Tuesday, June 28, 2005


DaveAid last Saturday night felt a little weird for how unweird it felt. Since the bands that I most wanted to see had elements of bands that I'd seen multiple times 20-25 years ago, I expected some strange and unsettling time warping or deja-vuing, but instead they were just these bands that had some guys I recognized. That was actually a good thing.

I got there too late to catch Chrome-Plated Apostles, the latest band with Cliff Mann and Hunter Landon from the Bad Checks. I first saw the Bad Checks at the Culture Club in Raleigh in early '83 (I think) before Hunter joined the band. The next time I saw them was at the Cradle (at least two Cradle locations ago) when Hunter climbed on stage in his Chapel Hill High School graduation gown for the second set and tore the place up. They were the band I picked to play the Rhythm Alley the night before my wedding to J as my bachelor party. So, yeah, I'm sorry I missed them.

The band I was most interested in was Terry Anderson's Olympic Ass-Kicking Team. If you're from around here you probably know Terry as the drummer and main songwriter for the Fabulous Knobs (okay, you could argue that Mick and Keef were the primary songwriters for the Knobs, but they didn't ONLY cover Stones songs). Terry's also got a gold record for writing "Battleship Chains" made famous by the Georgia Satellites and made fabulous by Warren Zevon and the Hindu Love Gods. Knobs bassist Jack Cornell is playing with Terry again and they do truly kick ass, Olympic-style. Same kind of Southern take on the Tumbling Dice-era Stones as the Knobs and the Woods and they do it a dozen times better than the Black Crowes ever thought of. The crowd ate it up - the place was looking pretty empty when I first got there (the show actually started at 6 and TAOA-KT was the fourth band) but it filled up fast with people that were pretty obviously there mostly to see them. And since the next band was late showing up, what was planned to be a 45-50 minute set got stretched into a good hour and a half. Good shit.

Snatches of Pink was up next, another band that I'd booked into the Alley. Mike Rank is the only guy still in it from those days, Andy McMillan and Sarah Romwebber having long gone on to other things. The style has changed quite a bit too - to a much heavier sonic assault more reminiscent of the Ramones or the New York Dolls than the country punk of earlier versions of the band. Sandwiched in between Terry Anderson and SCOTS, a big chunk of the crowd melted away to the bar or outside for a smoke. I did have a revelation though - in addition to being the best country voice in town, a hell of a guitar player and all-around swell guy, John Howie Jr. can play the hell out of some drums (you KNEW I couldn't write up a show at the Cradle without mentioning John, didn't you! I think he's got a cot in the office or something.).

The highlight of the night for me was Southern Culture on the Skids, another band dating from the mid-80's that has undergone personnel changes since then. Rick Miller (then known as "the other Rick Miller" to differentiate from the Spectator music critic of the same name, now known as Parthenon Huxley. Don't worry if you didn't follow all of that - I probably made it all up) is still around and the longtime lineup with Dave Hartman and Mary Huff is tight. The best description I've heard of their stuff is Hillbilly Surf - it's fun, fun stuff and definitely got the audience back to the front of (and sometimes on) the stage. One thing I noted about all of these guys from all these bands that should have been obvious but maybe it wasn't - after 20 years of doing this stuff, you get better at it. I liked the guys from these bands when they were playing in 1982 and 1985 and 1987 and they've had a lot of time to practice since then and it shows.

I managed to stick around for the first few songs from The Meek with Stu Cole from the Squirrel Nut Zippers and at least one of the guys from Blind Melon (they were pretty damn good!) before realizing that I'd been there for about 5 hours, was out of money and was starting to fade. But it was a hell of a fun night seeing these guys and realizing in a very positive way that time hasn't stood still but these guys are still rocking out 20 years on.

Pinehurst #2

It's probably not very nice of me to rub in the fact that I was at Pinehurst last Sunday for the US Open, but I just haven't been able to help myself at work. It's just been so damn long since I've gotten anything more than lunch at Chili's from a vendor that I've forgotten how to take stuff like that for granted.

It really was cool as hell. I caught the vendor's shuttle down to Pinehurst from the Sheraton in Raleigh with three of my customers that I'd set up with tickets. We got to the course a little before 10am and immediately headed for "Carolina Village", the fenced-off area for corporate hospitality "tents". Lemme tell you, these were tents unlike any tent I'd every been in and there were dozens and dozens of them. Walking across the front porch past the rocking chairs and through the glass doors you first saw the receptionists with everything from programs to SPF 30 sunscreen. Then there was the bar to the right (complete with flatscreen TV), the lounging area to the left (with another flatscreen TV) and the buffet at the back, where we proceeded to fuel up on scrambled eggs, grits, hashbrowns and (for the other guys) piles of bacon and sausage. That sort of established the pattern for the day - wander over to the nearby holes (mostly 12-14), watch John Daly blast his drive into the woods, then wander back to the hospitality tent for more food and (unfortunately not until after noon) beer, then wander back and catch a few more holes. We did actually get over to the grandstands at the first hole to catch some of the leaders tee off, but that got kinda boring after a few pairs (and there was no free beer there). Oh, and did I mention the restrooms? While all the poor schmucks that had shelled out $85 for a ticket were waiting in line at the Port-a-John to relieve themselves of their $8 hot dogs and $6 beers, we headed back to the Carolina Village for the restroom trailers, replete with paneled walls, air conditioning and real sinks with actual non-potable water (said so right on the label). Let the commoners have the stinky holes, by golly - we were living like kings!

Oh, yeah, in between the eating and the drinking and the relieving ourselves, we did catch a little golf. We even managed to catch a glimpse of Tiger approaching the green at 17, but that was about as close as we got. But we caught quite a few holes in between the beer runs. Or beer stumbles.

Around 4, we figured we'd better hit the souvenir tents to make up for not spending Father's Day with our families and that's when it stopped being all free. The rumors of $82 polo shirts were not unfounded. Somehow the guy with no kids (me) ended up spending the most money - Dad, I'll get your present in the mail sometime soon.

It probably wasn't the best way to watch golf - you don't really see very much and we left before it was over. But it was a hell of a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon in June!

Easley Democrats

Matt Bai's piece in the Sunday New York Times (registration required) on "Hank Hill Democrats" is getting a lot of play in the blogs this week. It's built around North Carolina governor Mike Easley's practice of imagining he's pitching anything that might be seen as a partisan issue to Hank and imagining his reaction. It seems to have worked better for Easley than actually working within the NC Democratic Party, which he pretty muched shunned during the 2004 election cycle and, uh, won in a landslide while Kerry lost the state and Bowles somehow lost to Richard freakin' Burr.

I'll admit that while I initially really enjoyed the show, I realized after a few episodes that I really don't like ANY of the characters in it. Ok, maybe Boomhauer (who Easley apparently does a great impression of). JennySlash has a much higher tolerance for it than I do so I've seen a good number of the episodes over the years, but I can't stick with a show with no sympathetic characters and I've got to admit that if I moved into that neighborhood, there'd be a new For Sale sign on the lawn pretty damn quick.

That being said, Easley may be onto something as a strategy for states like North Carolina, which I do believe are "red" primarily because choices aren't being presented in a way that resonates with enough people. That's not to say that anyone is smarter or dumber - it's more about what aspect of an issue you focus on. The Republicans are framing issues in ways that probably make the Hanks somewhat uncomfortable, but they're not getting a message coming from the other side that makes any sense to them at all. A lot of what has been written on the left after the 2004 elections has been about "framing the issues" - the guv may have hit on a workable strategy.

Monday, June 27, 2005

It's Official

The previous post was sort of the soft opening of the new Half-Life and Times just to get the format right. I'm declaring this one official since I've now got a redirect from the old address and my RSS feed has the new address as well. Somehow Mr. The Blogging Poet found me prior to the redirect - good sleuthing, Billy! Please ignore the old posts left over from the last time I used Blogger - rather than delete them I'll just try to post enough to age them off.

Natcherly, my first real post at the new place is gonna be about music - specifically the throwback, old-school, "is he still alive?!?!" dates at the Cradle in the next few weeks. Saturday night was DaveAid - I have no idea who the hell Dave is or why he needs aid, but it didn't really matter with the Chrome Plated Apostles (with Cliff Mann and Hunter "Crash" Landen from the Bad Checks), Terry Anderson's Olympic Ass-Kicking Team (with Jack Cornell and Terry Knob from the Fabulous Knobs and the Woods), Snatches of Pink, Southern Culture on the Skids and the Meeks with Stu Cole from the Squirrel Nut Zippers and with former member(s) of Blind Melon. All of those kiddies except the Meeks played the Alley back in our day many moons ago... Jeebus, that's about seventy-three thousand, four hundred and fifty-six club dates between those guys over the last twenty to twenty-five years. More about the show later...

Then you've got old-schoolers Superchunk opening for Dinosaur Jr. on July 10th and headlining July 29, non-local Teenage Fanclub July 18, Arrogance celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of Suddenly! on July 23 (they're so old even I think they're fogeys!) and last but certainly not least Deb DeMilo on September 2 with folks from Arrogance, Glass Moon and Nantucket backing her up. I will be purchasing my Deb DeMilo tickets very soon - she and the Fabulous Knobs rocked my punk-ass world from the time I was 19 and were the main reason I started hanging out in clubs (getting pulled onstage at the Pier to dance with Deb during "Teenage Boogie" was one of the highlights of my college years).

So put on yer black sleeveless t-shirt and Chuck Taylors and get yer ass over to the Cradle with me this summer!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Blogging again

Not only that, I'm moving my blog back to Blogger.com for the time being. It's been almost a year since I stopped using Blogger to post and started editing the stuff with my web editor but I'm finding lately that I just don't have the time and hence, I'm just not posting. So we'll see how this goes and eventually I'll look into Workpress or Typepad or some of the other options out there.

The last three weeks have been back to the working 55 hours a week or so 6-7 days a week, so I haven't been around much. I'm hoping things will calm down a bit the next week or two with the holidays. Much to post - don't know if I'll really catch up or not, but I'll give it a shot over the next few days.