Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Tag: Carbondale (page 1 of 2)

Geef Voor New Wave

Geef Voor New WaveI’m at the gym the other day working out and I’ve got my iPod loaded with classic new wave tracks. When one of those tracks, “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” by X-Ray Spex comes on, I am immediately teleported back in time, back to December 1980 and January 1981 when I first heard this song on a new wave compilation album I bought at Plaza Records in Carbondale, Illinois.

As compilation albums come and go, it was a pretty decent one. Though for the life of me, I can’t figure out why Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were included with some of these bands and artists, unless Tom Petty’s Hearbreakers were confused with Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers. Big confusion, I know.

Whenever I hear any of these songs from this album (which is out of print and has never made the jump to CD) I always think back to that time. Indeed, when I think about those songs, I always think the time I went to the Space in Chicago to see David and the Happenings. I think of cold, gray days. For some reason, I have always associated my indoctrination with punk rock and new wave with those cold winter days. Warehouses converted into punk clubs, broken down buildings, steam rising up from sewers, winter blue-gray skies ringed with grayish white clouds. Pasty-faced men and women dressed in black; their eyes wild with anticipation. Safety pins, skinny ties, buttons on a lapel. I think about “Style Before Gel” in Damaged Goods–one night at the Space Place.

Sometimes all it takes is one song to take you on a journey.

Geef Voor New Wave Back

Who’s up for a journey back in time?

New Wave Night — TJ McFly’s, Carbondale, December 1980

The photo might be a little blurry, but the memories are not.

I remember this night as if it were yesterday.

Check out the skinny tie and the three buttons.

“I’m feelin’ Radioactive, think I’m gonna meltdown tonight” — Scott Wilk + The Walls

In the mail today!

A flashback to those glorious, goofin’, pogo jumping, slam dancing early the 1980s.

I saw this band at the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Student Center at the beginning of the 1980 fall semester, (shortly after I saw David and the Happenings perform at an outdoor party in Lewis Park) and the band would be one of a half-dozen New Wave acts I would see that semester along with The Pretenders, The English Beat, Ultravox, and Polyrock.

I bought the album at Plaza Records in Carbondale but it was never reissued as a CD until recently through Wounded Bird Records.

Although a bit dated, it has held up quite well over the years. Although Wilk comes across as sort of a cross between Elvis Costello and Warren Zevon, the music takes one back to those early days of New Wave when a farfisa beat and saxophone ruled.

 It’s going to get a lot of playing time on my iPod.

Classic Ultravox

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS4y9zLIl8w&feature=more_related]

A classic Ultravox song, “Passing Strangers” from their 1979 album Vienna.

I saw them in concert thirty years ago on Halloween night at SIU (Southern Illinois University).

Carbondale Alumni Reunion in Chicago at the Smart Bar

It was a little over a year ago when I first wrote an essay about an email I had gotten from David Siegfried, the former lead singer of David and the Happenings, a band that I seen a couple of times in Carbondale, Illinois as well as Chicago.

I thought it was cool that David had stumbled across my blog one day and had read the first essay I had written about his former band and then sent me an email. Other than my very good friend Paul Collin who I met the first year I attended SIU (Southern Illinois University) David was the only other person I corresponded with from SIU.

After I wrote that blog some other Carbondale alums that knew David stumbled across my blog and soon people who had not seen each other in years were re-connecting. That essay was bringing a lot of people together and the chance to share memories and to catch up.

Now there’s going to be a Carbondale Reunion of sorts at the Smart Bar in Chicago on March 6 for many of these same people who re-connected courtesy of my blog.

That’s awesome.

Makanda Java — Carbondale, Illinois

Jay, the owner of Makanda Java

I am not even sure if the building or the coffee shop that was inside is still there, but when I was briefly a student at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, Illinois one of the favorite places to hang out when I was attending in the autumn of 1983 was Makanda Java.

Although I had first started to attend SIU in the summer of 1980, it wasn’t until the summer of 1981 when I first stopped in Makanda Java with Alan Thacker and Dick Verucchi of The Jerks. I had seen the coffee shop before-passing it countless times when I walked up and down Illinois Avenue back in 1980-but I wasn’t into hanging out in coffee shops just yet. It wouldn’t be until that road trip to Carbondale in the summer of 1981 when The Jerks played at T.J. McFly’s when I got my first taste of a fine brewed cup of coffee at Makanda Java.

Until that magical summer of 1981, I hadn’t discovered or been turned onto the finer qualities of life-like enjoying a freshly brewed pot of coffee made from some rich, roasted coffee beans or sipping a demitasse of espresso while enjoying some freshly baked pastry or a bagel oozing with melted cream cheese. I liked coffee and had been drinking it for years but when it came to my java it was best served or so I thought, in a white ceramic mug at some truck stop like the Tiki in Peru or some diner. That would change when I got to know Alan and Dick and started going on the road with The Jerks. You might say that was one of the perks (pun intended) of being in The Jerks and getting to know Alan and Dick: they turned me onto more than just music like what a fine cup of coffee should taste like.

I would soon find that out in the summer of the 1981 when The Jerks made the first of three visits to Carbondale and gigs at T.J. McFly’s (once managed by Jim Belushi back in the 70s if the rumors are correct). One afternoon, Alan, Dick and I went shopping at Plaza Records, located in a small shopping center across the street, and later stopped in for some coffee at Makanda Java.

What I remember most about the coffee shop was its cozy and homey atmosphere. There was a counter in the front where the owner Jay sold all kinds of coffee and herbal tea as well as muffins and other pastries and a few tables, but as you walked toward the back, it looked more like someone’s house crossed with an antique shop. There was this old Wurlitzer jukebox that was filled with many 45s of bands who played at various bars in Carbondale like the Hangar Nine, The Club, PK’s and T.J. McFly’s, another counter where one could buy coffee beans and tea and in the back sofas and chairs for people to hang out and relax.

The coffee house had originally been located in the artist community of Makanda, not far from Carbondale and many of the regulars (that I would soon discover) had either attended SIU at one point or another in the past 20 years or were artists from Makanda. It was not unusual to bump into some hippie artist from the 60s or some avant-garde filmmaker or artist from the 70s in the coffee shop. And when many bands played in Carbondale they always made a point in stopping in at Makanda Java to drop off one of their 45’s for Jay’s Jukebox. It was also not uncommon for Jay to play some new 45 or album that a customer had just purchased at Plaza Records-like the Christmas XTC single I would buy in 1983 and listen to with Jay over a pot of house blend one afternoon.

When I went back to SIU in the autumn of 1983 I hung out at Makanda Java a lot. I remember many a cool autumn afternoon sitting outside at a table made from these huge wooden spools used for wire on a tree-stump enjoying a pot of the house blend and reading SIU’s school newspaper The Daily Egyptian. That fall there was even an article about Makanda Java in the paper and how Jay, who had moved down to Carbondale from Chicago, had found what could best be described as coffee house nirvana with his shop. I still might have that article in storage back home.

Most of the people I went to school with and hung out with at the bars and clubs also hung out there. A couple of times I would start drinking coffee and once that caffeine buzz got going, I would forget about going back to class. I was studying filmmaking back then and one night, some of the film students borrowed a copy of the French movie The Red Balloon and showed it inside.

I had some friends who lived next door-Becky, this girl I knew from the first time I went to SIU in 1980-and her roommate and we hung out a lot. I wonder whatever happened to them and the others I knew from 1983? There was this one guy, Savich, who had his name legally changed to that after watching one of the Star Trek movies who I also met back in 1983 and hung out with at Makanda and other places.

When I left Carbondale at the end of that semester he was supposedly going to Vandalia to teach cons at the State Penitentiary located outside of town how to paint. I would end up patterning the main character in my short story “Going after Sexton” after him.

I can still remember one cool, autumn afternoon sitting outside with a pot of the house blend watching everyone walk by. When someone passed that I knew, they would pull up a tree stump and join me for a while before heading off to wherever they had been going. To wax philosophical a bit, I suppose that afternoon and many others were a microcosm for my life at the time, when I wasn’t too sure about where I was headed, but sometimes you just want to sit on the sidelines or in the audience instead of being down there on the field or on the stage.

Since 1983, I have been in countless coffee shops around the world but all pale in comparison to the good times I had at Makanda Java. It was a great place to hang out when I was in school but at the same time it was also a place where I got to discover some things about myself through the people I met and what we talked about as well as be turned onto various kinds of music and literature that would come to define me as I got older. I suppose we all have our own Makanda Java in our lives, some special place that has shaped and defined us.

Where were you when John Lennon was shot?

john_lennon

On December 8, many people around the world will take time out again to remember the anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

 

“Where were you when John Lennon was shot” became just as poignant a question as the one posed by another generation when people asked, “Where were you when JFK was assassinated?” 17 years earlier.

 

For myself, I was a student at Southern Illinois University when I heard the news that fateful night in December 1980. I had been studying for finals in my dorm room in Freeman Hall, an off-campus dormitory, and didn’t think much of the block of Beatles’ songs being played by the local college radio station I had tuned in.

 

 

Only when I walked upstairs to the TV room to check the score on the Monday Night Football game when I learned of the news. Howard Cosell broke away from his usual play-by-play of the game to announce to the millions of viewers that Lennon had been shot.

I ran back downstairs and burst into my friend Paul Collin’s room to tell him the news.

“Now I know the world is coming to an end,” Paul said as he sunk down in the beanbag chair he had been sitting on, “someone shot a Beatle.”.

We tuned in the college radio station and listened to one Beatle song after another, too stunned to say anything.

And it did seem like the world had, at least for the moment, stopped. For the next few days, it seemed that the whole world was in mourning. It didn’t make any difference where you were, there was bound to be someone who had either grown up with the Beatles or who had been touched by Lennon’s music.

Even if you hadn’t been into his music or a fan of the Beatles, the fact that an entertainer, a musician—a person who tried to advocate peace through his music had been gunned down was tragic enough to make one stop and take stock of their own life.

What was it that brought so many different people together, then—when they gathered at Lennon’s Dakota apartment or other places to leave messages, flowers, album covers, candles and the like in memorial—and now, when people again gather around the world to remember? What was it about Lennon’s life and his subsequent death that affected so many people around the world? Why did his death in 1980 fill so many people with such an incomprehensible sense of loss?

Without question, Lennon’s death was the loss of an icon for a generation.

We always feel robbed and cheated when one of our icons, one of our generation’s spokespersons is taken away from us. Although one can argue that it’s unbefitting that he has been elevated to some cultural sainthood status, his contributions to modern pop culture, not to mention history as a Beatle and as a solo artist cannot be ignored.

Above all, Lennon’s life and the music he created represented not only this whole idea of rock and roll rebellion, but also to a much larger extent, the social and cultural consciousness that touched a sensitive chord in us all. Whether it was one of his and Yoko’s “Bed Peace” events or one of their “War is Over” posters, Lennon was dedicated to raising our social consciousness. His music became a medium to address these issues and perhaps explain our own social consciousness through his songs. Just listen to “Imagine.”

His death touched us all, and perhaps reminded us of our own mortality.

On the other hand, would we still be gathering and remembering Lennon, though, if he hadn’t been gunned down, if he had, say, died of a drug overdose or committed suicide, or even died of natural causes? Would such a death have had that much more significance? Would he have been just another rock and roll casualty?

The fact that Lennon was murdered in the prime of his life made his life and death that more significant. Likewise, he had just re-emerged from this self-imposed exile with a new album at age 40—proof that even forty-year-olds could still rock and roll. When that album came out in the fall of 1980, I think he was probably the most sober he had ever been in his life and that can be seen through some of the hopefulness and love (no matter how hurt he was he always managed to tell us all about the importance of loving oneself and others)

One more reason, which made a generation feel robbed, when he was gunned down outside his Dakota apartment that fateful night in December.. Whether you agreed with his politics, his self-righteous cant, understood his avant-garde leanings or not, Lennon influenced our collective cultural consciousness and raised our social awareness.

Lennon was different. He broke the rules and we forgave him. Lennon wasn’t always a smooth cookie, like many humans, but part of it was the role we put him in. He wasn’t comfortable with it. His friendship with Harry Nillson towards the end was a classic tale

 Of course, there was always the music, too. Twenty-eight years after his death, his legacy, not to mention his music still resonates.

He wasn’t a Mother Theresa, a Princess Diana, or a Martin Luther King. He wasn’t a doctor who devoted a lifetime finding a cure for cancer or AIDS. He was just a musician, an artist who gave us all something just as important: the hope and the dream of a better world.

What do we really remember in the end? Is it just the passing of one our icons? Or, is it something more? I think the answer lies in our need for some connection with are own permanence, are own mortality.

Remembering Lennon is our own memorial for our permanence and humankind, and our hope for a better world.

Hey Earring!

Boy George’s hat almost got my ass kicked in Davenport, Iowa.

 

It was the winter of ’84 and I was back on the road again helping out 87 Men, formerly known as The Jerks. The band was still doing a lot of these one and two-night gigs in small clubs in Illinois and Iowa and one of them was at this club The Mad Hatter in Davenport, Iowa—a very popular haunt for university students from Augustana College across the Mississippi River in Rock Island, Illinois.

 

The hat that got me in trouble was not even mine but Ian Saroka’s who had replaced Dave “Bodine” Morgan in the band six months earlier. When Alan Thacker had bought a synthesizer in the summer of ’83 and the band started playing more “techno-electro pop” music and covers by bands like Depeche Mode, Heaven 17, Ultravox and Yaz, Bodine wasn’t too keen on this musical direction and quit. Ian Saroka joined the band not long after Bodine’s departure.

 

Ian was almost half the age of Dick or Alan and I suppose having a younger guy in the band was good for the band’s image—especially when playing some of these college town gigs. Hailing from the home of those classic rockers Cheap Trick—Rockford, Illinois, Ian was hip to a lot of the latest fashions and styles.

 

He had this really cool black hat that looked a lot like the one that Boy George had worn on Culture Club’s first album as well as in the band’s video “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” So, when I went on the road for the first time with 87 Men, I asked him if I could borrow it. I thought it would be the perfect complement to the black and gray cashmere overcoat I had bought for five bucks at this thrift store in Carbondale the previous fall as well as this cool drop earring that Liz a friend of mine at SIU had made in her jewelry class. The earring resembled two tiny metal coke spoons that hung down from an “infinity symbol” loop. It was an awesome earring that Liz had given me the last night I saw her at the Hangar 9 club in Carbondale.

 

“Sure, no problem,” Ian said as he tossed me the hat before we left the Illinois Valley on our way to Davenport that cold winter day. “Maybe it’ll even get you laid.”

 

Getting laid would end up being the least of my worries.

 

We arrived early in the afternoon (it’s only a ninety-minute drive from LaSalle-Peru) giving us enough time to setup and grab a bite to eat before the band played in the evening. The band still had the same equipment truck they had used when they were Buckacre and The Jerks that we parked out in front to unload the sound system and other equipment.

 

There were a few regulars seated at the bar having a couple of beers and chatting with the bartender, including two rough-looking ones—one wearing a John Deere cap the other a Cat cap.

 

They seemed to be engrossed in what the bartender was talking about and didn’t pay any attention to us bringing in the equipment until the third trip when they finally got around to noticing me.

 

“Hey look at that,” one of the men mumbled. “It’s f**kin’ Boy George.”

 

Laughter and a few snorts and cackles from around the bar.

 

“Hey Earring!” one of them snickered.

 

More laughter.

 

Great, I’m about to get my ass kicked by “two good ole boys” over a hat that wasn’t even mine.

 

Dick, who was setting up his drum kit, looked up me grinning.

 

“Don’t even think about it,” I said. “Don’t even….”

 

“Hey Earring,” Dick said laughing.

 

Great. I wasn’t going to hear the end of this.

 

Well, I didn’t get my ass kicked like I thought I would, but from that day on, I never heard the end of it especially from Dick and other members of the band. That’s what I got to hear from Dick for the next year—whether we were setting up equipment or when Dick talked to the audience between songs.

 

“Hey Earring! You gonna dance tonight? Hey Earring, do you want a drink? Hey Earring…”

 

Of course by then everyone knew that he was referring to me. What the heck, it was good for a lot of laughs and didn’t hurt my popularity any.

Meet The Jerks – Rock & Roll from America’s Heartland

How I ended up working for a band that had briefly tasted fame (as another band) in the 1970s cannot be told without first looking back at an exciting time in a local music scene. At its most basic and rawest grassroots level, it is what rock and roll has been and will always be about: the musicians and bands playing the bars and club circuit.

The Jerks was comprised of three former members of the legendary Illinois Valley band Buckacre that in the 70s had recorded two albums under the guidance of Glyn Johns and had opened for such performers and bands like Jimmy Buffet and The Outlaws. When Buckacre broke up in the late 70s, two of the band’s founding members guitarist Al Thacker and drummer Dick Verucchi formed a new, hipper band (along with bassist Dave Morgan and guitarist Al Schupp) in tune with the resurgence of live music in local bars.

For a brief period in the 80s, The Jerks, which played mostly New Wave, covers and classic 60s, rock were one of the Illinois Valley’s (an area located along The Illinois River, approximately 90 miles southwest of Chicago in the north-central part of the state) most popular bands drawing enormous crowds wherever they played.

Originally called “Hamburger and the Works” when some people thought the “new wave” music covers they played made them sound like jerks, the name stuck. (Maybe these people who called them “jerks” were some bummed out Buckacre fans.)

The first time I saw the band play at Friday’s Saloon in Peru, Illinois was one cold, wet autumn night in late October 1980.

I was home for the weekend from Southern Illinois University (SIU at Carbondale) and had heard about this band that was quite popular in the Illinois Valley. To be sure, a few days before I came home there was a feature article about The Jerks and other bands in the News Trib, the area’s local newspaper, which among other things described this “resurgence in rock and roll.” Moreover, the reporter of this article pointed out that many local bands were playing the local bar circuit again after disco started to die out in the late 70s. The Jerks, along with other bands like Longshot (whose lineup also included other former members of Buckacre, Dick Hally, Darrel Data, and Les Lockridge) were generating a lot of excitement in the local bar scene in the Illinois Valley.

A few months earlier, The Jerks had been the opening act for The Ozark Mountain Daredevils at Illinois Valley Community College that also had a lot to do with the resurgence of rock and roll in the Illinois Valley. Many people remembered the “Buckacre” days and supported both The Jerks and Longshot.

That weekend I went down to Water Street (appropriately named Water Street because when the Illinois River crested whenever there was a lot of rain or flooding, the street was usually under a foot or two of water) in Peru where one of these bars, Friday’s Saloon was located. It was located in a cluster of buildings at the far end of the street, (past a few factories and other industrial complexes) which also included the Delta Queen and The Red Door Inn, a popular Illinois Valley eatery (now since closed). Rumored to have been a “speakeasy” during Prohibition, Friday’s had become a popular hangout for younger crowds (many who could get in without having their ID’s checked) and was the “official home” of The Jerks.

I guess that’s what made the place special, located on Water Street along the Illinois River, past all these factories. If you were to stand in the street (which at one time had been a brick street) and look east you could see these factories rising up underneath the Peru Bridge (U.S. Route 51, a major North-South artery—before U.S. 39 was completed—ran across the bridge). At night, and especially when it was raining there was an almost surreal aura to the place. This was a working-class neighborhood and I suppose it was only fitting that the three bars located on Water Street—Friday’s, the Delta Queen, and Murphy’s Bar (which had been a grocery store years before) rocked on the weekends.

Whenever The Jerks or Longshot played Friday’s it was an exciting time to be down on Water Street. During the heyday of this “resurgence of live music” in the Illinois Valley, people would be lined up outside waiting to get in. Inside, it was just wall-to-wall people. You had to fight your way through the crowd gathered around the bar to an adjoining room where the bands played. When it got too crowded inside, many people walked across the street to the Whistle Stop, a passenger train car that had been converted into a bar and waited until the crowds thinned out.

I went down to Friday’s early on that Friday night—a little too early because The Jerks had not even taken to the stage yet. The bar was not too crowded; there were only a few people sitting at some tables near the stage. One person in particular stood out. He was standing near the entrance to this second room. I didn’t know it at the time, but the man was Bruce Kowalski, a.k.a. Bob Noxious. He had his own radio program Alternative Opposites at a local radio station and was known for doing a wicked rendition of “Gloria” with The Jerks. Later, when we got to know each other, we would end up hanging out a lot.

I left early that night before The Jerks even played. However, I was back down at Friday’s the next night, and this time I got there later when the band was playing. For the rest of my life, I will always look back on that night as when I re-discovered rock and roll. I guess it is true what they (whoever they may be) say when the cosmic tumblers click and everything falls into place or maybe it was even an epiphany of sorts because after that night, my life was never the same.

Actually, I had already been really getting into the college music scene at SIU since I started attending classes there in the summer of 1980. SIU was always considered by many to be one of the nation’s top, albeit “unofficial” party schools and when it came to some of the musical acts, which played there, SIU, was bar none. There were always some big-name bands playing either at the university or in some of the bars. That autumn alone, The Pretenders, Elton John, Jeff Beck, The English Beat, and Off Broadway had played on campus; concerts by Kansas, Ultravox, and Polyrock (playing at the legendary bar T.J. McFly’s) would follow in the weeks to come.

I had met some friends for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in La Salle before heading down to Friday’s. With a couple of Mai Tai’s under my belt and a few bottles of beer I was primed for the night and ready for about anything. By the time we got there, the place was packed and jumping. While my friends tried to get served at the bar, I just followed the music, weaving my way through the crowd.

The interior of Friday’s Saloon was long and narrow with a bar that ran the length of the room. Actually, Friday’s was two rooms—part of the wall had been knocked out to make an opening into this adjoining room that was on the right. After pushing and fighting my way through the crowd, I entered this second room that was just as crowded as the first one. The air was heavy with smoke and perfume. A large group of people was standing in the back while others were sitting at tables on either side of the room. The dance floor was packed.

On a small stage at the front of the room The Jerks were playing a cover of a new wave hit by the English band The Vapors. The band was good, but it was the energy of the crowd, which really struck me as I stood there in the back and listened to the music and felt all this energy and excitement.

With a pounding, staccato backbeat and driving guitars, The Jerks were playing high octane rock and roll that had—judging from the way the speakers were swaying back and forth from the vibration of all the dancers on the crowded dancefloor—energized the crowd.

It was then that I noticed one of my old friends from high school, Chris Vasquez who I hadn’t seen in over four years, dancing near the front of the stage. While we were probably not the best of friends when we were in high school (we had only hung out just a few times) we were in a few classes together. Later I would discover that we had once hung out when we were in elementary school.

Suffice to say that night I ran into Chris at Friday’s was the beginning of a very strong friendship that has lasted to this day. We have had our differences now and then, but I can honestly say that Chris has always been able to count on me over the years, even when some of his other “best” friends have turned their backs on him. Who knows, if I had not gone down to Friday’s that night and bumped into Chris we might not have ever become as close as we have.

Chris had already been a regular at Friday’s and following The Jerks whenever and wherever they played in the Illinois Valley. He was just itching to have his own band—and he would in less than a year.

That night, and a few weeks later when I came back home for Thanksgiving hung out at Friday’s again, I could see why The Jerks had become so popular. They were the epitome of any bar band “playing out” weekend after weekend. In the case of Verucchi and Thacker though, they had already tasted success when they were with Buckacre and I often wondered if this popularity was bittersweet for them to return home and play many of the small bars they had played in before? On the other hand, maybe there was still some of that Buckacre magic left and that is why they remained so popular.

Between songs the band would joke and talk with the audience—usually Dick or Alan. Dick was a riot when it came to joking with the audience. He was very personable and well liked, which was also true for Alan. Dave and the other Al were more on the quiet side, perhaps still in awe with the reputation and musical precision Dick and Alan brought to the band.

When I came back home again for Christmas, I was out every night The Jerks were playing. I’ll never forget the day before Christmas Eve when the band was playing at Murphy’s. A snowstorm had hit the area and the streets were practically deserted. There was hardly anyone out that night, but with The Jerks playing, Murphy’s was hopping.

As much as I liked Friday’s when The Jerks played there, Murphy’s was actually a better venue for bands. It was just one big room with a real stage in the back. There was plenty of room to dance and the bands that played there sounded better. The problem with bars like Friday’s and Murphy’s though was the owners really didn’t know how to run a bar and take care of the bands that played there. Sure, the bars made a killing at the door when bands like The Jerks and Longshot played there.

I always found it interesting and perhaps a little ironic that on more than one occasion when both bands were playing on Water Street at Friday’s Saloon and Murphy’s Tap on the same night, some of the guys would walk to the other bar, when their band was on break, and listen to the other band play.

When I think about it now, that one night back in October 1980 would change everything; at least how that night took me down another path that I would end up following for the next couple of years. As ironic and surreal as it may sound, meeting The Jerks changed my life. Had I not gone home that weekend who knows what might have or might not have happened?

Paul Banging on the Wall & Other Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine — Part 2, “Return of the Fly”

Return of the Fly Poster

I got an email from my very good friend Paul Collin the other day. It’s been awhile since we last exchanged email and it was really good to hear from him. Although he was a bit pressed for time to write a longer email, (he promised he would write again soon) he did mention his band Rizing Tide’s MySpace profile (check it out). 

And then out of the blue, I thought about the movie Return of the Fly. 

So, what’s the connection? 

Now, if my memory serves me right (and I hope Paul will back me up on this) after I left SIU (after I briefly dropped out) in early 1981 I returned later that summer when I was working with The Jerks. Paul and his Freeman Hall roommate Mark had moved out and gotten an apartment not too far away. When Paul and Mark knew that I was in town, we hung out one afternoon and watched The Fly.

Now, here comes the part I am going to need some help with from Paul. The next time I came back was later that summer—with The Jerks—(for a few nights before heading down to Atlanta) and I stopped by to see Paul and Mark again, and this time the movie that was on was Return of the Fly.

Was it all just some weird coincidence, or what? 

Paul, a little help on this one. 

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