Monday, July 04, 2022

Zander Schloss at Neptoon, plus Circle Jerks, 7 Seconds and the Shit Talkers, July 3rd at the Commodore: a live review

Some guy with Zander Schloss. Photo by Rob Frith, I think! 

Note: all photos and writing on this blog should be regarded as the property of the writer or photographer and may only be reused if you get our/ their permission! 


Yesterday was great. Socially great, musically great, everything great. Even the $10 burger I got at the Commodore was great (I was pretty hungry). Can't remember a better day of concertgoing since - well, June 14th, at least, but I think this trumped that, even. 

Outside Neptoon L-to-R: Chris Towers of the New Creation, Don Xaliman of the Melodic Energy Commission, Enrico Renz of Red Herring, Zander Schloss (Circle Jerks/ Joe Strummer), Dave Bowes, and some guy, photo by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission (unless you are in it, but please credit Bob Hanham and mention who everyone is!)

First off - sorry, but if you didn't come to Neptoon in the afternoon, prior to the Circle Jerks show, you missed out. Zander Schloss' s in-store was fantastic, a rich musical treat, and the best of all appetizers for the Circle Jerks show later in the evening. It started with a cover of "Straight to Hell" - the Clash's most melancholy tune, as he described it, done on the same 12 string that you see him play in the video. (Also check out Zander playing lead guitar with Joe Strummer in 1988, doing that very song). It was the only instrument he'd brought, but also what he played "Dead Friend Letter" on, which he followed with (if you haven't seen it, his mini-movie for that can be found online here). He waxed wry about the expectation that he tell stories about the songs in-between performing them, since the songs themselves were stories, which meant the patter would have been "stories about stories," so I do admit to missing hearing "Song About Songs" - not just because I love the song, but it would have been especially fun to hear a story about a story about a song about songs. But that one is done on a bouzouki, and he hadn't packed it, so...  

Zander Schloss by Allan MacInnis

He seemed quite pleased that the event drew a decent house, maybe of about forty people, including at least a half dozen folks I'd be comfortable calling friends, not counting Rob and Ben Frith, who had facilitated the gig (to be clear, I count them as friends of mine, too, but not part of the "audience," since it was their event). We got to hear seven songs from him, I think (one an instrumental), also including "I Have Loved the Story of My Life" (great video for that here) and "The Road" off Song About Songsand three off what's going to be his next album. He was a bit fussy about sound and frequently asked Ben to make adjustments - please bear that in mind when watching the live "Straight to Hell" clip, which was the first song he did - it was prior to any adjustments and may not be quite up to his standard, soundwise; but in honesty, it all sounded great to me (I'm usually pretty easy to please, but more on that later). I did notice that the bass got a bit too deep for one song, and was kinda gratified that Zander asked Ben to "turn down the bass a bit" on the next one, because it meant that it wasn't all just in my head (as a non-musician, I seldom trust my ears, and end up second-guessing things). 

Zander, Ben, and Rob, by Allan MacInnis

Zander was funny, too, in a self-deprecating way, describing himself to those who lingered as a "d-list celebrity" recognizable to one in 10,000 people, recounting the story when Bob Dylan (in conversation with Joe Strummer, I think, but I wasn't taking notes) once said his name, and telling a story about being a fly on the wall during the taking of the Henry Rollins/ Rick Rubin/ Joe Strummer/ Johnny Cash photo... he described himself as "the Forrest Gump of rock." He was reluctant to sign things proffered by people who hadn't bought his record - which pissed off one person I know who probably WOULDA got their Repo Man swag signed if they'd just hung out and kept trying, because it seemed if you stuck it out, even if he said no at first, he eventually did sign whatever you asked him to (I have evidence of this; see below). Ya gotta understand that not everyone likes to be best remembered for a bit part they did in the early '80s, when there's so much else to their music, career, and aspirations... so much more that they've done....

Dave Bowes gets swag signed! Photo: me.

There was a bunch of vinyl of Zander's new record left at Neptoon, some of which I presume is for sale, some of which may also be signed - not quite sure. Zander signed some posters, too, tho' again, not quite sure which of those Rob had plans for. One of my favourite things about the night was a photo Bob Hanham took, out front, where Zander, just arriving, was in a row with myself, Dave Bowes, Enrico Renz, Don Xaliman, and Chris Towers, as you can see up at the top. If Zander thinks he's a d-list celebrity, I'd be curious what letters he'd ascribe to them!


Bob shoots Zander and Erik, in turn shot by Allan

Keith Morris would later crack a joke about why the band played Herb Alpert before their set at the Commodore, telling a story about how the Circle Jerks almost got signed to A&M records. During that anecdote, he referred to his band as f-list celebrities by comparison to some of the other A&M talent, like Joe Cocker and Peter Frampton, but I cannot do it justice, I'm afraid. Not sure if he was aware of Zander's own description of himself, but he was funny that he put his own band two notches further down the alphabet than Zander placed himself. 

Bob Hanham by Allan MacInnis

A few people were introduced to me that I couldn't keep straight, including Melody of a local radio show (on CJSW, but I don't have the name, yet) that had played Zander the night before. I pointed out my Stereo Embers interview with him, which she was unaware of, and which is on the way to getting a follow-up. She also hung out with Zander, who was generous with his conversation; I believe it was them who talked about the charcoal drawing on the album cover, but it was hard to eavesdrop with so many distractions.

Zander and Melody by Allan MacInnis

Anyhow, after the in-store, Bob and I made it by bus and foot to the Commodore, Bob in flip-flops because of a foot injury; hope he survived the pit without getting his toes trod on. Entry and coat check were uneventful: things ran like clockwork, and once we were inside - Bob's first Commodore gig since COVID began, and I think only my second, after LA Witch/ Black Angels - we went straight to the long lineup at the left of the room for merch, which ran the length of the venue, but again, proceeded efficiently. (I'm trying to put in a few positives about how well-run the night was because once I get to the sound...). 

There was no merch I wanted to spend money on, beside Zander's solo album, which I'd already grabbed. It was fun to see Skank Man action figures (or toys or figurines or whatever you call'em - I don't think the limbs moved, which I guess is what puts the action in the action figure, though you could still bounce them up and down on the tabletop, I guess, to the tune of "Wild in the Streets"). Cute, but I wasn't gonna pay $20 for one. There was Circle Jerks vinyl, but only things I have in one format or another already, those being the 40th anniversary editions of Group Sex, which - as Keith pointed out - they'd started out celebrating, and Wild in the Streets, two years later, which was what they ended up the tour celebrating, thanks to COVID. Both had bonus cuts, which were at least a little compelling, but... I'd hoped to get a 7 Seconds album that local punk scribe Chris Walter had pointed out to me (Leave a Light On - I was happy for him that they did the title track and glad to get to say hello to him, and Jason Flower, and Sass LaRock and a few ohter people). Alas, all they had in the 7 Seconds area was shirts. I'd also hoped to buy Keith Morris' book, My Damage, but it was not there, either. I'm pretty sure that I saw Shit Talkers panties on sale, the first time I visited the tables, but a) I'm a boxer briefs guy, myself; b) they weren't my wife's size and c) by the time I made my second trip, they'd sold out. I don't think Erika would have wanted Shit Talkers panties, anyhow. There's something strange about having the word "shit" on your underwear, you know? 

Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

I did think about buying a Circle Jerks shirt - especially the hockey-themed one; I'm not a hockey fan, but I do share a name with a hockey celeb - such that Joe Keithley routinely asks me how my slapshot is - and it was pleasantly Canadian (and it was the last Canadian gig on the tour! Dead merch! Dead merch!). But after the Zander in-store, I only had $40 to spend and had not eaten, a chunk of special cookie aside, since breakfast; it was either buy a shirt or buy dinner and have some money left over. There were other cool shirts - local punk Adam Kates, in the crowd last night, snagged a great 7 Seconds tee and it did look good - but I was pretty hungry, so...

Kevin Seconds by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

The bands followed set times pretty closely, with the Shit Talkers starting very soon after 8, 7 Seconds at 9, Circle Jerks at 10. The Shit Talkers went on shortly after I sat to scarf down a pretty good $10 chicken sandwich, bought from the former Commodore merch area, which was more of a fried chicken burger, kind of a Downlow-type sando, and not the chicken salad sandwich that I was expecting. Harder to eat than I realized it would be but it was yummy, so whatever. Being able to have a totally satisfying dinner for $10 was actually a pretty unexpected perk of the night. I treated myself to a real Coke, too, since I can't have beer, they didn't have Coke Zero, and Diet Coke just doesn't taste right to me.

The Circle Jerks by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

Sadly, I don't think I've heard worse sound at a Commodore show, at least for the first two acts: had some real struggles finding places in the room from which the Shit Talkers and 7 Seconds sounded even listenable (a Facebook friend remarked on FB that the sound is usually not as good for opening acts - something I've also noticed at other shows - but added that it was really noticeable this time out; very true!). I ended up moving around to try to find a better place to hear the Shit Talkers from, because from the left side, where I had started, they were lost in this echoey bass roar, like the moans of a dying elephant with terminal flatulence, trapped in a wind tunnel during a hurricane (note: this is not a comment on the band's performance in any way!). The sound vastly improved when I threw away my burger wrapper and moved up for a front-and-center POV. 

The Shit Talkers by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

I think I'm gonna have to check out the Shit Talkers in a smaller venue at some point, because they seem like a game band, very sincere and expressive, but between my not really knowing their catalogue and not liking the sound in the room, I don't feel like I did them justice. Liz, sporting a Real McKenzie's shirt apropos of the recent Hands in the Air festival, had a kinda unusual strumming style, playing much higher up the neck than one is used to seeing; she also a confident, seasoned stage-presence and commanding voice, seeming like the real deal, punk-wise. It was fun seeing "East Van" live (I've bought their album off Bandcamp - also see here - but haven't done it justice yet, so that's still the only song of theirs I know, off an old Not Yer Buddy comp...). While the lineup no longer appears to be all-girl, it was nice that a band that had some female presence played, keeping the evening from being an all-out sausage fest.

Staking out a spot up front for 7 Seconds, some guy next to me in his 40s asked me how old I was and gave me a little spiel about how he wasn't gonna stop going up front regardless of how old he got; I told him that I like it better up front, too, but that I was probably going to move back after a few songs - because improved sound is great, but being collided into is not! (I mean, understand - I wake up feeling sore, some days. No idea how either 7 Seconds or the Circle Jerks do it). Sadly, from my initial vantage point, slightly to the left of center, 7 Seconds were completely dominated by the vocals - which I like, but I also did want to hear some guitar. Maybe I was just standing too close to Kevin's monitor? I ended up moving off to the right of the venue and weirdly, though the left side had sounded lousy, the right side sounded pretty great - the guitar was much better. (Bev Davies, responding to my beefs later, remarked that she doesn't care so much about the sound as long as the light is good; she'll put in earplugs to better concentrate on taking photos, while I, on the other hand, will often close my eyes to listen... tho', uh, not so much at hardcore shows).

7 Seconds by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

Kevin Seconds has the vibe of a genuinely nice guy. 7 Seconds gave a fullsome set, (nearly?) as long as the Circle Jerks, covering all aspects of their history, with Adam - who was more there for them than the CJs - remarking that we would probably never again see shows like this... he may be right. COVID certainly has people appreciating a night out. While Kevin did hit some political talking points, including the recent Supreme Court decisions to overturn Roe vs. Wade, mostly he focused on the importance of community and about people coming together for something positive (he gave a nice shout out to DOA in so doing; 7 Seconds, of course, were on the bill at Hardcore 81, a legendary two-day gig that shared a name with one of DOA's best-known albums...


Kevin seemed as happy to be onstage as we were happy to hear him, even if it got kinda hard, sound not being perfect, to tell all the songs apart (to be honest, I have that problem with all uber-fast hardcore these days, anyhow). I sang along a little, joining in on chanted choruses for "Not Just Boys Fun," speaking of the need to have a female-fronted band on the bill. I wanted to show him the photo Bev took of him and Chi back in 2015, but I didn't get a chance, so here it is again. (The original blogpost with that pic is here, also including shots of the Circle Jerks that Bev shot back in 1981!). Kevin has a very sincere smile. He has much longer hair now, which he's now wearing in ponytails almost as long as Keith's dreads...

Mr. Chi Pig and Kevin Seconds by Bev Davies, 2015, not to be reused without permission

I tend to prefer 7 Seconds more tuneful, mid-tempo songs - "We're Gonna Fight" was the high point for me,  though I enjoyed seeing "99 Red Balloons," too. (My fave 7 Seconds album so far is Walk Together, Rock Together, which has both those songs on it). Since I couldn't find it on the merch table, I'm gonna order Leave a Light On by some other means, since I think Chris is probably onto something with that - the title track was another standout in the set - and sometimes you just love an album's cover, you know? I love this album cover: 

Incidentally, my German editor at Ox Fanzine informs me that Nena has fallen out of favour with a lot of Germans over having taken an anti-vax stance, but I still utterly love that 7 Seconds cover this song. I mean, it's not like I actually want to listen to the Nena version of it... 

Circle Jerks next. I hope that "Deny Everything" (which clocks in at about 25 seconds) didn't count as one of the first three songs that the photographers got to shoot! Keith explained that the band's strategy was to do blocks of songs with a bit of a breather between each block. He was chatty and witty and seemed to be enjoying himself much much more than the last time I saw the Circle Jerks, where you could kinda tell that the band wasn't in a great place ("we hated each other," I think is how Keith put it). That show - what was it, in 2007 - was not only the last time I ever moshed, even briefly, but also kinda left a bad taste in my mouth. The band had much better chemistry last night.

The Circle Jerks by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

At one point during one of those breaks he mentioned the lyric in "Wild in the Streets" about Miss America. "Is there a Miss Canada?" He speculated as to who that might be - Pamela Anderson in a Maple Leaf costume blowing the goalie for the Montreal Canadiennes? Something like that. It was better than I could come up with. And of course the Circle Jerks sounded great, though having found a place n the room where I liked the sound, I mostly stuck to the right side of the room, so it might have been where I was standing. 

Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks by bev davies, not to be reused without permission. Bev thinks Keith's shirt reads, "Listen to the Germs"

I have nothing intelligent to say about the Circle Jerks but it was fun hearing Keith, during his engaging between-song spiels, pay kudos to Chris D. (and Slash magazine) and (Plugz/ Cruzados/ Tito and Tarantula frontman) Tito Larriva, who wrote "I and I," a song that surprised me the last time I saw the band at the Commodore and surprised me again last night (it's a great song and they are the only people performing it, so I don't know why I never expect to hear it). Greg Hetson looks exactly like I remember him lookin' last time I saw them, kind of ageless in his energy; he must have either a super-fast metabolism or a hella workout routine, because everyone else I know has put on a few pounds, at least, since COVID hit. Joey Castillo's drumming was a real pleasure to hear, too. They've got a good'un - even "When the Shit Hits the Fan," which I kinda hated the drums on in the original - way too busy! - sounded great in his hands. 

Greg Hetson by Bob Hanham, July 3, 2022, not to be reused without permission 

The moshpit looked a bit less insane than it had for the Dayglos at the Rickshaw, and security guards were very visibly active getting crowd surfers down safely - I hope they were just putting them back into the pit afterwards and not escorting them out or anything. No stage diving, of course - though I did see a security guard himself do a sort of stage dive to intercede in some ugliness in the moshpit, which I could not see, though I craned my neck. I stayed well out of the pit - like I have said in a lyric, I am officially now too old to mosh. But the spirit still moved me a bit during "Parade of the Horribles," which got me dancing in place for a bit, sort of a spasmic jittering like you might expect to see at a snake handling revival. No rattlesnakes were passed round, however. Okay by me. 

Zander Schloss with the Circle Jerks with bev davies looking on, photo by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

Ran out of steam shortly before "World Up My Ass" - very near the end of the Circle Jerks hour-plus set - and negotiated coatcheck and left, accidentally stealing Bob's umbrella, which he'd placed in my bag for safekeeping (I mean, it IS safe, still, here in my apartment). The band was still playing - maybe #30 of 33 songs - so I was bemusedly walking up Granville Street to the tune of "Operation," ringing through the streets. Put me in mind of listening to the music coming through the walls while shopping at the Granville Book Company, on late nights when a Commodore gig was going on, if any of y'all remember that experience, except the whole of Granville Street was the bookstore, this time out. 

Crowd watching Circle Jerks by bev davies ("starring Chris Walter"), not to be reused without permission

Ben Frith confirms by phone that Neptoon Records does indeed still have copies of Song About Songs; they're the only people stocking the album in Vancouver, so if you want it, you'd better get there soon; otherwise, you're left with the mailorder option

Circle Jerks have a few days off then are off to New York. Godspeed, guys. Thanks for the great night.

PS - Bob's foot did, indeed, survive the night without further injury! It's a miracle! 

Sunday, July 03, 2022

On engaging with an anti-choice/ anti-abortion troll on social media

 So a Facebook friend of mine - someone I don't think I've actually met - posted this on Facebook. 



Not much argument from me there - I mean, I haven't been out there screaming "get a vasectomy!" Haven't seen anyone actually seriously argue FOR mandatory vasectomies. And while it says something that this is, apparently, a woke white person making this argument, possibly as a woker-than-thou gesture - it would be an entirely reasonable thing to be sensitive about, assuming anyone from the mentioned groups actually is sensitive about it. So whatever. 

But the discussion got derailed in the first post. Someone observed that we should also not make this discussion a "men vs. women thing, saying:

I don't know *any* men who believe that a woman should be denied the right to choose what happens in her own womb. And I know a lot of bulky, loud, insensitive men.

There was some discussion of that, quickly made inflammatory by someone named Chris, who was either a sincere anti-abortionist or else a troll trying on a character, accusing the poster of being a "sissy" and observing that no real man would allow his woman to abort his fetus, including some language saying the commenter could not speak for them.

Sadly, these comments were removed by the owner of the thread, since they were inflammatory and inarticulate and taking "the wrong side," I guess. So I can't replicate them. But my responses remain, now decontextualized: 

Chris ____: - he can speak for me. I am entirely pro-choice. If a woman were impregnated by me and there were serious complicating factors, economic or physical, or we weren't in a serious relationship, it would be HER BODY HER CHOICE. She is the one most immediately impacted. I might wanna have INPUT and I might feel feelings about it, might even be devastated, but FORCE HER TO CARRY IT TO TERM AND BIRTH IT for my benefit, fuck the consequences of that? It is grotesque and frankly I do not think I could be friendly with someone who was that selfish and unenlightened. 

The reason I suspect this "Chris" character might have been a troll? They leapt to inflammatory name-calling right off the bat both times anyone engaged with them. The previous commenter had been a sissy. I was quickly called a Satanist. It's POSSIBLE that the person really was that emotive/ broken/ stupid - there are people that emotive/ broken/ stupid out there, to be sure - but it's just as likely it was an idiot on a lark. There's lots of that out there, too. 

But for clarity's sake: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Satanist. I've interviewed one or two, have read a book by Anton LaVey, and I once, as a teenager, wrote away to the Temple of Set for a pamphlet; I enjoy the provocations of the Satanic Temple, too, and would probably feel comfortable in their company... but I feel no need for ritual or organized religion in my life. I own no dark robes. I have never sacrificed a baby, not even figuratively. Nor have I ever, as far as I know, been involved in the conception of one, aborted or otherwise. 

Anyhow, the response was quite something - I'm sad that it's gone forever. It included the assertion that this had nothing to do with a woman's body. but was all about the life of the baby. It did suggest that the person making the comment was unreachable. But I engaged anyhow, more out of charity of spirit than anything, and I'm rather pleased with my calm reply, The transition between the first paragraph and second, below, is slightly rocky, but I was standing in a doorway or something, on my way from A to B, thumbing this into my Android, y'know? I think you'll still be able to follow me. 

Chris ____ - aha, I see! Look: if we had a way to REMOVE THE NEWLY CONCEIVED FETUS and raise it to term, in an artificial womb or even the womb of an infertile woman who WANTS to conceive, at that point, you are right: her body has nothing to do with it, and she should have no say beyond "Do you want to give birth? Can you, safely?" - and she said NO...

 ... Well, in that case, sure. Her body ceases to be a consideration, the fetus is safely transplanted, etc... I would even go so far as to say, at that point, that the fetus should be protected by law. Someone who came around terminating embryos being brought to term in an artificial womb would be a murderer. Would go THAT FAR with you... 

But to insist that her body has nothing to do with it when you expect the fetus to be carried to term inside it...

... When it's her body it needs to safely emerge from...

... When it may have been put in her body against her will...

...well, sorry, but you are missing some key items. But for all I know you are a bored troll out for lullz, so I won't engage further here. Good luck in your life.


Anyhow, if you're curious about where I stand on the whole Roe vs. Wade/ SCOTUS thing, that's about it. I don't like the idea of abortion. I actually do think there's a grey area about where life begins; but the life of the "host organism" trumps the life that is dependent on it. It'd be great if someone came up with technology - the artificial womb, or the idea of a "fetal transplant" (which I guess isn't a real idea yet, since Google corrects it to "fecal transplant" when I search) - to safely remove the fetus from women who do not want, for whatever reason, to carry or birth it, without actually destroying the fetus. That seems like the "best of both worlds" scenario here, but it's the stuff of science fiction, I guess. 

Until that time, though, "her body her choice" is about the last word for me. 

Friday, July 01, 2022

Barium, Bison, and a Burnt-Out Thrift Store: a somewhat odd day for Al

All photos by Allan MacInnis, unless they are album or book covers. Not to be reused without permission!

This is a kind of long thing just sorta documenting my day yesterday. But my day was not without its interesting moments. 

After an uneventful breakfast and a cadged ride from my wife, things began at Burnaby Hospital, with the scheduled swallowing of radioactive materials so that my inner workings of tongue and throat could be x-rayed and video'd. This way, my SLP (and potentially others) can better figure out what's going on with my chewing and swallowing. Turns out that barium on its own, mixed in water, tastes like a vaguely vanilla-flavoured chalk - not vile, but not exactly yummy, either. Besides drinking it, I was also recorded on video X-ray eating barium-coated canned peaches and banana slices, butterscotch pudding with barium mixed in, and finally a little chunk of barium sandwich, which (I coulda told them) was the hardest thing for me to eat, since, without a normal tongue muscle to move it around, bread can tend to clump up in the roof of my mouth. There was some concern about aspiration, coughing, etc - but I have no idea if other than proving things that I coulda told them about, today really accomplished anything - my Frankentongue remains a Frankentongue, and there were few surprises, just a formal documentation of stuff I kinda knew. Presumably that documentation may be useful for insurance purposes, later on. My SLP did advise me that, based on what she saw, I should use beverages to help me swallow, not my airy "slurp," since the latter seems too likely to result in my inhaling food. I guess that's useful! 

Alas, I have no photos of the procedure, because the hospital had a no photos rule. All the radioactive materials made my tongue sting a bit, somewhat to my surprise, since it's on the side that has next to no nerves. It's also interesting that that's the side I tend to chew on, since you'd figure I'd have more control on the side of my mouth with my "natural" tongue. But I don't - and again, that video documented that. 

All that radioactive snacking left me a bit queasy, so - having rinsed out the remaining barium in the hospital bathroom and caught a bus to a Skytrain, thence the train to Commercial Drive, I ate at the first restaurant on my route, which was Cafe Deux Soleil - a place I don't go to often, since a musician friend of mine was once censured for an insufficiently-woke gig poster he'd designed, for a gig that he ended up cancelling. But really, I needed food ASAP.  

It was interesting enough. I have never been served by a girl in a Crass t-shirt before, ever, not even at the Cobalt or Funkys, I don't think. She didn't really care to chat about it, though. The huevos rancheros, re-named huevos angeros, for reasons unclear to me, was pretty darn good. The coffee was oddly not - cheap gutrot, unworthy of any restaurant, kind of surprising, really. Even Denny's has better coffee. It tasted less than some primo fair trade brand (which is kind of what I'd expected) than it did my in-law's uber-cheap, acidic, giant cans of MJB. Served lukewarm. No refills for me! 

Lotta SJW-type graffiti in the Deux Soleil can. I peruse, snap pics, but about my only thought about it is wondering whether the fish doodle was put there by a Flipper fan. Probably not.  What the hell is CATA, anyway?




Ted Falconi of Flipper once told a story into a tape player that I'd left on the table, when I was taking a breather from interviewing David Yow at the Astoria, about how Flipper graffiti ended up on the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, and other famous places, but the story implicated Flipper a bit, and while Yow - who had recorded the story for me while I peed or did whatever it was I was doing - probably intended me to use it, I didn't want to get Ted and Steve into trouble, so... the deets remain unprinted anywhere. 

Proceed to Audiopile, where I look for items that I can get Zander Schloss to sign at his Sunday in-store ("Is Zander on this Weirdos album?"). I gave away or sold my copy of the vinyl for Walker, sadly, because the album was full of skips, and I'd gotten the CD instead, but now I regret it, since the cover would have been GREAT for Zander to sign (he plays the Latin stringed instruments on the album, his second musical collaboration with Joe after Joe co-wrote "Salsa Y Ketchup" with him). 

Hmm, do I want to spent $42.99 on the Wild in the Streets reissue for the sake of a few added live cuts? I contemplate it, elect not to. Maybe it will be on the merch table Sunday. Maybe for less. But maybe I don't need it at all (I have the album, just not with the few live tracks tacked on to the second side. And the 20-page booklet. It could help me research if I ever talk to Keith, but... hmm).   


Then I spy something I've just never come across on vinyl before: the Black Flag My War demos, with Vancouver's favourite punk rock drummer,  Chuck Biscuits. Okay, well, it's prolly some sort of bootleg, but I'm never gonna see it again, and... yeah, no, this I can't resist (they had a copy left, note).

I notice while at Audiopile that they have Bison's Quiet Earth on the wall for a mere $60. I snap a photo and post it on Facebook, because I have friends who are Bison fans. I used to have a t-shirt of this album cover, swiped off me some ten or so years ago at Funky's while I drunkenly watched Auroch. Here I am wearing it while chatting with the Minimalist Jug Band outside Neptoon, I think, back when I had a bit more face fur...

I miss that shirt and still keep an eye out for it when I pass the street vendors on East Hastings, in case it turns up. I hope whoever wears it nowadays is worthy. My wife tried to buy me a replacement direct from the guys in the band, but they don't have it anymore. I guess Metal Blade owns the rights? Too bad.

Oddly, I also lost my other favourite Bison shirt at the Commodore, coming out of the Descendents, where James of Bison in fact had been leaping up and down using my shoulders as support when the band kicked into "Silly Girl." The pit had gotten pretty sweaty and I had another shirt with me, for some reason, so on the way out, I took off my Bison Wizard Staff shirt - previously the topic of this blogpost - and changed, putting the Bison shirt (I thought) into my bag, just soaked in perspiration. But it must have fallen out. Kinda weird that the only t-shirts I have lost - EVER, either by theft or carelessness - were for the same band. I've worn out the odd shirt, given away the odd shirt, even donated a few cool punk rock shirts to thrift stores ("Someone will be happy to find this"), but never LOST shirts by bands. Unless they were Bison shirts. 

Of course, I've never owned as many shirts by a band as I have by Bison - not even Nomeansno! - so... 

My next errand takes me to Hooked on Phono in Burnaby, a fun little record store, better for new vinyl than used, but - as they are quite far out of town - too often overlooked, which means that if you are shopping for something that was reissued five years ago - especially punk and metal - and which now is out of print, you have a better chance of finding it there than elsewhere, which was the case with the Circle Jerks' Wonderful, reissued awhile back and not in any other local store that I've found (I'd seen it last time I was there and lucked out: it stayed on the shelf waiting for me). I mean, how can I not get Zander to sign this, it's got him right there on the front cover! Maybe I can get Keith and Greg to sign it too... I never did ask Zander when I interviewed him about the "Snake" nickname/ "ironic spirit animal" or whatever that Zander is associated with on the back cover - I presume "Just Another Broken Heart for Snake" is written about him, but, well, ya miss a few, sometimes. Sounds like a biker nickname, really. it wasn't really part of his look back then, but Zander makes a pretty convincing biker, these days. I wonder if he had that "Schloss Angeles" jacket made for the video, or...?

Truth is, Wonderful is not my favourite Circle Jerks album. I don't care for a few songs on it - "American Heavy Metal Weekend" is kinda a cheap shot, and they fire a shot at the Blue Oyster Cult in it, whom I love, which makes me bristle a bit. And much as the sentiments behind "Making the Bombs" and "Killing for Jesus" are agreeable, the songs themselves don't grab me as much as, say, "Wonderful," "I and I" (written by Chris D. and Tito Larriva!), "Dude," and "Mrs. Jones," my faves on the album. "Karma Stew," one of the Zander songs on it, is pretty great, too. But I never really got hooked by "Firebaugh" (maybe because I still don't know what a firebaugh is) or "Rock House" or "The Crowd," so, unlike Group Sex or Wild in the Streets - which are 100% gold - or, say, Golden Shower of Hits, which is also almost perfect, I have not paid that much attention to Wonderful over the years. 

But it's too perfect a front cover for me not to try to get it signed, so...

On the way from the Drive to Hooked on Phono, I had passed by the smouldering ruins of Value Village. There's water streaming down the sidewalk, wreckage in the path ahead. I see some charred pages of a book on the road. Books were one of the things I used to shop for there; I actually found myself wondering whether those French editions of several Georges Simenon novels that I'd noted - thinking "Someone will want those, but I don't know who" - were ever purchased, or if they went up in smoke like the rest of the stock...? I don't think anyone got seriously hurt in the blaze - unless they inhaled some asbestos - but it's too bad about all the STUFF that got torched...



When I get close, I am sternly walked to the far side of the street by some coplike security fella who does not seem to believe I am complying with his request. "Okay, okay, I'm going, you don't have to walk with me, I know how to cross the street, man!" (I wasn't even that close to the wreckage). I used to shop there periodically, but wracking my brain, cannot recall what my last purchase there was; Value Village have been consistently raising the prices of all their books and movies and CDs and such,. so that the most expensive thrift store in the lower mainland just got more expensive. While I kind of resent their prices, even more than I resent their masquerade as a legit charity - they're a for-profit enterprise that only donate a pittance to charity - I do recognize that they served a valuable community function and were a kind of hub in the neighbourhood. Hell, I've even made plans to meet friends there ("see you in the book section"). The community has lost something, no doubt. 



My most positive associations with Value Village are from a very distant past, where you could find really cool records sometimes (like the Circle Jerks Wild in the Streets, actually, bought back in the 1980s at the Maple Ridge VV in its original incarnation near 223rd and Dewdney) but it was always interesting to see what they had. Sometimes the amusement was just in seeing how ridiculously high they could price things. There's a somewhat damaged original pressing of Quadrophenia at the Braid location that I would have bought if they'd been charging actual thrift store prices, but $19.99? That's almost what a real record store would charge, maybe more considering the split in the cover... I thought the deal was supposed to be that you saved money at thrift stores, got things for less than you would at a regular store? Isn't that the whole concept behind "thrift"...?

Not many specific recollections from the location that burned down, but I do remember one time, back in the late 1990's or so, seeing a book club edition of Stephen King's The Shining priced at $199, because they couldn't tell the book club from the first edition (very basic knowledge in the book world but, what's the expression, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing?). That was quite awhile ago, but around that time, in perfect shape - which this wasn't - the book club of that book was worth about $15, maximum; I know, because I'd bought it and flipped it a couple of times, picking it up for two bucks or so and selling it for seven or eight to a bookstore, which in turn would price it thus. There are completed eBay auctions for it at the moment for $13, $15 and up, but back then... jeezus, $199 for a tattered book club... was anyone stupid enough to buy it? 



My friends on social media are divided between suggesting that the store was set ablaze for the real estate value of the lot (some $13 million, did I see?) and that it went up accidentally as a result of a meth user in the alley making a mistake with one of those little torches. I have no idea. It does seem like there's been an awful lot of fires in Vancouver in recent years, often in areas that are itching for condos, so I understand where the mistrust comes from, in such a development-oriented and somewhat slightly corrupt city. I'm a bit skeptical - I think an arsonist would have waited until later at night, when it was less likely that anyone could get hurt, and kinda suspect that the punks and miscreants I'm friends with on Facebook have a somewhat jaundiced view of humanity, but it's a lot of asbestos-laden smoke to set into the air, a lot of stress to put on a kind of impoverished community - friends of mine in adjacent buildings were evacuated, briefly - so I hope there's an investigation.  I guess if it is done well, arson is pretty hard to prove...




Anyway, Hooked on Phono done, I satiate my thrift desire at the Gilmore Sally Ann (Richard Scarry books for my young nephew, Elvis CDs for my wife - we both really enjoyed the Baz Luhrmann film the other night - but not so much for me). I take a break from everything at a bench for a bit, enjoying the sun and the breeze, contemplating how rare it is to find a bench on the sidewalk unless it's a bus stop bench. Enrico Renz of Red Herring tells me he's written a song about a bench. I like this. This particular one is near a little parklike cluster of greenery and I enjoy sitting there, putzing with my phone, even taking a selfie...

...until a construction worker stands upwind of me and lights a cigarette.It's hard to express just how resentful I get at breathing second hand smoke, these days, having likely lost half my tongue to my smoking habit of yore. But the bench was fun while it lasted, and puts me in a gentle, observant mood. I pause to try to get a good photo of the bees on some wild clover, and make a post on Facebook about the growing evidence that colony collapses are due to neonicotinoid pesticides... I can remember my childhood, when every flower in this field would have had a bee working it... now I see a handful of honeybees, a handful of bumblebees. It's not normal, but not as sad as it would be if there were no bees at all.

It turns out the weirdness had not yet truly commenced. Checking Facebook as I ride the Skytrain from Gilmore to Commercial, I see that Dan And of Bison himself, and the author of my favourite song on it (and also my Facebook friend) actually NEEDS that copy of Quiet Earth on vinyl; turns out he'd given his last copy away, years ago, not realizing what he was doing. Audiopile had priced it at $59.99, which might seem like a lot, until you realize that a) the record sold for over $40 when it came out back in 2008, which was an unheard-of price to pay for a new record back then; and b) there are presently only two copies of it on vinyl on Discogs, only one of which will ship to Canada, which with shipping comes to over $300. Which is a bit ambitious, really, as the median is humbler - $85.78 CAD - but it's very cool that Audiopile have priced it a fair bit below the median.

Then I notice that Dan has posted a post of his own, asking if anyone he knows would pick the record up for him? It happens that I am on almost back at Commercial Drive as I see this. My feet are getting a bit sore, but I had been trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my day anyhow, so I volunteer.

This turns into a kinda silly story. I pay for the album, getting my Audiopile point-card filled, giving me $10 with which to buy a used Toxic Reasons LP that I had missed on my previous visit. I take the opportunity to peruse the stock. There are a few other cool things I pass on - the cheap CD rack has some Steve Earle, a CD of Lou Reed's Set the Twilight Reeling, and a couple of other things I contemplate ("Do I need Lou Reed's The Bells on CD?" It's only $5.99, and not a CD you see often, but I only ever play side two of the album, so...). I text a friend who is a big Burroughs fan to see if he needs Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales, for $2.99... but he doesn't. 

Paying for my added purchases, I check our messages back and forth to see that Dan has asked his friend Ryan of Himalayan Bear to pick up the album off me, since Ryan will be driving out to Dan's neck-o'-the-woods soon. At that point, I've paid for the record and Dan has e-transferred me the money  (plus a tip with which I buy a Scratch Acid CD, since when was the last time I saw a Scratch Acid CD?)... but there is some sort of miscommunication between Ryan and Dan and myself and I end up cooling my jets in the store for half an hour, which Ryan does not realize I am doing  until I get his phone number from Dan and text him. CDs and LPs keep leaping out at me: Do I need Theatre of Hate's Westworld on CD? I don't listen to the LP much. But I have never even SEEN it on CD. Hm. Well, I can always give it to Bob Hanham if I decide I don't need it in two formats, I'll be seeing him on Sunday for the Circle Jerks...

I exchange enough messages with Dan and Ryan on social media that people start to comment that they are being entertained by the saga, but it has a happy ending - Ryan and I end up meeting on the street, and I get visual confirmation of his pick up so I can post it and end the story (and confirm with Dan that I just gave the right guy the record, because the whole transaction has been visible online). 

By this point, my feet are killing me and I'm happy to make it to the Skytrain, but not before popping into Spartacus Books on Commercial. I had no idea they had moved there. I have fond associations with Spartacus, since, as a 14-year old suburban punk, I bought my first issues of Open Road there, a local anarchist paper that I was interested in for coverage of the arrest and trial of the so-called Squamish Five. If memory serves, they were burned out of a location once, too, in the distant past. Or was that just a renoviction? I'm glad they still exist, but they don't have the book I ask about (Keith Morris' My Damage), so I spend nothing.

Excited about the concert(s) on Sunday. The local support has been announced: the Shit Talkers - who also play later today at the Hands in the Air festival at the Princeton Legion - will play at 8, 7 Seconds at 9, and the Circle Jerks at 10. The Zander Schloss in-store at Neptoon is earlier, at 4:30. I'm stoked. It's gonna be a great day of music. 

If only I still had that Walker soundtrack! By the by, speaking of soundtracks, Hooked on Phono had a copy of the (really good) promo soundtrack that Reg Harkema put out on vinyl for Monkey Warfare. It was never commercially available, but he brought a few copies of it to town when the film screened at the VIFF, some of which ended up in odd places, like the vinyl bin at Budgie's Burritos. $20, but I don't know anyone else who is a fan of Monkey Warfare, so I left it behind.

If you want it, go get it yourself!