Call of the Wild

I like to watch the show “Snapped” when I’m getting ready to go to work. It profiles women who murder, which I find interesting, and it isn’t especially visual, they’ll show the same photos and people repeatedly, so I can concentrate on drawing on my eyebrows without having to look at the television too much. Drew doesn’t really get it, he thinks it’s morbid, which is probably true, but even he will occasionally get sucked in and add commentary: “My, that’s a handsome woman…” or “You’d think he would have noticed all that anti-freeze in his spaghetti…”

I saw one recently about two high school girls who fought over the same guy: a skinny little kid with a baby mustache who considered himself a player and enjoyed pitting the girls against one another. One girl was from a blue collar background, very pretty, a dropout who worked as a waitress, the other one was from a more middle class background, still going to school with straight A’s, not as pretty but with other advantages. The competition for the boy’s attention quickly escalated to threats via phone and text, harassment at the waitress job, aand generally picking at each other whenever possible until combusting into a physical fight in which the pretty waitress stabbed the good student, who died. So over some selfish jerk that neither one of them would probably love forever, one girl dies without fulfilling a blossoming potential, another one goes to prison for 27 years. Two families devastated while dumbass “playa” remained unpunished and claimed remorselessly on the stand that neither girl was his girlfriend.

Hmm…there but for the grace of God. In my youth I suffered mightily over many mistakes and got into all kinds of verbal and physical altercations struggling to keep my own prizes. Thank you, Jesus, thank you Lord that I had the presence of mind to leave the knives at home. But I feel great sympathy for the girl who didn’t. You do stupid things when you’re young and haven’t got the full capacity to appreciate the likely consequences. One weekend in jail was enough to cure me of the need to be right, what would 27 years do?

I was at work on Saturday night a couple of weeks ago when a trio parked themselves at the end of my bar: an American brunette woman, American blonde woman and a European, possibly French guy. The women were in their late 20’s, early 30’s and each beautiful in a different kind of way. The guy was average looking, attractive, with a short beard and nondescript clothing. He had an accent and kept ordering whiskey sours for the three of them without knowing what they were called and without tipping. The brunette woman would notice and put a tip down for me, and one or two times handed money over his shoulder to me for the drinks while he fumbled with singles for what seemed an interminable amount of time, leading me to suspect that he didn’t have a lot of cash and wasn’t super pumped about paying for all of the drinks.

The brunette seemed most in control of the situation: she leaned against the wall looking cool and talking while they drank, whereas the blonde got bombed almost immediately and would sort of veer around wildly to stare at me with her mouth open. If I approached and asked what she needed, she gaped without response until slowly veering back toward the other two.

It was an annoying and somewhat bovine behavior. My apologies to the cows of this world for that reference, as they are generally more endearing when they stare, but that was the word that came to mind as I tried to ignore the constant eyeball.

The blonde didn’t seem to like me much and didn’t seem to know when to stop drinking. Euro-dude kept trying to order her another whiskey sour, to which I would reply “Hell, no!” and told him that if she couldn’t form a sentence she couldn’t have any more booze. She continued to stare with her mouth open while these exchanges went on, ignoring the consolation glass of water I plunked down in front of her. My impression was that Euro guy was with the blonde, as he seemed most interested in her, and the brunette was sort of hanging in there to keep an eye on her drunk friend.

The brunette thanked me for the blonde’s water, and as it was late and slowing down, I asked her if she wanted to do a shot with me. She did, and we did. After the shot I waved my finger in a circle at the three of them,

“So tell me what’s going on here.”

She said, “This is my best friend, and she and I are in competition for this guy right now.”

I was tempted to recite one of my favorite quotes, made by Rosie Perez in a pretty crappy movie called Untamed Heart:

“Look at him! He looks like a tumor sittin’ over there. Ugh, and his hair! It just bothers me so much!”

I wish I could find the movie clip but it appears that no one on youtube thinks it’s as funny as I do. And I can’t do Rosie’s accent justice so I stuck to the truth and said, “Really? But he’s so ordinary. He doesn’t seem to have much money, he’s average-looking…” She turned around to look at him as he was in the middle of doing a happy little I’m-with-two-babes dance.

I rolled my eyes and continued. “There’s a pot belly under that sweater. That’s only going to get worse you know. And you’re hot, and smart, and can have any single guy in this room right now. And your friend…Well, she’s hot anyway…”

She laughed and said, “We just both really like him and I think neither of us wants to let the other win.”

I went back to bartending and the stand-off continued for another half hour. Brunette got Euro-guy to dance with her while Blonde glare-gaped at me and spilled the water. I was a little nervous that left unattended she might vomit on my bar, so I refilled it and stuck it in front of her again.

Eventually Blonde pulled herself together, registered that the other two were dancing too closely for her liking, did a little foot-stomp, and ran out of the room. Brunette took the opportunity to grab Euro-guy and make out with him for a second before they both left the room to get their friend. I thought that was the end of the show but they brought her back for a convo. Blonde yelled at Brunette, Euro-guy tried not to grin too obviously with glee before chasing after Blonde as she ran back out of the room for the second and last time. Brunette turned and said,

“Thank you for everything.” I replied,

“Dude, seriously. You have all the power. Don’t hand it over to this doofus.” She waved and left.

It wasn’t exactly a bummer; the unfolding of a good drama is entertaining when you’re bored behind a bar. But I did feel badly for Brunette, she was so much better than her current choice. It would have been nice to save her a little pain and suffering, as I already know exactly how it will play out. Euro-guy will happily sleep with whomever will have him, but will always lean toward the blonde. Someone will feel hurt and betrayed, harsh words will be exchanged, and the two girls will experience a rift in their friendship which might never be repaired, even though both of them will look back one day and wonder why they thought he was so duel-worthy. He will most likely go back to France and tell all of his friends how much fun American girls are…

There is no moral to this blog or way to wrap it up, just wanted to tell the story. I hope that at least a little of what I said to the brunette sinks in. People have made very wise statements to me that I didn’t quite get at the time, now I understand them fully. Most of the time the words don’t make sense until the experience connects. Knowing something in your brain won’t affect behavior until you know it in your stomach and heart as well, so most of us are compelled to heed the call of the wild until it doesn’t appeal so much any more. It could be worse, at least I got the lessons after a few smacks on the head, I know people who are still repeating their same mistakes at very advanced ages.

It’s all a journey, I suppose. I’m sure I’ve written this before, but it bears repeating: I had a conversation with a friend in which I said,

“I can’t believe I wasted so much time suffering and fighting over so little.” She shrugged and said,

“Eh. You had to learn the lesson from someone. At least he looked good…”

Maybe that’s all we can hope for as we repeat the mistakes of those that came before us: to be able to forgive the idiots we were, try to pass on the knowledge gained, and accumulate a few good stories and photos in the process.

Old Friends

My lovely friend Mike Dolan (not to be confused with the other Mike that I’m always blogging about) was going through some old VHS tapes and in the middle found this…ahem…gem video from the way back files. He burned it for me and the results is at the bottom of this blog. I’m proud of myself for figuring out how to convert a VOD file to an MPG and then managing to upload it onto the web. It only took me three days…

The video features footage from a local cable show called Overnight Sensation and features a fairly early, definitely pre-record deal inception of Cycle Sluts from Hell backstage with friends. Those friends are Ryan Maher from Circus of Power (very brief – right at the beginning), my future ex-husband/boyfriend at the time, Curt Fleck, for one second getting stickers slapped onto him and then I’m assuming running out of the dressing room in a rush to locate strippers with drugs and cash (but that’s another blog), and his bandmates in Blitzspeer–Phil Caivano (later of Monster Magnet) and Scott Lano. I don’t know what the host’s name was but I’d like you all to pay attention to the very trendy ear cuff he was sporting. Delightful! 

I am slightly suspicious that despite the anti-drug/pro-beer stance I may have been in a chemically enhanced state as I seem a little twitchy and desperate for a drink in the corner there, but I truly can’t remember so those rumors will remain unsubstantiated. It could have also just been the gum-chewing and side-of-mouth talking, both of which I thought made me appear more of a bad-ass.

Then it moves to The Throbs live onstage–Ronnie Sweetheart in his thousands of bracelets, skinny leather pants and giant hair, then on to a brief moment with Joey Ramone, and then CSFH live, sounding pretty crappy, but enjoying ourselves nonetheless.

I wasn’t expecting to see Joey, so when he popped onscreen my heart cracked a little bit. It felt so good to hear him say “Cycle Sluts” one more time.

I have not said anything up until now about the book that recently came out about him because it didn’t feel to be my place. I wasn’t one of Joey’s closest friends and I certainly don’t know what his intimate family life was like beyond what we all know and have read. I also have no personal beef with authors Legs McNeil and Joey’s brother Mickey Leigh, both of whom I know personally. I have no wish to cause ill will and have shot my mouth off so many times in this life to invariably painful results, so in my dotage I strive for a modicum of diplomacy when posting my business for the world to see.

A few days before viewing this video I got a facebook message from a friend who had read the book and wanted my opinion. He was very upset with the way Joey was portrayed. And a day after viewing this video Joey was firmly on my mind so I asked another friend who was close to Joey for his opinion. This person told me that he felt misrepresented and maligned in the book, and said that he believed that the things written about other close friends of ours and Joey’s were either distortions or untruths. 

But I haven’t read it, and probably won’t after hearing all of the personal reviews from friends who knew Joey. So it’s not fair or responsible for me to give too much of an opinion without firsthand knowledge. But after seeing him again on film and thinking about it in a deeper way, I have come to the conclusion that I do have some right to a blogging opinion about Joey, as he was my friend and a special part of my life. He was the first rock star I met when I moved to New York, he was instrumental in my music career, and I could call him or email him any time I pleased.

Joey was, in my experience, a kind, generous, lovely, funny, person. When I see him laughing on film I want to hug him one last time and tell him that I love him. He went out of his way to help the musicians around him and he was a vital force in the New York rock scene. I had some of the funnest times of my life in his presence, and although I have seen him in a bad mood and unhappy, I never experienced the darkness I have heard is expressed in the book.

The Cycle Sluts used to make our friends do this thing with us when we were out partying: It was a very bad group arabesque, which involved locking arms over shoulders like Rockettes and then lifting on leg off the ground behind you and balancing. We made every rock star we knew do it at least once as we thought it was hilarious, and we made Joey do it all the time. Joey had bad balance and OCD issues, so he was not the best person to force into drunken ballet, but he gamely did it anyway. He would laugh and just lift his foot very low off of the ground. He always let us push him around and we loved him for it, and there was always love behind it.

Everyone has their dark places and bizarre foibles, and Joey was certainly human and had his. When I met him we were all partying quite a bit and that took a toll in his life and eventually he quit all drugs and alcohol. I gave some crying shoulder time to a couple of his girlfriends so I knew he could be obnoxious just like the rest of us. But the Joey that I knew was wonderful and gentle and that is how I choose to remember him.

I also believe that when famous people die, the lowest common denominator energy can sometimes take over in the ensuing feeding frenzy. Because that person is gone they cannot defend their own memory or property, intellectual or tangible, and history, as we all know, is written by those left standing. Sometimes there is an agenda that has nothing to do with the person in question, but much more to do with the ego or needs of the persons writing the history. I believe this to be the case this time.

And that is all I’ll say without having read the book. It is only my opinion, so take it as you will. And now, without further ado, let’s take a little trip back to summer of 1988:

Circus of Power Reunion Bitches!

2009 Addendum: All of the 2005-2007 blogs are copied and pasted from my myspace page. It has been a tedious process and I just don’t have the energy to fix all of these links (myspace kills them). 

I’ve been getting some requests for an update re the September 27, 2006 Circus of PowerDrew Stone’s reunion, which for those of you who don’t know, was also a film release party for new film “Passion and Brotherhood”. Here’s my report, complete with enough links to keep you occupied for an hour or so:

Donna and I went up to Smash studios the night before the show to get in a little rehearsal time and check in with the boys. I’ve gotten to see Ricky Mahler a few times over the last 4 or 5 years: he comes in from LA to visit every once in a while and actually played with my good friend and ex-bf Jesse Malin for a small tour. And the wonderful Ryan Maher lives in NYC so we are always more than pleased to run into him when we can, the last time being our own CSFH reunion. But I haven’t seen Alex Mitchell in a good decade.

The entertaining and interesting thing to me about seeing old friends after a long hiatus is clocking how they have or haven’t changed. As soon as we got into the rehearsal space I felt like no time had passed at all. We all look a bit older, or at least different, but are essentially the exact same people: same dynamics between individuals, same connections, same modes of interaction. I find that comforting when it’s with people I like/love, it makes me feel like the things and people I care about will always be there, even if I don’t see them every day. So there was Ricky, cracking the same dicky jokes, Ryan being his usual dryly funny and sweet self, and Alex taking charge of the room as the ladies man show-pony he’s always been. It was really fun. As for the remaining members, Zowie has been unfortunately MIA some time so he was replaced by a very fun and appropriate guy named Marc Frappier, and Gary Sunshine has a baby very nearly on the way, so he was replaced by our good friend Daniel Rey.

Rehearsal was quick, entertaining, and simple, as Donna and I weren’t really required to sing anything that difficult. This is a good thing, because we aren’t nearly as vocally proficient as we are gorgeous. I could see the gears turning in Daniel Rey’s brain as he worked out what songs to give us that would cause the least amount of cacophony. So it was worked out pretty quickly, Drew filmed and coordinated details for the next night, we caught up a bit on what was going on in our lives, watched a couple of songs, and got out in time to catch up on beauty rest for the following night. There are some snaps of the rehearsal here, where photographic evidence proves that the actual act of CSFH vocalizing was kept to a minimum. 😉

The next night was highly entertaining, of course. Firstly, Donna and I were VERY psyched to get laminates. Lord knows it’s been a while since I’ve sported my own laminate. Of course, the need for this particular accoutrement at Don Hill’s is minimal, but still, it’s fun to wear one and pretend the security is high. In typical CSFH fashion we both forgot ours at home and spent the next half hour whining until new ones were produced by a lovely man acting as security and stage manager, appropriately named Havok. Havok also took the rehearsal photos and the main photo on the Circus of Power website.

Secondly, the one and only Dolly Dagger flew in for the week. Dolly was one of the original Cycle Sluts when we were a pseudo gang and had about 10 girls with jackets, and Donna and I haven’t seen her since well back into the CSFH era. In those days we would enter a club en masse, wearing our “colors”, thigh-high boots and cut-offs and swaggering like idiots while people stepped back fearfully to let us pass. I don’t miss the stupid aggression of those days but I do miss the camaraderie of the “gang” of girls. We were tough and cool and it was fun as hell. Every day was like starring in our own B movie.

And thirdly (or as one gorgeous but very dim biker said to Donna once: “Ya gotcha primary, ya secondary, and ya THIRDARY”), the majority of the audience was comprised of old friends, acquaintances, and people who were there the first time around. We got to hang with some friends who rarely come out, and there were two men from the latter category who followed us around all night taking photos and telling us we were beautiful. After hours of this, and when I’d had enough of having my photo snapped, I said, “Dude, please. You can’t possibly want or need any more pictures”. To which he just handed me a shot of tequila, told me I look the same as I did 15 years ago and snapped one more. I owe that guy a dinner or something. And then there were a few more who weren’t there the first time around who brought old posters and cd covers for us to autograph. So it was pretty much a quality ego-fest any way you cut it.

COP went on at a nice, appropriately rock and roll late hour (12:30?) in front of their fabulous old backdrop (which prompted Donna and I to scratch our heads and wonder where all of ours went) and totally rocked the house from the beginning. It’s hard to believe they only had a couple of days together to get the songs rehearsed, and it pleased me mightily to see a big crowd in front of the stage. They even got the old school whorey/hot biker chick in a tiny halter top and low cut jeans–beer in hand, grinding away on the riser. That totally warmed my ancient vampire heart because it reminded me of the Limelight/Cat Club shows where you couldn’t get to the stage because there’d be so many advertising groupies vying for prime position in the front. Back then it would throw me into a rage bc they’d be gunning for whatever rock boy of the moment I was dating–now it looks cute to me because hipster girls are so fucking boring and unsexy.

In the middle of the set Donna and I got up and sang backup on Motor, War Machine, and Needles. It was short, sweet and painless, and really just an excuse to have us as a part of the night. I did a lot of butt-shaking and a little bit of singing, and then before you could say “Morton Downey” it was back down to the bar to get loaded and watch the rest of the show, which was stellar from start to end and featured a guitar cameo by Phil Caivano, formerly of Blitzspeer and Monster Magnet. It really was a killer show and for those of you who whined via email that it was a school night or too late in the evening to go out, I thumb my nose at you. We may look like grown-ups now, but we are never too old or tired to ROCK, goddamnit! If you don’t come out there won’t be any shows, people!

So after that COP and the Sluts did some interviewing and photos with Ace and Huge from Reality Check TV, of which I have very little recollection due to afore-mentioned constantly flowing tequila shots from friends and fans, and then it was off to Three of Cups to finish off the obliviating. All in all it was one of the funnest nights I’ve had in a while, and I hail COP for their ability to still BRING THE ROCK and for being generous enough to want to share the stage with their friends. And it looks like the band is going to do a show in L.A. and maybe take it to Japan, so if you are in either one of those places, I highly recommend attending.

The one sour note that I should prob mention somewhere in this blog is that our brothers in Supervillain (two of whose members are also members of the very loosely reformed CSFH) were scheduled to play and then got yanked after spending quality time promoting. I won’t go into it here but it was a bummer and they were missed.
If you would like to see photos from the night, you can check out here and here. And below is a loosely edited Drew Stone video of Motor (featuring yours truly on butt-shaking duty) for his upcoming film “Got Motor? Swamp Boogie In The Big City”.
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