Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Florida Rocks Again!: Halloween/It's Alive!

Airdates: Wednesday October 31st from 6 to 8 p.m. and Sunday November 4th from Noon to 2 p.m. Eastern Time

Broadcast on Oldies 93.3 WFBO in Flagler Beach

Listen via Live365 at TheBlizzard.US

The first hour is our Halloween special, with the most haunted hits ever waxed up by the all-time greats from the Sunshine State: ghoulish garage, scary soul, and bone-rattling rockabilly. Then, in the second hour, "It's Alive!" featuring fiery concert recordings from Florida's famous and forgotten.

ROYAL GUARDSMEN: Little Red Riding Hood
FRED NEIL: Candy Man
BOBBY GOLDSBORO: See the Funny Little Clown
JACKIE MORNINGSTAR: Rockin' in the Graveyard
HATE BOMBS: Ghoul Girl

ROYAL GUARDSMEN: Snoopy vs. the Red Baron/The Return of the Red Baron/Shot Down


Don't Come Around Here No More

SAM & DAVE: Soothe Me
STEVE ALAIMO: Nobody Cries for Me
OUTSIDERS: Summertime Blues
ROEMANS: Misirlou

OUTLAWS: Freeborn Man

I Ain't the One/Call Me the Breeze/Sweet Home Alabama

FRED NEIL: Everybody's Talkin'

Series Hosted by Mal Thursday

Written & Produced by JM Dobies

Co-produced by Jeff Lemlich

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Chunk Records Story, Part One

After being listed as a "Hero" on the MySpace page of the Sierra Grille in Northampton, Massachusetts, former site of the Bay State Hotel, the club I ran for several years back in the '90s, I got a mess of "Friend Requests" from people and bands I knew and worked with back then.

It got me thinking about the old days. At the same time I was promoting live shows at the Bay State, I was also running an independent label, Chunk Records.
So I figured I would write an informal history of Chunk, the little indie that professed to be "obscure but rewarding," and promised "Medium Fidelity, Extreme Quality," releasing over 30 titles between 1986 and 2000, by artists including Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Silver Jews, New Radiant Storm King, Lyres, and DMZ, to name but six. So I Googled some of the bands whose records I'd put out, and searched for images to accompany the telling of the tale.

In the process, I discovered that some clown in London had started another, different, and I gotta say, highly inferior label called Chunk Records. An imprint that specializes in "Lounge Hop," whatever that is. Well, according to the Sunday Times, it is a style of music "pioneered by DJ Neil Nuff - old school hip hop meets funk, house and chill in the new party sound."

No wonder I've never heard of it. Sounds like complete ear vomit to me.

But I digress. Clearly, the story of the real Chunk Records is a story that must be told, and who better to tell it than me, the man who lived it, and can sort of remember bits and pieces of it.

Chapter One: Chunk Records is Born

Back in the Spring of 1986, I had just graduated from Hampshire College with a largely useless Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and Theatre. I split up with my cute L.A. girlfriend, who promptly went home and started dating some dickhead whose video was getting played regularly on MTV (for the record, it was one of the guys from David and David -- I think his name was David). After six years as a college student, I was thrust into the real world with no girlfriend, no job and no prospects. I could have applied to grad school or gone out and gotten a real job. But I wasn't having any of that.

I was in a rock & roll band.
The Malarians had formed in the Spring of 1984 as an homage to the mid-'60s garage bands that I dearly loved. Clad in black turtlenecks, specializing in four-chord rave-ups and crude lyrical motifs, the group evolved from an art project into a working band over the Summer of '85. I convinced guitarist John Lebhar to join the band, and become "Johnny Tomorrow." I co-opted the rhythm section of local punk band Pleasant Planet, drummer Eric Payne, alias "Lime Rickey" and bass player Kent Garver, a/k/a "Slater Awn." I was "Mal Thursday," the lead singer, harmonica player, and organist, but I was no great shakes as a keyboard player, so I got original member Jimm Erickson (a/k/a "Reverend Jimm" a/k/a "Jimm Chanson" a/k/a "The Old Man and the Sea") to sit in on Farfisa organ. He was later replaced by Bob Sherwood, better known as "Bob Medley," who had played drums in an earlier incarnation of the band.

Hey, if you wanted to be in my band, you had to have a stupid pseudonym. More than 20 years later, I still use mine, albeit strictly part-time.

So, having just graduated from college, instead of pursuing a legitimate career, I went into the music business. If we were going to make it, we would have to make a record. And since no self-respecting record company was going to sign us, we made up our own. Thus, Chunk Records was born. The origin of the label's name came from Johnny's day job doing construction at the local VA hospital, where a certain unfortunate Viet Nam vet with shrapnel in his brain was often heard to exclaim, "Chunk!"

The Malarians:
In the Cool Room
Tracklist: One Time Only/The Lone Star Surfer/Gilligan’s Wake/Super Lungs (My Supergirl)/Old Enough To Know/Little Girls Cry/Tuesday’s Child/Mopar/Brightness/Deep Inside/Up To No Good
Earlier that year, we'd travelled to Wallingford, Connecticut, to record at Trod Nossel Studios, where the Wildweeds had recorded their 1967 hit record "No Good to Cry," and where fellow garage revivalists Plan 9 had cut their first LP. We made a record that sounded nothing like what I heard in my head, and not nearly as good as we sounded on stage. But we had made a record, and we sold a shitload at our shows and in the local shops. The highlights included a nice arrangement of Donovan's "Superlungs (My Supergirl)" and a couple of holdovers from Pleasant Planet, "Brightness" and "The Lone Star Surfer."

I'll let ace garage-o-phile Moptop Mike Markesich explain the difference between In the Cool Room and the Malarians' live attack: "I saw these guys play three times in New Haven, CT, where I live, back in '86 - '88. I bought their LP when it came out, and I couldn't believe how bad it SUCKED! VERY slick, synthy-sounding...NOTHING like their live shows. I thought these guys were incredible live. The first time I saw them, I was floored. One of the best sets of 60's garage I've ever heard. Lots of energy, and could these guys SING! They covered "Little Girl" by the Syndicate of Sound (No one else has come close to doing this justice), and "Walk In The Sun" by the Turtles, which blew me away -- I mean, who in 1986 would cover that track? ...The Malarians were strictly all about FUN. Their sound was GREAT and their live sets RULED --swingin', rockin' and just plain done right. Which has always made it a mystery to me why their LP In the Cool Room blew quite so hard. There's a 12" EP called Know that gives you a MUCH better idea of what they were all about. With their haircuts and singer Mal Thursday's (JM Dobies) Buddy Holly horn-rimmed glasses, they looked totally Zombie-fied, and they had a GREAT presence and a really strong sound. JM was a major ham and a blast to watch..."

In 2009, Johnny Tomorrow retrieved the 24-track master from Trod Nossel, baked the tapes, remixed and remastered the record, restored the smokin' cover of the Unrelated Segments' "Where You Gonna Go," and voila, the album now sounds like it should have in the first place. Even MopTop Mike would dig it now. The remixed, remastered version is available as an mp3 album on iTunes, Amazon, and all the other usual suspects, and the limited edition CD can be had exclusively at The Malarians Online Superstore.

Unfortunately, back in '86, we didn't really know what the hell we were doing. But redemption was just around the corner...

The Malarians: Know

Tracklist: Once Upon A Time (In Your Mind)/Hexon Blood Beat/Good Times/What’s New, Pussycat?/No

Having grown disenchanted with the sound on our first album -- the overproduction, the dry mix, the Jiffy Pop drum sound -- we shopped around for another studio. I wanted to record at Fort Apache, a funky 16-track studio in South Boston where the Pixies had recorded some of their best stuff, and that's where we ended up. We worked with Jim Fitting, from the band Treat Her Right (which featured a pre-Morphine Mark Sandman) and Sean Slade, who would go on to co-produce Radiohead's The Bends and Hole's Live Through This, among others.

Unfortunately, we were a little short on cash, the chump change we made on gigs not being enough to fund another full-length. So we had to make do with an EP, which was a drag, because we were at our peak musically, had better songs, and we'd finally found a good place to record. We'd also figured out how to better market the band (although we were still pretty much clueless), and our second record, the Know EP, got good reviews, radio airplay all over the country, and charted on CMJ. For the cover art, we used an old photo of me taken by my Dad back in 1966 (our first LP's cover art was a variation on the Beatles' first album, Please Please Me, with the Northampton State Mental Hospital standing in for the EMI building).

All five songs on the record were worthwhile: "Good Times," was a strong cover of a hilarious Texas garage 45 by Nobody's Children; "Hexon Blood Beat," another number we borrowed from Kent and Eric's old punk band, was a vicious, hard-driving instrumental; "No," which started out as a Cramps-like creeper, had evolved into a gothic epic of malevolent fury; my favorite cut, "Once Upon a Time (In Your Mind)," which I co-wrote with Bobby, was a menacing blend of baroque folk-rock and all-out stomp; and our version of "What's New, Pussycat?" always used to slay 'em when we played it live.

However, we failed Economics 101 because we'd used a significant portion of the run as promos to get all that press and airplay, quickly sold out of the copies we had left, and never were able to repress. Instead, we went back to Fort Apache to record the Great Lost Malarians Album. So it goes.

Know was reissued as a two-for-one album with the 1989 live recording Finished In This Town in June 2010 by Chunk Archives, and is downloadable on iTunes, where you can get the 5 songs from the EP for $4.95, or all 20 songs for $9.99, likewise on Amazon, CD Baby, and all the rest; Also available as a limited edition CD exclusively at The Malarians Online Superstore.

CH1003: The DeMilos
Arguably the most obscure title in the Chunk discography, the DeMilos' EP was originally going to be self-released, but the group felt that being affiliated with the mighty Chunk label would help them get press, airplay, gigs, and the all-important "indie cred." Ten years later, when the label was on its last legs, the practice was revived for releases by Drunk Stuntmen, the Coopers, and Tag Sale, among others. So the DeMilos paid for everything, and we lent 'em the logo, for what it was worth. Ultimately, not much, as the band broke up soon thereafter. Bass player Cheri Knight ended up in the Blood Oranges, and made some nice Americana/alt-country stuff on her own.

CH1004: The Malarians: Finished In This Town

Get Outta Dallas!/Hexon Blood Beat/Broke Down/Prison Habits/#1 Hit Song/Brightness/Action Woman/Sky Wild/Astral Plane/Good Times/Paranoia/This/She Lied/No/Good Times/Don't Want You Either

For reasons once clear and now obscure, the band began to disintegrate in 1989. For one thing, Kent had developed a severe chemical dependency problem, and road trips to gigs and to the recording studio often required a detour to the methadone clinic in Holyoke. Johnny was growing frustrated with a lot of things, and looked forward to having "a real band" with a "real singer." Bobby had an acoustic duo where he could indulge his obsession for XTC and "songcraft." When I started a side project with Kent and my friends the Lonely Moans, so I could play some Stooges-like stuff and be free of "group democracy," the other guys took this as an opportunity to bolt. Johnny, Bob, and Eric tendered their resignations during a rehearsal, to which I responded, "Well, I shall have to replace you then." It was straight out of Spinal Tap.

Kent and I soldiered on, honoring a commitment to open for Treat Her Right at the Rat in Boston. We used a cassette of backing tracks from our unreleased album and one from the Beach Boys' Stack-o-Tracks in place of the departed members. It was Garage Karaoke. When I explained to Mark Sandman that three-fifths of the Malarians had quit the band, he replied sagely, "That's sort of like when three-fifths of a marriage breaks up."

Out of spite, sheer orneriness, and lack of better things to do, Kent and I continued the band, recruiting Mike from the Moans, Steve from Wingtip Sloat, and a guy named Peter "Spec" McHugh (we called him that because we told him he had gotten the gig "on spec," meaning we didn't have to pay him). We hired a mobile recording truck and taped our second gig, at the Zone in Springfield, scene of many triumphant shows in the past.

The resulting live album, produced by me and Sean Slade, was a cassette-only release, because by the time it came to make the CDs, the band was no more. Kent and I overdubbed most of the lead vocals at Fort Apache, owing to the poor performances that had been captured live. I remember I had to talk him out of committing suicide prior to the dubbing session. "Just cut your vocals, man," I told him, "Then you're free to do what you have to do."

Since the live engineer had neglected to mic the audience, we covered up the depressing lack of crowd noise with random soundbites from biker movies, heavy on the Dennis Hopper.

Finished In This Town was reissued 20 years later by Chunk Archives as a two-for-one album with the 1988 Know EP in June 2010, and is downloadable on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, et al; Also available as a deluxe limited edition CD exclusively at The Malarians Online Superstore.

After the 1990 release of Finished In This Town, I decided to get out of the rock & roll business altogether, but, like Michael Corleone in Godfather III, "they keep pulling me back in!" I started another garage band, Mal Thursday and the Cheetahs, and revived the Chunk label. But that story will have to wait until the next episode.

In March of 1994, unable to overcome his addictions, Kent ultimately did take his own life. I miss him.

In Part Two of "The Chunk Records Story," Mal reinvents the label as a purveyor of Limited Edition 45s. It's a laugh-a-minute tale of music, money, madness, and mayhem, with special guest stars Arthur Lee, David Berman, and Jeff Conolly a/k/a "Monoman" a/k/a "Pokemonojeff."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Texas BBQ Showdown: A Definitive Second Opinion

After eating barbecue a dozen times in my first six weeks here in Austin, I put "The Great Texas BBQ Showdown" column on hold while I drop all the pounds I've put on as a result. For the record, I'd sampled the down-home goodness of the Iron Works, Stubb's, the Roadhouse, County Line , Smokey Mo's, Pokey Joe's, and Rudy's.

When I told Austinite John C. about the temporary brisket moratorium, he wrote back, "After you drop your pounds and get back to your fighting weight, here is a good guide:"

It is a great guide in fact. Man, this guy -- his name is James -- really did his homework, and then some. Well, not homework exactly, as he travelled all around Central Texas to get the skinny on the best BBQ joints in the area. I got hungry just looking at the pictures.

Bon appetit, pardners!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mal's MySpace Page

By the way, I've got a MySpace page, originally created to help promote the podcast. I've neglected it for the most part, mostly due to being overemployed (with the exception of the little two and a half month "vacation" that ended yesterday) and married.

Last night, I searched "Mal Thursday" on the MySpace site because I was too lazy to type in my URL, and discovered I was listed under "Heroes" by a fellow named Mark Sheehan from the Sierra Grille, who is attempting to "reanimate" the nightclub I used to run back in the mid-'90s (more on that later). Feeling honored, I sent a "friend request," and he wrote back, "WOW!!! It isn't everyday that the only hero in your myspace heroes list sends in a friend request!!! You are now our #1 !!!! Man I never knew ya personally but I admired what you did from the sidelines watching many of the gigs you booked and am trying my best to 'Re-Animate The Bay State' and the spirit of the legendary Mal Thursday!! "

Anyway, here 'tis:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lost in Negative Space

Here's another cool blog, "Lost in Negative Space" by Dutch movie maniac Peet Gelderblom. He's put together a collection of particularly outrageous exploitation movie posters, like this one for Bigfoot ("breeds with anything...") and if you know me, you know I loves me some exploitation movie posters.

Let them entertain us, the makers of strong images
Let us toss them copper pennies
But let us not forget
They make the images
We give them flesh
— Neil Gaiman

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Ugly Beats: Live n' Wild

The Ugly Beats
Emo's, Austin Saturday October 13

This was going to be a review of the Ugly Beats' headlining gig at Lambert's on Friday night, but I couldn't make it to that show, so instead I'll review their performance from the week before, when they opened for Holly Golightly at Emo's. Having just returned from a brief East Coast tour, the 'Beats hit the stage a little late but wasted no time in rocking the hometown crowd with the title track from their Take a Stand With the Ugly Beats album on Get Hip. I realize the prevailing dance craze these days is the "stand & nod," but I couldn't resist doing the frug and the jerk.

Despite an indifferent sound mix and little or no monitors, the band did not disappoint, packing their hour-long set with groovy group originals and well-chosen covers like the Easybeats' "I'll Make You Happy," the (Amsterdam) Outsiders' "Filthy Rich," and Barry & the Remains' "Let Me Through."

Vocals were shared among the group, with Joe Emery handling most of the leads, Jason pitching in on the harmonies, with Jake and JStephen each getting a solo turn. After the band finished the ace ballad "Million Dollar Man," Jason quipped, "Buy the record so you can hear how the harmonies are supposed to sound."

The Ugly Beats were joined on stage by Frank Pugliese of San Antonio's Sons of Hercules, whom Joe referred to as "the best garage band in Texas," for a rousing rendition of the Kinks' "I'm Not Like Everybody Else." Pugliese, who stands about 6' 7", towered over Emery, and left the mic stand two heads taller when he left the stage, making for a funny sight gag. Joe readjusted the stand and carried on, kicking out some more hip-shaking garage jams from Take a Stand and Bring on the Beats!

All in all, an excellent set from a great band. Look out for the Ugly Beats' upcoming appearance on "The Mal Thursday Show" on the Podcast, featuring a group interview, rare live cuts, and their favorite nuggets.

Jann Wenner: Rock & Roll Fascist

Johnny Black at the Blizzard sent me this item about Rolling Stone publisher and notorious A-hole Jann Wenner pulling a fast one on this year's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions, slighting the Dave Clark Five in favor of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five:

Rock Hall Voting Scandal:
DC5 Actually Won

According to sources knowledgeable about the mysterious ways of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, British Invasion group The Dave Clark Five and not Grandmaster Flash finished fifth in the final voting of the nominating committee and should have been inducted this year.

According to sources, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, who recently appointed himself chairman of the Foundation after the death of Ahmet Ertegun, ignored the final voting and chose Grandmaster Flash over the DC5 for the 2007 ceremony.

"Jann went back to a previous ballot instead of taking the final vote as the last word," my source insisted. " He used a technicality about the day votes were due in. In reality, The Dave Clark Five got six more votes than Grandmaster Flash. But he felt we couldn't go another year without a rap act."

R.E.M., Van Halen, The Ronettes and Patti Smith were the top four vote-getters, with Grandmaster Flash finishing fifth when the votes were counted on the first date ballots were due in to the Rock Hall office. But when all the ballots were counted a few days later, the DC5 had pulled ahead. Wenner decided to ignore that and stick with the earlier tally.

"We begged Jann to allow all six acts to be inducted. But he insisted that he couldn't because there wouldn't be enough time," my source said. "He wanted to have Aretha Franklin come and perform in memory of Ahmet Ertegun."The Ertegun tribute, while very nice, was deemed unnecessary by members ofthe main committee because the Atlantic Records co-founder will be memorialized in New York on April 17. But Jann wanted to do his own tribute. It was insane, especially since he took over Ahmet's position on the board before Ahmet even had a memorial."

Jann simply sent papers around informing everyone that he was now the chairman," my source said. The Dave Clark Five ballot tampering, however, stings the most. The group, part of the British Invasion of the mid-'60s, should have been inducted long ago for their hits like "Glad All Over," "Bits & Pieces" and "Catch Me If You Can."

Making them wait has turned out to be a huge mistake, as their fortunes have not been great. In December 2006, sax player Denis Payton succumbed to cancer at age 63. Lead singer Mike Smith has been paralyzed since 2003 after falling off a ladder at his home in Spain. In August 2005, a terrific fundraising effort for Smith at B.B. King's in NewYork was supposed to be the prelude to finally recognizing the group that had several memorable hits in the mid-'60s. Wenner's cruel axing of them from the show and the Hall of Fame should be painful to many who are intimately involved with the Hall, like Paul Shaffer, who runs the Hall of Fame band and produced and emceed the Smith tribute.

So what happened here? My sources also say that Wenner's motivation may have sprung from a controversial speech that was delivered by new administrative head Joel Peresman to the nominating committee last winter."He stood up there and told us that we should vote for who we thought would be most commercial, and who would be best on the TV show," a source said. "It was outrageous. Some people tried to stop him and asked him to leave, but he wouldn't. He said, 'I'm not leaving.' The director is never supposed to speak to the nominating committee."

Peresman came to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation last year when Wenner arbitrarily ousted the long-time chief of the group, Suzan Evans Hochberg, after two decades of loyalty. "Peresman knows nothing about the business," a source said. Peresman came to the Foundation from gigs booking shows at Madison Square Garden and with Clear Channel, the radio giant that many feel has strangled the music business with intransigent radio play policies and suggestions — actually, government investigations — of payola. In the old days, such a hire would have been considered anathema by Wenner. None of this should come as any surprise to those who have followed the roller-coaster world of the Rock Hall. According to the group's most recent tax filing, for example, they gave only $9,000 to indigent musicians fromtheir $11 million in holdings.

And then there's the matter of who has left on the nominating committee. I'm told that nearly half the group is gone, leaving 32 members. Many of the remaining members are former or current Wenner employees, like Rolling Stone's Nathan Brackett, David Fricke, Jim Henke, Joe Levy, Brian Keizer andAnthony DeCurtis. Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen's manager and a former Rolling Stone writer, is the chairman of the committee and considered the last truly mediating influence on Wenner. There are only three actual musicians: Paul Shaffer, Steven van Zandt and Robbie Robertson. Three are female. One of them is black. There are only two other black members: journalist Toure and Reginald C. Dennis. Wenner, I'm told, "weeded out everyone he didn't like." He even got rid of the veteran New York Post and Vanity Fair writer Lisa Robinson."

This is the opposite of what Ahmet would have wanted," a source said. "He liked a big committee that reflected lots of different tastes."

I've recently been named to the advisory board for the Florida Music Hall of Fame. I sure hope that when it comes time to name the inductees that somebody like Fred Neil or Duane Allman doesn't get bumped in favor of 'N' Sync or the Backstreet Boys, for "commercial reasons." Luckily, we don't have Jann Wenner as our chairman. What a tool.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Under Friday Night Lights

I just finished two days on the set of NBC's Friday Night Lights as a featured extra, playing a member of the local press on the sidelines of the big game between the Dillon Panthers and the Larribee Lions. I've worked on film sets in the past, including the Annette Bening-starring psycho-stinker In Dreams and the John Travolta action bomb Basic (where I worked as a stand-in for Tim Daly). My observation at the time I did those gigs was that the only jobs really worth having on a film set were the ones that came with a trailer. After two long nights on FNL, I have to say that my opinion hasn't changed.

Not that it wasn't fun at times, and better than waiting tables or cleaning toilets. And the first night, the catering was outstanding, with roast pork loin, southwestern corn niblets, and mashed taters smothered in pork gravy. I helped myself to three servings in preparation for a long night's standing around pretending to be a reporter. The second night's meal was decidedly mediocre, being food-service spaghetti with commodity meat sauce. "The more extras there are, the worse the food," commented one FNL veteran as he looked at the slop on his plate.

I met some very nice Austinites, many of whom have made a second career out of extra work on local productions. One guy was crowing that since Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof had been re-released separately from Grindhouse, he's now getting two residual checks.

One problem with the location was that the football field was adjacent to a waste treatment facility, and when the wind shifted, the stank was overpowering. "That's why the grass is always greener over the septic tank," said the lady next to me. "Same reason the Chinese grow carrots a foot and a half long and this big around," said the crusty grandpa to her left.

The aroma of chemically-treated human waste reminded me of my days as head coach of the Hampshire College baseball team. Since we didn't have a baseball diamond on campus, Hampshire being a hippie school where the only other sports were soccer and ultimate Frisbee, we were forced to play at the UMass JV field. The field was just a few short yards away from the town of Amherst's waste treatment plant, which processed tons of fratboy shit as we played next door. The smell was our secret weapon, our "home field advantage." Our players would dab Atomic Balm under their nostrils to mask the stench while our opponents would try not to lose their lunch on the infield.

When I wasn't engaged in good conversation with my fellow extras, my memory drifted back to my past misadventures in movie work, and way back to my days playing high school football. I remember working on the set of Basic, and playing an MP who was frog-marching Giovanni Ribisi to an interrogation. The AD, some cockney prick whose name I cannot recall (Trevor? Clement? Nigel?) told me I lacked "military bearing." The scene ended up on the cutting room floor. Then there was the time I was needed on the set, but instead was outside ordering Valentine's Day flowers for a crush named Kat, who turned out to be a femme dyke (note: two out of three women named Kat are lesbians). When I ran back to the set, the principals were all pissed at me for delaying the shot. Even the usually friendly Travolta was staring daggers at me. Needless to say, it was my last day on the picture.

When I did In Dreams, I got hired as a production assistant, but I was angling for something with a little more responsibility. I didn't want to be like the Colin Quinn character on The Larry Sanders Show, who gets a job on the show as a favor to Artie, but is looked down upon by the crew as "that 35-year-old PA." Anyway, I convinced Stephen Woolley, the producer (and later the director of the awful Brian Jones hatchet-job biopic Stoned) that I was a filmmaker, and that I would be glad to help him videotape some auditions. When I was given a Sony video camera to shoot a young girl's reading with Annette Bening for director Neil Jordan, I pushed a red button I thought was the "record" button, but which was more like the "wrong" button. The camera stopped functioning, and even the DP couldn't fix it. (Note: don't push the red button).

After that, I was relegated to working the periphery of the location, telling everybody to be quiet. A request ignored by the Teamsters, I might add.

I was reminded of my high school football days for obvious reasons, given the subject matter of Friday Night Lights, and the fact that we were shooting scenes of a fictional football game, but also because as the night wore on and the temperatures dropped into the 50s, my left knee started in a-painin' me somethin' awful. The same knee that Craig Steenson hit with his helmet during football practice back in '77.

Anyway, I start working full-time again next week, so this was probably my last chance to appear on the show. It was pretty cool, I met some nice folks, and now I can look for myself in the background of episode 11. But by the middle of last night, I was dog tired, and ready to go home.

However, I'm going to add a few titles to my Netflix queue thanks to this experience: season one of FNL, Death Proof (Tarantino's worst movie, but chock full of Austin locations), and Ricky Gervais's great series about "background artists," Extras.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Finally, a Candidate I Can Support

Stephen Colbert announced his candidacy for president on "The Colbert Report," tossing his satirical hat into the ring of an already crowded race.

"I shall seek the office of the President of the United States," announced Colbert on his Comedy Central show Tuesday, as red, white and blue balloons fell around him.

Colbert had recently satirized the coyness of would-be presidential candidates by refusing to disclose whether he would seek the country's highest office -- a refusal that often came without any prompting.

Shortly before making the announcement, Colbert appeared on "The Daily Show" (the show which spawned Colbert's spin-off) and played cagy, claiming he was only ready to consider a White House bid. He entered the studio set pulled by a bicycle pedaled by Uncle Sam and quickly pulled out a bale of hay and a bottle of beer to show that he was "an Average Joe."

Colbert said his final decision would be announced on a "more prestigious show," which turned out to be his own.

"After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching, I have heard the call," said Colbert.

His recent best-seller, "I Am America (And So Can You!)" allowed him to mock the now-standard approach to a White House run, complete with a high-profile book tour.

Colbert said he planned to run in South Carolina, "and South Carolina alone." The state, one of the key early primaries, is also Colbert's native state. Earlier this week, South Carolina public television station ETV invited Colbert to announce his candidacy on its air.

Exactly how far the mock conservative pundit planned to stretch his impression of a presidential candidate wasn't clear. Colbert rarely breaks character on camera, including at his memorable speech at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner last year.

The Comedy Central host has often mobilized his fans ("Colbert Nation"), encouraging them to vote to have a Hungarian bridge named after him, for example, or to vandalize with his version of "truthiness" and "wikiality."

The comedian said he would run as both a Democrat and Republican. He earlier explained the strategy: "I can lose twice." He claimed three running mate possibilities: Colbert-Huckabee, Colbert-Putin or Colbert-Colbert.

Minutes after announcing his presidential pursuit, Colbert welcomed CBS political analyst Jeff Greenfield to ask how he had changed the race.

"This is going to be one for the books," said Greenfield.

A spokesman for Colbert said he would be unavailable for further comment Tuesday evening.

In a guest column for Maureen Dowd in Sunday's New York Times, Colbert wrote: "I am not ready to announce yet -- even though it's clear that the voters are desperate for a white, male, middle-aged, Jesus-trumpeting alternative."

- Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer

Monday, October 15, 2007

Led Schleppelin III: Employment Update

Lest you think that I've been a lazy layabout and not hustling to find gainful employment, here's a quick update on my recent work experiences:

Austin Film Festival: Worked at the office making badges, at the registration table, and risked grievous bodily injury hanging lights for the opening night party. Compensation: free pass to the festival and to all the Saturday panels, none of which I was able to attend (see previous post, "A Fractured Fairy Tale").

CSB Broadcasting School: I have been hired as an instructor teaching aspiring broadcasters the ins and outs of audio editing using Adobe Audition and Pro Tools, and how to be an on-air personality. Starts next month. Compensation: $25 an hour, part-time.

Extra: I've just scored a gig as an extra on NBC's Friday Night Lights series, which shoots here in Austin. I'll be standing around trying to look like a member of the local press corps. I'll definitely be in the background of episode 11, and perhaps in the remaining 11 episodes this season, barring cancellation. However, the ax has yet to fall on any of this season's shows, due to the impending writer's strike, which explains why K-Ville is still on. Anyway, Friday Night Lights airs Fridays at 9, which sort of makes sense, given the title, but aren't they missing out on their target audience, who will be at a high school football game, not at home watching TV? In any case, I won't be watching, because I'll be on the set, pretending to be a journalist. Like I used to do back when I was managing editor at The Worcester Phoenix. Compensation: day rate, negligible. But, hey, I'm back on TV and in my old time slot.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Fractured Fairy Tale

This was going to be a report from the Austin Film Festival about Friday night's screening of Big Wednesday, of writer/director John Milius and his love of guns and surfing, but a funny thing happened on the way to the film fest.

Actually, not very funny at all.

Five minutes before I was going to leave, my son Liam jumped to the floor and broke his foot -- a spiral fracture of the first metatarsal in his right foot to be precise. So instead of hobnobbing with celebs and cineastes, I spent six hours in the emergency room at the Dell Children's Hospital, as my son went mental from the pain and his inherent distrust of doctors, nurses, and the medical trade in general.

The first three hours were spent among the downtrodden in the waiting room, then after we had attained deliverance to the actual ER, we spent ten minutes getting treatment and two hours and fifty minutes waiting around. While we were able to spend that time removed from the Tex-Mex germ lab that was the waiting area, we were doubtless subjected to many viruses and pathogens, such as whatever psycho death germs were emanating from the next bed, where a screaming toddler was having a very nasty boil lanced.

As we were kept waiting, I watched ten innings of the National League Championship Series game two between Colorado and Arizona while waiting for the tech to come and put a cast on Liam, who had mercifully fallen asleep in the interim. If he had been awake, he would kicked the guy in the face while shrieking in terror, so thank heaven for small favors.

Finally, we were able to get out of there, and luckily the hospital accepted our Florida insurance, or else the credit card would've taken another hit.

Sleep has been a rare commodity in the time since then, with the boy waking up screaming in pain every twenty minutes. It doesn't help that he spits out the Children's Motrin when we try to administer it. Maybe he's paranoid because he heard the FDA report on over-the-counter medications.

I was too groggy to make it to Oliver Stone's presentation the next morning, and only went to a couple of films later in the day.

I will return with a recap of the parts of the festival I actually attended, but right now, I've got to look after the little man.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

JMD at the Austin Film Festival, Pt. 1

I've been doing some work for the Austin Film Festival, which starts this Thursday October 11th and runs through the 18th. Oliver Stone and John Milius will be appearing and presenting films -- Milius will be screening Big Wednesday, his best film, in my humble opinion.

Plus there's a ton of cool movies making their debuts (or at least in these parts). The one I'm most interested in seeing is:

I'll post more about the festival as it happens.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Mal Thursday Show #1

The Mal Thursday Show is Back!

Now on the Podcast.

During the process of moving to Austin, I had to go through my record collection, and rediscovered some gems I had forgotten that I owned, or just hadn't heard in a while. Plus, I had gotten some promos from Barbara at Get Hip and Eric 4-A at Vagrant Records, so I decided to bring back The Mal Thursday Show, which originally aired on WMUA in Amherst, Mass. from '87 to '91 and had a brief revival on WFCF in St. Augustine in 2002. So here 'tis, people. Hope you dig it.


UGLY BEATS: Let Me Through (Get Hip)
LYRES: Grounded/We Sell Soul (Norton/Taang!)
DTs: Don't Slander Me (Get Hip)
DEREK & CLIVE: The Worst Job I Ever Had
DORKTONES: It's My Pride (Forum comp)
GREENHORNES: Satisfy My Mind (Telstar)
INSKIRTS: Skating (Soundstream)
IGGY POP: 'Til Wrong Feels Right
EMBROOKS: It's Always Been That Way (Dionysus)
WIG: Drive It Home (Goyle)
CIRCUS: Burn Witch Burn
GENTLEMEN: It's a Cryin' Shame
BY-FIVES: I Saw You Walking
KNIGHT'S BRIDGE: Make Me Some Love (Sea Ell/Sundazed)
TAG SALE: Traversing the Wave (Chunk)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Vote Now: Most Annoying TV Ad Campaign

Now's your chance to sound off on which television advertising campaign is the most annoying by voting for your most despised commercials.

I'll get the ball rolling by listing several that have pained me to no end, and continue to do so:

  • The Sonic Drive-In A-Holes: Whether it's the infuriating bespectacled bald guy whose head resembles a short, ugly penis, or the jag-off who talks with his mouth full (see above), this series of improvised spots touting various unhealthy fast food treats is poison for the eyes and torment for the ears.

  • The Verizon Dweeb: Now reduced to being a silent clown, one can at least be grateful that he no longer spouts the Tourette's-like mantra, "Can you hear me now?" No, we can't, but you still suck.

  • The Free Credit Report Dickweed: You know the guy: "I'm thinking of a number..." Yeah, so am I, it's on his tombstone, and it ends in '07. If you have derogatory credit, or even if you don't, you've got to want to slap the shit out of this guy. I know I do.

  • Dane Cook for MLB: Aren't this overpaid, obnoxious joke thief's 15 minutes up yet? Having to endure his loathsome douche-baggery during the last three months of the regular season was bad enough, but now TBS continues to run his promos for their post-season coverage during the post-season, when we're already watching. Enough already. And that goes double for his movie career. (See also "Who's Worse: Chipper or Dane Cook?," Brave Hater 9.17.07)

So there you have it, just a few of the commercials that have assaulted my critical faculties. Dishonorable mention for the creepy rotoscope animation in the Charles Schwab ads, made so much worse by the smug yuppies portrayed in them, and for the George Clooney-voiced Budweiser spots where he tries in vain to convince us that Budwesier is the best beer we've ever tasted. Come on, George, you're better than that. And it's not like you drink the stuff.

So cast your vote and vent your spleen for the TV ad campaign you find most annoying in the comments section.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Led Schleppelin II: Dial K for the Kids

Another schlep job has come and gone, and still no legit gig in sight. After my brief tenure at Crestwood Suites, I took a job with A.R.K. Media Services in Cedar Park. The protocol was this: armed with a torn-in-half phone book (the Abilene, Texas White Pages), I was to call local businesses to sell them, at grossly inflated prices, anti-drug radio spots to run on KFGL 100.7 "True Oldies."

My pitch went something like this:

"Throughout the month of October, we're going on the air with all-out effort to keep kids off drugs. With the children back at school, and the holiday season coming up, more kids are going to be tempted to try drugs. We want to help our young people make the right choices. I have prepared a message for your business that goes something like this: 'And now, your friends at Federated Mud Service want to remind all parents that kids are being approached at a younger age to try drugs. Parents, educate your children to the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Teach them to deal with life's problems sensibly, never chemically. Don and Cletis and all the gang at Federated Mud are on the air wishing our kids a drug-free school year.'"

Apparently, the kids are on their own during school vacations.

Drew, the CEO of A.R.K., tried to lead by example, booming his rapid-fire pitches at top volume from the office next door, always emphasizing that "we're puttin' it on for the kids." He bulldogged half a dozen small businessmen a day into buying the overpriced PSAs, while I must have made a thousand calls, and managed to sell but one in the three days I was working for him.

Last night, as I tried to fall asleep, I heard the same phrase repeating over and over in my head: "We're puttin' it on for the kids...We're puttin' it on for the kids...We're puttin' it on for the kids."

I went into work this afternoon for another session of telemarketing tedium and futile phone work, but when I sat down at my cubicle, I could not bear to don the headset. I tendered my resignation and went home to face the music.

And it sure as hell wasn't "True Oldies."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Florida Rocks Again!: Florida Time/Anywhere But Here

At last, a brand new episode of Florida Rocks Again! airs tonight on Oldies 93.3 The Blizzard in Flagler Beach. The first hour, it's "Florida Time," as artists such as Elvis Presley, Wayne Cochran, and Eric Clapton sing about the swamps, beaches, and backwaters of F-L-A.

The second hour, "Anywhere But Here" features tunes about other places, as rendered by Florida's famous and forgotten, including Ray Charles, Lynyrd Skynyrd (a little ditty about Alabama), and Tom Petty's 1973 single with his old band Mudcrutch.

Airdates: Wednesday October 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. and Sunday October 14 from Noon to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

Listen via Live365 at TheBlizzard.US.

LARRY & THE LOAFERS: Let's Go to the Beach
CORONADOS: Florida Sun
WAYNE COCHRAN: Goin' Back to Miami
ELVIS PRESLEY: Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce
RONNY ELLIOT: Elvis Presley Didn't Like Tampa

BING CROSBY with THE ANDREWS SISTERS: Appalachiacola, Fla.
FLAMIN' GROOVIES: Tallahassee Lassie
MUDDY WATERS: Deep Down in Florida
ERIC CLAPTON: Mainline Florida

FLOYD MILES: Goin' Back to Daytona
DENNIS WHEELER: Down in Daytona
LYNYRD SKYNYRD: Jacksonville Kid

WAYNE COCHRAN: Harlem Shuffle
MUDCRUTCH: Up in Mississippi Tonight
FRED NEIL: Mississippi Train
MOVERS: Birmingham
MARK MARKHAM & THE JESTERS: Goin' Back to Marlboro Country
ROYAL GUARDSMEN: Battle of New Orleans

CHARLIE McCOY: The Boy from England
TOMMY ROE & THE ROEMANS: Diane from Mancherster Square
HELENE SMITH: China Melody
BOBBY GOLDSBORO: Me Japanese Boy, I Love You
BUCK TRAIL: Knocked Out Joint on Mars

HOUR GLASS: Down in Texas
MIGHTY SAM: Georgia Pines
LYNYRD SKYNYRD: Sweet Home Alabama
MAGIC: California

Series hosted by Mal Thursday

Written and Produced by JM Dobies

Co-Produced by Jeff Lemlich

Monday, October 1, 2007

Brave Hater 10.1.07


Although their season wasn't as disappointing as say, the Mets, the Braves' third place finish and mediocre 83-79 record were a bitter pill for the organization to swallow. However, it tastes pretty good to us.

While we at Brave Hater had hoped for a losing record, it was even more satisfying when Atlanta went on a tear in the season's second-to-last week, providing hope for a miraculous finish, only to have their hopes dashed when Chipper made a boo-boo. Jones's throwing error in Wednesday's game against Philadelphia led to a crushing defeat that made a post-season berth highly unlikely, and John Smoltz surrendering four runs to the first four Phillies hitters on Thursday sealed the Braves' fate. Smoltz's first inning troubles paled in comparison to his erstwhile teammate Tom Glavine's in the Mets' 8-1 loss to the Marlins on Sunday, when Tommy gave up seven runs in a third of an inning to make the Metropolitans' horriffic collapse complete.

However, Smoltzie's bald-headed buffoonery was enough to eliminate the Braves from playoff contention, and make the final three-game series in Houston a meaningless exercise in playing out the string. Despite winning the opener behind an uncharacteristically effective Jojo Reyes, the Braves then dropped the final two games of the series, including a 3-0 shutout in Sunday's finale, to go out as losers.

As the home crowd at Minute Maid Park cheered for Craig Biggio, playing his last game, all of us at Brave Hater cheered a different milestone, as Chipper Jones took the collar, going 0-for-3 to drop his average to .337, and virtually guarantee Colorado's Matt Holliday the batting title (Holliday cinched it with his triple off of Trevor Hoffman in tonight's Wild Card tiebreaker, by the way).

The Braves in third place, Chipper losing the batting title: brilliant!

That is why 2007 was our favorite year.


Although Chipper Jones did not win the batting title, his gaudy numbers this season have helped to advance the fallacious argument that he is worthy of the Hall of Fame. More than one sportswriter has gone on record saying that he will vote for Larry Wayne Jr. on the first ballot.


One pernicious side effect of all of this malarkey has been an increase in value of Chipper's rookie card in the Beckett Guide. Luckily, we have several here in the office as part of part of our anti-Chipper voodoo shrine.

We will use all of our resources to bribe as many members of the BBWA to vote no on Jones's Hall candidacy, even it means parting with this rare card:

Brave Hater is a parody, specifically of Chop Talk, the despicable publication packed with pro-Atlanta propoganda of the vilest sort. See you next year, Brave Hater Nation.