Monday, December 31, 2007 Reviews: December 2007

Food & Drink
Kettle Brand - Buffalo Bleu... - jmdobies says "Flavor-Saturated Chip Packs a Wallop..."

Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard Ale - jmdobies says "Potent, Lusty Brew Not for Sissies "

Local Places
Austin City Limits Music Festival - jmdobies says "Eclectic Music Fest Offers..."

Clem Mikeska's BBQ - Temple, TX - jmdobies says "Since 1965, Clem's Has Been..."

Dell Children's Medical Center... - jmdobies says "Understaffed and Inefficient..."

Lubi's Hot Subs - Jacksonville, FL - jmdobies says "Jax-Based Chain Offers Uniquely..."
Rudy's BBQ - Austin, TX - jmdobies says "No-Frills Chain Delivers Tasty BBQ..."

Short Stop - Austin, TX - jmdobies says "Short on Square Footage, Long on Flavor..."
Smokey Mo's - Round Rock, TX - jmdobies says "Austin-area BBQ Chain Does It Right..."

The Austin Film Festival - jmdobies says "Austin Film Fest Celebrates the..."
Wheatsville Food Co-op - Austin, TX - jmdobies says "The Homegrown Alternative to Whole Foods..."
Movies & TV
THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU - jmdobies says "Reed and Rigg in Top Form in..."
BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE - jmdobies says "Snowbound Schlock Delivers Some Shocks..."

EEGAH - jmdobies says "A Girl, a Caveman, and a Beady-Eyed Guitar-Playin' Grease Monkey..."
Friday Night Lights, Season One - jmdobies says "Better Than the Movie, Almost as Good as the Book..."
THE GLORY STOMPERS - jmdobies says "My Favorite Biker Movie...Dennis Hopper..."

HELP! - jmdobies says "The Beatles in Their Prime, in Color!..."
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH - jmdobies says "Vincent Price Battles Italian Zombies..."

TOMORROW NEVER COMES - jmdobies says "Oliver Reed in Canadian-Made Hostage Drama..."
Web SitesGarage Punk Podcast - jmdobies says "A Treasure Trove of Garage Rock..."

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Beatles: Help! DVD

The Beatles: HELP!
Deluxe Edition DVD

Originally planned for 2005 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its release, this DVD reissue of Help! is well worth the wait.

Luckily, through the kindness of a family member, I got the deluxe edition for Christmas this year, and it is incredible. The restoration of the film is exemplary, with the colors even more eye-popping than they were in '65. John, Paul, George, and Ringo look great, impossibly young and full of life. The soundtrack has been lovingly remastered, with the songs sounding better than ever. My only complaint is that the dialogue is not nearly as loud as the songs or the incidental music, so that some of the witty asides are buried. This may be due to the fact that the boys were stoned out of their gourds while making the movie, and were mumbling, but in any case, the dialogue should have mastered a bit louder.

The DVD extras are very entertaining, with reminiscences from director Richard Lester, director of photography Peter Watkin, costume designer Julie Harris, and actors Victor Spinetti and Eleanor Bron. There are also original trailers and some vintage radio spots hidden in the menus.

All those things come with the standard edition, but there's even more cool stuff in the deluxe version. First off, you get a beautiful hardbound book with an appreciation from Martin Scorcese, a nice bit o' memoir from Dick Lester, and eight lobby card reproductions that are totally mind-blowing, although they have been shrunk down from the original 11 x 14. Also included is a reproduction of Lester's copy of the shooting script (working title: "Beatles Two"), with his handwritten notes. It's pretty cool.

If you love the Beatles, you owe it to yourself to own this DVD, in either edition. If you can afford it, go for the deluxe edition.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Cynics: Here We Are

Get Hip Recordings

The Cynics have been dealing in fuzz-laden garage rock for over two decades, in the process creating a body of work to rival many of their heroes.

My old band, the Malarians, opened for the Cynics back in 1988, at some club in Naugatuck, Connecticut (The London Fog? The Night Shift??). I remember how the Cynics totally captured the whole '60s garage aesthetic in ways my band could only aspire to. 20 years later, the Cynics have added a few colors to the palette, but still kick out the jams in the old school way.

Recorded in Spain at Circo Perrotti Studios, Here We Are is a great-sounding record, jumping out of the speakers with pounding immediacy. Part of the reason is that it is presented in mono, which, as any garage-o-phile worth his salt will tell you, just sounds better. Listen to Gregg Kostelich’s tremoled guitar on "Coming Round My Way" or the folk-rock 12-string on the title track, and you'll understand what I'm talking about. Stereo's OK, but mono rocks.

As do the Cynics. Sure, there are a couple of ballads, and even a pop-soul number with horns. But this is a rock n' roll record, and a durn good one. Singer Michael Kastelic is in fine voice throughout, especially on my favorite track, "The Ring."

Pittsburgh's finest have done it again, so go buy this album.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Chunk Records Story, Part Three

Part One and Part Two of "The Chunk Records Story" traced the evolution of the indie imprint from vanity label to trademark of quality (and quantity) with releases featuring New Radiant Storm King, Sebadoh, Silver Jews, and Lyres, among others. With the 1994 compilation Hotel Massachusetts, Chunk moved beyond vinyl into the realm of CDs.

Chapter Four: The Beginning of the End

Hotel Massachusetts had sold well for a comp, and proved that Chunk was more than just a boutique label dealing in the hipper-than-thou 7-inch vinyl format. I wanted to find a band to groom for development into a major label act, that was as yet undiscovered, but who would be ready when the majors came calling. Like Sub Pop had done with the money they made when Nirvana signed with the David Geffen Company, Chunk could then further develop its roster of bands, and be a legitimate, profitabl
e independent label.

One night, I was having a pint at the Northampton Brewery when it hit me that the little group playing the open mic was just the band I'd been looking for. The Scud Mountain Boys weren't your garden variety indie rock band. Far from it. They didn't even have a drummer. But they had a genius songwriter and a haunting, lonesome sound that was truly unique.

I decided to make them an offer they couldn't refuse. They didn't refuse, but they would later renege.

No less an authority than Robert Evans once said that "there are three sides to every story: yours, mine...and the truth."

Here's mine.


Steve Westfield wa
s a local singer-songwriter who had been around since the early '80s heyday of the Western Mass Hardcore scene. He was best known from his days with the Pajama Slave Dancers, a joke-punk act with several LPs to their credit, featuring titles like "Train Wreck on Prom Night" and "Full Metal Underpants." He later went solo, and made a series of records, of which "Sittting on the Bottom of the World," his side of this split 7-inch, is fairly representative. The thing that helped garner sales, reviews, and airplay of this otherwise unremarkable performance was the presence of Sebadoh's Lou Barlow on the track. It also attracted the attention of Lou's new label Sub Pop, but they weren't interested in Steve Westfield. They were interested in a Slow Band all right, but not Steve's. It was the Scud Mountain Boys they wanted.

The Scud Mountain Boys - Joe Pernice, Bruce Tull, and Steven DeSaulniers - were the band on which I had chosen to focus my efforts to take Chunk to the next level. They had great material, a cool stage gimmick wherein they performed seated around a table, and a unique sound: confessional country rock on heavy downers. They put the depression back into "No Depression." Their half of the record, "Television," captured their slow acoustic aesthetic perfectly, but was just a warm-up for the one-two punch that was to follow.

CH4512: TIZZY: "New Jersey"/"Betty vs. Veronica"

Tizzy was a band that was two-thirds female, full of quirky energy and poppy, punky songs. They were one of the bands featured on Hotel Massachusetts, and their 7-inch reflected the DIY
ethos of Chunk by its painstakingly hand-painted sleeve. The band members added the paint as fast as I could sell the records, which wasn't all that fast, but it sold respectably enough.

SCUD MOUNTAIN BOYS: Dance the Night Away CD

Track List: Freight of Fire/One Hand/Peter Graves' Anatomy/Letter to Bread/Television/(She Took His) Picture/Where's the Playground Susie?/Combine/Silo/Reservoir/ Sangré de Cristo/ Sweet Sally/Closing Time/Kneeling/Helen

Whereas the Scud Mountain Boys' split 7-inch with Steve Westfield was intended as an appetizer, Dance the Night Away was meant to be the main course, a tour-de-force displaying everything the band did well. As the bigtime beckoned, the Boys had added former Hoolapopper frontman Tom Shea on drums and mandolin, and he appears on several cuts.
A couple of the tracks dated back to their days as the Scuds, an earlier, electric incarnation I had witnessed playing at Sheehan's, and later booked on one of the first Bay State Cabaret shows. I remember my foremost first impression of the Scuds had to do with Joe's girlfriend, who was quite lovely (the phrase "cupid's bow mouth" comes to mind). Some of Joe's best songs ("Grudge Fuck" comes to mind) were directly inspired by her.
The Scuds were OK, but the Scud Mountain Boys were great, and had indie cred. They were a band's band, a critic's wet dream.

Anyhoo, when I made my offer to sign the band to Chunk, the Scud Mountain Boys were still a fairly well-kept secret, and completely unknown outside of the Valley. We had a sit-down at the Bay State, with their producer and designated consigliere, Thom Monahan, sitting in. I offered them a deal that would include the split7-inch, the CD release of Dance the Night Away, a vinyl pressing of their previously cassette-only Pine Box (and also on 8-track cartridge, if possible), plus the all-important option for a third full-length, that would necessitate a buyout should they sign with a bigger label, as per my master plan.

We shook hands like honorable men, and I arranged to have our agreement drawn up by a local attorney who shall remain nameless, although I will say that she was the sibling of one of the Mamas and Papas. Unfortunately, by the time she actually drew up the contract, the records were already released, and the feeding frenzy had begun.

CH1008: MISS REED: Corn CD

Anyway, this was another band-financed effort that hoped to exploit the indie cred of the mighty Chunk label, but failed to sell for various reasons. It was too pop for a lot of the indie rock types, and too metal for the shoegazers. Also, it's best track was already on Hotel Massachusetts.

Miss Reed was a band that was less than the sum of its parts. Leader Ray Neades was a talented songwriter and excellent guitarist who I'd played with in the Cheetahs and who would later be part of the plus-size AC/DC tribute band Beefy DC. Bassist Frank Padellaro, who I also played with in the Cheetahs, would go on to replace Stephen Desaulniers in the Scud Mountain Boys, and front his own band, the genius King Radio. Dave Trenholm, another once and future Cheetah, is a skilled arranger and guitarist who would also be part of King Radio. Drummer Paul
Pelis was a heavy hitter who would go on to play with several top combos.

Ray passed away in December of 2009.

CH4513 & CH4519: DMZ: Live at the Rat '76 Volumes 1 & 2

Vol. 1:
First Time is the Best Time/Boy from Nowhere/Go to School
Vol. 2:
Ball Me Out/Lift Up Your Hood

These records came about as the result of another advance paid to Jeff "Monoman" Conolly of the Lyres, and were originally intended to be teasers for a full-length release that would also include a 1993 DMZ reunion show. Though that CD eventually came out a couple of years later, it was on another label, not mine.
These tracks are the very best recordings ever made of DMZ at the peak of their punk power. While their Sire LP suffers from overproduction and a bad mix, courtesy of Flo & Eddie, the Live at the Rat songs sound absolutely killer, having been remixed from the original multi-tracks and lovingly mastered by Erik Lindgren.

"First Time is the Best Time" was DMZ's first 45, and features an incredible vocal performance by Conolly that is an unholy marriage of Joey Ramone and Bryan Ferry. Studio recordings of three of the tracks wound up on Bomp's Relics LP, but those versions pale in comparison with these. "Go to School" was previously unissued in any form, and helped Volume One sell out faster than almost any other Chunk release.

Slow Down, This Is Not Monte Carlo

The Push Kings were nice, Ivy League boys who were seduced by the lure of indie rock obscurity. They sent me a demo that my girlfriend fished out of the pile of unlistened-to cassettes in my office, and popped in the tape deck. "They sound just like your beloved Pavement," she said, and damn if the songs didn't sound just like outtakes from Slanted and Enchanted. I played the Push Kings demo for Pavement aficionado Zeke Fiddler, who gave it a bemused thumbs-up.

Through David Berman, we arranged for Pavement's Stephen Malkmus to write liner notes for the resultant 7-inch EP, SlowDown, This is Monte Carlo. They were suitably dry and ironic:

"The all-around sound of this group reminds me of many things. The heritage is all-apparent: tense-chordal future sound, indeed! The orthodontist straightens my teeth, the PUSH KINGS rearrange them in a way only a god could design. Their sound is incisor rock, and if we are lucky, all bands will sound like this one day."

Chapter Five: The Big Gundown

1995 was our best year yet, at least the first half of it. I was on a roll, as every new release increased the buzz about the label. I even got a raise at the Bay State. I now had interns to help me with the day-to-day business of running the label. I had guitarist/accountant Frank Padellaro, formerly of Miss Reed, to help with the bookkeeping. I had a publicist to handle press and radio for the Scud Mountain Boys CD and the label as a whole.

I had made the right choice as to which band to focus my resources and energies upon, as the Scud Mountain Boys scored one great review after another, their CD was selling briskly, and they were now being courted by the likes of Sub Pop and Warner Brothers. Joyce Linehan at Sub Pop, somebody I had worked with since her days booking Green Street Station in Jamaica Plain (or was it T.T. the Bear's in Cambridge?), wanted the Scud Boys wicked bad, to use the vernacular. She arranged for them to be flown out to Seattle, to meet the head of the label, Jonathan Poneman.

I got left on the tarmac, so to speak.


"This time of year the light comes through the pines in flat beams and spark points, glancing off the frost that decorates the grounds of the light-studded medical cities. For a six-sided second I feel like I'm back in the haunted Piedmonts, a decorated major in the Japanese Inner Space Program, renewing my vow to bear down on the truth even if there is none for the hundredth time.
After the exodus of the Calm Reflectors I had started seeing the Scud Mountain Boys around town with their Baltimore haircuts, the guitarist's guitarist carrying his 1873 'trapdoor' Springfield rifle, the progeny of the muzzle-loading French Charleville muskets that had whacked so many Redcoats around these hills. I had heard it was the band's tradition to lay dinner on the table uncooked and then set the table on fire.

I was out for a walk with Mr. Fiddler the other night, when he turned to me and said, 'this is the time of year when the region is at peace with itself.' I turned to laugh in his face when the impulse subsided. He had been right of course. I'd already seen it happen in the slide projector's cone of lit dust: the November sky hovering over lives of dark employment like a televised clay bank, breech-loaders replacing muzzle-loaders, crows wired to the sky like marred pixels, portraits cubed into accordioned life while every single object of perception waited for us in the air conditioning. Yes, tennis crested in the seventies, killing Eddie Money and the last of the Holmby Hills Rat Pack, but how many times did we have to witness the L.A. fireplaces reflected in L.A. wineglasses before it ended?

You meet these suburban kids with Biblical names, but there are walls behind their eyes, strange mathematical mountains at whose base we sit playing our native keyboards and rinsing our teeth with digital snow. I'm starting to believe that the inscription above the portal describes this side, not the next.

Few people know that George Washington's favorite song was 'The Darby Ram,' or stop to think that before he was a statue he scratched his weld, got the hiccups, and danced alone in his room. All the 'human things.' He must have been scared when he fought in the woods, hiding in the dormant Christmas trees, his hand gripping the black walnut musket stock.

In those times and these we turn to the pacifics of a Gamelan orchestra for transport and release. We stand by the hind legs of a K car, listening to the new city cassettes, searching for some sign of human residence here beneath the justifiably uncelebrated Massachusetts sky.

This treasured early work brought calm forecasts and sad peace to our house. I hope you take it with you when you go."

- D.C. Berman

Original Liner Notes to Pine Box LP

As promised, the LP reissue of the Pine Box cassette was delivered on time to coincide with a series of showcase gigs in New York and Boston. I even had an old-timey circus-type showprint poster made to commemorate the releases. As I mentioned earlier, the attorney I'd hired had taken several months to complete the contract that had been agreed to by the band when had our sitdown in late '94. By the time she'd had it drafted, the band were no longer willing to sign it.

As they began to receive offers from bigger labels, they hired an entertainment lawyer named Josh Green, who counted R.E.M. among his clients. He told them in no uncertain terms that they didn't need to pay me anything. So one night I was summoned to the Scud mansion to discuss our deal. It was an ambush. The knives were out, and they would find their mark.

The band informed me that not only would they refuse to sign the contract to which they'd already agreed, but also that I would not be receiving a buyout, as they figured I had already recouped the money I'd spent to produce their records. Besides, they reasoned that any buyout I received would come out of their end of whatever deal they signed. Stephen D was particularly vehement that the original agreement wasn't "fair." Turned out that he had been nursing a grudge since the Scuds were left off the Hotel Massachusetts CD. Hey, if he'd bothered to give me a copy of the Pine Box cassette, I'd have gladly bumped Squeek or the Dots in favor of the SMB.

Joe demonstrated great balls by paraphrasing Sally Tessio from The Godfather: "It's nothing personal, Mal, it's just business."

Anyway, I walked away from the meeting completely shattered, enraged at the band's betrayal, and especially at myself, for not having gotten it in writing. I had counted on the friendship I'd forged with the guys in the band to somehow overcome their ambition.

How naive can you get?

I guess they figured I would take it lying down, turn the other cheek, and go away. Instead, I got on the phone to New York.
So they had R.E.M.'s lawyer, and he was telling them to blow me off? So I hired the guy who'd represented Scat Records when Guided By Voices signed with Matador, and he assured me that I'd get paid. Maybe not the $50,000 I might have made had I done the paperwork beforehand, but probably about half of that. Cool, I figured, that's enough to keep us going in the right direction.

A couple of days later, Stephen D approached me, obviously very pissed off. "What are you trying to do to us?" he asked.

"All I want is what you agreed to."

"The Sub Pop deal might not happen now. I hope you're happy."

"No," I told him, "I'm not happy at all. This whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth."

He walked away. A few days later, I sat down with Joe Pernice at Rooster's, a diner in Sunderland, Mass., to try to come to a resolution of the dilemma.

He started by offering ten grand. I turned it down.

He asked what I'd be willing to accept. I told him.

I should've asked higher, but I liked and respected the guy, especially his talent. The guy's a fucking genius. And an excellent negotiator.

He said we should meet in the middle. I stupidly accepted.

We shook hands, for the last time.

My lawyer ended up taking almost a third of the payout, leaving me with enough money to make a couple of full-lengths and a 7-inch or two. Unfortunately, back when I was expecting 50 grand, I committed to a some records that ended up selling less than zero, so that money was already lost, so to speak.

CH1006: SPORE/QUEER: Phuko & Flanista Split LP

This split LP took a while to actually come out, so despite the matrix number, it actually was released months after CH1007 and CH1008, by which time both Spore and Queer were in their decline phase, or already broken up, and past their peak as commercially viable indie rock bands.

Or so the dismal sales of this record would indicate.

Not that there wasn't some good stuff to be found on it, including Queer's cover of "Hot Child in the City" and the two bands covering each other's songs, but I was stuck with boxes and boxes of unsold Phuko & Flanista LPs that ended up in the local landfill after the label went under. But I'm getting way ahead of myself.

In Part Four of The Chunk Records Story, Mal gets married, gets fired, and goes broke. Featuring a bold last volley of releases by Guided by Voices, New Radiant Storm King, The Figgs, Drunk Stuntmen, Tag Sale, The Veronica Cartwrights, Ray Mason Band, The Coopers, Hamlet Idiot and Flycatcher.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Florida Rocks Again! Christmas

Airdates: Wednesday December 19th from 6 to 8 p.m and Sunday December 23rd, Noon to 2 p.m. ET.

Oldies 93.3 The Blizzard in Flagler Beach

Listen via Live365 at TheBlizzard.US


CHIPPER (THE TROPICS): Groovy Christmas/Toy Soldier
ROYAL GUARDSMEN: Kinda Looks Like Christmas/Snoopy's Christmas

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town/Winter Wonderland/Little Drummer Boy/Christmas in My Heart/Baby, It's Cold Outside/What Child is This

DORRINDA DUNCAN: It's Christmas Time
KING COLEMAN: Blue Grey Christmas

Skynyd Family Christmas/Christmas Time Again/Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Run Run Rudolph/Santa's Messin' With the Kid/Santa Wants Some Lovin'/Mama's Song/Greensleeves

SAM MOORE: Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
BELLAMY BROTHERS: Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree/Silent Night/Old Hippie Christmas/Tropical Christmas
JIMMY BUFFETT: Christmas in the Caribbean
38 SPECIAL: Hallelujah, It's Christmas
What Are You Doing New Year's Eve

Series Hosted by Mal Thursday

Written and Produced by JM Dobies

Co-Produced by Jeff Lemlich

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Message from Lee Hazen

Lee Hazen is a pioneering musician/engineer who was instrumental in some of the greatest rock 'n roll records to emerge from Florida in the '60s. His work with the Nightcrawlers represents some of the finest garage music ever made, in any state. We play a lot of Lee's recordings on Florida Rocks Again! and he dropped us a line today with the following reminiscence:


Thanks for notifying me of the airdates for your show. Have you considered offering CD's on a subscription basis ? I would love to hear the whole series of shows. It's been a long time since I've been back to Fla - 1992 was my last visit, but I consider my experience in Florida to be the foundation of my careeras a recording engineer which started in l964, the year I recorded The Nightcrawlers for the first time, and The Escorts Combo.

[Note: The Escorts were the earlier incarnation of the Daytona Beach garage legends the Allman Joys, Gregg and Duane Allman's mid-'60s teenage garage band. - JMD]

Had it not been for the kindness of Bob Quimby offering me work at The National Songwriter's Guild as a musician, singer and technician, who knows what direction I would have taken. A trip to Nashville with local singer and friend, Ted Merthe, made up my mind that I wanted to be an engineer and I started working towards my goal of working in Nashville.

A year at Criteria in 1965 and another year at KING in 1966 gave me a"track record" which got the attention of Glenn Snoddy in Nashville who had just build a new studio in East Nashville - Woodland Sound Studios. I often wonder how things might have turned out had I not been offered that job in Nashville. I think one thing still would have happened - I would have pursued my other goal of owning my own recording studio - in Florida.

Well, I reached that goal in l976 with the opening of "Studio by the Pond" here at my home by Old Hickory Lake near Hendersonville, TN. The studio and I are both retired but continue to exist (and I continue to drink beer). My two best friends returned to Ormond Beach in the mid 90's and continue to live and work in the area - Mike Stone and Jack (Stack A Track) Grochmal. Mike has the 24 channel MCI console from the Starday King Studio in Nashville,and Jack has a formidable amount of recording gear in his private studio at his home in Ormond by the Sea. Both of them are talented sound mixers and have been very much involved in music production over the years. Another person who was responsible for Bob Quimby hearing my recordings and offering me that first job is Betty Jayne (Stickles) Shawd. BJ sang on demos at the Guild for several years.

After I moved to Nashville, I helped her get to know some of the Background Singers and their groups. I think she would still be here singing on sessions had her mother not persuaded her to return to Daytona Beach. That's a real shame. Her husband, Larry Shawd, is a talented sound mixer and drummer. She operated her own Demo studio for a long time. Daytona has always been a great source of great musicians and performers.

I think that "The Martinique" night club should be treasured as the greatest showplace of talent in the area. It also happens to be the most exciting room that I've ever recorded in - including every recording studio I've ever worked in. I would LOVE to own that building and open a studio/live performance venue in it.

Have a great Holiday !

Lee Hazen

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Message from the Hiss

hi mal

sorta feel like a dork emailing you, but just wanted to say hi. i'm a big fan of the show as you can guess, and just wanted to say thanks for turning me on to all these great old florida bands. i live up in atlanta and play in a band called the hiss. we are all florida boys who moved up here (me and the singer in 2000, the 2 new members in 2005) and i have to say we are proudly flying the florida rock banner!

we have a cool little tradition now. whenever we play down in florida, we get the ipod ready and listen to a fewhours on FRA! on the way down on 75. i saw on the garage punk site that you moved to austin. hows that going? well, hopefully texas is treating you well. enough dorking out for me.

keep up the great show!!

the hiss

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dog Duty

I have two dogs. I've had Jesse Garon, my terrier-black lab mix, for 12 years, and Stu (a/k/a "Stoodles"), a Maltese, came in a package deal with my wife three and a half years ago.

We live in an apartment complex, and since it's in Austin, we are allowed to have dogs (almost everybody has a dog in Austin). Part of the deal, beyond the damage deposit, is that we are required to pick up after the dogs. They have even provided designated "doggie comfort stations" with plastic bags for disposal of the droppings.

I'm cool with that, having lived in a condo for most of the past seven years. I've picked up thousands of piles of dogshit in that time, so I'm used to it.

Some of my neighbors, however, are clearly not down with the program. These dog owners obviously consider themselves above picking up after their animals. Forensic evidence suggests the worst offenders are the owners of a medium-sized dog and a miniature breed. Their distaste for stool retrieval and disposal has made the area surrounding the doggie comfort station into a virtual minefield. These morons have actually had their animals drop a load within five feet of the receptacle, and neglected to pick it up. If I ever foul my Vans because I have misstepped into their dogs' waste material, I will hunt them down and piss on their shoes.