$21 Trillion in Treasury Bond Corruption Plots

When I opened up google news today, I was pretty stunned to find zero mention of the massive corruption involving Treasury bonds going down today. The $6 trillion seized in Italy (from a safety deposit box in Zurich) may be just the tip-of-the-iceberg.  This one case represents half the USA public debt. Apparently, these funds were going to be used to buy plutonium from Nigerian sources, which sure sounds like a possible intel-op approved at the highest levels of National Security. You see, I have the crazy idea that the terrorist networks are actually a creation of the same octopus controling the world banking system and they engineer most of the terrorism, as it has long been known as an effective method for keeping populations in a state of shock and confusion. Wars are managed for profit and terror is needed to drive the populations into war.

Then there’s the other big news story coming out of London: Lord James of Blackheath reveals a $15 trillion money-laundering operation involving Treasury bonds, more than twice the USA public debt. Is this evidence of a  global shake-down with worthless paper being dumped at alarming rates for pennies on the dollar?

Here’s what the Lord had to say about the source of all this phoney money: “First, there may have been a massive piece of money-laundering committed by a major Government who should know better. Effectively, it undermined the integrity of a British bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, in doing so. The second possibility is that a major American department has an agency which has gone rogue on it because it has been wound up and has created a structure out of which it is seeking to get at least €50 billion as a pay-off. The third possibility is that this is an extraordinarily elaborate fraud, which has not been carried out, but which has been prepared to provide a threat to one Government or more if they do not make a pay-off.”

Note suspicion falls first on the obvious culprit: the guiding forces currently ruling the Treasury Department. Second is a rouge element inside an intelligence agency. It seems more likely, however, that MI6 already knows all about this corruption, and may even be a willing participant.

Paranoid Delusional Break-Down

Doug was a university student for about one semester before he decided to drop out of the U of I. He applied for a job as a disk jockey at one of the local radio stations and got it. Doug soon moved to an apartment near Uni High. He put an extra mattress on the floor in his two-room apartment and I was always welcome to crash there. He was still sniffing toluene at the time, although Doug had his sights set for bigger and better highs. After extensive research, he and a friend from Uni High decided the easiest psychedelic to self-manufacture was DMT and they set about collecting all the ingredients, supplies and equipment necessary, all of which was being stashed in secret panels above his kitchen cabinets. They were stealing this stuff by going into the steam tunnels and entering labs late at night (see my eBook, “The Steam Tunnels”). They would always dress up in lab coats and act like graduate students while breaking into these labs. Sometimes they would just brazenly load up carts of supplies and wheel them around in full view of anybody. The secret was that white lab coat, which gave them an aura of respectability despite their long hair.

Doug was at work during the afternoon, and I had a set of keys, so first chance I got, I invited Carole and her friend Alice over to check out my new hangout. Larry was also with us on this particular day. Doug had completely covered one wall with record album covers and he always had the best records, including lots of really obscure stuff you couldn’t find anywhere else. Around this time, Doug turned me onto the little-known West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and H.P. Lovecraft, a split-off band from the Shadows of Knight. I played my favorite cuts from both albums. The girls, however, seemed more interested in a campy “Hobbit” record that had been churned out to cash-in on that craze. It was really silly and they laughed while playing one particularly silly song over and over. It was about Daffodils.

Carole and Alice were also interested in the toluene, never having tried glue, so I showed them how that worked. Before I knew it, Larry and Alice were deep into their bags and had crawled under the covers in Doug’s bed. Suddenly, Carole put down her bag and french kissed me with great passion. It was the first time I’d ever kissed a girl and my mind sort of exploded. I was super aware of the mistake I’d made the first time around, so I pretty much kept my hands to myself, while Larry started balling Alice right away. I just kept making out with Carole. She probably was wondering why I didn’t make any serious moves, and she actually ordered me to get high at one point and handed me her bag. I pretended to take a few whiffs, but I really had no interest in the glue high. I was a lot more high from that french kiss.  I was extremely conscious of the fact Carole was in a compromised state and was determined not to take advantage of the situation. Mostly, though, I was just a typical virgin, I guess, too shy to make a serious move. Eventually, Carole and Alice had to go somewhere and they both split rather suddenly. A few minutes later, I noticed the bottle of toluene was missing.

That’s when I had the first major paranoid breakdown of my teenage existence. Before long, I’d convinced myself that the whole make-out session had been a ploy to steal drugs. I was a very sad chuckle-head back then because I’d soon sabotage any potential relationship with Carole by concocting the most evil scheme imaginable. When Doug came home I told him about the missing bottle. Doug just opened his secret cabinet and pulled out a giant gallon container of toluene he had stashed there. But after I explained my plan to Doug,  he readily agreed to play his role. So I called Carole and said Doug had gotten back, the bottle of toluene was missing, and Doug was going into withdrawal. I acted really crazed while Doug painfully moaned in the background. Before long, I had Carole in tears. She called Alice and Alice’s story was the bottle had been tossed in the bushes or something. We never got it back. But my torturing of Carole over this stupid bottle was really over-the-top, although in my paranoid delusion, I couldn’t stop myself.

After the phone calls were over, and Doug and I were laughing about what great actors we were, Doug mentioned that the news director at his new job was a really cool guy who wanted to meet me. His name was Don Clark and unfortunately, he would soon radically change all our lives.

Jock is Beautiful

The first issue of The Tin Whistle could not have been more explosive and the first two articles in that first issue actually set the stage for a lot of what would happen for the rest of the year. “Jock is Beautiful,” was written by Charlie Geron, and made reference to a beating inflicted on a prominent member of the U-Club.

The blacks, it seems, had finally taken sides in the jock-longhair conflict Smitty had been fomenting, and decided to side against Smitty and with the longhairs. Charlie also took a swipe at the U-Club Parent’s Association, run by Smitty and the fathers of his white stars.

The other (unsigned) letter to the editor was titled “Racism and Discontent” and mostly concerned the systemic racism in the athletic department, and the fact black parents were never invited to the meetings, most of which were held at Smitty’s house.

“An impending crisis hangs over Urbana High School and no one really realizes the seriousness of the matter,” wrote the anonymous author. “The White racism and Black discontent that are so prevalent in our nation and community is manifested in the actions and attitudes which make Urbana High a potential area for racial disturbances.” These words would soon prove very prophetic.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but those two articles were extremely offensive to Smitty and he immediately called a meeting of the entire U-Club. After they were all assembled, he entered the room and exploded: “I put more niggers through college than any coach in this state!!” was just one of many inflammatory comments made during his emotional tirade. It’s only recently that I’ve come to realize these meltdowns were likely the result of PTSD from his years as a tail-gunner.

Coach Warren “Smitty” Smith.

During most of the speech, Smitty was staring straight at Jim Wilson, who was the starting end at the time, and Harvey Treat’s favorite receiver. In fact, Harvey’s favorite play was a bomb he threw to Jim. So far they’d run the play three times and it had scored a touchdown on all three tries.

It was clear Smitty felt sure Jim had written that letter as he had taken on a rather erudite style recently, likely a result of his being influenced by the oratory of Fred Hampton.

“And if you see some kid with his shirttail hanging out, smoking a cigarette on school property, you have my permission to punch them out,” concluded Smitty.

Although Smitty didn’t actually say “longhair,” I think those final comments were aimed at me and my cigarette-smoking crew. Smitty had watched me grow up because we went to the same Lutheran Church for many years, until I defected, something that would have certainly not gone unnoticed by him. The U-Club meeting was Smitty’s way of declaring war on the counterculture and especially on me and The Tin Whistle; and the first casualty was Jim Wilson, who’d continue suiting up for games for the rest of the year, but would never play football again in his life. Such was the punishment for writing a letter to The Tin Whistle that Jim actually didn’t write! Many years later, John Reinhardt (who was white) confessed that the prophetic letter was his and he left it unsigned because he suspected what Smitty’s reaction to any sort of criticism might be.

Jim Wilson (wearing beret).

The tragedy was that Jim was talented enough to get a football scholarship. He placed third in the State in the high-jump that year and could basically out-jump just about anybody, a great asset for an end. He was around 6′ 4″ and had blazing speed. His dad, a track coach at the University, had been grooming Jim for a possible professional career, but then Jim’s dad died unexpectedly, and then Smitty silently blacklisted Jim off the football team for a crime he didn’t commit. Jim could have folded his cards and given up on life. Instead, he decided to run for senior class president. And you know what? Not a single member of the U-Club ran against him. I think it was an amazing display of their respect and affection for Jim. As well as their realization that maybe Smitty was wrong. But Smitty had been right about one thing: Jim was the alpha male on the civil rights movement in our class. And if he could get a chance, he intended to confront the racism so prevalent in our school at the time.

The Monks of Mayhem

I already told you about how Iving Azoff—the most powerful person in the music industry—got his start as Bob Nutt’s associate at Blytham, Ltd., in Urbana, Illinois, in 1967.  (And thanks to an original Blytham business card sent-in by Guy Maynard, we now know Irv had a short-lived predecessor in that role named Dan Dailey.)

Gary Pini is another important character in this story, and he too would eventually rise to great heights in the record industry, producing dance music singles and early rap records. The photo shows Gary on the Quad at the University of Illinois. In the background you can see the round building we used to sneak into via the Steam Tunnels that ran underneath the entire University campus (see my book, 1966). Gary is the one who took me to see the John Cage installation at the Stock Pavilion.

Gary was going out with Caroline, who lived in a house at 1003 South Third Street with three other girls (Paula, Elke and Claudia), one of whom was an occasional lover of Jim Cole’s, which is why Cole spent a lot of time at that house.

John McNaughton

Cole’s brother had an immaculate used Cadillac with minor issues parked in the driveway. After a few beers, Cole’d go into Destructo-Mania and jump out the second floor window onto the hood or roof or trunk, inflicting as much damage as possible with his booted feet. A sledge hammer often played a role in this game and the car was soon transformed into a worthless pile of junk. Bob Brandel removed the dashboard for use in an art class but flunked that project. “Why are you in school?” asked his professor. John McNaughton had a similar art class and the moldy mattress he pulled out of the Boneyard Creek so disgusted his professor that McNaughton flunked his assignment. But those two practically unknown masterpieces now constitute perhaps the finest examples of the short-lived Destructo-Mania Art Movement and would probably sells for millions at Sotheby’s if anyone could find them.

Bob Brandel

Destructo-Mania had to end, however, since that particular lifestyle is not really sustainable. But it sure went out in a blaze of glory. A bunch of people were tripping and drinking beer late one night when Tony Byrnes sat in a chair and it broke accidentally, spilling him onto the floor. Everyone froze for a second and then broke into laughter and couldn’t stop. This accident had a somewhat inspirational impact on Cole, who pretty soon smashed the nearest object with his foot. Of course, this produced gales more laughter and it sort of escalated out-of-control from there. In order to keep the laughter going, objects were ceremoniously brought into the center of the room and ritualistically sacrificed. This was Destructo-Mania of the highest and most spiritual power. No object was spared by these Destructo Monks. The girls ran around in a frenzy, moving their sacred pieces into rooms under their control, trying to save whatever they could. Small things like cups and dishes went quickly, obviously, but then even the largest pieces of furniture were eventually stomped into submission by the Monks of Mayhem. And before you knew it, virtually everything in the house was turned into a broken pile of junk on the living room carpet! At this point the Grandmaster of Mayhem himself, Jim Cole stood atop this glorious pile of destruction, armed with a jack-knife and matches delivering the final coup-de-grace, some by sword, others by fire. By this time, however, dawn was breaking and the girls were teary-eyed, so weary were they from trying to hold back the Monks. No longer could they feed this sacred fire of destruction, as there was nothing left to destroy. So they decided to help clean-up the mess they’d created and dragged the carpet with all the junk out the kitchen door and into the backyard.

Jim Cole and his chopper.

This house was surrounded on all sides by the most clean-cut fraternities and sororities. In fact, the backyard was really a huge park used by fraternities for touch football games and frisbee throwing. The carpet was dragged to the center of this immaculate field where Cole set the mess on fire. I don’t know if the Fire Department ever arrived, but I’m sure the neighbors must have wondered where that huge smouldering pile of junk came from when they woke up hours later. The next weekend, I’d kick an empty beer bottle, trying to set off another round of Destructo-Mania, but the girls threw me up against the wall, threatened to punch me out, and announced the next person who tried to break anything was getting tossed out permanently. It was the end of Destructo-Mania.

Another detail completely missing in all ’60s films and docs: many of us were riding the new super-cheap Jap bikes. You could get a used 50cc model for $50. Here’s Cole (above) with his chopper. Larry and I had similar bikes, as did a few others in our scene.


Birth of Destructo-Mania

Bob Nutt (wearing hat).

Bob Nutt threw a famous New Year’s eve party in 1967, sort of a celebration of the fantastic success Blytham Ltd. was experiencing with their two main acts, The Finchley Boys and the Seeds of Doubt. There were cases and cases of champagne available, a real rock’n’roll blow-out. Nutt had basically cornered the market on garage bands in central Illinois and was forcing most of the venues to book only his bands exclusively.

Guy Maynard got into a discussion about “hangups” and decided to take off his clothes as a political statement. He walked around the party naked encouraging others to cast off their mental slavery and join his nudity.

Everyone assumed he was drunk out-of-mind, but within a few months some of those same dudes would be streaking through campus while high on LSD as a political statement. Like I said, Guy was always ahead of the rest of us.

Meanwhile, down in the basement, Cole discovered a hammer and spots a bunch of empty glass bottles. He turns into a robot machine and starts saying the words “destructo-mania.” But everytime he says the words, he robotically smashes a glass bottle with his hammer. Eventually, the host, Bob Nutt comes downstairs, sees what’s going on, starts laughing and is soon joining Cole in this new game called Destructo-Mania.

Jim Cole, leader of The Finchley Boys.

It was the birth of the Destructo-Mania craze that overtook the twin cities for a few months, at least in our scene, but the apex of Destructo-Mania would not take place for over a year, and then it would be at the infamous house on Third Street where almost all the greatest parties of the decade took place.

The Outcasts

The first issue of The Tin Whistle included my endorsement for Larry Green for Senior Class president, our counterculture attempt to take over the political structure of a school that had always been dominated by the winners of the annual Daughters of the American Revolution awards.

You’ll notice Larry wears the magic cross that was also the secret symbol of my elementary school streetgang (see “From Violent Streetgangs to Merry Pranksters”). I took both photos the same day, cut them up and glued them together to create the effect of Larry as teenage monster towering over Urbana High.

The story “Tales from the House on High Street” is an obvious  reference to Eric Swenson’s pad, our favorite hangout. After the Knight Riders kicked me out of the band for being an LSD addict (or so they thought), I toyed around with the idea of starting a band with Eric and we held a bunch of rehearsals at his house, but I soon came to the conclusion being in a band with Eric wasn’t really going to amount to anything real, as Eric was more than content to just jam in his living room and nothing more. He always had a cigarette in his mouth when he drummed, and used an overturned cymbal on the floor as his ashtray.

Meanwhile, The Finchley Boys were going through their own changes. Somewhere along the line, they started doing an Animals’ cover, “Outcast.” Actually, “Outcast” was originally an R&B love song Eddie Campbell and Ernie Johnson recorded in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1964. The Animals version was faster and they dropped the horn riff and replaced it with a guitar. The song rocked hard, had a powerful hook, and it instantly became a major highlight of the Finchley’s set, eventually becoming their new signature song. It was no longer a silly love song, either. Now “Outcast” stood for the position we longhairs found ourselves in, as we were not being accepted by the establishment.

Faber was the lead singer on “Outcast.” Although Faber had started as the roadie, then played harmonica on one song, he was now singing the two biggest hits the band had. One day when the band was arriving in a car together at Urbana High, Faber and Cole got into a little dispute over some minor matter and Cole announced he was leaving the band so he could concentrate on becoming a guitar player. Cole soon left high school and moved into a room on the second floor of Eric’s house, right across the hall from the padlocked room Daddy Swenson slept in.


One day I brought Larry with me on one of my visits to Carole’s house. We were sitting on the floor of her porch talking, when Larry went into his imitation of Timothy Leary. Carole started cracking up. It was the first time she noticed how smart and funny Larry was. I had this idea we should cover ourselves with a blanket and pretend we were all in a womb together, about to be born as a set of triplets. I don’t know where I came up with this shit, maybe I was already aware of the Living Theater, because this was essentially an improv-exercise right out of a Viola Spolin handbook. We went to the back yard, threw a blanket over us, and curled into a ball, all spooning each other. I was on the outside, and, of course, Carole was in the middle. It was all very innocent, really. But I could tell right away from the way Carole was petting Larry’s hair, that she’d taken a sudden interest in him.

When she went back inside, her mom was super pissed. “What are the neighbors going to think!” Carole stood her ground, however, saying we were just playing a game and nothing sexual had been going on at all, which was true, sort of.

I could tell there were speed bumps ahead with my grand scheme to make Carole my girl friend, as she seemed easily distracted by other dudes.

Enter Juicy Lucy

Our third gig was Kimona’s friend’s swan-song, as she left town very shortly thereafter. The original Assassinates had been great, but after disharmony set in, we dissolved the group and started over. Kimona 117 and Abby were on a different level and both brought their unique and considerable talents to the table. You can also see that Kimoma is all rocked-out and in full garage goddess mode by her first gig. In fact, I’m the only one who looks the least bit shifty here, obviously my mind is in other places (top). Perhaps I’m looking at one of many promoters that showed up to check us out that night, Stacy Fine, for example, who was running the hottest Monday night scene and immediately wanted to book us for a new Wednesday night event she was starting at a plush restaurant (Big Kahuna) in Times Square of all places.

I remember early in this show the Assassinettes came down to the front row and started going bananas right in front of me, like I was some sort of rock god. They were hailing me and swooning and trying to touch my leg. It was a joke, of course, but the crowd didn’t know that because those three girls hadn’t taken the stage yet.

In a few days, we’d all assemble at the Big Kahuna to check out Stacy’s first party. We were already booked for the next week at. Abby showed up with this amazing blonde goddess from Boston we would soon be calling “Juicy Lucy.” We told Lucy she was in the band the second we saw her. No audition necessary. I don’t think we cared what she sang like, she looked fantastic! And it was so perfect, Kimona being a redhead, Abby a brunette and now this gorgeous blonde! Our whole scene was buzzing the second Lucy showed up and everybody wanted to be the first to date her. Both boys and the girls were going crazy over Lucy!

Here’s a candid shot I took on the road one morning when she was all tired and had no makeup on. Even then, Lucy was drop-dead beautiful. Even John Holmstrom, who had been sort of down on the Soul Assassins as a distraction from my job, turned to me and said, “I wanna be in the band now,” the second he saw Lucy. But I was thinking, what would John actually do in the band? Once those three new Assassinettes got together the magic really started to roll. First, they were all single! Every rock dude in the East Village was soon kissing my ass trying to pry their way into our scene so they could nail one of the Assassinettes. They were all crazy hot, but the energy field they created when all three got together was overpowering. Of course, we’d all pledged not to get involved with any of them, although that pledge would start eroding the second we all got drunk together. Another promoter, Deb Parker attended that Big Kahuna show and we instantly became her favorite garage band. Later Deb would open a bar in the East Village that instantly became our favorite watering hole.

Birth of The Tin Whistle

The first issue of The Tin Whistle had a picture of Gandalf I drew.

It all started when I got invited to this meeting to discuss a media project, I wasn’t sure exactly what. I think the meeting was held at St. Pat’s Church in Urbana, but I could be wrong. There were about eight or nine people there, including, maybe Stuart Tarr and Albie Fisher? If so, they would have been the ones to suggest I attend.

There was a dark-skinned dude, maybe his ancestors were from India or Iran, I can’t remember and if anyone can, please comment below. He spoke nearly perfect American as I recall. I believe he was a freshman at the University of Illinois. For some strange reason, he had an interest in helping an underground newspaper get started in the twin cities, and was looking for some people to take on this project if he provided the initial seed money.

Since I was the only one with any experience publishing anything, the dude eventually asked me if I was interested in running this new publication. I said sure, and he said, what name would you give it? I was holding a long, tin whistle in my hand, really just a prop for my hippie-hobbit persona, when I looked up and said, “How about The Tin Whistle?” Everybody loved that name.

I think the dude asked me how much money I needed to get started, and I said, “One hundred dollars.” He wrote me a check on the spot. I never really had any contact with this dude ever again. I can’t remember if I even paid him back the hundred dollars. I did have his telephone number because I called him for help one time, and he actually came running and saved me from a beating, a story I will get to shortly. However, he never expressed any interest in the content of my newspaper and just seemed delighted that he’d helped get it started. I’d like to find that dude today, just to see if any hidden agendas were in play. He looked like a total straight-arrow and it was hard to fathom his interest in counterculture journalism.

I heard the underground paper at the U of I, the seldom-published Walrus, had an office on the North End of campus, so I went looking for it. They welcomed me instantly, gave me keys to the building and access to all the art supplies. They also  hooked me up with a cheap off-set printer. I had the first issue out in a matter of weeks. The Walrus staff was astounded. I made them look bad in a way because I’d almost single-handedly published an 8-page underground paper, while all they’d done is sit around and talk strategies for weeks on end. Eventually they would start getting issues out as well.

Before I published the first issue, however, this big black dude named Charlie Geron came by my new office. He’d heard I was going to publish an underground paper and wanted to know if he could write for it. I said “sure,” not knowing Charlie would soon become my star columnist.

First Trip to the Haight

One night I was sitting in my psychedelic playground otherwise known as the Den of Iniquity, when my Dad unexpectedly showed up with another biochemistry professor from Berkeley, California. I guess he’d come to Urbana to give a seminar. My Dad had told him about me, and this dude wanted to meet me because he was a peace activist. He loved my paintings all over the walls, and pointed out that a peace symbol I’d painted over my desk was missing one of the spokes. That made me feel a little dumb. The amazing thing was, this professor invited me to come spend a week with him in the Berkeley Hills!

I was soon on a flight to San Francisco and I was reading all the Hobbit books at the time and was deep into Hobbitland, which today just seems like a boring remake of WWII done with magic and elves, basically war propaganda. The first book had been great, but the trilogy seemed bloated to me. One thing you have to give the Brits credit for, however, when it comes to magic, they rule. That goes for dark magic and white magic.

I spent the first few days hanging out on Telegraph Avenue when I got recruited to help out at a people’s church that a hippie pastor was setting up. There were two guys working on this project and I became the office assistant for a few days. My host seemed a bit dubious of the Christian-connection. He was an atheist and distrusted organized religions.  He’d drop me off on his way to his lab every morning, and pick me up at 5:30 every night to go home, where we had dinner prepared by his beautiful Swedish wife, and then played a game of chess or two.

One day while walking down Telegraph, this hippie started talking to me like he’d known me his whole life. His name was Jinglebells and he was originally from New York City. Jinglebells had really long hair and was wearing high-top suede moccasins with bells around his ankles. He wanted to know if I wanted to hitchhike with him to the Haight. He knew a place we could crash. This was too good an offer to turn up, so I soon found myself wandering around the Haight. After it got dark we went to the all-night church where all the runaways congregated who didn’t have a place to sleep. It was really crowded. Then Jinglebells took me to Page Street to visit a commune. There was a beautiful girl who seemed to be at the center of this scene. She said Country Joe had come over the night before and sung songs with his guitar all night while everybody tripped. Country Joe had led the Hari Krishna chant for hours, apparently. There was a guy in a Navy uniform and he was hitting on a plump hippie girl. Everyone fell asleep while this couple eventually had sex on the living room rug. In the morning though, the whole vibe changed and the beautiful hippie girl was mad at us. “This is not a crash pad!” she said. I also heard her say she didn’t know Jinglebells well enough to trust him. Pretty soon, I figured out she was surviving by buying bricks of Mexican weed and selling lids on the street.

Jinglebells decided to hitchhike on down to Big Sur. “It’s a beautiful scene down there,” he said. “You should come with me.” I was sorely tempted, but decided to hitchhike back to Berkeley and walked miles uphill before I found the house I was staying at. The Swedish lady was really pissed at me and made me call her husband immediately. I made up some story about how a friend had been arrested and I’d gone to the police station and spent the night trying to get him out of jail. “Why didn’t you at least call us?” they wondered. The visit was over in another day or two anyway. Things were pretty somber at his house after that incident and I guess now he understood why my Dad was so frustrated with me. But I couldn’t get that close to the Haight and not at least spend one night soaking up the vibes there.

Scream (West Side version)

I recently started listening to some old tapes recorded at my Upper West Side apartment back in 1986 when the band first started, and I was amazed at how great the band sounds using a Walkman Pro with stereo mike to record. One of the first things I did after forming the band was invest in a small PA system. If we were going to rehearse in my apartment, I wanted the singers to be able to blast over the amps and drums. And I didn’t want to rely on the crummy house PA’s that you always find in the bottom-tier of venues. On hot days we’d open the window and just let it blast! Saturday afternoons were our usual rehearsal time. I knew we had something when a bunch of people hanging out the windows in the building across the street on West End Avenue all started applauding and cheering after we finished a particularly rousing version of “All Night Long,” a ’60s garage tune from Texas that’s particularly hard to play. That first spring we actually developed a fan club in the windows across the street who knew our regular rehearsal schedule. Later, we moved the rehearsals to real rehearsal rooms and eventually to Giorgio Gomelsky’s, as my building started rattling sabers about the noise. It didn’t help that the super lived in the apartment next to me, or that we had clouds of marijuana smoke drifting into the elevators.

Bands and sports teams are very similar in that they rely on energy harmony and transference. Some days the energy and harmony and transference are working, and some days they’re not. Going into studios to record would always boost our energy, but it could never guarantee those transcendent performances. Flick especially seemed to do his best work when the band was alone, or even late at night when we were just hanging out drinking beers and smoking joints, when he’d suddenly bust into his Lil’ Miscreant cartoon character and start channeling the ghost of Elvis or anybody else he wanted to. But once Flick got on stage, much of that improvisational energy would evaporate, and while Flick always put on great performances, that special magic we knew existed deep inside him seldom surfaced full bloom in recording studios or even onstage. To give a little demonstration of this, in case people think I’m just talking shit, I just put an alternative version of “Scream,” the first rock song I ever wrote on bandcamp just so our fans can hear that other Flick Ford for the first time. I believe this was recorded the same afternoon as that rousing version of “All Night Long.” Certainly the performances are better on this than any other version I know. And this was the original version of “Scream,” before Gordon Spaeth told us my song sounded too much like “Have Love,” and I re-jigged the guitar riff and sped up the tempo. After Flick goes off you can hear Brandel step up to the plate and knock his guitar solo out of the park, and if you listen close, you’ll hear Brian do the same thing on his bass soon afterwards.