Thursday, February 25, 2010

Birthday Tribute to Johnny Cash

The first time my daughter heard Johnny Cash, she was sitting in the back seat of the car in her child safety seat. She was barely 5 years old and as I often would, I was singing to her to make the road trip more bearable.

When I was just a young boy my mother told me son,
Always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns...

I would glance at her through the rear view mirror as I sang the words. She was off in her own little world, her mind encompassed in whatever thoughts travel through such a feckless childhood brain. It was hard for me to tell if she was listening to the lyrical phrases as I sang them to her, or if she was just in that Walt Disney princess world that most little girls seem to be in at the age of five.

Then I sang that fateful line...

Well I shot a man in Reno... Just to watch him die.

Suddenly it was as if she had been poked by a needle. He glance immediately met mine in the mirror, and she had that look of Woah!..  Did you just say what I thought you said? on her face. I gave her a smile assuring her that yes I said it, and don't worry. Everything is going to be alright.

I began to sing the next line of the song... But she interrupted me.

"Daddy," she said. "What is that song?"

"It's called by Folsom Prison Blues, sweetheart."

"Did you write it?" she asked, still gazing at me through the mirror.

"No baby," I answered. "It's a song by Johnny Cash."

The look on her face went from mild concern to genuine fascination. "Sing it again!"

That was five years ago, but I remember that moment like it was yesterday. She is 10 now, and Johnny Cash is still very much a part of her musical life, just as he was for me when I was a kid. He was the one musician who had that universal quality that held no barriers... No walls surrounded Johnny Cash. Country music fans adored him, as much as rock fans thought he was cool. He was dangerous enough to appeal to the punk rock scene and even hardcore fans considered him iconic...  And so did a 5 year-old little girl who suddenly found herself wrapped up in perhaps the most famous song lyric of all time, sung to her by her daddy as she sat in her safety seat during a long road trip.

Johnny Cash would have turned 78 years old tomorrow (February 26) had he not died six and a half years ago. Religion was just as much a part of his life as were the drugs he abused and his revolting attitude. In many ways I see myself through the eyes of Johnny Cash, without the fame of course, and the knack for writing great songs... But more in the aspect that he and I shared that same tortured soul syndrome... With a list of bad choices made throughout our lives, but the ability to humble ourselves in the eyes of God. Johnny meant so much more to me than just a song writer. I literally looked up to him as a figure of hope when my life would fall to shambles and as a halo of light when times were good. His beacon was bright, and it carried me through many hard times. His loyalty to God did not go unnoticed, and sometimes during the bad times the combination of his voice and lyrics would bring a tear to my eye as he sang the gospel... Just as his outlaw songs might other times bring out the cause for a whiskey celebration.

Like my daughter, my introduction to Johnny Cash was through my father. I loved to sit and listen to my dad play his guitar when I was a small boy, usually around a campfire with a notebook full of song lyrics that my mother had hand written from listening to a stack of vinyl records. He would play the songs of Ernest Tubb, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Willie Nelson. But the moment I would get most excited was when he would pick out that intro to Folsom Prison Blues on the guitar and start singing those lyrics. Anybody who happened to be sitting around the camp fire immediately seemed to fall into a hypnotic state as he sang the words... Well I hear that train a comin'.

Happy birthday, Mr. Cash. As you so eloquently sang with the Highwaymen, you may simply be a single drop of rain; but (you) will remain. And (you'll) be back again...

And again and again and again and again.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Theory of Intelligence as Explained by Cliff

'Well you see, Norm, it's like this . . .  A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo.

And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first.

This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.

And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.'

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Phat Tuesday Randoms

I didn't watch the Olympics opening ceremonies this year, and didn't watch any events until Sunday when the games were already into their third day. This isn't because I have been advocating a boycott, but more so because they fell on a weekend that I had my daughter. I had been distracted for the most part... At 10 years old, she dominates my time in so many more positive ways than watching a television program could.

So the Olympics weren't even on my radar until Sunday, and until I heard the unmistakable melody... The Olympic theme song... It hadn't even really hit me that I watching. The magnitude of the games and the intensity of the participants, and the competitive aura and national pride... When I heard that theme, I got goosebumps. Now I have had the Winter Olympics on every night since.

I'm not a big fan of the mens' figure skating. I would enjoy that event so much more if they made it a bit more gladiator-like. You know, send out defensive lines of random hockey teams for a quick skate-by at irregular intervals during the figure skaters' routines. This would certainly boost ratings, as I am certain that NBC loses half of it's audience during that particular competition. Heck, I would invest in a Tivo system if that actually were the case.

I look forward to the hockey more than anything else, of course. I don't see the USA beating Russia or Canada for the gold medal, but it sure would be something if they did. Bobby Ryan, who played a stint in Des Moines last year with the Iowa Chops (Now with Anaheim) scored the first Olympic goal for the United States this afternoon. It's got to be a pretty cool feeling to go from playing minor league hockey in a small market one year to scoring a goal for your country's Olympic team the next.

One thing about Iowa... There is currently enough snow here now to host a Winter Olympics. Getting the car stuck in a drift has become the norm... It doesn't seem like morning to me without my 7:00 cup of joe and my 7:45 morning dig out. I live at the very end of an extremely narrow road in a very wooded area... And I don't always get the care that the city folks get when it comes to plowing the streets. In fact I don't get the plows at all, but instead a man on a tractor... Who comes around when he deems it necessary, which needless to say, isn't always in coordinance when I deem it necessary. Not that I blame him. I'm sure it's brutal for him to come out on a weekend and plow a path to my garage... And probably not very high on his priority list. I don't pay him, so I am thankful that he comes at all... Just merely stating that his narrow path doesn't make room for much error when backing my car out of the garage and attempting to turn it around to drive forward on the walled path out of here. I choose to be here, so let me emphasize what I said a few sentences ago... I am not complaining... Just explaining the reason that my car gets stuck nearly every single morning.

I heard on the radio one day last week that there was snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states. Hawaii was the lone stand-out, which seems sensible. But after thinking about it for a moment or two, I wondered if anybody had bothered checking the ground at Mauna Kea which at 13,800 feet is the highest point in the state. In fact, there are several regions in Hawaii that tower above the 12,000 foot range, where snow should visible at most times, I would think.

So yeah... Anyway.

Sometime when I wasn't looking, this blog has taken a turn towards becoming more of a music review blog than what it used to be... For those of you who read this and aren't into the music I blog about, namely punk and garage, I apologize. I hope you have stuck around. I have decided to make a conscience effort to ease back into the old format, which is basically just blogging from the hip, and writing my thoughts as they occur to me. I will not sway too far away from the music scene, however as I have gained quite a few new readers from blogging at that angle, and I appreciate their interest too. Music has always been a huge part of this blog, and my conscience effort is directed more at mixing my humor and randomness along with the music... Where The Bigfoot Diaries is a close balance of both, and not so much a blog that is just about music, or whatever that other style may be called. Either way, thank you for stopping by. As I said, I do appreciate your interest.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Next Year's Super Bowl Half Time Band Suggestion

Yeah... I'm betting the Sleaze-aholics can throw a party and hold their own on the big stage. I gotta wonder though... Is that a real leopard skin?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Tale of the 97 Cent Shoes

I'm not one for shopping malls.

But this weekend Essie and I spent a quality weekend in the big city together as a little get away... Call it an early Valentines to each other... And of course in the spirit of fairness, I was dragged invited to one of the larger malls in Des Moines. Now, I have to admit. I am not a mall person. I don't know if it's the pretention, or the bright lights, or the jacked up prices... Or the current lack of a good toy store... But I start to get figedty about 10-12 steps into the process of mall shopping. This day was no exception.

So... I was trying my best to be the good boyfriend and even spent some quality time with the little lady as she rummaged through the panty bin at Victoria's Secret. About that time she suggested that we split up... I'm sure my heavy sighing was a dead give away that I'd rather be anywhere else... So at her advice, I wandered off and found a sporting goods store that had some cool Cubs jerseys in the windows, and a few assorted NFL jerseys. I wandered in hoping to find a section of hockey jerseys, or even hockey t-shirts, but was told by the sales clerk that they do not carry hockey clothing "anymore because it just sat on the shelf, so it was shipped back to the warehouse." I told him that it would probably sell quite nicely in a clearance rack, but whatever, I'd look around at the cool Cubs jerseys I saw when I walked in. Well I lost interest rather quickly when I saw that the t-shirt style jerseys started at about 45 bucks.

I'm sure at that point I let out a heavy sigh.

Eventually I found Essie... The cell phone signal was blocked within the walls of the mall, so that in itself was a chore. After searching for her for 45 minutes walking up and down the corridors, I finally found her at a point I had already walked past about three or four times. She said she had been there for long time, and I had never passed her. I thought about arguing with her, but decided against it. I was just happy that she seemed to be done shopping and that we could get out of this surrealistic cartoon world. We started for the door.

"You never bought anything" she said to me. I noticed she was carrying two or three bags.

"Well," I said, "I didn't really find anything that I needed, or wanted to pay an arm or a leg for."

She said, "You should go to Old Navy... Thay have great stuff there, and the clothes are your style. We should check it out." I had never been to Old Navy before, but had seen the shirts and jackets with it's logo brightly advertised on the front. About 110% sure that I wouldn't find "my style" of clothes in there, I followed Essie in. She was already walking through the door...

I wandered to the mens' section and did find some cargo shorts I liked that should have been a hell of a lot cheaper than $35.00. Afterall, it was 12 degrees outside with about 3 feet of snow on the ground. Again it seemed like a great clearance rack item.

Suddenly I saw them. In a bin of folded khakis there was this simple pair of shoes... Skating loafers... The ones you slip on without the worry of shoe laces... Generally the most comfortable of all shoes. The tragedy about this style of shoe is that most pairs are incessantly ugly. The pair in this bin of khakis however was not ugly. In fact they were cool. And they definitely seemed to be my style.

I walked over and picked them up. I was instantly shocked. They must have been carried from a clearance rack because the price on the tag had obviously been lowered with a pricing gun. The orange tag connected to the shoe said 97 cents. I couldn't believe it, and was even more blown away when I saw that it was a size 9... The size I wear. I found a clerk and asked her if this was indeed the price of the shoe, and she said yes. She also said that it was the last pair in the store.

It was fate... Or maybe my destiny... But I bought that pair of shoes at the mall at the Old Navy store. Essie led me to the promised land... And I suddenly wasn't so upset about being in the mall anymore. We went out that night to see some local music and I wore the shoes.

...And I must say, I rocked them. I looked cool as hell.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Garage Podge dept.

Sometimes by the sheer grace of all that's not right in this world, something amazing happens and nobody seems to notice. That seems to be the case with The Mummies, a California band that somehow flew under the radar of all that is right with rock and roll.

While the radio stations became more corporate in the '80s and MTV was carving it's ugly niche in rock and roll history, these boys from San Mateo were taking the local scene by storm, playing gigs up and down the coast. The venues ranged from sullied bars with names like Tina and Linda's and Al's Bar to regular gigs at pizza parlors. They were even known to take the stage at open mike sessions. Dressed in tattered cloth... They were the Mummies afterall... This band had a knack for bringing the garage to each of their shows. They might epitomize what the garage sound is... I was shocked when I discovered that the Mummies were indeed from the '80s and not of the pre-punk era of the early '70s.

My first impression of listening to The Mummies Death By Unga Bunga!! was a mix of euphoric delight and cautious trepidation. I was at work and surrounded by people whose taste in music was vastly different from mine. I could hear the savage beats of the drums and the side-splitting guitar riffs and the screeching howl of the vocals and the Lee Dorman-like bass... But it just wasn't loud enough.. And being at work in that situation, I knew that I would have to wait to turn it up. Luckily I didn't have to wait long. As soon as I got home I opened it up to full volume and gave my ears the smashmouth beating that my brain had been craving up to that point. From the first song on the CD (or as in this case my Ipod to which I loaded the CD as a suggestion from my pal Driver 13...), Introduction To The Mummies to the final and 22nd track on the CD, a secret mystery song titled ???, I was finally in the state of euphoria without the trepidation.

And I was literally pissed off at myself for not having heard this band earlier. I mean seriously. Where the fuck had I been?

This band had several aspects that made it aesthetically pleasing. They skirted the mainstream by playing low budget venues and spent most of their time on tour wagging their middle finger at not just the corporate music world, but also at everything else that made up the '80s... Plastic, glamor and glitz. They were a long ways away from the material world that other bands were singing about in that era.

They defamed themselves further by using archaic and often-wrecked equipment which actually led to that "bringing the garage with them" sound that is so electrically appeasing. Instead of traveling in a padded bus with all the frills, they chose instead to tour within the (dis)comforts of a white 1963 Pontiac ambulance, with THE MUMMIES painted drearily on each side. In the spirit of being "low budget" they only released their music on true vinyl until 2003, when after a 9 year break up the band reunited with the release of  Death By Unga Bunga!! in the CD format.

The band soon broke up again, this time seemingly for good and lied dormant until October '08. Then... As in most cases with mummies, they came back from the dead once again to play a show in Spain, of all places. That led to just a few more shows in the states in the summer and fall of '09... Which leads us to the here and now.

Will the curse of The Mummies bring us a new CD release?... Another tour?... Only by the sheer grace of all that is right in this world.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Imperial Dogs and an Interview With Don Waller (Part 2)

This is the second installment of the two-part series featuring an interview with Don Waller, the ex-frontman for The Imperial Dogs. The I-Dogs were a short-lived rock and roll band that seemed to exist for the sheer enjoyment of causing mayhem and playing electric music at bone shattering decibels. You can see this for yourself on the DVD The Imperial Dogs Live! In Long Beach (October 30, 1974).

As the singer of the I-Dogs, Don was an eccentric showman. Though his style predates many of the frontmen who later seemed to copy him, his flamboyant stage presence might be under-shadowed by his writing. In 1985 he had a book published, "The Motown Story". It sold enough copies to make the effort lucrative for Don, and eventually it fell out of print. You can find it on Amazon, but be prepared to pay. A good used hard cover copy (at the time of this writing) runs about thirty bucks to have it shipped to your door. Other copies, in very good condition run well over a hundred.

Don Waller has also penned his share of CD liner notes as well as having been published in the L.A. Times, USA Today, L.A. CityBeat, Billboard, Variety, Mojo, The Guardian, Creem, Spin, Musician, Radio & Records, BAM, Guitar World, Launch,, Sonicboomers, Napster and Pulse, to name a few. The list seemingly goes on and on... It's as endless as his razor sharp passion for music.

Despite his contribution to the mainstream press, Don might be most famous for the contributions he made to Back Door Man, a now legendary punk rock-zine founded in 1975 by current New York City record spinner Phast Phreddie Patterson.

Able to contact Phast Phreddie, I asked him if he would mind giving me a few words on Don Waller's writing style. His response was eloquent and surprising. He didn't offer just a few words, but got "carried away about the old days." Although he didn't necessarily say much about Don's writing style as I had requested, he did say quite a bit about Don the human being.

It was golden. And way more than I could have hoped for:

The personage of Don Waller first came to my attention when I saw his band Sugar Boy at El Camino Junior College in November 1972. The band impressed me because they seemed to be unique, playing songs I had never heard--I had not heard of The Move, Mott the Hoople, etc. at that point. Other local bands usually covered the obvious songs by The Rolling Stones, Cream, Iron Butterfly, Grand Funk Railroad and other acts I had basically given up on by then. I was into Captain Beefheart, The Mothers of Invention, Bonzo Dog Band, free jazz, Howlin' Wolf and anything that sounded weird to me--plus oldies but goodies.

Sugar Boy performed Eddie Cochran's "C'mon Everybody" in a manner that did not suggest nostalgia, and I thought that was hip.

A month later, Sugar Boy was opening for a more popular local (Torrance, CA) group called Clap. My brother and his friends wanted to go, so I drove them, knowing Sugar Boy was on the bill. All during Sugar Boy's set I kept bugging them, "When are you going to do the Eddie Cochran song?" "C'mon Everybody!!!" I literally pulled Waller's leg as he stood on the stage and I requested the song!

Around that time, I had listed a free ad in Rolling Stone looking for musicians to play wild free-form improvisational music of some sort. I didn't really play anything, but wanted to make noise. The only person to answer the ad was Sugar Boy's guitarist, Paul Therrio, who played sax and was into Albert Ayler.

He invited me over his house were he lived with Don Waller and some other folks and we discussed making noise for a while, until he had to go to work—he worked at a gas station in Gardena. At that point, Waller took over. He and I talked about music—with him pulling records from his collection to illustrate points and to turn me on to stuff I never heard before—until about two in the morning.

I heard of the MC5—having purchased the first LP when it came out. But the Stooges I only read about until that night. He played selections from Nuggets, which impressed me because Lenny Kaye had assembled it (I was a fan of Kaye because of the Eddie Cochran reissue he did about a year before that).

At the end of 1972—just days after my 19th birthday—I was a rudderless creep, destined to working crappy jobs because I knew I could never hack the college scene. Meeting Waller gave my life some direction—I still worked crappy jobs, but I knew what I was going to do with the little spending cash I could muster: buy records and go to rock’n’roll shows. Eventually it would lead to a rock’n’roll theory class that Waller and I taught at UCLA’s experimental college and then Back Door Man.

The experimental college, in 1973, is worth noting because it was mostly Waller’s theories we discussed. At the first meeting of the class we played “Search and Destroy” real loud, as soon as all the students had taken their seats, before even introducing ourselves. Waller said, “This is the future of rock’n’roll.” This started arguments and some people walked out, but the people who remained enjoyed the class, which lasted a couple months, and some students later became influential in the music industry and/or writers for Back Door Man.

Bottom line, though, is that Don Waller was right.

Interview with Don Waller Part 2

(BD:) How did you arrive at naming the band The Imperial Dogs?

(DW:) Our mutual friend, Bob Meyers -- who grew up literally right around the corner from me in north Torrance and was also an original member of the Back Door Man staff -- came up with the name. We're were going to call ourselves the Plug Uglies, which was the name of a gang in Harrison Salisbury's book, "The Shook-Up Generation". The Plug Uglies gang name goes back to the 1800s -- they're cited in Gangs Of New York (which Martin Scorsese turned into a movie a couple of years ago).

Anyway ... we liked Bob's suggestion for several reasons. One, it had that oxymoronical combination of high-life (royalty) and low-life (animals). Two, it was in keeping with the rock 'n' roll tradition of naming your band, say, the Royal Coachmen or the Fabulous Dinos. Three, the commies were fond of using "imperialist dogs" as an epithet. Four, it sounded like a gang name.

(BD:) Is it true that the entire gig was set up and based off of a student's thesis about the decline of society, and by filming your performance she was providing documentation to support that thesis?

(DW:) We met Linda Pascale -- who was also from north Torrance, but we didn't know her growing up 'cause she went to a co-ed Catholic school on the other side of town -- through Phast Phreddie Patterson (the future founder of Back Door Man), who went to that same school. (We also met him after we'd all graduated high school. Matter of fact, Phast saw us play twice when we were still Sugar Boy, although we didn't really get to know him until several months later ... )

Anyway ... Phast brought Linda -- who happens to be one of the all time great rock 'n' roll fans -- down to the house where we were living in Carson to see us practice. Linda was in the honors program at what was then called Cal State Long Beach and was doing her thesis on "death themes in rock 'n' roll." (You really could do that sort of thing back then.) The school had a burgeoning film department -- run by Augie Coppola (Steven Spielberg also went there), so Linda decided to take advantage of that and make a film of us playing live be part of her thesis. (Obviously, she picked up on the dark themes -- S&M, drugs/O.D.'s, violence, etc. -- in our music.) She was also trying to do us a favor by getting us a gig, which as I noted earlier, were hard to get back in those dark days.

Parenthetically, when I say Linda's a great rock 'n' roll fan, know this: She can stand up on the bar and shout, "I saw the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan and His Band -- as they were then-billed -- play the Hollywood Bowl in 1965 and I've got the ticket stubs to prove it!" (We're still good friends; in fact, we just finished working on a project together in which I spent four hours at her home just poring over her collection of magazines from 1964 and 1965. In so doing, I found a bunch of photos that I'd never seen before and we're going to use them in the long-awaited official home video release of "The T.A.M.I Show" movie -- it's set to come out on March 23 and it's going to be be great.)

Linda also had the mind-boggling foresight to actually BUY the tape from the school afterward -- she gave it to me, we all watched it, hated it, and I threw it in a box for 35 years -- which is why this DVD could even exist. Like I always say, she's the real heroine of this story.

(BD:) Noting the recent death of drummer Bill Willett, describe your current relationship with Paul Therrio and Tim Hilger. Is there, or has there been any discussion of a reunion performance... Or at the very least discussion about re-releasing more (or new) audio of The Imperial Dogs? (I would love to land a copy of Unchained Maladies: Live! 1974-75, but it is so rare and seemingly unaccessible.)

(DW:) Well, we're all still friends ... Tim and I lost touch for a while after the band broke up. (We were still living in the same house for several months until we went our separate ways.) We reconnected for a short time in the mid-'80s and then fell out of touch until about a year ago, when I looked him up on the Internet -- he has his own business, so he wasn't that hard to find -- and told him I'd digitized the videotape and did he want to see it? He came over to my place and watched it and was as surprised as anyone at how good it was. I've since sent him a copy of the finished package. Last time I talked to him was the night I found out that Bill had died. We were all sad and shocked about that. Tim's a really busy guy with his job. (He's an accountant who these days makes his living by writing about tax and accounting issues.) He's also divorced with two kids that are young adults or college age and mostly spends his free time playing golf -- he lost everything he'd owned, including his musical equipment, in a house fire in the early-'80s -- so I don't see or talk to him much. We keep meaning to get together -- and we really wanted to get all four band members in the same room again, which obviously isn't going to happen now -- but we haven't been able to do that yet. He says I was a great inspiration to him as a writer, so I'll take that as a compliment ...

As for Paul ... well, we didn't talk or see each other for a few years after the band broke up. But we eventually started seeing each other again in the '80s. Then Paul wound up moving down to north San Diego county 'cause he and his wife, Mary Fleener -- who's a semi-famous visual artist, a musican, and also a South Bay homegirl -- bought a house down there near the water ('cause Paul's a serious surfer). It's about three hours away, so occasionally I'll go visit him when they throw a party or he and Mary will come to L.A. for one of her art openings. We always have a great time hanging out. If we lived closer together, I'd see him a whole lot more.

We've had some great times together over the last couple of decades. There've been some legendary parties. And we used to get together on occasion and write some "hundred dollar songs" -- some good ones, too. Paul still plays every day and he just keeps getting better 'cause he works at doing so. One year, he threw out all the picks in the house and just played finger-style. Another year, he played in nothing but alternate tunings. He's one of the most creative musicians I've ever met and he taught me a lot. Last time we spoke was about a week ago -- he called me out of the blue -- and we talked some politics and a bit about music, but mostly about cooking. Heh.

Parenthetically, Paul, Mary -- a damn good bass player-- and Tom Gardner -- together with a female drummer that Mary found playing in a local dyke bar -- played together a couple years back and made a CD under the name the Wig Titans. It's a really good combination of witty, roots-rock (think Rockpile) and minor-key, guitar pop (maybe the Smithereens?). Three singer-songwriters; two lead guitarists. I wrote their bio -- it's on the Internet -- and you can get a copy through the fleenerwerks website. Unfortunately, there were some, uh, personality conflicts and they broke up a couple years back.

But I really do wish I could see Paul more often. Mary and I are also good friends and I enjoy her company as well. Tim Napalm Stegall, who wrote the Ugly Things story about the Imperial Dogs, says, "You South Bay people are like ... tribal." I explained that's because there were so few people in the South Bay (which is population-wise, the size of Dallas, Texas) that were into the same kind of music, books, movies, we were,that when you found each other, you became instant and close friends. These relationships go back 30-40 years, so you can understand why outsiders might see us as clannish ...

As far as an Imperial Dogs reunion goes ... we could never do it without Bill. He was a monster drummer. And even if he was still walkin' the planet, Tim hasn't played in decades and I haven't sung onstage since 1978. It would've taken weeks' worth of practices -- and we all live so far apart even that would've been very difficult -- and I don't think we could've ever come with kissin' distance of that crazed level of intensity that you see on the DVD. Plus, Paul, Tim and Bill all have or had high-paying day jobs (computer programmer, accountant, and aerospace engineer, respectively) so there's no way anyone could've piled enough money on the table to make it worth their while. I think it's better that we remain semi-legends ...

As far as releasing any more audio goes, how 'bout we sell all these DVDs I've got sitting around my boho love-shack first? To begin with, the audio on the DVD is better quality -- plus you have the visual element -- than anything we've got on audio tape.

Yeah, there's three original I-Dogs songs on the LP that aren't on the DVD. "13 Sons Of Satan," "The Bad And The Beautiful," and "Needle And Spoon." (And I'd like to see them get a wider release). And yeah, there's one other I-Dogs original ("Suck City Shakedown") and a pair of cool covers (Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown" and Earl Vince & The Valiants' "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite") that I didn't put on the LP -- and I wouldn't mind those eventually seeing the light of day, either. But people have gotta show me there's enough of a demand for that.

(BD:) Lastly, I read somewhere that cooking is your hobby, but music is your life... Actually I am just the opposite... What did you make the last time you went crazy in the kitchen?

(DW:) Well, I cook about 98% of the meals that my longtime galpal and I eat every year. (We only eat out for business purposes and on special occasions.) I've been cooking since I was a kid 'cause my mom always worked and she told my younger brother and I, "I'm not gonna have you guys be at the mercy of the first woman who comes along and can cook you a meal." Heh.

I got more serious about it when I was a young buck living out on my own and couldn't afford to eat at McDonald's every night. Plus, my ex-wife was of Sicilian extraction and her dad used to own a restaurant back in Pittsburgh, so after we'd exhausted all the stuff we'd learned how to cook as kids, we discovered the secret was to learn how to make different sauces. (She's now a certified pastry chef who owns her own bakery/cafe; she's also married to a guy I've known for 20-some years -- we're all still pals.)

So, cooking for me is economical, healthier (and remember that I still smoke and drink and dance the hootchie-coo) -- and, let me put this poetically, I cooked my way into a lot of hearts ... (My galpal of the last 15 years hasn't cooked a meal since we started living together back in 1997.)

What I'm leading up to is that I cook every weekend and we eat leftovers during the week 'cause we're both free lance journalists with crazy schedules that we can't really control. Mostly it's just simple stuff: meatloaf with mashed potatoes and peas; macaroni & cheese; various types of enchiladas, soups, and chilis; spaghetti & meatballs -- although everything, including the enchilada and marinara sauces, is made from scratch with fresh ingredients. I've got a gas grill, a deep-fryer, a water-smoker, and an ice cream maker that get a lot of use when the weather's warmer.

As for the last time I did what I call "stunt cooking" ... hmm ... I made Hoppin' John (blackeyed peas 'n' rice) and collard greens for New Year's, but that's traditional ... I did a chipotle-pineapple glazed ham, Southern biscuit muffins, roast garlic mashed potatoes, green beans with walnuts and a lemon vinigarette, and a gingerbread cake with caramel icing for Christmas ... hickory-smoked turkey, pan gravy, cornbread-pecans-bacon stuffing, yams with brown-butter vinigarette, Brussel sprouts with chorizo, and a walnut-raisin pie for Thanksgiving ... I did three kinds of tapas (tuna & green olives, ham & machengo cheese, tomato & garlic), a shrimp-scallops-mussels-chicken & chorizo paella, and a Spanish-style chocolate cake for my galpal's -- her name's Natalie Nichols -- last birthday party ...

But things have been rough for writers all last year so I haven't done a whole lot of "stunt cooking." However, since Natalie and my "first date" was a Super Bowl party -- and we're both serious pro football fans -- we always do something special for the Super Bowl and usually the meal is based around which teams are playing or where it's being held. Since Natalie's from a small town outside of Erie, Pennsylvania and a big Steelers fan, last year I did a traditional Pittsburgh thing called "Devonshire sandwiches." Basically, it's a pile of sliced roast turkey breast, topped with semi-crispy smoked bacon and a thick cheddar cheese sauce served open-face and eaten with a knife 'n' fork. I don't think you could eat more than one unless you were playing for the Steelers, about to pull a shift at a mill, or you'd been out drinking all night, which pretty much sums up life in Pittsburgh... Ha ha ha.

The great Jenny Lens, who's photographs document the early '70s punk rock scene so relentlessly has said that Don Waller (Phast Phreddie too) writes "from the heart and hip". Obviously this is how he handles every situation he becomes involved in. Aware of my interest in this band, and that particular era of music, Jenny emailed me a great reminder: WE MUST CONTINUE TO GIVE PROPS to pioneers, but with respect.

I couldn't have said it better than that... Don Waller, the singer, the writer, the cook, and THE MAN is certainly worthy of insurmountable respect.

Thank you, Don.