Thursday, February 26, 2009

Punk Rock Roots

I moved to Berkeley with my girlfriend from Connecticut in 1975.I was a hippie then, but got a DJ gig at KALX where I played prog-rock and fusion and worked with Doc Pelzel to help create the record library. My friend Marc Monosonic got me a job at the Wherehouse record store in Oakland on Lakeshore, where I met Gary Hobish. I met Mik through KALX and met JD Buhl-he was a neighbor.
At the Wherehouse I met a guy named Jim-where are you today Jim? He convinced me to cut my hair, shave my moustache, and he turned me on to Punk. The first show I saw at the Mab was the Nerves in early 77.
By April 77 I was wearing a leather jacket and I took my new girlfriend Barbara to see the Damned at the Mab with 6 other bands. That night changed everything.
I moved from the Whorehouse as we called it to working at the little Rasputins, where Blondies is-it was half the size of Blondies then narrow cramped seedy store with tons of $1 records worked with a smarmy funny guy named Saul.
I worked at Rasputins with Ken Sarachan and a funny guy named Saul.This is where I met Tim Yohannon, Eric Boucher (Jello) John Poet, and a lot of future friends. Mik got a job at Rather Ripped and brought me up to Northside to work with him and Ray Farrell.
Meanwhile my old Connecticut friend Gary Mollica was hanging with bands like the Pagans and Ubu in Cleveland, and his friend Jim Ellis visited me so we could interview and visit the Residents. We did a story on that in Cle magazine. I was a DJ at Kalx now playing lots of punk and new wave in the summer of 77,but by 1978 they told me I played too much punk,wasn't diverse enough, and exiled me to 2 AM. That was my last radio gig till KWVA in 2002.
At Rather Ripped we played and pushed punk on everybody. There was a collision of philosophies because the other guys at Ripped weren’t too sure about this new junkie DIY music that didn't sell that well. They were used to selling the prog-rock and space rock imports.
Russ Ketter used to come downstairs at Ripped and break Teenage Jesus and Angelic Upstarts records cuz he hated them! By now I was playing music with Irene Dogmatic and the Beauty Killers, and myself, Mik, JD, and Gary Hobish had a little practice band called the Saviours.But we wanted a keyboard player.
That is when Gary Mollica left Cleveland in 78 to join..the Jars. And Gary hung out with us at Ripped, met Marge, and eventually got a job at Music Faucet.We started playing clubs, and eventually when Music Faucet took over the spot vacated by Oddyssey near the new Rasputins Gary brought me over from Rather Ripped where we met Kim, Alissa, Rob Noxious, Fang, Crucifix and lots of other bands. Universal Records was a gas ! Gary Mollica and I continued the tradition of in-stores and autograph parties and happenings. When Gary and I had sucessive falling outs with the owner , Mike Montalto, Kim Ham and Alissa Welsch continued the punk rock madness until Universal moved to the Haight.
Gary And I continued to play in the Art Faggots, formed after the Jars with Ray Farrell and Margie Steele. We played lots of clubs and recorded a demo with Armin Hammer (and Steve Fisk).Just when the band was moving into new phase I had to move to Connecticut to be with my family and my dying mother. Gary and Marge were in a horrible car accident that almost took Marge's life. Ray Farrell went on tour with the Panther Burns.
By 1984 Rather Ripped , Universal, The Jars and The Art Faggots were gone.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Why I Will Never Eat At Burger King

Besides having fatty and tasteless food, dirty restaurants,and poor service:
"Exploiting Workers
Increasing Income Inequality: In his inauguration address, President Obama said that "the nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous." The employment practices at Burger King and Goldman Sachs have done just this. Goldman Sachs' top executive, Lloyd Blankfein, netted over $70.3 million in 2007, the most ever for a Wall Street CEO. Burger King's chief executive, John Chidsey, received a $5.4 million pay package in 2008, 29% more than the previous year.

By contrast, Burger King's median hourly wage is $6.93, even lower than the fast food's industry median of $7.20. Working full-time at this wage yields only $14,414 per year - well below the federal poverty line of $17,600 for a family of three and less than 0.02% and 0.27% the pay of the two executives, respectively.

Opposing a Minimum Wage Hike. Although Burger King's revenue has grown 23% and its net income is up 607% since the 2006 IPO, the company has still fought efforts to raise worker wages. When congressional leaders sought to increase the federal minimum wage, Burger King executives fought the initiative, doling out $180,000 to lobbyists in 2006 and 2007 in an effort to kill the bill. In the six years prior to the introduction of the bill, Burger King and its franchisees racked up 333 Fair Labor Standards Act violations, including 168 for failing to pay minimum wage and 121 for failing to pay proper overtime.

Fighting Workers' Freedom To Form Unions: Burger King has fiercely opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation which would make it easier for working Americans to join unions and improve their standard of living. Burger King spent $319,648 lobbying against the proposed legislation between 2006 and 2008 and has lobbied against the bill through the association of its franchisees and through its involvement in the National Retail Federation, one of the organizations behind an anti-employee free choice group called the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.

Failing To Address Widespread Sexual Harassment: Burger King franchisees have been found
to have inadequate mechanisms in place to address the problem of sexual
harassment in Burger King restaurants.

In one case, the EEOC sued Burger King franchisee V&J Foods after a 16-year-old girl was harassed by a 35-year-old manager. The teen repeatedly complained to shift supervisors and the assistant manager, asked for a number to call to report the harassment, but her efforts were ignored or blocked. After her mother came in to complain about the harassment, the girl was fired. The court ruled against the franchise because it found that the company had no reasonable mechanism for reporting sexual harassment. The case was settled via consent decree shortly thereafter.

Similar allegations were made concerning Burger King franchisee Midamerica Hotels Corporation. According to the EEOC lawsuit seven female employees, six of whom were high school students, were subjected to repeated groping, demands for sex, and vulgar sexual comments by their manager. The employees reported the harassment to the assistant managers, who did nothing. It then took the employees weeks to discover the mechanism for reporting harassment. Midamerica paid $400,000 to settle the case in what was the fourth largest EEOC bias settlement against a restaurant since 1999.

Finally, at Carrols Corp, which is owned by Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc., sexual harassment was reported at 206 of its 350 Burger King restaurants. The EEOC compiled statements from 511 women who claimed they had been directly sexually harassed or subjected to a sexually hostile work environment. The judge accepted 333 of the statements and individual lawsuits are still proceeding.

Child Labor Laws: In 1992, Burger King paid a record settlement of $500,000 to settle a federal child labor suit that accused Burger King of requiring teenagers to work later and longer than allowed by law at nearly all of its then 800 company-owned restaurants. This did not stop Burger King from paying $40,000 to lobby against tougher child labor laws in 1999.

Failing to Protect Worker Safety: Fast food restaurants are notoriously unsafe. According to Eric Schlosser, "Hundreds of fast food restaurants are robbed every week...[and] roughly four or five fast food workers are now murdered on the job every month, usually during the course of a robbery."

Nevertheless, Burger King has consistently resisted accountability for its safety record. Looking to make more money, Burger King required its franchisees to extend hours late into night. A group of franchisees balked, stating that late hours would
compromise safety, but the company prevailed in court to enforce the extended

Burger King is also an active member of the National Restaurant Association, which fought and successfully defeated the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's proposed voluntary guidelines to prevent violence at stores open late at night.

Oppressing Labor in the Fields: Labor issues are not limited to Burger King's restaurants. After the Coalition for Immokalee Workers began to draw attention to the conditions for Florida farm workers in the mid-1990s, Yum Brands (the owner of KFC and Taco Bell), and McDonalds signed on to an agreement to pay an extra penny per pound for tomatoes in order to improve wages and working conditions. Burger King did not, and instead launched an offensive against the worker coalition.

In a speech at Davidson College, Burger King CEO John Chidsey said he wanted to "debunk" the myth of farm worker poverty and claimed that farm workers are paid better than many Burger King restaurant workers. Burger King also hired a security firm, Diplomatic Tactical Services, to spy on and infiltrate a student group which was supporting the effort to improve farm worker wages. Finally, two Burger King employees were fired for engaging in illegal action after a local newspaper revealed that a senior executive secretly posted blogs denigrating the coalition. Only after Burger King's actions received widespread criticism did the company sign on to improve conditions in May of 2008, 15 years after the conditions were first exposed."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Old Friends

In the past few weeks I have reconnected with a LOT of old friends from my punk/new wave J Poet,Steve Mondello,Irene Dogmatic,members of Pink Section,Jim Goodwin, Kim Ham ,Steve Cornell,Melanie,Mike Montalto, Laura, Amy,and many others from the late 70's Berkeley scene. It's been so much fun-if any one reading this remembers any of the bands like the Jars I was in please contact me I'd like to hear from you.Look for me here or on Facebook.
In other news, I am still at the fitness center every day and I have lost a little weight and a pants size or 2,and I am firming up.Still looking for work,the job I applied to yesterday had 100 applicants in front of me.
Thanks for all of you that enjoyed my whistling radio show-the record convention was a gas and it was great to meet you in person.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Age, Experience and Heroes

As I wander through the want ads and job applications I am encountering a dull discrimination against middle age job seekers. It can wear your psyche down when you are told that you are "over-qualified" for a position. Even though age discrimination is illegal it happens all the time in subtle ways.
Remember then the story of this year's hero-Captain 'Sully' Sullenberger, The 58 year old Captain that saved the lives of all the passengers on that jet that landed perfectly in the Hudson River .
"Sullenberger credited his lifetime of experience as a pilot with preparing him to see the terrifying accident's to a successful outcome. But he said he was still uneasy about being called a hero.
"I don't feel comfortable embracing it, but I don't want to deny it," he told Couric. "I don't want to diminish their thankful feeling toward me. Something about this episode captured peoples' imagination. I think they want good news; they want to be hopeful again, and if I can help in that way, I will.""
Sometimes EXPERIENCE counts.
He has inspired me to hold my head up high.
"During the ordeal, Sullenberger, 58, displayed the steely self-confidence that befits a former fighter pilot from the Air Force Academy.
In the moments after a flock of large birds snuffed out the Airbus A320's two engines, blanketing the cockpit with an eerie silence, Capt. Sullenberger took control of the jet from co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, 49. For 3½ minutes, they desperately tried to restart the engines and find a safe place to land.
"The physiological reaction I had to this was strong, and I had to force myself to use my training and force calm on the situation," Sullenberger said.
Once he picked the Hudson as the only suitable place to put down, Sullenberger said he didn't doubt he could bring the plane down safely.
"I was sure I could do it," he said. "I think, in many ways, as it turned out, my entire life up to that moment had been a preparation to handle that particular moment.""

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Crazy Dreams

This one just woke me up.The radio station studio where I work was located in a huge abandoned cafeteria.I was doing my program the Hangover when some guards came in and said they would be passing through with about 30 inmates.Some of them were crazy.As they walked by I said"the next song is for you" and played Archie Bell and the Drells "Tighten Up."
After a while I noticed that the inmates had stayed in the cafeteria-the guards were nowhere to be found. The crazy ones came over and started to bug me during my show.Eventually they started to take the records off the turntables and play their own.
I fled because they were starting to threaten me-I encountered our chief engineer who was about 100 years old and told him I had to leave.He slowly made his way to the studio but wouldn't go on the air.Now there was dead air.I knew I was in trouble for leaving the air.
I woke up.
The night before this I dreamed that Beck was doing a worldwide simulcast broadcast on MTV viewed by millions.He had no band,just himself with programmed synths,drum machines and guitars.He was playing live in an auditorium and I was there next to the stage.I heard my cell phone go off over where my jacket was,so as I strolled over to get it I tripped over a power chord and shut the power down.
Beck went ballistic,swearing and jumping up and down on world wide TV demanding to know who the asshole was that ruined his show.His tirade lasted for minutes.He didn't know it was me,so I crawled off to hide under a table.The press saw the whole thing and came over to me to ask me what happened
I then became famous for 15 minutes as the Klutz that ruined the Beck concert.

Update:If you want to hear what Beck sounded like in my dream go HERE