Friday, July 3, 2015

A call for photos of Spit & Dan

Picture us coolin out on the 4th of July and if you heard we was celebratin’ that’s a world wide lie!- Flavor Flav

            I wasn’t close friends with Lin “Spit” Newborn.  Like most of the people I met in the Las Vegas punk scene he was a passing acquaintance.  But he stuck out like a sore thumb among the ranks of scenesters who regularly snuck into shows at the Huntridge or smoked joints in the backyards of house parties.

            I remember being thoroughly stoked when I first saw him at some bullshit show featuring some forgettable bands sometime in the early to mid 90’s.  I’m not ashamed to admit it was a thrill to see a black punk rocker.  Sure there were a handful of black people who attended shows even as far back as the 80’s when I first made the scene but he was by far the punkest black dude I’d met up to that point.  What I mean is he was aesthetically “punk as fuck!”  He could’ve easily been photographed for those ubiquitous Punk and Disorderly compilations that came out back in the day.  He was all spikes and bondage pants, creepers, piercings, tattoos and safety pins. Mind you, this was before that shit became as above ground as it is today.  He was more decked out than most everyone who went to shows back then.     

            Not to downplay the black punks who didn’t get all duded up with the all the trappings.  I mean the guy who introduced me to more punk music than anyone else was my good friend Ryland Luss.  And yeah, he was a black guy too, but he rarely wore more than an Operation Ivy pin on his dirty gray shirt.  It’s corny in retrospect to find that all so appealing, but for Las Vegas, Nevada in the 90’s that was a rarity.  Living in Portland, Oregon I’ve seen my share of punq as fuck black people.  I’ve even seen scary, somewhat ambiguous black guys up here wearing Burzam shirts, but that’s just too confusing to ponder right now.  Although I think I get their point as well.

            As mentioned I wasn’t super tight with Spit.  I’m not overly tight with anyone really, but we bumped into each other now and again.  I was at a house party drinking beer in the backyard a few feet from Spit when this crazy lady I knew came up and began aggressively hitting on me.  I normally would welcome those kind of advances but I knew about this lady, and knew she wasn’t entirely stable so I wasn’t taking the bait. Spit witnessed the whole thing go down and he busted out laughing, gave me a big hug and proceeded to tell me what a pimp I was.  The lady got the hint, and being somewhat embarrassed by the attention from Spit, she slunk off, which was a good thing because I probably would have run with it if she kept up the pressure. 

            Another time at a different party/show in the same back yard, which I’m guessing was Rob Nelson’s house, me and Spit got into a conversation about the challenges of refraining from “breaking the seal.”  Which more or less is a challenge you issue to other drinking buddies to see who could continue drinking the longest without taking a piss.  You could say we were intellectuals. 

            I saw him around and would say hi several times over the years even though I didn’t know his name and I'm sure he probably didn’t know my name either.  It was just cool knowing that the one PUNK black guy in the scene would say “sup.” at the rare Huntridge show I’d go to.  I thought it strange that he later started working at a store that did body piercings.  Back then it seemed like a hippie trip to do piercings but hey it was the 90’s when bad hippie shit flowed with the same eagerness as industrial music, or the concept of “alternative.”  In retrospect I guess it was all considered "punk" since punk at that time, and really for along time since, had lacked focus.  In any event I didn’t see him for years unless I looked through the window of the body piercing shop on the way to Benway Bop next door, which was the local record store for Las Vegas at the time.

            It was quite the shock to hear that Lin “Spit” Newborn his friend ­­­­­Dan Shersty were found murdered in the desert on the outskirts of town a few days after the Fourth of July in 1998.  It was a considerably smaller punk scene active in Las Vegas in the mid 90’s.  Shit even I was in a band at that point.  The specter of Nazi Skinhead fascism, which was a huge thing in the 80’s and early 90’s, seemed to have dissipated, at least as far as the parties and shows I went to, but the rumblings and the rumors were that it was perpetrated by Nazis.  Which turned out to be true.  This being one of the last high profile murders attributed to the underground Nazi Skinhead scene in America during the 90’s. 

            It’s especially galling considering that just two years ago one of the main suspects, who fled for Germany shortly after the murders, was finally apprehended when he came back to the US with a fake passport.  He would later stand trial, be accused by his SISTER.  Yes, that’s right his blood relative.  HIS SISTER.  And yet be found not guilty.  Smells like bullshit to me and just about everyone else who knew about this tragic event.  And yet life goes on.

            I’ve looked more than once to find pictures of Spit and Dan.  In the age of the internet I’m shocked there are not dozens, if not hundreds of pictures of this guy.  He was picture taking material by far.  I have to assume there are more pictures of him out there but all that I’ve ever been able to find is what I am providing here.  Strangely the site that hosts the most photos of both these guys is all in Chinese?  I’m asking you dear reader.  If you have pictures of Spit or Dan, please send them to me so that I may add them to this blog entry so that there will be a more high profile way to remember them.  I ask you to please go back to your old boxes of photos if you think you may have them.  Send them to me.  I can digitize any old negatives or old photos or digitize them yourself and email them to me.

            With all the recent racist bullshit that has gotten media attention in the last year it’s important to remember and put a face on the long history of racist terrorism that has been perpetrated on people who don’t subscribe to the bullshit stain of white supremacy in the United States.  Especially when it was within our midst.  We must never forget and make sure the world never forgets either.  I think it important that the LVHC scene own up to it's ignorant past.    

            I was never the biggest fan of the fourth of July.  I make no secret of my disdain for the ugly side of American life.  Although it mostly comes from the love of the America I think I know.  The America I believe in.  But the 4th has never been the same for me after all these years.

            If you have any photos or other artifacts from the lives of these two men please contact me so that I may share them here.  I can be reached at   

I will include any photos sent to me below.  Much thanks to Brandon Sledge, who was in the band Life of Lies with Spit, for sharing the photos below.

A photo of Spit from his senior year yearbook.  He was voted Most Scatterbrained.

A video for Tribal Body Piercing, the place where Spit worked.  I found this video a few days after writing this post. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A tasty treat for the KL anniversary

    A new video for the KL anniversary.  I promise myself to write more, and create more in the new year.  Of course I've lied to myself before so who knows what to expect for 2015.

    Once again I've made a new short video which might not be legally playable on youtube since I stole both sound and image.  I'm posting it here for you to download but I've also posted it on youtube.  I guess so long as it doesn't get to be popular it should stay on youtube for a while.

    Heavy handed?  You better believe it.

Download Yum here.

            Yes it’s another unproducto year for Keep Laughing the blog.  This the 6 year anniversary post makes a grand total of three posts for the year 2014.  That’s a piss poor average.  I spent most of the year doing anything but writing or creating.  Most of it was spent chasing women who won’t have me, trying to become a better whiskey drinker, and fighting the same demons that have plagued me my whole life. 

            Not that I should have a whole lot to complain about.  Because life is pretty good.  Sure life isn’t exactly fair but it could be a lot worse.  And them demons tend to be illusions in my mind.  At least the personal demons are.  And I know that myself.  Maybe I take comfort in running around in circles chasing my tail.  Or just chasing tail in general.  I break out from under the spell when I want to and not a moment sooner.  Life is fucking great.  Maybe if I keep saying that loud enough I’ll hear myself and become a better person?  At least I’m not dealing with a strangulated drug problem although with what I’ve shared with you here over the years you’d be lead to believe that my life would be in a shambles by now.  It’s just not the case.  However smoking copious amounts of weed never leads to productivity.  I’m making that a new years resolution to stop smoking the weed.  After getting a medical marijuana card I kinda took it further than it needs to go.  But I got no regrets.  And I never liked drinking enough to make that a priority.  But I’m working towards that and maybe it will get there someday.

            The broader litany of demons that plague not only myself but the rest of the world are also illusions.  A house of cards really.   I have taken it as a personal insult that I can’t figure out the worlds problems from multinational corporate billionaires, to fucked up racist cops, and it will continue to haunt me.  But I’m finally starting to see that maybe it’s not my fault that there is such a lack of unity and such an inability to see the reality of the forest from the trees.  I continue to see glimmers of hope.  But I’m such a pessimist I still think that only catastrophe will make people hold hands together.   If history is any gauge.

            I love history.  It always seemed like something I could see way off in the distance.  Somewhere hidden in a desert cave.  A lot of history is locked away in those caves but it’s exciting and a bit intimidating to know that we’re living history today as well.  Let’s hope we have the balls to make it a better history that the bullshit we lived through huh? 

            I always thought that the grown ups were keeping it held together by sheer force of will but now that I’ve been a grown up for a while I can see that they were all kinda winging it.  And it makes me feel a little more confident in my own uncertainty. 

            I thought I was making a smart decision to throw my lot in with the labor movement, if you can call it such.  I still think it was a smart decision.  It's hard work to hold it together under the face of adversity within your own ranks.  This house of cards is literally sitting in a breeze, hanging by a thread.  It might as well be chewing gum as opposed to concrete and steel beams that bind corporations to our American lives.   

            I like to think I look out with positive emotion but that’s a fucking lie.  I comfort myself to sleep with visions of explosions laying America to waste because I can't see ant other way.  Is there is any positive life left in me?  I was a child who saw cynicism as a virtue, something to aspire to.  I thought I knew too much.  But I couldn’t have realized how desperate and fucked up the world really is.  How the bottom keeps dropping out day after day.  Now I wish I could be more transfixed with Star Wars, Rocky Horror, Ren Fair, punk rock or some other hide your face in the sand bullshit gothic lifestyle.  Why is the weight of the world always in my cranium when I could just as easily get really good at Super Mario Cart?  I might have to if I'm gonna keep it together. 

Wait a minute is this the same thing I wrote for last year's anniversary?  Damn.  Have I not grown much in the last year?  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fried Green on the radio

     Fried Green was a band from Henderson, NV.  Henderson seemed like it was a million miles away from my world back then but the last two decades have seen the behemoth of sin city swallered up every last patch of dirt from Mount Charleston all the way to Boulder City joining it all together as one big blast furnace of asphalt and interconnected pavement.  Eventually you won’t be able to see desert anymore within the valley as strip malls and housing complexes fill in the rest of the empty spaces.  Which is bullshit or progress depending on who you ask.  From what I understand it’s been spilling outside of the valley for the last few years as well.  But in the late 80’s Henderson was pretty far away.  Nick’s Supper Club was the main attraction for the area if KVVU TV5 could be trusted. 

     I met Shiloh the lead singer of Fried Green through a funny set of circumstances.  It stems from a D.I. show I went to at the Elks Lodge in downtown Vegas by Cashman Field.  I think 5150 opened up for D.I.?  Anyway I had a jean jacket back then which I bleached and dyed bright red.  And my hair, which I had a bunch of back then, was permanently unkempt.  No style at all just totally mussed up like I just got done having sex.  When in fact I rarely got to have sex as much as I’d wanted.  

     I always enjoyed watching the crowd at a punk show.  To this day I’m  still surprised how few people turn around to scan the crowd.  In my experience it’s usually the case where the bands suck so the only real entertainment is the crowd.  The bands certainly didn’t suck that night but I still found myself unplugging from passive observer mode as I turned around near the front of the stage to survey the “scene” who were all super well dressed punk rockers for 1988 or whenever it was.  Then I saw her. 

     God knows what her name was.  She was the most adorable punk chick I’d ever seen up to that point.  I wanna say her name was Michelle but that’s a plain Jane name for such a duded up punk seductress.  It doesn’t fit the mythology I’ve built up in my memories of that moment but her name is lost to time.  She smiled briefly and looked away only to lock eyes with me again.  She smiled again and continued to hold my gaze.  I motioned for her to go near the open door at the side of the stage.  She nodded and met me just outside the door facing Owens Avenue.

     It was a tender moment I had nearly forgotten about over all this time.  I was sweaty from the stifling heat and the night air was nice and cool as we leaned against the wall still within earshot of “Hang Ten In East Berlin.”  We flirted with each other briefly.  Exchanged numbers.  Made a promise to meet again.  To varying degrees I’ve seen it happen several times in my life.  A feeling like it could be love.  And then something unexpected stepped in to make it fly away into my own fantasy world. 

     She was from Henderson so while we never met again in person we talked on the phone at length two or three times.  In between calls I learned that she was seeing this guy Shiloh also from Hendo.  I heard through the always unreliable grapevine that they had been a couple for a while and that he was the jealous overprotective type which lead me to build up in my mind that we were serious rivals for her affection.  

     I tried reaching her again by phone but my calls were never returned.  I heard later that she rolled her truck and was seriously injured.  I never saw or heard from her again.  But I held on to the idea that Shiloh was now gunning for me. 

     After the scene collapsed following the break up of F.S.P., 5150, and Atomic Gods there was a vacuum created wherein the last remaining hangers on from the old guard and the random new faces that started going to shows were looking for a new focus, a new band, a new… fucking anything.  In this silence Henderson rose to prominence in terms of accessible all ages shows.  Don’t get me wrong, the desert gigs were still happening.  But the onslaught of the racist nazi skinhead subculture within our subculture made desert shows more violent.  Less and less people were willing to go out in the middle of nowhere when you could potentially get the shit kicked out of you.  Vegas, always the city that refuses to acknowledge the existence of underage people made it even harder to produce a viable all ages venue and so one of the only alternatives sprouted in Henderson.  The Henderson Elks Lodge strangely enough. 

     I saw a bunch of shows there during this time frame.  Many of them unmemorable.  Even though we all desperately wanted to believe.  I could run down a list of shows that happened there but there just wasn’t much to the music at that time.  And the lack of unity within the scene itself made for a lackluster experience time and again.  But it was something and so we returned to that venue time and again.  More new faces flooded the scene.  And eventually the scales tipped as they have with each new generation. 

     I don’t remember who I went to see play on this particular night but somehow I talked my parents into giving me a ride all the way to the Henderson Elks Lodge.  Me and the folks were often at odds during that rebellious part of my life and so it came as a bit of a surprise that they would agree to get me out there.  It was especially funny because I somehow snuck a full six pack of beer in my jacket as I sat next to my mom in the tiny mini truck we drove 25 miles from Linn Lane to Henderson.

     I wanted to get there super early so I could chill in the desert outside of the Lodge and catch a buzz before the show.  Plus if I got there early I wouldn’t have to share my beers with anyone like the selfish bastard I was.  It was precious cargo for an 18 year old kid, and I’m not remembering how I got a hold of it now but I’ll assume I fished for beer outside of a seven-eleven eventually getting some adult to buy it for me. 

     So there I was at like 7pm broad daylight trying to choke down a six pack of Shaefer beer when this dude walks up and asks me if I’m going to the show.  Back then it was unexpected to find people who were clued in and excited about the underground.  Punk was still puke to the masses so if you chanced upon someone with a Rudimentary Peni symbol hand stenciled on their jacket you were stoked to meet another misfit castaway adrift in the “straight world” and bonds were immediately formed.  We talked and I eventually offered up one of my shitty beers.  It was only after we had cracked a brew that we exchanged names and I found out this guy was my supposed nemesis.  Shiloh. 

     Obviously there was no animosity.  He told me he wasn’t even dating her and he shared with me the unfortunate news of her accident.  From there we became fast friends.  The show that night I can’t clearly remember and something tells me it wasn’t because I was drunk off that piss beer.  But I do remember hearing Shiloh talk up the band he was trying to form.  It would be months before this band would play out, but I was inspired to know someone just like me could start a band and I was eager to offer up my support.

     When I look back it sometimes surprises me how many shows I missed.  I talk a lot of shit like I was clued in and present for this and that but there were so many things that appeared to be happening and so many cliques I wasn’t privy to that I missed more shows than I would have liked.  And Fried Green was numbered among those shows.  I was there for their debut but I know they played at least a few dozen more times for which I wasn’t present.  I must have been trippin balls on the East Side playing R-Type at the Nellis arcade.  Broke as usual.   

     Much thanks goes out to Rockin Chris Crud for sharing these tracks of Fried Green broadcasting from 91.5 KUNV on the Lunch With the PMRC Locals Only show.  Over the years I’ve been friends and acquaintances with several of the dudes who were in Fried Green and over time they have all gone on to different bands or different projects.  Listening to these guys on this broadcast is endearing and speaks volumes to the death of the old scene and the birth of something new.  A change that’s happening even now as we march on towards irrelevancy.    

     This ain’t hardcore punk by any stretch of the imagination and they even admit that while being interviewed on the radio.  I’m not sure what you’d call it but it is still a representation of the Vegas underground as it existed in that transitional time.  It speaks more to the pop side musically and in some ways prefigures what would later be called grunge in a few years.  That is if grunge was baked and dehydrated in the 110 degree heat drinking St. Ides in a ditch just off Boulder Highway.

     Another gem of a time capsule from a much simpler time from a small town out in the desert South West.  It sure seemed more complicated at the time.  Shit if we only knew?  Henderson…of course. 

Download Fried Green presenting their new demo live on 91.5 KUNV below.

I got no date for the broadcast.  If you think you know the date tell me and I'll add it here.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Moshed Potatoes demos

         Moshed Potatoes.  A local hardcore punk band I remember seeing briefly at the Henderson Elks Lodge in the late 80's.  A name that sucks so bad it doesn’t need to be disparaged so in that sense they fit in well with the other Las Vegas bands I’ve written about here.    

       Always hated the word “mosh.”  It’s total meathead, metallicrap, east coast, tough guy posturing.  At least I’ve always believed it to have originated from the east coast although I couldn’t tell you who’s the genius for the genesis of the word.  I always thought slam dancing had a better ring to it.  Because to me it was about dancing whereas moshing seemed to lack finesse, style, even individuality.  It was misdirected fascist aggression instead of being about having a good time.  If you hurt someone in the process of slamdancing it was just a bonus but it wasn’t the whole point of the exercise.  To me “mosh” has an almost blatant whiteness about it due to the inability of said moshee to find the fuckin rhythm.  Moshers, for lack of a better word, can easily be picked out of the herd because it’s almost always the case where the hard mosher is new to the party and usually unfamiliar with the protocal of the circle.  Devoid of style and filled with an aimless macho regard they don’t look like they’re having much fun.  That’s the kind of desperation you leave on the street. Don’t bring that shit to the party turkey trot.  Sure wanton disregard had an obvious place in the sometimes nihilistic world of hardcore but it was never the centerpiece in my opinion.  Well it wasn’t always the centerpiece anyway.  Still it’s a part of the lowest common denominator bullshit that’s always present in human nature and not surprisingly more popular than ever.  OK, I'm not above it all and I’ll admit I like watching train wrecks as much as the next guy.       

        Still I gotta say I always loved the violent guy in the pit.  He’d plow into a few people, maybe even “accidentally” punch someone in the face all while bouncing around and being a general pain in the ass.  You know in his mind he’s “moshing” up a storm.  But just like in nature all storms eventually peter out, or a high pressure system rolls in, so to speak.  I loved seeing a jackass like that enter the fray on the "dance floor"since I always seemed to figure out the right time to retaliate on a stupid piece of shit like that. Right when he had reached critical mass and had pissed off enough people, I could usually judge from the crowd and notice the exact second when the macho mosher was suddenly in danger of getting his ass kicked by the crowd at large.  There’s been several times in my life when I’ve been the first to kick the oppressive tough guy square in the ass, or push him hard onto the floor, or an elbow to the face, knowing that everyone else in the vicinity was ready to beat the motherfucker down just like I did.  I have many memories of making the first move to attack the prick in the pit and then stand to the side to witness the rest of the crowd take the motherfucker down like a pack of wild dogs.  Seeing their face go from cocky to shocking fear was always a hoot.  This exact scenario, or it’s metaphor has happened several times in my adult life albeit less violently.      

     How these people could think they can ram into a crowd without repercussions, when they are in the MIDDLE OF THE CROWD is just beyond me.  What the fuck are they thinking?   Everyone has their mythology of what "punk" is.  When you get to a show you can let yourself go.  But if you're not trying to unify the party you're just a prick that needs to get smacked.  But just as often I’ve seen the crowd take a bunch of shit and not react at all.  There’s a pretty blatant metaphor there as well I guess. 

     I don’t know… was I the violent guy in reverse waiting for someone who was begging to be punched knowing I could get away with it because it’s something "we" all wanted?  Or was I the hero who got the ball rolling towards justice?  Who gives a shit?  I loved taking it out on that guy perhaps as much as he liked dishing it himself.  It’s almost like justice except I was waiting for the violent muh fuh at every show and he almost always would make an appearance at every show.  So maybe I was being a macho jackass?  I was certainly smarter about it, but it stands to reason that these dudes were walking into a situation blind thinking they knew what’s up.  After a few wacks from the audience I’d imagine very few of those tough guys ever entered the pit with the same ruthless agenda.  But hey some people are just fuckin stupid, whaddayagonnado?

       That kinda amateur shit happened a lot back then and even more in the 90’s when all sorts of people showed up to “mosh.”  Yeah I mentioned Whitey earlier, if my turning this into a race thing rubs you the wrong way perhaps you should fuckin relax and learn to dance or else don’t go to places where people dance and just stay at home listening to your Flotsam and Jetsam records.  Can’t believe I still yearn for the days when metal and punk were bitter rivals.  Nothing could be more irrelevant.  Although this blog is exploring the depths of irrelevancy in ways I never imagined possible.    
This sticker from an old tape case of mine shows how even punkers like Danny Breeden used the word "mosh." What a poseur.  This sticker was marked up in blue by Geoff Hughes back in 1988 when Fuck Shit Piss wasn't cool anymore.    
       Speaking as someone who used to live and die for hardcore punk, also I should mention I’m bored to tears by most of what passes for punk or metal lately and all I listen to is jazz, hip hop, and R&B so I’m gonna completely generalize and probably miss the mark completely here: punk and metal are no longer a threat if they ever were a threat to begin with.  Somhow over time metal actually became more intelligent and in someways more realistic than punk, whereas punk today has devolved into a mindless display of token tantrums and shock tactics with no redeeming value.  Both genres are a limpwristed parody of “hard rock” a mere lilywhite stomping ground for white boy blues mediocrity.  And Black Metal?  C’mon man, only a bunch of white people with nothing better to do could come up with such a load of horseshit.  Or should I say norseshit.  Ok I'll admit I’m still a big fan of Melechesh, so sue me!    

        I should also share a story of a time when my adolescent tough guy wannabe hero posturing got me in a situation with the violent guy in the pit which completely backfired.  It was at a shitty show that could have only happened in the 90’s.  Ministry was at the height of their popularity but on a downward slide when they played the Hard Rock with Jesus Lizard.  I went with a few friends and we all quartered a dose.  Nothing too heavy, right?  I showed up just as the acid was coming on and these big fat biker douches are standing in the middle of the pit pushing people around.  Somehow I seemed to know a bunch of people at this show so I figure what the fuck and I kick the fattest of the two bikers fucking hard in his ass.  Well for being a lard ass he sure was quick.  He immediately turned and grabbed me by the throat.  Shaking me up and down.  I shit my pants a little as the whole concert watched me getting choked.  He let go and I slunk away.  Thanks friends.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the 90’s was the worst time ever for popular music.  I’d say it was the worst time for unity as well but I don’t think unity has ever had it so good to begin with.  Let's face it unity only happens when everyone’s got it so bad they don’t have anything else to turn to.  Maybe we should wish for more bad times to speed up this craaazy revolution I keep hearing about?    

       Anyway.  Moshed Potatoes.  Coulda swore I saw them play the worst show I ever saw at the Elks Lodge in Henderson.  Maybe I’m getting my shitty shows confused here, but I seem to recall them playing with Caustic Resin or maybe it was Nasal Sex?   Caustic Resin was the worst touring band I saw in the late 80’s beating out Nasal Sex by the slightest of margins as the dumbest shit ever foisted upon a listening public.  And if I’m not mistaken, which I probably am, Moshed Potatoes opened the show.  Maybe I came late to that show because I don’t remember anything about M.P. aside from hating their name. 

       I was contacted by Omar the singer of MP a few months ago.  He was psyched to hear some of the old KUNV broadcasts I’ve shared here and he asked me to add their demos to the list of oldy moldy downloads available at your click.  I never heard their demo back in the day.  So I gave it a listen after drinking a six pack.   

      Omar mentioned that MP had recorded some of these songs as a part of a compilation that was planned to be released by the somewhat shady organization known as the Las Vegas Alternative Music Co-op.  Somehow no money ever surfaced from the LVAMC to complete the pressing of the record, hence my insistence that they were a shady organization.  And I’ve heard that from several sources.  Anyway in our correspondance Omar seemed to indicate that he and his buddies were hoping to release these tracks and other tracks from You Damn Skippy, and some other bands from the time who might be better left forgotten.  Not sure who will buy a record like that but maybe I’m just being cynical? 

              The Moshed Potaotes demo displays fairly competent 80's hardcore but it does have an east coast slant to it which is something I’m not real particular towards.  Simple lyrics that ask few questions and provide no answers so they got that going for them.  Moshed Potatoes urges you to “be yourself” and “be cool.”  So long as you are not a “fucking liar!” which is something for which all angst ridden  teenagers can relate.  Buzzsaw guitars and straightforward drumming mean you’ll never confuse this with crossover metal shit.  And the liberal use of the f word (fuck) is the sure sign that we got a punk band up in here.  And they top it off with a cover of Henry Garfield’s original name, I mean original band State of Alert.  And if you got that reference then you are a real stickler for details.      

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Belated 5th anniversary of Keep Laffin'

     It’s been a long year.  And not a very productive one with the keep laffin blog and that’s a cryin fuckin shame.  I could just shit myself.  Still I’ve been productive in other ways which are none of your fucking business.  So there’s that. 

            I’m still hoping to get better at writing and such.  I switched from beer to whiskey a few months ago thinking it would improve my writing but then I kept coming up with excuses to not even try.  I started writing this blog five years ago I was all over the map, loose, unfocused.  Kind of like my life, and I think it was a good start.  As far as the music writing is concerned I came out like gangbusters trying to fill in an historical perspective on a world that didn’t seem to exist in the internet void.  It’s becoming more concrete as more people are sharing their stories and experiences.  And I love nothing more than defacing concrete.  So expect some defacing and deflating in the new year.  It's the only thing I excel at I guess.   

            I’ve really enjoyed writing about old timey music.  I tend to be downtrodden when I reflect on the billions of things I don’t know shit about so I have to admit it feels like I’m lounging on white fluffy clouds when I put pen to paper after listening to a shitty old demo recorded on a boombox in 1987.  It's inspiring to be able to write about something I feel I understand.  It's also juvenile and irrelevant so in that regard I’m in my element which is comforting and inspiring.  Maybe I'll do more artsy fartsy shit while I'm at it.  We'll see how the new year plays out.  

           I expect to continue writing so long as it continues to be fun.  The music is only one aspect of the blog but it tends to be the biggest focus to the rare visitor that now turns up.  I was putting out big numbers in the beginning of last year but that has slowed to a trickle in the last few months as my output has lagged.  My average audience of 3,000 "hits" a month has abandoned me since last summer which makes me feel a little better about continuing.  I don't feel like I've ever been the popular guy so I really don't want to start now.  I think I'm lucky to get 800 hits a month now which is a fine by me.  

            I have to admit I sometimes go far out of my way to be able to talk shit about the old scene and scenes in general.  Not that talking shit is the smartest thing I can do but it tends to be more fun than jumping up and down screaming how great things used to be.  Many people will always look back with rose colored glasses but the truth is the old days weren’t that great.  It was fun and frivolous to misspend my youth, but it wasn't innovative.  Doesn’t everyone fucking do that?  Doesn't punk rock die for most people the second their punk band breaks up?  Even more laughable are the few people who believe that the scene effectively dies when they walk away from it.  But every ego needs to be juiced so I don't fault anyone for creating and destroying the punk scene in their own mind.  We've all done it.          

         Five years ago I merely wanted to start a dialogue on the historical figures in the Las Vegas underground.  I figured after I’d get the ball rolling there would be some action which would bring about more attention and probably more recordings would surface.  Instead there was a reunion show which featured dozens, or at least a dozen, old geezer hardcore bands.  I even went back to Vegas to see the show.  I will say it was an incredible thrill to see Schizoid revived.  And 5150 is absolutely one of the best bands Las Vegas has ever produced.  I feel I gave them short shrift when I included them on the blog years ago.  Now there’s talk of making this reunion gig an annual event.  Shit, why the fuck not?      

            When you’re young everything that happens in front of your face is the most important thing that’s ever happened.  The tiny world you inhabit is filled with heroes and villains and it’s all a very stark black and white.  I take art too seriously.  I take music too seriously.  And I have looked down on the spectacle of what was known as "punk" for a long time.  It's failed too many times over to be celebrated.  It’s flawed just like people are flawed.  But the reality is there is no such thing as punk rock as a static entity and to think that it is is naive and ultimately petty.  I hate to think that the hardcore scene was little more than a huge drugged up party scene but I myself have played it up as such on this blog.  It meant more than that in some ways but it’s all subjective so some would argue it meant less.  We were smarter, more informed, more accepting freaks on the fringe of society.  Or maybe we were just the newest in a long line of elitist self absorbed pricks who thought our shit didn't stink?    
             The good thing about looking back to those halcyon, troubled and ultimately tragic times, aside from being able to talk shit and reference Corrosion of Conformity, is to see how far we’ve come and try to figure out if something can be passed on to later generations.  Sure the music was great, well some of it, but it’s equally important to remember what the legacy is if there is one.  It’s a question I pose to myself and to you as well.  If we could overcome the road blocks and hurdles to put on a punk show in the middle of the desert it’s just a stones throw to figuring out some other bullshit.  Right?  Many times you see examples of how small problems can be solved, this leads to reasoning that other problems can be solved, maybe even the biggest problems.  Solutions feel as if they are within reach.  I can’t stop thinking like that even as the old man I’ve become.

           Being exposed to the late 80's hardcore scene and it's subsequent offspring changed my world forever but in the bigger picture the underground scenes and cliques that I have been witness to have had absolutely no impact on the larger culture and society at large unless you count the fact that it is socially acceptable to dress like a dumb shit punk fuck today.  In fact I now see squares with worse hair then I thought imaginable back when I had liberty spikes.  I guess the other broad cultural impact was eventually seeing a Ruckus Rob and Derek Jeter, sorry I mean Dirk Vermin reality tv show.  If that ends up being the cultural milestone LVHC makes on the above ground world then I sincerely hope more people stand up to share their perspective because the promo I saw for that show made me throw up in my mouth a little.        

              At the end of the day the legacy always remains the same even if the song itself keeps changing.  It's all about UNITY.  There's been an ebb and flow throughout the Las Vegas underground that I have witnessed.  Times of extreme unity and times of extreme infighting.  It's a microcosm of the same bullshit each generation finds itself facing.  I've intentionally tried to keep a distance from politics in my writing here.  And to be honest it felt like I was trying to perpetuate a voice that would draw in readers who identify with my degenerate lifestyle only to eventually clobber them readers over the head with a lumpen prol pep talk to convert the heathens.  I might still try that approach over time.  Or maybe I'll just go into more detail concerning what I saw at the tender age of sixteen while sniffing glue?  I really did that, no lie.    
            Sorry no downloads with this post.  Expect more shit in the future. This is the belated 5th anniversary post.  It was exciting to write it but now it’s done.                

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Schizoid- Disco In Frisco demo

       This post is dedicated to Checko Salgado.  Even before I met the guy I saw him as an inspirational figure and if I’m being honest I must admit he’s always been a hero to me.  We seemed to orbit near each other in the Las Vegas underground for many years but it wasn’t until the late 90’s that we became good friends and collaborators.  It means a lot to me that he would consider me a friend.  I could go on like this for hours but if you’ve met Checko then you already know he is one in a million and you’d have to agree his intellect, his compassion, and his smart ass demeanor has done a lot to change the lives of everyone who surrounds him.

       I hate to make this a rush job but this will be a short post to share an amazing find that Checko brought to my attention; namely the Schizoid- Disco In Frisco cassette demo.  Schizoid was among the best of the late 80’s hardcore punk bands to be bred in the Las Vegas valley and while I've mentioned my hard on for Fuck Shit Piss, I will say that Schizoid is certainly in the same league as FSP insofar as being musical mavericks.  They veer off from the LVHC pack, and from pop culture in general by being pioneers in the field of subversive sarcasm long before it became an American lifestyle.  It’s hard to tell if these guys are bonafide geniuses or merely a collection of smarmy pricks.  Either way this is by far the most entertaining demo I’ve come across birthed from the Las Vegas underground. 

        But it wasn’t all Checko’s idea.  It couldn’t have been as incredible a band without the inclusion of fellow genius/asses Greg Higgins on vocals, Jason Paulucci on guitar, and Kevin Kettell on drums.

      Again, I hate to make a rush job out of this post, and I hope to write more later regarding this amazing band.  But for now I’ll let the music do the talking.  This demo will have you laughing your ass off.  And it’s solid, tight late 80’s hardcore.  Recorded off the board at the Gilman Street Project in Berkeley, California in like 1988 I wanna say. 

     The reason for the rush job?  Guess who’s getting back together for a reunion show?  Yep.  Schizoid and several other bands from this time period are playing a one off show in Las Vegas in a few days.  So download these tunes quickly so you can hum along with these smart ass characters as they reveal a blast from the sass.

Download Schizoid- Disco In Frisco below
(Shit.  I forgot to write down the names of some of these songs, expect song titles to follow sometime soon, or just download the whole cassette demo as two files i.e. side one and side two) 
or download each song individually below
Here's Side one:

Okay so it looks like I have the song titles for Side two.  Download side two below:

Haven't heard about the reunion show?  Go here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

me and YOU

           My brother and I have a strange relationship.  We’re different on almost every level.  We were estranged for a few years.  Maybe we still are?  We barely talk beyond small talk and we usually won’t talk until we’re drinking.  Oh yeah did I mention we bought a house together?  Yeah well we did. 

            It probably wasn’t the smartest move but we’re both poor and I couldn’t have done it solo, so my choice was to partner up with this guy or buy a fucking condo and I couldn’t do that shit.  The reality is it was a smart thing for us to do financially.  We own an unbelievable house in North Portland, Oregon.  We got an incredible price without fucking anyone over and the house has polished up nice.  There’s no denying we’re lucky.  Still I think he’s an irresponsible, selfish, ingrate and I don’t trust him as far as I can throw the prick.  But hey I don’t like almost everyone so maybe I’m the one being unreasonable?   

            In any event we’re currently living together and I hope this doesn’t destroy what little relationship we got.  I guess time will tell?  Anyway this post is for that cocksucker. 

            Something most people might not be aware of is the fact that Mark has continued to make music over the last decade or so.  You probably wouldn’t know anything about his music unless you knew him personally because like most musicians he’s got his head firmly lodged in his ass when it comes to business.  Promoting yourself isn’t the fun part of being a musician but it’s something you have to take a stab at if you want people to know your music exists.  I know very few musicians or artists who want anything to do with the business side and there’s good reasons for that.  It feels really self indulgent.  And no one likes to feel that way.  Least of all an artist who is already by nature self indulgent and buried in their own ego. 

            To be fair I must admit that we both fall into that familiar subcategory of modern middle class Americans.  We both have a passion to make marginalized art that will forever be unknown and obscure and we don’t give a shit.  We keep doing it because I guess we can afford to and we don’t have kids which could prevent us from following these passions.  We both have a distrust and disgust with the modern machinations that are called the “entertainment” or “artistic” industry.  We don’t have any connections with said industry and if we did we’d fuck em up because as was already stated we’re disgusted by the pretension, the prostitution, and we’re disgusted by large parts of humanity to boot.  In this regard we must appear to be masterbating while looking into a mirror.  This is a fast growing subcategory of America as I seem to know many artistic types that fit the profile.  Is it masochism or narcissism?  That’s a hard call.  But whatever you do don’t call us artists.  Them’s fighting words.

            We’re both determined to live with our feet on the ground, and like Casey Casem said “reaching for the stars.”  Although the awareness that the stars are fake is always omnipresent.  I guess me and my bro are more similar than I let on. 

            Anyway Mark has continued to grow and change as a musician.  He has been in the pseudo metal/hardcore band DEAD BY DAWN for over 10 years.  Through numerous lineup changes I’m proud to say that Dead By Dawn is finally coming into their own as far as having their own unique sound within the genre.  When they started out I felt like they were ripping off the Oakland band El Dopa what with that metallic post hardcore darkness.  Later when they got a new guitarist they seemed to be ripping off the band Yes if you can believe that.  That is to say if Yes were scarier, slightly ghetto and twice as fast.  Now I have a hard time pigeonholing Dead By Dawn.  It’s not Metal nor is it anything approaching punk.  I like what they’re doing that’s all I can really say about them.  They have since lost their progressive rock minded guitarist and have switched things up considerably.  Also when the last guitarist bailed they made a wise decision not to be concerned at all about their band’s career moves and have made a concerted effort just to compose new songs and play out once every few months.  They may never tour again unless a record label shows interest.  Which could happen.  There are worse metal/punk bands in Portland,Oregon who find themselves with label support.  I’d even go so far as to say that Dead By Dawn may be broaching “Outsider Artist” status within that respective genre just by nature of them trying new things with their music.  So few bands in that genre are trying to branch out.  Just off the top of my head I can only think of a handful: Goreguts, Melechesh, even Rudimentary Peni who have surprised me by being the only anarcho-punk band who have continued to be relevant into the 2010’s.  But that’s probably just because Nick Blinko is fucking insane.  Not to mention wildly entertaining.       

            I’m getting off subject here.  This post is about my brother Mark’s foray into pop music territory.  He’s been involved in a few projects over the years which have pointed towards a more melodic if not commercial direction.  The first serious “Pop” band he joined went by the name of Re-Up. 

            I wanted to believe.  I really wanted to believe.  But the reality is I hated Re-Up.  Everyone in that group hailed from a more hard rock musical background and they claimed to be crossing the dark pop void.  Instead it felt like they over worked their songs and it came off as mediocre artsy indie rock.  It didn’t speak to me.  In fact it made me wretch.  I kept going to the shows to support the guys because I could hear the hooks lurking in some of their songs.  But they just couldn’t stick to the formula.  The most important “Pop Music” rule: keep it fucking simple.  So the hooks were buried under hours of tinkering in the garage.  I couldn’t hear the rock or the pop.

            We’ve all been in the situation where you go to see your friend’s band and they totally suck.  Sometimes you blow smoke up their ass, but if you really care you know you should be honest in so far as you’re entitled to your opinion.  Mark got pissed when I tried to be honest. Artists are a fickle sort.  I’ve always welcomed any type of response to my work.  Even a negative one.  I can’t even get that so I’ve stopped caring about getting a response of any sort.  I’m totally stroking my own joke just like Mark and his bands but I don’t even have bandmates to share that emptiness with.  At least these guys can play the occasional show to a round of applause.  Once again I will wonder out loud why I’m continuing to do this shit? 

            Anyway, after seeing them over the course of a year I couldn’t fake it anymore.  I was relieved when they finally broke up.  I didn’t have to make up excuses for missing their shows.  Plus now maybe all those players would go back to making good hard rock instead of fake soft rock which is how I always perceived it.

            Some time passed and eventually Mark got another project going with two former members of Re-Up.  I held out hope.  Maybe with less cooks in the kitchen these guys could make simplicity work for them.  Turns out my hunch was right.  The name of their new band: You.  Simple.  I started to get excited.  After a few shows my enthusiasm built up.  And after their first recording I was hooked.  They recently finished a second recording and I’m diggin it as much as the first. 

            I wouldn’t be doing my job as a writer and interpreter of reality without making comparisons and trying to categorize the band YOU.  So here is my take on their sound.  And I might sound like I’m full of shit when I say this but I think that YOU is accidentally following a roundabout trail towards pop bliss that they’re forging alone in the dark.  Sure it takes elements that are already established.  The pop hooks are front and center.  By the end of the song you are able to sing along to a degree.  It verges on Powerpop but doesn’t fall into the same established pattern.  It’s definitely pop, but it’s pop with a unique identity.  Which is a welcome relief from what you think you may have heard before.  I know I’m trying to hype them but the truth is the music does the talking pretty well on it’s own.  It’s not Beatlesque, and it’s not shitty indie pop.  They seem to be moving forward while keeping their feet on the ground.  I suppose I could keep blowing smoke up your ass but I might as well come clean.  I like the direction that YOU is headed and I’m sharing this because I care about Mark and I think that these works of art that we all seem to be “wasting” our lives making need to be heard by more than just our close friends.  Instead this feels like a gift to those who are willing to take the time to listen.  Just like all these blog posts are turning out to be.   
             I don't want to be misleading so I should mention that not all the tunes are upbeat.  A few are slower paced and somewhat sorrow filled but they still got some fire. 

            I have a music video in the works for one of their songs.  You might see that video posted here later in the year.  I also made a video using one of their songs a few years ago.  You can see that and read the story about that bullshit by going here. 

            Of course there is bad news.  According to recent reports from Mark, the band You appears to be currently in a state of flux.  They don’t seem to be breaking up but they might change from their power trio format.  That bums me out a bit but I’m still hoping they’ll keep up that momentum.  And hey, if you got a label and you want to help out YOU keep in mind all these songs have yet to be released in a proper format.  In fact I’m pretty sure you can only find them by downloading them here.               

             They have several songs recorded from two separate recordings.  I'm including just my favorites.  Download them for free below:

YOU- the first recording session (whoops don't have names, sorry!)

YOU- the second recording session (yep with names for songs)
3.  Starting Over Again

I should mention that Mark, as usual is on the drums.