That night half the band met a “record producer” in jail

by Steve, October 25th, 2019

(Adapted from a post I made on TalkBass.com)

I don’t know what made me think of this, but thank you for your indulgence in this longish tale of band hijinks of yore. The story takes place in the late summer and early autumn in a Midwest college town, circa 1989. Names are changed to protect the guilty and their enablers.

After loading out from a successful gig, Bob the rhythm guitarist and Serge the drummer departed in my girlfriend Linda’s Buick station wagon, and promptly ran into a phone pole in the alley behind the club. The cop shop was about a block away, and Officer Friendly soon showed up and hauled Bob in for DUI and Serge for possession (he was holding a little weed). Linda’s car got a little banged up and was towed to the impound lot.

Linda was not pleased, but she’s the one who had agreed to loan her car to Bob in the first place. I was not held responsible, but Linda had words with Bob.

A day or two later, we were hosting a party at the band house out in the country. Bob and Serge had been released on their own recognizance, and they invited a friend they’d met in the hoosegow.

Shawn Stanton was the scion of an oat roasting executive in neighboring Oat City, well known for the cloying odor of burnt oats that sometimes wafted as far south as University City. He showed up early with several sacks of groceries for the party. Also showing up early was our number one groupie Beth-Anne, who was excited to make us all stir fry with the supplies Shawn brought. Bob later wrote a song about Beth-Anne and her penchant for making us all stir fry and sitting in on band meetings and giving Serge advice on how to not get kicked out of the band.

Bob excitedly told the rest of the band how he and Serge had met Shawn in jail, how they got to talking about the band, and that Shawn wanted to produce us and sign us to a recording contract.

The lead guitarist Mike and I raised our eyebrows at this.

“You want to produce us, and you haven’t even heard us?” said Mike. “Sounds fishy.”

“I’m offended that you don’t trust in my ability to describe the band and sell us!” said Bob.

“You want it in writing? Get me a pen and something to write on!” said Shawn, also offended at our lack of faith. At some point he produced one of those business-style check books that’s a three-ring binder, as if to show us he was serious. Between that and the 70 bucks he dropped on food for us, who wouldn’t take him seriously as a record producer?

Anyway, much big talk was made about flying us to New York to re-record the album we’d just recorded but not pressed, yada yada yada. We all got drunk and high on weed and shrooms and god only knows what else, and everybody had a good time eating Shawn’s food and drinking cheap Midwest beer from a keg.

When the keg ran out, I headed up a mission to drive to town to get another. On the way out, we ran into Ray, who was in his van on the road at the end of the driveway.

“What are you doing up here alone, Ray?” I asked.

“Drinkin a beer,” he said. “You want one?”

“Oh, no thanks man,” I said.

“Too bad,” he said, looking down.

I didn’t know what to say. Ray looked up after a bit.

“Where you goin?” he asked.

“Keg’s out; we’re goin into town to get another,” I said.

“You know there’s bad spirits by the river,” said Ray. “You gotta do something about that.”

“What am I supposed to do, Ray?”

“When you get to the bridge, you gotta stop the car, and you gotta stomp out a cigarette on the side of the road,” he said.

“I don’t smoke,” I said.

“Take one of mine.” Ray handed me a pack or Marlboro reds. Ray was dead serious, so I took a smoke from the pack and put it behind my ear.

“Do I have to smoke it?” I asked, handing him back the pack.

“You gotta light it, and you gotta stomp it out,” he said.

“OK,” I said. Ray was not messing around.

I got back into Margot’s car. Margot was Mike’s girlfriend, and she must have been the most sober person at the party who had a car. I explained what I’d agreed to do.

“Oh OK,” she said. “I’ll just pull off before we cross the river, and you can do your thing.” Margot was always game. I gave Ray a wave the tires crunched on the limestone gravel and we pulled away.

The bridge was about a mile down a gravel road, then a quarter mile right on a paved county road. Margo pulled off at the bridge, and I got out of the car, lit the cig, tossed it onto the gravel shoulder and stomped it out. No spirits were observed at that time, but I admit to having been a little spooked. And a little nauseated from lighting the cigarette.

When we returned with a fresh keg from the Kum & Go, Ray was still drinking alone in his van. Shawn was gone. The party was raging and went long into the night. Nobody signed any record contracts, but we had a good time dancing and singing and howling at the full moon.

A few weeks later, Serge was working a dinner shift at his job as a dishwasher in a restaurant owned by Fern, who also owned a crystal shop and practiced the kind of meditation that supposedly can lead to levitation.

Serge had forgotten to show up to court for his possession rap, and Officer Friendly showed up at his workplace to arrest him on a bench warrant.

Fern was not pleased by this, of course. The restaurant had an open kitchen, and Serge’s arrest was quite public.

When Serge got out, Fern told him he was fired from his job as a dishwasher. Not because he was arrested during his shift, mind you.

Fern told Serge he was fired because his seventh chakra was flaring.

The band didn’t fire Serge, flaring chakra be damned. We all kind of liked him, and he had more friends who came to our gigs than anybody else. Maybe that flaring chakra made him play a little busy at times, but it all seemed to fit. All the bohemian college kids and townies danced and danced.

Shawn Stanton disappeared into the riff raff; maybe he went back to Oat City. We never heard from him again. Since we didn’t get that record contract, we went back to plan A, which was to move to the west coast, where we played a few gigs before breaking up and going our separate ways.

Serge got a job laying tile, and he’s still hitting the skins last I heard. Bob still writes good songs. We did some long-distance collabs a few years ago. Mike and I see each other ever few years. Everybody but me went through some form of rehab or got sober at one time or another, and I don’t think anybody ended up doing hard time (unlike the drummer from the band I played with in high school).

Anyway, thanks for your indulgence if you got this far. Bob and Serge, if you find this and remember any of it differently, you’re entitled to your own versions of history.

Jesus got a haircut

by Steve, March 17th, 2013

jesus got a haircut

The word is “punch”

by Steve, October 9th, 2012

Jefferson Smith explains how his fist somehow became victimized by a drunk woman’s head. (Smith’s words on a photo by TedXConcordiaUPortland, used under a Creative Commons license)

Since Willamette Week broke the story of Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith’s assault charge for punching a woman in the face and sending her to the hospital for five or six stitches, Smith has come up with all kinds of passive-voice ways of not quite taking responsibility for his actions. She wouldn’t stop hitting him! See, he’s the victim, even though she’s the one who ended up with a bloody head wound and he’s the one who ended up with an assault charge.

It’s pretty safe to say his campaign is circling the drain now, with this latest bit added to previous reports of Smith being a general vehicular menace and traffic scofflaw and getting kicked out of recreational sports leagues for such trifling issues as punching opponents in the nuts. But the most troubling thing in all of this is how quickly Smith’s supporters are to rally to his defense, the well-being of his victim be damned. Never mind that he re-traumatized her showing up at her door last week (not once, but twice), leaving a creepy, intimidating letter. It’s all in the past, and we should forgive him! Or so say the chorus of his “progressive” supporters, who insist any opposition to the great white hope must be from the right.

Chief among his defenders are the clowns at the Blue Oregon Home for Wannabes and Also-Rans. Professional comedy writer Bill McDonald (did we mention he’s a comedy writer? and gets paid for it?) summed it up thusly in the very place where many of Smith’s supporters rarely get challenged in their passionate credulity: “What Iím saying is that we are in denial here – avoiding an obvious, glaring problem: Jefferson Boo Boo is a mess. A high IQ dunce.” Indeed, this is plain to see to anybody not on his campaign’s payroll and/or angling for a plum job in his administration (or at least some over-priced consulting work).


Photo from Kari Chisolm
used under Creative Commons license

BO editor Kari Chisolm kicks it off with this gem: “I’ve known Jefferson Smith for 12 years…. I’ve never known Jefferson to lose his cool or act in a violent or threatening manner.” Never mind that this is contradicted by a public record of acting violent and threatening going back almost two decades.

Jesse Cornett, the guy who single-handedly destroyed Portland’s public financing of elections by running a singularly lousy campaign on the public dime, can’t think of anything clever to say, so he just calls McDonald a “fcking a*hole.”

Mark Bunster, erstwhile BO competitor (with a blog nobody remembers), pigeonholes McDonald with the biggest insult he can think of: “See what happens when you let bojack people out into the light?” Evidently, Bunster’s still butt-sore from being fully pwned by Portland’s cranky megalomaniac blogger-in-chief.

Then comes Carla Axtman who is (or was) on Jefferson’s campaign payroll, but doesn’t see fit to disclose it. (Since BO basically comes down to bottom-feeder Democratic political operatives arguing among themselves on behalf of their respective employers anyway, this should surprise no one.) Carla apparently fancies herself a “writer” and lets loose with some florid prose in defense of her man. “Rarely do we get to see this sort of unintelligible BS blend so spectacularly with pontificatory jackassery.” Now this is funny, because, uh, Pot, meet Kettle, and also, I can just imagine her polishing that turd for half an hour or more before depositing it on BO.

On Twitter, Jefferson’s campaign staff took umbrage when OPB radio host Dave Miller questioned Smith. “Dave Miller: How are you diff. from when you were 20?” To which the Irony Department replied, “Yeah, Dave, when did you stop punching women in the face?”

Which is what this all comes down to. Smith’s supporters are all over Twitter and blogs defending him, saying how much he’s changed since then. Here’s somebody who punched a woman in the face 19 years ago, but can’t quite admit it, and who continues to lose his shit and punch people, and who can’t understand that approaching his victim will likely be perceived as an act of aggression. And we’re supposed to believe, against all evidence to the contrary, that 39-year-old Jefferson Smith is a totally different person than 20-year-old Jefferson Smith.

Echoes of child rapist Neil Goldschmidt’s story are abundantly clear in all of this, as sycophantic supporters, with complete disregard for the physical and emotional safety of his victim, close ranks around a volatile candidate who has obvious untreated “issues.” All in the name of how “progressive” Smith is.

(I’m not sure when women’s rights were dropped off the prog agenda, and, yeah, I know, Charlie Hales used to be a Republican. Worse than that, he’s totally in the pocket of Homer Williams and the Portland gentrification mafia — just like Sam Adams, Vera Katz, et al. Don’t delude yourself into thinking those fuckers wouldn’t get to Smith in a New York minute if he got elected, but that’s another story.)

Anyway, you might expect your elderly male relatives to not get this basic concept: It’s never okay to hit a woman. Period. Debating this with Portland “liberals” and “progressives” would be precious if it weren’t for the fact that some of us are tired of telling our daughters It’s a man’s world; get used to it.

There are real victims in this story. And Jefferson Smith isn’t one of them.

[Disclaimer: I don't live in Portland proper anymore, so I don't have to hold my nose in this election, even if I'll be holding it after...]

In case you were wondering

by Steve, October 9th, 2012

This is what a mens’ room at a Justin Bieber concert looks like:

Thin-skinned journalists who schmooze with the powers-that-be

by Steve, October 2nd, 2012

The Oregonian clings to the outdated 20th century charade of objectivity, even while nagging their reporters to get with social media, and even while editors and reporters continue to socialize with the people they’re supposed to be covering. (The pretense of “objectivity” is, in the end, just another way of comforting the comfortable.)

It’s well known that former editor Sandra Rowe and late editorial page editor Bob Caldwell partied with child rapist Neil Goldschmidt. Then there was golden boy reporter Tom Hallman taking gifts from Andy Wiederhorn, the subject of a Hallman puff piece who later plead guilty to federal tax charges.

Now, with twitter, the schmooze fest between reporters and the powers-that-be is occasionally revealed in all its quaint naivetť, as when self-absorbed columnist-cum-beat reporter Anna Griffin glibly invited the mayor’s deputy chief of staff over for brunch.

The thin-skinned part comes when she’s called out on this…

…and then blocks the twitter user calling her out.

Of course, anybody can continue to see (and laugh at) her tweets (variously begging for story ideas, telling scatological stories on her child or just creating found poetry), which, as has been pointed out, don’t necessarily fit with Bhatia’s pleas to use social media to drive traffic to the O’s comically horrid Web site.

And, as one reader notes, “All her stories make me go WTF….” Just another “Digital Day” in the life of a soon-to-be unemployed hack writer.

Anna Griffin Tweet Mash-up

by Steve, February 2nd, 2012

A collection of Anna Griffin’s tweets, compiled and mashed up by Fred Leonhardt. (Anna Griffin is on leave from The Oregonian, but will once again grace its pages with her substantive musings soon).

Tomorrow’s column

    Tomorrow’s column
    is decidedly mediocre
    and touchy feely.
    I apologize
    and promise that Saturday’s column
    will be
    snarktastic and meaty.

Thursdays

    Is it time for Project Runway?
    Is it time for Project Runway?
    Hell, is it time for Jim and Pam to get married?
    I love Thursdays …

Life is Weird

    Life is weird:
    Working in a coffee shop,
    sitting right next to a guy who is reading my column
    and oblivious to my presence.

Starbucks

    On the blissful Monday agenda:
    homelessness
    unemployment
    prostitution
    campaign finance reform,
    sore throats
    nasty headaches and
    snot galore.
    Anybody got any happy news for me?
    I am thankful for coffee
    There is no amount of bad morning that a maple bar and coffee cannot fix.

My Basic Philosophy

    My basic philosophy:
    If they have a maple bar,
    you buy it.
    Not hungry?
    Watching your weight?
    Doesn’t matter.
    A maple bar trumps all.

Bag, Dang It

    A co-worker just referred
    to my cute little bag
    as a purse.
    I am 99% certain
    I never have carried a purse.
    It’s a cute little bag,
    dang it.

Ode to George Clooney

    I dreamed I was pregnant last night
    It’s been a long time since I was this happy to wake up.
    Dear George Clooney:
    Next time you appear in my dreams, could you ditch
    the horn,
    tail
    and weird lizard tongue?
    Actually, keep the tongue.

Badass

    When the badass black boots
    in my giant size
    are marked down from $110 to $60,
    I’m meant to buy them, right?
    Isn’t that a sign
    from above?
    Tom McCall,
    any way your ghost might come show us the way?

B.J.

    Headed to a kiddie bday party featuring
    B.J. the Clown.
    I just bought real pork sausage
    Now I feel naughty.
    Neil Goldschmidt, could you lend someone your vision,
    if not your morals?
    And yes,
    Iím 13.

Starbase Portland: The Big Picture

by Steve, November 20th, 2011

A video I made about Starbase Portland, a partnership of the US Department of Defense and Portland Public Schools aimed at 4th and 5th graders.

Best. Timelapse. Evah.

by Steve, January 21st, 2011

???-54 ? ????? ??? “???????? ???????” from North Pole on Vimeo.

Watch full screen. A Russian research ship on a supply mission to Antarctica. Some really surprising and amazing imagery.

So the mayor, a councilman and a billionaire walk into a bar…

by Steve, October 14th, 2010

Geo. W. Bush and Henry Paulson

If you know me, or if you’ve read this blog from time to time, you’ve got some inkling what I think of Merritt Paulson, ultra-rich scion of former Goldman Sachs CEO and Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. (If you don’t know me, and don’t want to follow the links, here’s what I think: he’s a spoiled rich kid playing sports team owner and an annoying little twit.)

After a bizarre series of attempted deals with the Mayor of Portland, Sam Adams, and the shadow mayor, Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard — who tried like hell to figure out a way to build the Paulsons two stadiums on the public dime, but ran into tenatious opposition from veterans, architects, urban planners, neighborhood activists and historic preservationists — poor wittle Merrit only got one stadium and had to sell his wittle baseball team for lack of a suitable playground.

(His daddy is a partner in his minor league sports empire, by the way, so it’s a wonder he wouldn’t put up more cash to build a stadium if it’s such a sure fire financial win to invest in sports stadiums as is frequently claimed. But I digress….)

The excavators are already busy at PGE Park (nee Civic Stadium; the Paulsons get the dough on the naming deal), ripping out part of the $38.5 million renovations done in 2001. These renovations, that Portland is still paying off, were done to make it a better venue for baseball, including a retro, manually-operated scoreboard. It’s a long story. Cutting to the chase: they’re re-renovating nine years later as a soccer-specific venue, to the exclusion of baseball.

Today comes the news that the Portland Beavers have been sold as expected, and are officially moving to Escondido, California.

I generally avoid the crappy comments section at OregonLive, the crappy Web partner of our crappy daily The Oregonian, but today I couldn’t resist jumping in to the Soccer v. Baseball war when somebody posted an invitation to a “Timbers Army/Sam Adams joke contest.” Here’s my entry, edited here in a vain attempt to punch it up a little:

A mayor, a councilman and a billionaire walk into a bar. A couple sleepy customers are watching a baseball game on the screen behind the bar. Bartender says, what’ll it be, boys? Mayor says, whatever my friend here wants, it’s on the house. Bartender says, no way pal, hit the road.

Next thing you know, a bunch of drunken, middle-aged, white man-children wearing scarves are flooding through the front door, knocking over tables and singing vulgar songs…. pretty soon the sleepy baseball fans are out on their ears, there’s a soccer game on the TV, the billionaire’s behind the bar with his hands in the till and the bartender’s getting beat up by the councilman.

The mayor takes out his phone and tweets: “This is a great day for Portland. #timbersarmy #mls”

Yeah. It’s a joke, but it’s not very funny.

Do me better. What’s your Portland/Sam Adams/Merritt Paulson/Randy Leonard/Timbers Army/Beavers joke?

Take me to your leader

by Steve, September 28th, 2010

techYes, the United Nations has an Office for Outer Space Affairs (who knew?). No, its director, Malaysan astro-physicist Mazlan Othman, is not being named the world’s first alien ambassador, at least according to the UN. And former air force officers are coming forward with some pretty interesting stories about UFOs and nukes. And there were more mysterious lights over Phoenix last week.