified country house; half-castle, half manor. We toured the grounds that included lots of tall windows, paintings, and a children's folly in the rear garden.

Our last stop of the day was Winchester, home of the Winchester cathedral that Graham Nash sang about, and a replica of the round table like the King Arthur crew may have used.

Off to pub for the evening; a couple of pints and a chat with the locals. I got silly on the way home and climbed a wrought iron fence. I put my shoe on top of the spike to get a better look across the yard and found out it wasn't decorative, the metal pierced the sneaker sole. I kept my balance with the other foot and unstuck the point without losing my shoe or impaling my foot.

I have no memory of the Winchester hotel other than to say it was an economy lodge with adequate facilities located near the center of town. Some of the hotels we stayed in offered privates baths to each guests, others had partial baths or occasionally, a loo down the hall. They all had tea pots though, and little chocolate wafers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

England Trip - July 29th 1983

We checked out of the Onslow Court Hotel and boarded our tour bus for Canterbury. Gordon the coach driver greeted us on the street in uniform. He helped us stow our luggage in the lower boot. He was about 40 years old, tan, with straight brown hair, well groomed, like Roger Moore. He liked to watch the ladies like 007 too, but not necessarily this morning as we were all in a hurry to begin our bus coach tour of England. Farewell to Kensington for a couple of weeks.

We stopped at Greenwich on the east side of the London metro area and hopped on board the Cutty Sark. No free samples, har! They liked their cats in Greenwich. I saw a pensioner who strolled by with his feline friend cradled in his arms. Another furry friend guarded the magazine rack in a nearby tobacconist shop.

We ate lunch at a place that featured a missile command video game in the corner by the front door. Video arcade machines were a rare commodity on this trip, not counting the slot machines in the pub, and I threw a couple of 10 pence pieces in the old Atari game. 10 pence equated to be about 15 cents, but perhaps more importantly, the 10 pence coin was close to the American quarter in size, and therefore a better candidate to use in the coin slot. Say, where have all the ladies gone? I gotta start hanging out with Gordon more often.

We reached Canterbury by mid-afternoon. We took a walking tour of the central district and saw remnants of Roman mosaics and ancient buildings. We toured the cathedral as well. Marc and I walked down the street from our hotel after the group dinner and joined the action at the pub. A number of rowdy guys were chugging beer near the front door. The British don't care if you stand outside the bar door with your drinks. These guys looked to be Navy vets, they had tattoos, a popular requirement for British sailors, especially since this was less than 18 months after the Falklands conflict. One bloke grabbed a girl's skirt as she walked by. Another guy pulled down his pants and underwear and did some push-ups on the sidewalk. Maybe that's why we don't allow the sidewalk drinking here in America.

I listened to the BBC radio service in the hotel room after pub time. One of the channels featured a live recording of Lynyrd Skynyrd. I didn't realize there was a British audience for southern-rock American style, but why not. They are keen observers of American culture if nothing else.

Monday, July 28, 2008

England Trip - July 28th, 1983

Our last day in London for a few weeks and the suggested schedule was light - go to the London Museum. I don't think I went there. I don't remember the London Museum at all. This may be the day I stopped in Harrod's department store and browsed around. I had the notion to purchase the British version of Monopoly but changed my mind. I don't remember purchasing anything but I definitely recall that I walked to Kensington in the afternoon. Our little corner of the city on Old Brompton road became quite familiar, especially the section between the South Kensington station and the hotel. There was a luggage store where I bought an extra carry-on bag to tote my goodies to the states. There was a take-away pizza shop that made the absolute worst pizza in the British empire. I made better pizza from the box myself at home in the dark than the slice I purchased later that night after Marc and I spent the evening at Covent Garden, but more about that in a moment. The street around the corner from the Onslow court also featured a chemist, a record store, where I monitored the top of the British pop charts as displayed there. The top three artists that summer were not yet familiar in America: Wham, Paul Young, and Yazoo. Everybody knows Wham now and Paul Young scored a U.S. hit later in the decade with "Every Time You Go Away". Yazoo, or Yaz, didn't crack the pop charts in the U.S. though we had their records at the college station.

Marc and I ventured down to a night club district we heard about - Covent Garden. Its the same section where the Opera House was and where Audrey Hepburn sold flowers to Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. There was lots of action there and I recall being in a crowded outdoor beer garden where one bartender yelled "Next Victim" each time he served another customer. I dug those pint glasses with the little bulges at the top. American beer was a distant memory. The Brits had the edge. We talked to a local who advised us that not all places closed at 11 o'clock. There were certain clubs in the city that stayed open late under some kind of loophole, but we chose not to go. We'd been reminded by our tour guides that we departed for Canterbury in the morning by coach. We returned to the hotel after stopping for wretched pizza and took in a little BBC on the tele. The hotels in England had four channels in the summer of 1983. That's it and they shut down between midnight and 1am each night with a full band version of God Save the Queen, known in America as, well, America the Beautiful. Then a BBC announcer politely reminded me to switch off my set, which I did, and went to sleep at the Onslow Court hotel.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Pictures

These photos revealed that I took the garden shot mentioned in the previous post as part of a weak attempt to create a panoramic mosaic. I don't remember where this was, the sequence suggested it was Wales but I don't know. Check out the guy sweeping with the broom made of sticks.

England Trip - July 27th, 1983

Today was a special day. We got up early and rode the tube to Paddington station where we boarded the high speed train to Wales. I'm not sure how fast it went but I'll guess about 90 mph. It was an express, no stops, and we were in the little county where vowels were optional before lunchtime. Our destination was Cardiff Castle and it was our first big castle on the tour. What a beauty. I was impressed with the size and attention to detail displayed throughout the ancient palace. We ate lunch in the basement where I met an older couple from Ohio. They regaled me with horror stories of Yankee driving mishaps in the land of the left side right of way. We also toured a cathedral at Llandaff with many opulent stained glass windows. I will confess, by the end of my stay, I was less impressed with the castles and the cathedrals, but this was our first foray and we were all suitably taken aback.

Our Welsh rarebit took all day and we clamored back on board the London express in the afternoon. The four of us young tourists, myself, Marc, Tom, and Melissa ordered beers and I sampled my first Guiness stout. It wasn't ice cold, but slightly chilled. Tom fell asleep at our table in the club car and we made fun of his bobbing head. I called the play-by-play as if he were in a contest where the contestants tried to drive a roofing nail through a block of balsa wood with their foreheads. Everytime we thought his drooping melon might drive the nail home to victory, he pulled it back up, asleep the whole time. This was the first time I made my companions laugh. I guess we were getting more comfortable with each other. We were late getting home. The train was delayed by livestock on the track.

A note about the contact photos I included. The bottom panel includes a shot of the railyard, and the railway workers. I was impressed with the vast rail infrastructure in Britain. I shot a gargoyle from the bus on our way to Cardiff Castle, and then the cattle trail into the castle itself. The top panel shows part of the castle interior, a group shot of one of the tour guides for hire. That's her with red hair. She wasn't part of our group and if not for this shot I would have forgotten about her. I saw her again years later in a B-roll shot on 60 minutes, guiding tours in Venice, Italy in a piece about European tourism. That redhead got around. The man in the blue striped shirt was the aforementioned gentleman from Ohio - Shaker Heights to be exact, who experienced the thrills of driving from the passenger seat on the left side of the road. The last shot is obviously a garden and if an 18 year old boy thought enough to take a snapshot of the flowers then they must have been utterly unbelievable, or perhaps I had one shot left on the roll.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

England Trip - July 26th, 1983

Day three and I lapsed into a British accent. Mark called me on it right away and kept me from going completely Zelig. We took the Tower of London tour this morning and saw the Beefeaters. Perhaps this is why I drank so many Gin and Tonics while in England. A couple of things about the mixed drinks you should know. First of all, if you didn't request ice, they served it neat. Most bartenders figured out I was a Yank and asked me if I wanted ice and lemon. That's right, lemon. No limes with your G&Ts in England. Either way, no big deal, and Beefeater's was domestic there! Bully!

Back to the tower where someone tipped us off that there was a little changing of the guard joke they played on the tourists. The guards marched out and the tourists flocked to the square where they used to chop people's heads off. They stopped and...that was it. They didn't do anything for half an hour. People slack-jawed and rubber-necked and snapped copious photos of virtual statues. The tower featured 500 year old graffitti and the crown jewels. The rudest man in England was the guard who reminded everyone to keep moving while we looked at the crown jewels, and I must say, he was quite nice.

Mark and I visited Trafalgar Square and visited the National Gallery that afternoon. I know I visited once before we left London and once more when we returned. The National Gallery was one helluva museum. So much to see, and this time I stayed, unlike the markers at Westminster. The paintings could not be ignored. Thank goodness it was air conditioned.

The papers said it was the hottest London summer in 400 years. So much for the sweaters we brought with us. I drank a Coke each day as long as I liked it at room temperature. Merchants did not refrigerate the sodas. I wandered into a litte bodega in Kensington and I got very excited when I saw the Coca-Cola in a refrigerated case. I smiled, strode to the back display, and opened the glass door. I expected a cold whoosh of air but the bastards didn't have it plugged in. I think it was another little joke for the American boy from Kansas. I bought it anyway.

Days later when we were out in the provinces, I found an ice cream man who kept a couple of cold ones in his freezer compartment. We were at a castle or country estate and what a treat that was to taste cold soda pop again. I don't drink Coke anymore but at the time it was one of the things I missed most about the states. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to come off as the ugly American. I drank tea in the afternoon with milk and sugar! They put a tea pot in every hotel room I stayed in and I used the shit out of it.

Little bits of American culture made splashes on TV news. The British BBC schedules were littered with popular and not so popular American shows like Flamingo Road and Simon and Simon. I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about topical events. For example, when I chatted with the locals down at the pub in the evenings, only a few knew Kansas City, some had heard of Kansas from The Wizard of Oz, but Kansas City was not on the English radar. I was quite surprised when I looked at the TV set in a pub one night, I do not recall exactly when this was, and saw Kansas City's George Brett freaking out at the Yankees game. It was the Pine Tar game. Yes, the Pine Tar game made the BBC. Regular baseball results and scores were not available, but I was pleased to see my hometown boys get a little air time there.

I have a vague memory of getting my own room at the Onslow Court about now. The previous snafu that lumped Mark, Tom, and I together resolved itself. I got my own room for a couple of days. They had a hotel channel on the tele and the local host advised tourists that tickets to the hot new Andrew Lloyd Weber show "Cats" might be hard to find. Thanks. Another British custom I wasn't used to; the front desk half expected me to turn in my room key when I left the hotel. It seemed weird, but the bonus was they always told me I had no messages when I came back.

Friday, July 25, 2008

England Trip - July 25th, 1983

Today was our first full day in London and we started a walking tour at Buckingham Palace. We watched the changing of the guard and took pictures of the British palace guards in their Q-tip hats. They ignored us. The threat of terrorism simmered in England in those days but we didn't encounter any bombings or anything unusual. There was a visible military presence in some instances, and signs on the tube warned us to report unattended satchels and briefcases. All standard post 9-11 protocol over here.

We enjoyed a lot of freedom for a group tour. We travelled together and ate our evening meals together. We took group tours sometimes. The protocol was issued with suggested activities for each day, but we were free to do as we wished, on our own if we liked, as long as we returned for supper.

The suggested activities today included a stop at Buckingham palace - gobs of tourists included a young lady with orange hair in a leopard skin print t-shirt. I thought she was a punker and compared to 1983 Fairway, Kansas, she was, but in retrospect she was tame. I noticed throughout my journey that wild hair colors were in style. I saw young adults in business attire but with bright purple hair, combined with half-shaved hairdo's. It was fashion. I sat next to a real punk couple on the underground. They had spiked mohawks, doc martin style jackboots and the clincher for me, self-mutilation scars, presumably from razor blades, on their arms. The tube was fantastic. I loved the London subway. Matt warned us that we'd lose a little of the geography by prairie-dogging around the city, but it was the best way to ride. I purchased a four day pass today and the South Kensington station became our base of operations while we were in London this week.

We also walked around Big Ben and took in the Westminster Abbey where Lady Di and Prince Charles tied the knot. Lots of famous people were buried there. Poet's corner contained the graves of serious heavyweights: Charles Dickens, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Edmund Spenser. Ahem. Yeah, baby. They charged extra money to walk around that part of the Abbey. Well, F-you Thomas Hardy, Ben Jonson and Geoffrey Chaucer. I said forget it. (What can I say, I was 18 years old).

Free time after dinner meant pub time. The British liquor laws allowed me to drink legally. Mark and I scouted pub candidates during the day. Side note: in 1983, British pubs were required by law to close after lunch for a few hours. But we'd usually find a pub within walking distance of the hotel and check it out in the evening.

Kensington had several laid-back neighborhood pubs. I wasn't hip to how breweries controlled the brands of beer, nor did I care. I ordered a pint of lager. Free houses served beers from multiple breweries. Guess what? Jack Daniels and Budweiser are imports in England. Obvious? Yes. But everything is a wing-ding revelation when you're a high school kid away from the states for the first time. Three more instant observations about pub life. You can bring your dog to the pub in England, at least to the neighborhood pub we visited that night. The pubs had nudgie machines, and I'm pretty sure that's not what they were called, gambling rigs, kind of like slot machines, 25 pence a play. Three wheels spun a combination and if you stopped close to a payout, the nudge button allowed you to bump a wheel one way or another and collect a few coins. The third observation was that the pubs closed at 11pm, early even by Kansas standards, where 3.2 beer taverns stayed open till midnight.

Mark knew what to do. We returned to the hotel pub, but it was also closed. We went up to our room where we ordered room service. Mark talked the bartender into bringing up a final round of drinks and trained me in the art of gratuity. We gave him a nice tip for his late night, after-hours service. The first day of London, as best as I can remember it 25 years later, was in the books with this night cap. Tomorrow: The Tower, royal jewels, and more cocktails.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

England Trip - July 24th, 1983

We checked in to our hotel for five days in London. It's The Onslow Court Hotel, in Kensington. There was a problem with my room and the group guide, Matt Campbell worked with the staff and juggled the room assignments. I ended up in a room with Tom and Mark that contained three single beds and a bath. It forced us to get to know each other. Mark wore Lagerfeld cologne. I think of England each time I catch a whiff to this day. The Onslow was a budget hotel to be sure, nothing fancy there and Matt Campbell planned it that way. There was no sense throwing travel dollars at the place where you sleep and he was right. It was nice enough and they had a concierge booth where I purchased theatre tickets. The hotel also featured a small restaurant and pub.

The restaurant host, a Turkish man of generous proportions, with greasy hair and a burgundy jacket, knew a few English phrases: "How Many" and then he would count your party as you sat down. A typical exchange went this way. The four of us, the three guys plus Melissa Brown walked into the restaurant for breakfast.
"How many?" he asked.
"Four," I said. He gestured toward a table with four chairs.
"One, two, three, four," he said, and handed us menus. Mark did a killer impression of this guy by lunch time. In fact, we all developed impressions, and it didn't matter that they weren't as great as Mark's. We laughed anyway. The food was terrible. Have you ever had a good kipper? Well, if you did it wasn't there, and yet those wretched little fish were on the breakfast menu everyday. I think it was the same three kippers and nobody in their right mind ate those things.

We took a bus tour of London later that day and I felt excited to be in one of the world's great cities. I shot a roll of film from the bus. I located negatives and contact rolls, and I'll post some contact shots, but prints may be hard to resurrect.

We rode into central London from the Kensington area. We passed Herrod's department store, the Royal Albert Hall, and Speaker's Corner at the Hyde Park corner. We drove past a roundabout with a great arch in the middle, and there was a little door inside the arch. This was London's smallest police station. We drove past Big Ben, under scaffolding for refurbishment. In fact, there was a plethora of scaffolding around the city. Old building owners hired companies to scrub the soot off the exteriors. Big business. I saw lots of interesting people on the street. Punk rockers, mod kids, tourists of course. We drove past Buckingham palace too.

That evening after dinner, some group members attended a military exposition and show. This excursion may or may not have included the Imperial War museum. I stayed in and dealt with the jet lag. I was fried after the long plane ride and the time change.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We Interrupt the Nostalgia

To relay this ominous warning on cell phone use. A cancer center director in Pittsburgh has warned his staff to limit cell phone use. He thinks it may cause cancer. He is basing his alarm on early unpublished data. Hey, if you have a cell phone and love it, consider not putting it so close to your brain - use a headset or the speaker function. If you're considering purchasing a phone for your child, delay that order.

England Trip - 25 Years Later

Today marks the 25th anniversary of my trip to England. The 22 day adventure was a gift from my Grandma Hildegarde Bader to commemorate my high school graduation. I hooked up with a travel group sponsored by Johnson County Community College that included Tom Rooker, Melissa Brown (later Mrs. Tom Rooker), Mark A., and the two Judys: Judy Oden and Judy Spencer, both Shawnee Mission North English teachers. Our group leaders were Mr. and Mrs. Matt Campbell and numbered about 20 people. We met once a month at the Campbell home for several months leading up to the journey, so we'd be familiar with one another before we got started. All participants received a couple of JCCC credit hours in return for submitting a project of our own design. I assembled a photo scrap book during the voyage. Unfortunately I did not save the negatives nor did I keep a copy of the project. I may have a contact sheet so I'll see what I can find.

July 23rd, 1983 - We left KCI for Chicago at 3:05pm, after a lengthy lay-over where I watched a bag truck trundle past the terminal lounge window and drop a suitcase on the tarmac, we boarded TWA flight 770 at 8pm.

Flight 770 was one of those classic 747s with the spiral stairs that led up to "Ambassador Class", one step above first-class. Two of our group travelers, a nice middle-aged married couple, he was bald with glasses, she was not, found themselves displaced by a seat assignment snafu, so TWA bumped them up to Ambassador class for the trip across the Atlantic. Lucky dogs.

I sat next to another JCCC travel-mate, a single woman in her 20s, travelling alone. I don't recall her name. She was a shy one, quiet, bookish. The in-flight movie was a dreadful romantic comedy with Dudley Moore and Elizabeth McGovern called Lovesick. I watched it without the headphone rental, but that didn't help.

We arrived in London about 9:35am (local time) the next morning. I didn't sleep much. I was too excited. I remember looking out the airplane window and seeing British row houses for the first time. Everything was different and exciting. We landed, picked up our luggage, waited in line at the customs check, got our passports stamped, and loaded a transport bus to our hotel, The Onslow Court, in Kensington.

Friday, July 18, 2008

KJHK Lore - The Nutshell Magazine Profile

John Cheney sent me a copy of this Nutshell Magazine article that provided an excellent snapshot of KJHK at the end of the Dale Gadd era. It was written by Tim Smight in the spring or summer of 1983. Here's part one, part two, and part three, (PDF). Go read them and then come back and let's discuss.

And we're back. The nugget in the article that struck me the most was the conscious effort to move programming away from the block format back in late 1979. There's too much block programming on KJHK now and not enough "Rotation" or non-specialty music. On the other hand, alternative music is more fragmented than ever, and there isn't the same sense of urgency to convince people that an alternative format is legitimate. The battle is not to get people to listen to alternative music for the format's sake. The battle is to get people to listen instead of play X-Box or listen to their IPod. I don't know whether the current level of block programming helps or hurts accomplish that goal. What do YOU think?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"No Nap" Kesler Strikes Again

Photo by Matt KeslerThree years ago I booked Matt Kesler's kiddie rock band The Doo-Dads to play our afternoon home association annual block party. Matt confided to me that he was a bit thick from a late one the night before. He'd stayed up jamming with Alejandro Escovedo and Ernie Locke down at Davey's after Alejandro's show there. I was jealous. He finished setting up the bubble machine and introduced their new keyboard player, Ken Lovern. He was new at the time anyway, and they ran through a spirited set along with Joe Gose and Mike Niewald. Real pros, and the bass player's lack of sleep was not apparent.

Matt pays the bills as the owner slash proprietor of the Midwestern Musical Company, located at 1830 Locust in downtown Kansas City, and earlier this week Ween performed at the Crossroads next door. I didn't know about it until yesterday, but Matt talked Ween into jamming late night for a few lucky folks in the back of his music store. Apparently Matt Kesler trades sleep for rock and roll. This will not surprise you if you know Matt. I wish I had been there.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rank and File

Here's Alejandro Escovedo in one of his early bands, the Kinman Brothers outfit called Rank and File. With Escovedo's star rising, that's how Rank and File seems to be referenced, as a stepping stone in his career, but that's not fair to the band. They were very popular at KJHK by the time I arrived in 1984. The Sundown record (released in 1982) was still played a lot and with good reason. They fit in well with popular artists with similar approaches, X, for one, and Jason and the Nashville Scorchers too. I saw the 2nd line-up (sorry, no Alejandro) at the Lawrence Opera House on February 12, 1985 along with Otto's Chemical Lounge and The Blinkies. It was a great show. The reception was enthusiastic and local promoters brought them back less than a year later, but for whatever reason, the subsequent show at the Outhouse did not inspire the same response. It was indicative of the change in the band and the scene. Rank and File was never as much fun after their first record. But hell, I had fun at both shows. Here's a rare YouTube sighting of Rank and File doing their eponymous song. I found this at Mike Soden's myspace page. I'd give you the URL but that mofo has got so many doo-dads and pedaljets and hootenanys posted that it bogs down on my feeble machine. Thanks for finding this one Mike!

Monday, July 14, 2008

First Pitch

It was little league night at the semi-pro baseball game in Kansas City, KS. We were on hand early for the march around the warning track. The T-Bones PR people told our coaches to select a player to throw out the first pitch and they chose Skyler! He's a third grade pitcher and they don't use a mound yet, but he towed the slab like a veteran hurler. Okay, my pride is showing. I must add that he threw a strike. Way to go Skyman.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bowling Today

I took the boy bowling at College Lanes today. Skyler bowled a 111, 86, and an 80. I encouraged him to bowl with his fingers in the ball holes but he preferred the no finger approach. Bumpers were up but that only helped me once. I bowled a 174, 183, 179. Mission bowl league play returns in about six weeks. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Pedaljets at the Replay

The Pedaljets played a short set at the Monsters of Rock Chalk reunion last Saturday night in Lawrence. John Harper filled in on guitar #2 for Phil Wade. The Pedaljets have been gigging here and there in support of the re-release of their eponymous album, remastered with the help of the brilliant Paul Malinowski.

Matt Kesler was busy Saturday, as part of the Von Bulows, the PJs and as the bassist for the Micronotz set, subbing for the late David Dale.


Mike Allmayer on the last song: "Get Lucky" is one of the earliest Pedaljets songs -- maybe the first one we ever worked up. We never recorded it, but it was a live mainstay throughout the early years. Since this was a Lawrence circa '83 to '85 reunion, it seemed fitting to close on it Saturday night.

It was a rocker. I hope to see them again this year. In the meantime, I have the remastered "The Pedaljets" CD in my car. My favorite songs are "Looking Out My Window" and "Agnes Mind".

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Coppertone Sucks! and Other Sunscreen Revelations

We interupt the happy memories afforded this past weekend to bring you this health warning about sunscreens. Many of them are complete crap and some have harmful chemicals. Visit the Skin Deep cosmetic safety website and get their analysis and recommendations.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Von Bulows - 23 Years Later

The Pedaljets and Lori Wray, known collectively in 1985 as The Von Bulows, played the Replay bar last Saturday night in Lawrence, KS as part of the Monsters of Rock Chalk reunion. The Von Bulows recorded four songs back in the day and resurrected all of them for their brief set. Saturday's lineup included Steve Dahlberg filling in on guitar for Pedaljet Scott Mize. I stood near the front but the little flash on my camera didn't carry very far. I ramped up the gamma in this shot and it appears grainy. Lori Wray surprised me halfway through their set by dedicating "Linda For a Day" to me on behalf of the group. What a thrill to be singled out by the band I looked forward to seeing the most that night. Lori's vocals in The Von Bulows lent a distinctive torch song quality, not unlike the original singer (Lulu) of their last offering, To Sir With Love. I read today where Rolling Stone once called Lori Wray "the Debby Harry of the heartland".

Their single "Summer Song" was included on the Fresh Sounds From Middle America #3 compilation, released by Bill Rich and Fresh Sounds records, along with KJHK in the Spring of 1986 and it boosted the band's reputation. There was a rumor that the song aired on one of John Peel's broadcasts on the BBC, though I don't know if that's true.

The Von Bulows life span lasted less than two years. Lori moved to Minneapolis and began a successful solo career. I never saw them play live during our college days. I saw them last Saturday and it was a personal highlight for me.

Set list: Silent Film, Summer Song, Linda For a Day, To Sir With Love.

Hear Summer Song, courtesy of

Sunday, July 06, 2008

See My Reunion Photos

I'll write later about the fun we had yesterday in Lawrence at the BBQ by the river and later last night at the Replay. In the meantime, I've posted my snapshots on my flickr page.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Make Plans for 2076

My children made a pact today to get their respective families together on July 4th, 2076 for the Tricentennial. I doubt I'll make it but you never know.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

All-Time Best

The Boston Phoenix selects the best all-time bands from each of the 50 states. Check out their list and see if you agree with their selection for your state. I totally agree with the Kansas selection. The Embarrassment is my all-time favorite band.