“Radio Nowhere”

When I interviewed Bruce Springsteen a few weeks back for my book, among the many fond memories he shared of his friendship with Paul Nelson was how, in Paul’s review of The River, he had correctly identified the influence that London Calling had had on that album. Springsteen told me about the great affinity he’d always had for not just the Clash but punk rock as a whole. “I felt a deep connection to those things,” he said, “and it kinda runs right through [The River].”

It’s a connection that continues, as demonstrated by the recent release of the first single from Springsteen’s upcoming album, Magic. Following in the tradition of great radio songs like the Clash’s “Capitol Radio” and “Radio Clash,” Elvis Costello’s “Radio, Radio,” and Van Morrison’s “Wavelength,” “Radio Nowhere” is an all-out rock & roller that best describes itself:

I just wanna hear some rhythm
I want a thousand guitars
I want pounding drums
I want a million different voices
Speaking in tongues

Flat out, “Radio Nowhere” is the best thing to hit the airwaves in years.


Here’s a fantastic recent track from a double 3″CD (!) from Vancouver’s SHEARING PINX, one of the better debuts I’ve heard in a great long while. At times abstract noise, the grande majority of the release finds the band pummeling a tight-ass riff into the ground, with lots of skittering, creepy noises making the nature scene around it. Take for instance my favorite, the opening, “New Gospel”. You’re gonna get glimpses of funkier early 80s acts like The Pop Group, PiL and Gang of Four here, whereas a good chunk of the rest of the discs veers off into avant-noise territory of recent vintage. I say it’s all good – and this one’s the best.

A list for your wallet…

Thank me now, or thank me later, but I live in these zones:

Olive-Free Zone

Tomato-Free Zone

Dog-Free Zone (this one has wiggle room, but do not bring a dog into my house)

Mr. Bungle-Free Zone

Yoko Ono-Free Zone

Mushroom-Free Zone (come on, people, the kind on the menu)

Squash-Free Zone

Kevin Smith-Free Zone

William S. Burroughs-Free Zone





For chrissakes….

….last night’s post was by far the dumbest item ever posted on this site. I have deleted it. Apologies to those that spent 56 seconds of their day reading it. Some of that leftover late-90’s, ill-conceived vitriol surfacing. Anyone that’s read anything I wrote in the late-90’s (there was only one forum), might recognize it as crap sitting around on the floor. I perpetually have trouble sleeping, and infrequently take Xanax before bed, a drug that last night had a strange reverse, idiotic impact on my brain.

Remember when bad Lookout! Records bands used to….

….write songs about coffee? Ok, I have no reason for that comment, other than memories of a Crimpshrine 7″ that I always flipped over on the way to sounds so much better, like a Steel Pole Bathtub 7″ or something of the like. That Crimpshrine 7″ wasn’t even on Lookout! Or maybe it was. Yeah, it was. Hey, I’m Aaron Cometbus. I convinced scores of Food-Not-Bombs volunteers that they too could be accomplished, stylistically unique, and beautifully personal writers. That last part is…..on fucking Jupiter. No, get it, see, he really did influence a lot of people that purposely smelled like boiled cabbage crammed into a Happy Meal box that has been festering for eight days in the back seat of a Ford Escort GT. This is leading up to something, just watch….I thought of the “Sleep, What’s That?” 7″ as I was just watching Alien Nation, a film that will keep me awake for two hours when I should be asleep. This is serious shizmits here. James Caan in a creative phase apparently inspired by the I.R.S. Wow, why am I awake. Does this count as a true blog entry? What is that game that the aliens are playing at the beginning of Alien Nation? One of the more powerful metaphors for racism. What in the hell is the matter with me. Why did I just write this? Gotta post it now.







Smiley –I know What I Want

Smiley –Penelope/ I Know What I Want –LMCE LM 78008 (1972 French issue)

Post Creation single featuring Bob Garner. Although the A side is written by Kenny Pickett, I am unsure if he actually appears on the record. I Know What I Want ( written by Bob Garner) is an atmospheric semi-Glam/Late Fuzzbeat Stomper. As a further link to The Creation; both sides were co-produced by Shel Talmy, but strangely the production lacks a bit of power and bite. The A side is pretty hard to take: It’s a seriously grating piece of 70s Bubblegum, with obnoxious kiddie vocals . Anyone have confirmation of the line up on this single?

Click on title for an edit of I Know What I Want and a snippet of Penelope (for information purposes only!)


Totally have appreciated the seething scorn heaped upon me every time I mention my love for the first couple of BANGLES releases. It certainly makes it all worth it, doesn’t it? Well in high school I got really into that first EP of theirs on IRS (recorded when they were still called THE BANGS), and still believe every track on it to be fantastic 60s fuzz/jangle with harmonies to die for, including their outstanding cover of New Zealand 60s punkers THE LA-DE-DAS (“How Is The Air Up There”). When their real first album came out, of course it was a total slide donw the dumper, and after that into the realm of the unmentionable. I’ve told this before, but I’ve got a pal who claims he saw the very early Bangs blow away BLACK FLAG and RED CROSS at the Cathay De Grande in LA around 1981; four mildly scared, miniskirted young women who decided to play their bouncy 60s pop at lightning speed to the assembled meathead multitude, and won at least one new fan in the process.

So I got to college and had this clued-in next door neighboor in the dorms, and he had that first BANGS single, the one I’d never heard. Totally dug it, and still do. “Getting Out Of Hand / Call On Me”, from 1981 on Downkiddie Records, apparently got a smidgen of local airplay, but was really only one of dozens of cool Los Angeles records coming out at the time. Because of their sixties leanings, these ladies got lumped in the with “paisley underground” of the Three O’Clock, Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade et al. I guess that’s fair, but they exited the paisley ghetto just about as fast as they could, and they bank accounts are undoubtedly still thanking them. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do – c’mon, it’s OK to fess up.

Play or Download THE BANGS – “Getting Out of Hand” (Side A)
Play or Download THE BANGS – “Call On Me” (Side B)

14. 1976

This video, of Warren Zevon singing “Mohammed’s Radio” on BBC2’s The Old Grey Whistle Test, was taped in December of 1976, just a few months after Paul Nelson met and became fast friends with Zevon and his wife Crystal.

As noted by blogger Jeff Vaca over at Stuff Running ‘Round My Head, Zevon, accompanied by Jackson Browne and David Lindley, looks “impossibly young and innocent”—completely unaware of what life has in store for him.

Copyright 2007 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved. 

And Of Course There Was Food, Vol 2

Because it seems I already have a post with that name.

At any rate, before the unexpected deliciousness of the food I had in Holland utterly vanishes from my memory, I thought I should mention a few of the discoveries I made during this vacation on the polders.

As I noted in the last post, one of the first things I did after landing in de Meern was to go to a bakery for some bread and a butcher’s shop that also had a modest selection of cheeses (and was right next door). The bread was quite surprising: it was dark, but quite soft, and the crust had been topped with coriander, caraway, and cumin seeds along with some rolled oats and sunflower seeds. The cheeses next door were pretty standard: there’s really only one kind of cheese in most Dutch cheese shops, but it gets varied by additions and aging. Thus, you can buy a medium-aged cumin Gouda or a young stinging-nettle Gouda (a prize for the first human to figure out how to use those nasty plants as food), and plain Goudas in all ages. I bought a very old one, and its salty, sharp taste was like nothing I’ve experienced in Germany. The cumin Gouda, young, was a big hit with the Americans.

I came to Utrecht expecting less than nothing from the food. Dutch home cooking isn’t a whole lot different than German home cooking, after all, and so I was very pleasantly surprised by what we turned up. There were two major conditions to finding a place to eat. First, Brett has unaccountably become a vegetarian (a fake vegetarian, let it be noted, because he also eats fish) since last we hung out. Second, if Carole were along, the place had to be accessible, which not only lets out the several canal-side restaurants approachable only by a steep wooden staircase, but actually anyplace with a step much over an inch high. Knowing Carole has brought another dimension to the way I see the world: for many, many people, one step is one step too many. Except when we stub our toe or trip over it, most of us don’t give it a second thought.

Anyway, it was just Brett and me for the first place we hit (although it’s accessible), a modest joint called Opoe’s Eethuys at ‘t Wed 3, right by the Dom. There’s no getting around it; dinner in Utrecht is going to run about €25 a person, but in a place like this it’s worth it. I had mussels and fries (good ones!) with two mayonnaise-based sauces, and Brett had a fish, which came with a garlic mayonnaise. Like the Belgians, the Dutch are big on mayo, but it sure is good. I don’t eat dessert, but Brett does, so he ordered a concoction of vanilla mousse with a mango compote, something that’s way too avant-garde for Berlin, I’m afraid. He was impressed enough with the presentation that he had me photograph it:

For our next meal, Susan and Carole joined us, and we didn’t have a lot of time. We settled on a bar called 3512, Kortejansstraat 4, which didn’t look like much, but had sidewalk tables and heaters which made it a good choice. When I noticed that one of the appetizers was trout mousse with red grapefruit and rye bread, I thought it might actually be interesting, and indeed it was. Nobody had that, but between the grilled salmon with teriyaki sauce (a bit too strong, Brett said), my beef carpaccio (excellent), and Carole’s salad of beef filet with sesame dressing and sugar snap peas, we were extremely happy. Service was also superb, and, as with Opoe’s, the selection of beers (mostly Belgian) was fine.

The next night, Brett and I were on our own again, and we picked the place next door to Opoe’s, Lokaal de Reünie. This was quite inexpensive, since we avoided the steaks. He had a salad topped with huge head-on, shell-on shrimp sauteed in garlic oil that was very tasty indeed and I had a kipsate, a Dutch adaptation of the classic peanut-sauced chicken-on-skewers that was nicely spicy, accompanied by yet more fries-and-mayo and a lovely sour “koolsla,” which was half carrots and half cabbage.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two Utrecht bars of note. The België Bar has about 100 Belgian beers in bottles and about 25 on tap, and is on the Oude Gracht. The crowd can be dodgy, and the place is packed enough at night that we never actually succeeded in drinking there, but I’d like to go back to investigate. And Le Tres Petite Café, also on the canal, was a nice place to watch crowds, incredibly atmospheric inside (and yes, it’s very, very small) due to both a pair of small DWA (Dogs With Attitude) and the fact that it’s been there since 1702. If the descent to the rest rooms was any more precipitous, it’d be a fireman’s pole, though.

Amsterdam is another matter, of course. It’s the Big City, and priced accordingly. I was determined that Brett and Carole, who’ve spent time on Bali (Brett plays in a gamelan orchestra back in Oregon), experience one of my favorite Indonesian restaurants in the city, Kantjil en de Tijger. (The other, Puri Mas, is up another fear-inducing staircase, and has a fairly different menu). Brett had some tofu thing, while Carole and I tucked into their biggest rijstaffel:

With a little help from Brett on the fish and veggie dishes (including a remarkable shrimp saté I didn’t remember from last time), it was pretty well demolished by the time we surrendered.

The next day saw us, of course, on line at the famous Vlaamse Frites place at Voeltboogstraat 31, between the Spui and the Leidsestraat, and I’m happy to report that their samurai sauce, a deceptive pink mayonnaise, is as fiery as ever. Dinner was at a famous traditional Dutch place that’s been there on Spuistraat since the 17th Century, where I had an excellent stoempot, mashed potatoes with lots of stuff mixed in, with beef stew and a sausage on the side. Carole had a hearty pea soup — another traditional Dutch dish. Did I catch the place’s name? I did not. But given that it has one entrance on Spuistraat, one in the alley, and one on the parallel street, you can probably find it fairly easily.

The Dutch have had a notable inferiority complex about their beers for some time, and it’s only in recent years that they’ve given the Belgians any competition. For news on this, I always head to De Bierkoning, at Paleisstraat 125 in the shadow of the palace, where they have a mere 950 beers for sale, including a wall of some of the new Dutch craft beers. As seems to always happen, we ran into a customer who was eager to help, and he mentioned a bar where these beers can be sampled, a newish place called Biercafe ‘t Arendsnest, which has a dozen on tap and 150 in bottles, all Dutch. This was up a series of stone steps, so we didn’t go in, but the card is in my file for my next visit.

Overall, the thing which surprised me about the food on this visit was the willingness to experiment with flavor (that trout-and-grapefruit thing at 3512 was worthy of Eric Gower) and not shy away from the dramatic effects which result. The Dutch, of course, were spice merchants for centuries, so it should come as no surprise that there’s more spice in their cooking. But as Mike, whose grandmother lives in the southern part of Holland, remarks, there’s also more of a tendency to identify with France in the traditional cooking of that part of the country (as there is in Belgium to the south), not just boiling a bunch of stuff up, but working a bit on sauces and seasonings. That the menu in a provincial city like Utrecht is as interesting as it is seems to be proof of this, and, no doubt, the more sensual approach one finds in Catholic Europe instead of the dour, self-denying approach of Protestant Europe (very noticable here in Berlin) plays a part as well. Yes, the Dutch gave the Catholics (ie, the Spanish) the boot long ago, but they cannily kept the good parts — the music and the food, for instance. Who’da thunk it?

I’m glad someone did this….

There was a sunnier day that I wrote about the automobile industry on this site. Why did I stop? No reason. Well, I don’t work in the automobile industry anymore. Yes, I did at one point….onstensibly. And yes, it would make a great book. I can run my mouth like a man that knows cars. I have no problem telling you, reader(s), that when I run my mouth like a man that knows cars, I am 98% full of shit. Nevertheless, if qualified, I would have enjoyed making this list (this is where the links work).

Courtesy of www.time.com, someone else gives you….

(the links do not work here)

The Worst Cars Ever Made