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Entry date: 4-1-2024 – Foolish Prime – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

I don’t have any elaborate April Fool’s prank planned for this year. I’m too tired. I have a little something planned for my students, but nothing big. I don’t really do the whole practical joke thing that much anymore.

 

For me, the joke has to be a really good one. It has to be clever and come in a way that is unexpected. That’s why I have probably only pulled five or six in my life that are worth noting.

 

I got two good pranks on my old boss, Lydia, back in the Casa days. She hated clowns, so whenever I would see a good clown picture, I would make a xerox of it and tape it to the back of her door. She was pretty adamant about her open-door policy, so she only shut her door occasionally. I just hoped that I would happen to be in the office when she did.

 

She is also very uneasy about Styrofoam. If I had drink or a box from lunch, I would make an excuse to come into her office and talk to her while I was carrying it. I would make sure I could make the “Styrofoam” noise a few times during the conversation and watch her wince.

 

When she left us for another position, we had a going away party for her. We got her a cake and I also made one that looked like a cake but was actually a big 9x12 piece of Styrofoam that was about the thickness of a cake. I covered it with chocolate frosting and wrote “Good luck, Lydia” or something like that on it. It was awesome when she cut into it.

 

I don’t feel bad about these things, either, because Lydia was a great boss and knew it was all in good fun. She taught me a lot about being a professional, actually, and I owe her for that. I pass on her wisdom to my co-workers to this day if I can.

 

*****

 

So, I have no jokes today, but I did have a nice, productive weekend. We got a lot of house stuff done and I even got to visit Granny for a bit and drop by Michael’s to record a couple bass riffs. I’m so stoked about what we are doing with the Living Room Collective. It is very different than anything I’ve ever done and continues to evolve.

 

Rhondi made a great pot roast dinner last night, too. I ate too much and got a little bogged down by the beef, but I made it long enough to pick up Liam from work.  Dad Taxi for the win.

 

*****

(The Bet)

As usual, the restaurant got busy, and Sean didn’t end up getting a few minutes to spend with Arlene and Shirley until after they had finished dessert. The two stars were three sheets to the wind by this point. This might be even better, Sean thought.

 

 

“Can I get anything else for you two lovely ladies?”

 

Sean didn’t mind flirting a bit with them. Arlene had been flirting shamelessly with him all night and Shirley seemed to find it funny.

 

“Where did you grow up, Sean,” asked Shirley.

 

“I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. What about you?”

 

 

“Pull up a seat and I’ll tell you all about Lyons, Kansas, Seanie.”

 

Shirley was definitely feeling good. She patted the seat next to her and Sean sat down. Ma Maison was fond of its celebrity clients, so it wasn’t a problem at all for him to accept her invitation, besides, they were his last table of the night.

 

Knight proceeded to tell Sean all about living in rural Kansas before she headed to New York City after graduation. She was exceedingly kind, even in her inebriated state and Sean thought he could fall in love right then and there if he didn’t know she was entirely devoted to her husband, John, who was a writer for stage, screen, and television.

 

When Sean thought it was polite to ask, he casually said, “Have either of you worked with Freddy Adams or Janet Ryan?”

 

Arlene laughed again, this time even harder than before when Sean had said she “couldn’t afford him.”

 

“What’s so funny?” asked Sean.

 

“Sean, dear, Arlene was once engaged to be married to Freddy,” Shirley said.

 

“Yes,” Arlene said, still laughing. “Why do you ask about them?”

 

“I’m sorry, Arlene. I had no idea. My roommate, you know, Aidan, who you met on the Easter set, is dating their daughter, Friday.”

 

“Tell him to run away, Sean,” Arlene said without a hint of kidding.

 

“Wait, what? Why?”

 

Shirley put her hand on his and looked him in the eye.

 

“Listen to her, Sean,” she said as she patted him.

 

Both of them seemed almost instantly sober.

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“You’re not supposed to, dear,” said Arlene. “Freddy and Janet will not let Aidan, or any other Hollywood person, get too close to Friday. Believe me, I know Freddy. Hell, I know both of them. It’s a bad idea for him to get close to her.”

 

Sean was even more confused than ever. Between these two and Rick earlier, the bad feeling in the pit of Sean’s stomach was bigger than ever.

 

“Another friend of mine told me to earlier today that Aidan should be careful. He said something along the lines of if you mess with Freddy, you mess with him and his friends.”

 

“Your friend was right, Sean,” said Shirley solemnly.

 

“They are old Hollywood. That’s all you need to know. Old Hollywood protects itself,” added Arlene.

 

“I don’t know what to say. He really likes her,” said Sean.

 

“Does he trust you, Sean?” asked Arlene.

 

“Of course.”

 

“Tell him to end it quickly before things get out of hand. There are lots of fish in the sea. Send him to my house if gets lonely. In fact, I’ll entertain you both.”

 

Sean felt a little better with flirty Arlene coming back, but her smile did not match her eyes. She was trying to change the subject in the best way she knew how.

 

“I’ll talk to him. Thank you both. Can I get you a night cap? It’s on me”

 

“No thanks, Dear. I think Shirley and I are going to head back to my house and talk all night. You’ve given us something new to gossip about, too,” Arlene said. She winked at him and handed him three crisp one-hundred-dollar bills.

 

“l’ll walk you ladies out. Thank you so much…for everything.”

 

“Come see me sometime, Sean, and bring your friend,” replied Arlene, accepting his hand as she stood up.

 

 

*****

 

I embraced Scratch Acid after becoming a Jesus Lizard fan first. I was aware of the band in the late 80s but had never listened to them. I wish I had because it would have sped up certain trajectories in my musical taste and interests in playing music, but what can you do? Cry over spilled time? I think not.

 

I picked up The Greatest Gift on CD at some point in the early 90s. Probably 1992 or 1993, but again, I wasn’t moving backward. I was going towards something new at that point and Scratch Acid helped in the process.

 

The Greatest Gift is a compilation of all, I think, the Scratch Acid recordings. As we were building Hillbilly Devilspeak into being a band and such, I was devouring everything heavy and weird and noisy I could get my hands on. I wanted to see how others were doing it and I was also a huge fan.

 

I wanted so badly to be a part of that “scene” although it really didn’t extend too much to Arizona. There were a handful of bands who also wanted to be part of the weirdo Texas/Midwestern thing that populated record labels like AmRep, Touch And Go, and Trance Syndicate. Maybe if we would have become road dogs and really worked hard on driving our sound more towards the bands I loved. Maybe…

 

The thing is, I still love this style of music as much as any other style. I can listen to The Greatest Gift and be inspired and entertained. I’m a huge fan of David Yow as a vocalist and front man. He’s easily one of the most entertaining humans to hand a microphone to, but he’s also, clearly, got great taste in the process of making music, too.

 

David Wm. Sims is probably my favorite bass player not named John Entwistle and if you put a gun to my head, I might even admit that I like Sims’ bass lines a bit more. The combination of Sims and Rey Washam as a rhythm section is about as powerful as it can get. No offense to Mac McNeilly who more than held down the job for Jesus Lizard, Rey Washam’s beats are better.

 

Brett Bradford played guitar but, to be honest, I don’t know much about the guy, and I never really gave him much thought. The guitars on The Greatest Gift are good, though, but I was focused on the vocals, drums, and bass. It’s just what I was keying in on in those days.

 

Like many of the records on this list, I left this CD in the player for quite a while when I got it. Admittedly, I skipped around a lot. Not all of the songs resonated with me and many still don’t do a ton for me. The ones that do, though. Those are gold.

 

“Cannibal,” for example, starts things off and was originally recorded in 1984. The lyrics are typical Yow which means explicit, matter of fact, awesome. This would have blown my mind in 1984.

 

“Greatest Gift” is up next and has that Texas thing going on with the bass line. Like a rumbling, tall Texan, walking down the sidewalk looking for someone’s ass to kick, “The Greatest Gift” sneaks up on no one. It simply is right there in front of you and you’re going to get kicked.

 

“Monsters” is suitably punk, rowdy, and noisy. I love “Owner’s Lament,” though. When I first heard it, I knew Scratch Acid was something special. It’s dark and a little spooky and Sims plays a super Bauhaus-y bass line underneath the rest of the nonsense. Unintentional goth, maybe? I don’t know. It’s just different and weird and I love it.

 

“She Said” sounds like what the Jesus Lizard would later become. Another great, rolling bass line. Fuckin’ A, Rey Washam is so good. He would be so fun to play with. “Mess” is another opportunity for Yow to tell a story about the ‘mess’ in his house. Gold. “El Espectro” is a fun riff, too. It has a very Mighty Sphincter-ish feel to it. Doug Clark would have liked this one.

 

“Lay Screaming” is one that never really did much for me. Same with “Crazy Dan.” Yow tells another story with that one, but musically it kind of never goes anywhere. I’m way fonder of “Eyeball” and “Big Bone Lick.” There is a bit more movement in both of those. These are from the sessions that birthed their LP, Just Keep Eating.

 

They toured for that record and played The Metro, but I had no idea that it was something I would have loved. I’m bummed I missed it and kick myself whenever someone posts a copy of the flyer. Stupid past me!

 

I often skip past “Unlike a Baptist” but I enjoy the manic energy of “Damned for All Time.” It’s another one that kind of has a weirdo Phoenix vibe. There is a lot of weirdo Phoenix stuff on this record. Like minds, I suppose.

 

“Ain’t That Love,” “Untitled 1,” and “Holes” are all skippable. Well, maybe not “Holes.” I take that back. Again, though, it’s Sims and Washam that hold my interest here. “Albino Slug” is a song title you can’t ignore. Like a slug, though, the song is slow to develop.

 

If it sounds like I’m dissing the record, I’m not. On the Guns- n-Roses scale, Scratch Acid takes way bigger swings and clobbers the hell out of the ball while G-n-R still sucks. It’s just that songs like “Albino Slug” are just not as good as some of the others on the disc.

 

“Spit a Kiss” has always been a favorite of mine, though. It’s got that same crazy desert-y, Texas thing going on. Here is one that Bradford’s guitar actually makes me a little giddy, too. It’s raw and unsettling. “Amicus” is pretty great, too. There is a little bit of Minutemen type stuff happening here. Groove, baby.

 

“Cheese Plug” has always reminded me of Big Boys. Washam played in both bands, so maybe that’s the connection, but Sims is kinda funky here. “Untitled 2” is pretty skippable, but “Mary Had a Little Drug Problem” is still a great title for a song, record, or band. The song is fairly typical for Scratch Acid. Noisy, abrasive, and Yow is clearly enjoying his lyrical cleverness.

 

He’s really a clever guy. I always enjoyed talking with him at shows. “For Crying Out Loud” ends things and it’s a fitting last song. Pretty fucking huge,” Yow says at one point. That’s all you need to know.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



A page from the TV Guide in 1978 around the time Shirley and Arlene had dinner at Ma Maison.

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1 Comment


Love the styrofoam cake prank. 😂

I too have an aversion to styrofoam noises. Well played!


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