10/28/05: Blowfly versus Wilma
Straight from the front lines of Florida comes this Hurricane dispatch from Blowfly's Tom Bowker:
Wilma - one sneaky bitch
"Tom Bowker!" Jeff Clayton - lead growler from the Antiseen - bellowed over the phone at me this afternoon, "When are you gonna wise up and move from that damn target you call home?"
It's a valid question, but the insane living expenses and tropical weather aside, Miami is a nice place in January when the rest of you are freezing your asses off. That is unless you"re like me - in the dark on a dying laptop battery on the 4th day of a blackout thanks to that bitch, Hurricane Wilma.
Wilma was sneaky. Much like Hitler before the blitzkrieg, she beat up defenseless countries in the other direction before launching an all out attack. Like Western Europe in 1939, we Miamians were lulled into thinking it couldn't happen to us. I mean after all, Wilma was hundreds of miles to the west, traveling west. Sure the doom and gloom weathermen were chanting "jet stream" and "sharp turn to the "northeast" like a Hari Krishna in a bead factory - but we'd been through dozens of near misses - and they were actually traveling towards us when we were putting up shutters and buying batteries and water jugs like a battalion of stepford wives.
So on Saturday afternoon, two days before Wilma ripped us - I was at an outlet mall shopping for clothes. We were due at a wedding the next day and my wife needed shoes - storm be damned! We spent the whole day there, and Wilma was barely drifting north - not unlike an unwashed hitchhiker in Humboldt county.
Come Sunday morning, the ugly truth began to reveal itself. Wilma had hit the jet stream and she was traveling towards us really fast. "Like a rocket" as AOL put it when I signed in. And then my parents emailed me from their cruise ship in the mid Atlantic with directions to their hidden car keys and instructions to shutter and sandbag their waterfront home. So I called up Chris, our guitarist and together, we put up the old school aluminum shutters and fumbled with the new fangled accordion shutters that my folks had recently purchased. Like most things that are allegedly idiot-proof, these shutters were impossible to figure. The top railing worked fine - but the bottom tracks had brackets that made it impossible to run the shutters through - so we left it unsecured on the bottom and my wife, baby and I bunked there for the night.
At 6AM, I awoke to the sound of a gabber concert in the master bedroom. The bottom of the accordion shutters was smacking into the glass French doors BOOM BOOM BOOM!! Unnerved, I turned on the TV. Wilma, who was supposed to just give the eastern side of Florida a category 1 brush - was a category fucking three and headed straight for Miami. Then the power went out and I was left with no other noise but BOOM BOOM BOOM! I found the radio and twirled the dial to the local elevator-music station -where the music was off and unhinged calls to the board op were on. Highlights included: "My house is shaking and I just moved here from California!" and "Whoa dude, I just went outside and the sky is on fire!"
At that point, one of the aluminum shutters flew off and I got to see Wilma for myself. Wind was swirling around the house in 125 mph gusts. My dad's creaky old sailboat was three feet above the dock and crashing rapid-fire into the pilings. Piles of broken flowerpots, tree limbs and flotsam and jetsam from the bay sat on the ground, menacingly -as if they were going to take flight and smash through the uncovered window at any moment. Stinking from the evening's shutter work, I headed for the shower and found no water pressure. When Wilma finally let up, I found out why. A thirty foot fichus tree in the side yard took out the garden hose and the spigot, thus creating a three foot waterfall. Unable to find a water main, I called my cousin Jimmy who once had plumbers butt for a living. "Go outside, and find the meter and call me back." He drawled. I stumbled outside and found a city of Miami fireman - who ghetto rigged a screwdriver and a crescent wrench into a water key. With a thousand dollar water bill staved off, I took a can of soup out to the grill. Or at least that's what my dumb ass was doing until I tripped over a branch and fell down the patio stairs, twisting my knee and scraping up everything. Don't eat Campbell's, kids - it's not good for your health.
As I haven't seen a TV all week, you know what Brickell Drive looks like when the ocean visits better than I do. But I've driven by dozens of soviet-long gas lines, attempted to get ice in a dozen stores - before finding one bag sitting by its lonesome in a grocery line, and watched my neighbors skirmish over a generator. I've met a few thanks to the inability to isolate myself with TV and internet and air conditioning. Of course, the fuckers two blocks away have power - because they live in a business district. But that's ok, I'm sure they'll find squatters in their houses when they go to get in the gas lines. And as a bonus -we got booked next Friday, Noember 4th on South Beach. There's even a dinner package. $15 buys you Blowfly and five Latin rock bands. $40 buys you Blowfly and Filet Mignon. Blowfly and dinner. Praise the Lord and pass the ammo - I've finally repeated the puppet show scene of This Is Spinal Tap!
Yours, "Uncle" Tom Bowker, Blowfly
10/25/05: Punk Voter Lives!
PUNK VOTER LIVES! There's lots of action over at punkvoter.com so be sure to check the site for more updates and anti-Bush news. Yeah, it's basically us talking a buncha shit about the President, but somebody's gotta do it. Join us:
NEW PUNK VOTER COMP! Once again Punk Voter has teamed up with Fat Wreck Chords to compile a bunch of great punk bands for a great cause. The new CD is called "PROTECT: A Benefit For The National Association To Protect Children". It's 26 total songs and it has unreleased songs from Matt Skiba, Anti-Flag, Jawbreaker, Joey Cape, Against Me!, and a bunch more. Buy it here!
10/09/05: BAT FEST 2005!
BAT FEST 2005 is happening on Halloween night in San Francisco! It's at the Great American Music Hall at 859 O'Farrell Street, doors 7:30, show 8pm. Almost all ages (no babes in arms), $16.
Jello Biafra with Melvins
The Dicks (rare reunion of these Texas no-gooders!)
Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots
Turn Me On Dead Man
We'll have a ton of Alternative Tentacles shirts, posters, bits, and of course cd and vinyl from all of the bands on the bill! Tickets are available via fax or the box office from the Great American Music HallGreat American Music Hall or on-line at virtuous.com.
(You can also buy combo dinner/show tickets through the Great American Music Hall)
10/07/05: Military Free-Zone rocks!!!
We urge all of you to visit the Military Free Zone run by our pals at A-F Records and Underground Action Alliance!
The Administration is running scared as the counter-recruitment and opt-out movement grows across the spectrum of US society. (Part of the Bush's "No Child Left Behind" Act mandated that school children's information be given to military recruiters unless the parents opt out) Help tell the government that we will not be shipped overseas to fight a war started by lies and which has been mismanaged since before the first bomb dropped!
09/30/05: Jello and AT Yard Sale Saturday!!!
It's that time again, Alternative Tentacles and our neighbors Astropitch are having another garage sale here Emeryville, CA! Saturday October 1st, 10am-3pm, at 1501 Powell Street (under the overpass). Both labels will have music, merch, and various non-music bits like computer parts, office supplies, books, and so much more.
Jello Biafra has supplied a ton of new and used cds, lps, and 7"s from his legendary collection, and Jesse The Mail Male bringing a bunch of used and new lps, cds, and 7"s, plus shirts, books, and bits from my own collections. There'll be a bunch of band stuff from Blatz up through The Frisk and Zafio Records releases (including the best East Bay band of the mid-90s, Black Fork!!!). He'll have some campaign shirts too.
Astropitch, which is the other main participant (and the usual instigator) is the home of a lot of the Anticon family and the Residents and Vaccination Records, among a ton of other things. Last yard sale Little Type (Pat and Erika, Lookout refugees and current Adeline/Aaron Elliot/Ben Weasel/Larry Livermore mailorder masters) showed up also. Not sure if they're making it down this time or not.
So yeah, should be good. There's going to be a bunch of Alternative Tentacles cds/tapes/lps/shirts/bits, plus some office things and... uh... stuff.
See you there, if you're local! Carve out a few minutes from your East Bay Saturday and come on by- we're a much better option than frickin' Ikea with more parking and less annoying people (I think).
Saturday October 1st, 10am-3pm, at 1501 Powell Street (under the overpass down the block from the Emeryville Amtrak Station, Emeryville, CA.
*** Please feel free to re-post! ***
09/28/05: In Other Tentacles News...
After centuries of lore from salty, seafaring folk, scientists from Japan had the first ever face-to-face encounter with a giant squid in the Pacific Ocean. Read the full story and see the amazing photos of the 59-foot creature in action here.
09/08/05: Indie art/music Expo in Frisco!
This Saturday September 10th, it's time for the annual Expo for the Artist and Musician- year number SIX of this great event. Not only will familiar faces like Re/Search, KALX, KUSF, 924 Gilman, HEAR, Manic D Press, Cartoon Art Museum, Creative Commons all have tables (with 110+ others!), but there'll be workshops, live music, and even a free critique-your-demo event featuring local music critics! See you there!
09/03/05: AT Bat Logo alarms US State Department
Michael Knight, author of "Taqwacores" (a great novel about Muslim punks in Buffalo), was just targeted by the State Department because of his Alternative Tentacles work jacket!
Knight is reporting on the annual Islamic Society of North America convention (ISNA) in Chicago, IL for MuslimWakeUp, the progressive Muslim news site, right now. Today (9/2/05) he attended a press conference featuring Karen Hughes, close advisor to the President and Undersecretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs to report on it. During the Q&A, a policeman approached Michael and his 2 companions and asked them to come outside. Once outside, a special agent with a State Department i.d. asked them why they were at the press conference and searched them and their bags. After ISNA staffers vouched for them, they were allowed back into the press conference.
Later, ISNA staff apologized to Knight and his companions and said that "your friend (Knight) had that Alternative Tentacles jacket and we didn't understand it." That is why the convention staff called the police on Knight! Instead of asking him what A.T. was, they sicced the police on him. It's even weirder because Knight had press credentials issued by the ISNA itself!
It's funny now only because Knight was not spirited away by our government, which is a possibility that has become a reality for many US residents (mostly non-citizens) who are Muslims. Luckily, Knight was born and bred in the US, so he is a citizen and therefore less of a target than many others.
09/02/05: Donate to Hurricane victims now!
Donate to Direct Relief International to help the Hurricane Katrina victims. Use Charity Navigator to evaluate aid organizations.
09/01/05: Dash Rip Rock Flood Report
From Dash Rip Rock, who just released 'Recyclone' on A.T.
"We played the Rail Pub in Savannah Friday Aug. 26 and it was a Luau/Hurricane Katrina party. It was windy and spitting rain, the storm was a Category 2 and had just crossed Florida. We joked about Katrina and the Waves all night long and it was one of the best gigs we've played in years. Next morning Leon had a serious look on his face and was fuming about Katrina. She had turned Cat 5 and was heading up towards New Orleans. That evening's show with Drivin n' Cryin would have to be cancelled. If they left Savannah that minute they would barely have enough time to make it home, board up and evacuate.
We decide to cut and run and they began the 12-hour drive home. On my way back to Nashville, I started calling all my New Orleans friends to offer them a place to stay. People were starting to head out and the contraflow was in effect through Mississippi. "Contraflow" is when both sides of the interstate run in one direction. It was still a nightmare; drive times from East NO to Slidell were about 5 hours (it's usually 30 minutes). Those who waited to leave would have to sit in traffic for 10 to 12 hours, just to reach Meridian, MS or Houston, TX. It wasn't until Sunday morning that Mayor Nagin declared a mandatory evacuation.
To my current knowledge, all Dash Rip Rock members, former members and email-listers loaded up and got out. Most thought they would be able to return within a few days and only packed lightly. Leon and Brian weren't able to return our rental vehicle as all roads into the city were closed. They got in the back way finally and Leon collected his fishing boats and chained them to a fence by his parent's Lakeview house. He called and said his father wanted to ride it out and they may stay. Brian met up with his family and headed west.
On the day of the hurricane, it appeared that New Orleans was not badly hit. Gulfport, Bay St. Louis, Waveland and Biloxi had been raked much as it had been by Camille in 1969. Nothing was left standing near the beach. Calls started coming in Monday night and most felt they had dodged a bullet. Tuesday morning, Katrina was a tropical storm and passed through Nashville. It was still a terrific storm, knocking down trees and cutting power. Our power was off for 12 hours or so and we didn't get to watch TV. Later that afternoon, a friend's brother called and told us a levee had broke. It was the 17th St. canal levee, one that had been recently repaired or reconstructed. More than likely, it was a poor patch job and 300 ft. of the wall sank into the lake.
Leon finally called from Pensacola and said they'd escaped with all family, friends and pets. But his house, drums, bike and car in Lakeview were under 7 ft. of water. Former sound man Mike Mayeux's house in Violet is completely covered to the roof. Peter Holsapple's (dB's) house in Arabi is covered by 20 ft. of water. In the 9 th ward, water is coming in to the second story of most houses. Uptown landmarks fared better, Crepe Nanou is high and dry, Jimmy's and Carrollton Station had some water - but inches, not feet. Currently: Kyle and Andy are in Lake Charles with their families, Leon is in Pensacola with his parents and 99-yr. old Grandpere (who wanted to stay and ride out the storm!) and Brian just texted us saying he was camping near Mandeville and was out of food. We will more than likely be able to do all our scheduled gigs with borrowed equipment. Ironically, Fred and Cowboy Mouth are playing Nashville tonight with Better Than Ezra. More than likely I'll go out and see them for some distant commiseration.
We haven't heard from members of the Swingin' Haymakers - Dave Clements, Mike Rouillier and Joey Torres, so those are our main worries at the moment.
As of now, it will be 2 months before anyone is allowed back into the city. People are beginning to look for jobs and schools in the places they fled to, trying to make a living and return to some normalcy. Imagine being ripped from your house for 2 months! Everyone is having to buy new clothes and crash on friend's floors. The biggest favor those of us in TN, AR and TX could do for them is offering them a place to stay for a couple of weeks. Everyone is displaced and confused.
Of course, all this Dash news is a cakewalk compared to the horrors the poor of New Orleans face, those who didn't own a car or couldn't afford a ride out of town. They had no other choice but to stay. These are the people on the rooftops, in the dome, looting, and floating face down in the street. The city will rebuild, but never be the same. It's become a lawless island like that in Lord of the Flies. Jello compared this disaster to Pompeii, he wonders if New Orleans will ever be able to be a viable urban area again. It's obvious we will be experiencing effects from this flood for the rest of our lives."
- Bill/Dash Rip Rock, who now lives in Nashville, TN, although his bandmates still live(d) in Louisiana. [9-1-05, 2pm EST]
08/31/05: Dash Rip Rock on Hurricane Katrina
Positive (though not good) news from Lousiana madmen and AT band Dash Rip Rock, about the effects of this week's Hurricane Katrina:
"It is truly horrible - most of my friends and band people got out. we're trying to track down a few missing folks - it's very worrisome. It'll never be the same - the city [New Orleans] has been destoyed.
The American Red Cross is one of many organizations accepting donations to help the millions of victims of Hurricane Katrina. Donate on-line here or call 1-800-HELP-NOW.
08/19/05: Randy Biscuit/Big Boys dies at age 56
From The Austin Stateman:
'Beloved punk icon Randy "Biscuit" Turner was found dead in his home Thursday afternoon [August 18, 2005], the same day a feature story about him appeared in the The Austin Chronicle. Marc Savlov, a Chronicle reporter who wrote the cover story about Turner, told a group of neighbors who stood outside of Turner's South Austin home that he was the person who went to house, looked inside and called police. "I opened the door, and it was dead silent," he said, his hand shaking as he held his cell phone. He said he had just come from giving a statement to police.
Nationally, Turner was best known as the frontman for punk-funk pioneers the Big Boys. With the Big Boys, Turner subverted the rapidly entrenching dogmas of American hardcore punk in the late 1970s and early '80s with humor, eclectic songwriting and outrageous costumes. With guitarist Tim Kerr, bassist Chris Gates and drummer Rey Washam, the Big Boys, which lasted from 1978 to 1984, became known for explosive and funky live shows. They slowed down punk tempos to allow for syncopated rhythms and played with nonpunk bands such as the Washington, D.C., go-go act Trouble Funk. The Big Boys can be seen as a direct precursor to funky rock acts such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone. The band's encouragement of audience participation made them iconic punk rockers.
"It's hard to overstate how huge they were in Austin," Butthole Surfers drummer King Coffey said Thursday evening. "They weren't just a punk band. A really wide spectrum of people would check out the shows. It was due in a large part to Biscuit. Everyone in the crowd would be dancing and having so much fun, and Biscuit was like the ringleader of this band that would sometimes have a full horn section on stage. The band's motto was 'fun, fun, fun,' and that was Biscuit to a T. People like Biscuit created an amazing community here. The Big Boys were the heart and soul of it, and he was the heart and soul of the Big Boys. He meant so much to the music scene here in Texas and to punks throughout the U.S."'
The initial medical result are that Randy died due to "gastrointestinal hemorrhage due to cirrhosis associated with chronic [alcohol] abuse" Welly of Four Letter Word, who toured the UK with Randy's latest band in 2004, posted the following on punknews.org:
"[Randy's death] would NOT be due to alcohol abuse as Biscuit didn't drink. The cirrhosis could've been caused by the fact he was a carrier of Hepatitis, which long-term can have the same effect on the liver and kidneys, as well as jaundice, coma and death. Biscuit also had diabetes. I wanted to point this out before people start assuming that he was some kind of alcoholic. He was also about 56 and had these conditions long-term."
Randy Biscuit had been touring and creating art through the present, and an art exhibition of new work at Austin's Pedazo Chunk is scheduled for Friday 8/19/05. This art opening is also now a wake for Randy.
08/16/05: Steve Chinn recovering from Aneurysm
Steve Chinn, long-time east bay band member (SOSA, Boom and the Legion of Doom, Fang) and recent AT t-shirt screener, is in the hospital recovering from a cerebral aneurysm. You can keep up to date on his progress here. We all hope he recovers fully and quickly.
You can make a donation towards his medical costs here.
07/26/05: KDHX 88.1 FM St. Louis hosts a show dedicated to Alternative Tetnacles
"When the Levee Breaks" hosted by BobEE Sweet on KDHX 88.1 FM in St. Louis, MO will air a two hour show dedicated to AT on Wednesday, 7/27 between 2-4pm central time. Tune in over the Internet here.
07/05/05: AT joins the My Space Masses!
It's finally happened. Alternative Tentacles has jumped on the My Space bandwagon! Stop on by, check out some free AT tunes, drop us a line, and/or just bask in the on-line glow of the Bat!
Heck, we promise we won't take any off-balance shots of ourselves in the bathroom mirror!