uncle ray's

"Bass players were a secret guild, each abiding with the ungainly, disrespected instrument for the thankless benefit of music itself. Lucinda had read somewhere of the argument as to who derived the most pleasure from the sexual act, the male or the female. She felt certain the musical reply would be: the bass player."

-Jonathan Lethem

   hyphenated-man...& nary an ampersand nor ellipse man in the bunch.

"...but in this everchanging world in which we live in..."

"..the lesson ain't ever less than the lesson never lessons..."

"...I'm tellin' you, us Minutemen were insular. A lot of our things kept way inside us and never really got out. So to really know about us I think you have to ask about us, these things. Because it doesn't seem like anything got out that was understood by people easily. From our name to our records to our songs. It all got twisted up. That's okay. That's why we do things like this."


   The bass-playin' author of one of the above-quoted lines copped the Super Bowl halftime gig a few years back . There is a moral or an insight or perhaps a cautionary tale or something there, and as soon as somebody has a theory, I wish they would blurt it out. Maybe it has something to do with music-- a standup comic once pointed out that you can say absolutely filthy things in song lyrics and get away with it, but if a comic speaks the same words he or she runs the risk of being lynched by googoos protecting the public decency. So it better rock and be catchy, is that the moral? And if you could do that, would world domination be far away? And what kind of asshole would want that?

   Not only did one of the afore-mentioned lines get offered up in the Super Bowl halftime spooge-athon, it was in a goddamn James Bond movie-- it got to be what is now known as THE SONG in those movies, which more and more resemble video games instead of cinema.

Dear Mr. watt,

Listened with interest to your submission, blowing-it-out-both-ends-man, for consideration as THE SONG in the upcoming Bond movie-- even after your clarification and explanation-- even going so far as to locate an age-challenged employee (one still works the guardhouse) to explain the Buddy Rich lore (if anything it kind of made things more off-putting), we've decided that a song at least partly about a man in a painting with a flute shoved up his ass and a deceased drummer with serious anger-management issues is not exactly what we're looking for to kick off the next James Bond extravaganza. The beard thing, one of the fact-checkers came up with that House of David baseball team reference in the middle of Mr. Rich's tantrum, and FYI we've had a script about them kicking around for years, but frankly even if it ever gets made, I can't see them using it. Hey, so thanks but no thanks-- you seem like an interesting guy.


Hefty Spinelli
Pac-Ram Movies
A Division of Pacific Ram-Air HVAC

   So you know, watt asks me to write something about hyphenated-man, and I figure his reasoning is the Town Crazy slant-- TC walks into bar in middle of high-stakes game of pool, grabs eight-ball, throws it across the room and doesn't get much of a reaction from anybody one way or the other because he's the TC.

   So anyway, the music-- that guy who writ much of the fIREHOSE and Minutemen stuff wrote hyphenated-man & you could guess it in a blindfold test (& maybe get aroused even w/out the blindfold). Not derivitive, not timewarp, not what watt'd call a "nostalgia-fest", just a collection of tunes and words from the same brain at this current stage in his life-- which I guess is what is identified as "middle-age" in western culture. Wherein you are almost expected to buy a red sports car, go bald, fall off the wagon, join a bowling league, take your book discussion group hostage, trade in your wife for a popsicle stick that squeaks, and so on. Fear apparently being the motivator-- fear of the death knell, fear you missed something, fear somebody else got it?

"Time treats everybody like a fool."

-Warren Zevon

"In order to be utterly happy the only thing necessary is to refrain from comparing this moment with other moments in the past, which I often did not fully enjoy because I was comparing them with other moments of the future."

-Andre Gide

"Only our concept of Time makes it possible for us to speak of the Day of Judgment by that name; in reality it is a summary court in perpetual session."

-Franz Kafka

TOM SEAVER: "Hey, Yogi, what time is it?" YOGI BERRA: "You mean now?"

   ---or maybe in watt's case "the fear" is just a fear of not pushing himself hard enough, then the fear of one day thinking he may not know it all but when he pushes against the wall, by god, the fucker starts to give way under his mighty assertion-- that may not be death, but you can see it from there...

   So the JAMS are a blast-- and righteously executed-- with Tom Watson on guitar and Raul Morales on drums and watt workin' the bass on 30 tunes in about 47 & a half minutes-- oughta be a scorcher in the clubs-- and watt's spiel-- a little bit of Hieronymus Bosch's harrowing hallucinatory imagery, Buddy Rich's tortured vaquero-saddled-with-horse's-asses-in-Paw Paw miseries, and even the iconic goings-on of The Man Behind The Curtain and his drop-ins. I always wanted to see him go agoraphobic and greedy on them: "Hey! You visited ME. Courage, a heart, a god damn BRAIN fer chrissakes-- where did those get the sons of bitches who use 'em to lay waste to everything every day? Huh? Leave the girl and bring me back some poppies-- we'll be behind the curtain."

watt (on Minutemen songs): "They weren't supposed to stand on their own, they were supposed to be part of this big river."

   watt on hyphenated-man:

"I was into this painter, Hieronymus Bosch-- and it seemed like he made one big work out of a bunch of little ones. And so I thought this was kind of a parallel to the Minutemen, makin' one gig out of all these little tunes. So that was the basic thing. (I made it) to see it realized, the knowin' is in the doin' because yeah there's things-- I don't know if it's a complete statement but it is kind of a diary entry to where I am now with my music as far as playin' the bass and maybe with the spiels and my interaction with the other guys-- my idea of a good ensemble is making an interesting conversation between the instruments, so that's-- y'know, I'm tryin' to do that. It's like if you took a mirror and broke it into thirty pieces and put it in my head. It was supposed to be my state of mind right now. Bosch was part of it, the little creatures-- I was trippin' on Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz; one way you could take it is kind of a coming of age thing for her...I never use the word I until the last song. I use it once in quotes in frying-pan-man but it wasn't supposed to be totally about me but I wanted to take responsibility and that's why I used my name; you'll know who to blame for the fuckin' disaster!" (laughs).

   And it'll keep him away from the Super Bowl. And it isn't a bad way to write. Do you have a band? You need spiel-- god knows there's enough lyrics out there that blow-- where watt has lucked out is his vision springs up through his travels and life experiences and gets sifted through his spiritual spud-cannon, if you will-- if you ever think his songs are assembled through whim and caprice, ask him. And bring a sandwich.

   Here's an exercise for you-- take these people and assemble a narrative:

   Alfonso Bedoya, Lord Buckley, Larry Fine

   Jesus Christ, what an auspicious pick-- I have these names on cut up pieces of paper in a Standing Man Society hat on the floor & that's what I drew. Go Go Go!

   The point being, you gotta go out and conjure. watt asked me to do this so I immediately walked to the nearest breakwall and said He's kidding, right? They use trained mink they set loose around the breakwalls to control "the vermin population." Fishermen leave enough bait, detritus, slop, etc. behind to jump-start the Black Plague, so the mink are actually trained state employees THAT EAT RATS. Something about the idea of a mink on the state payroll eating a rat alive down in the guts of a stone-block breakwall on the Lake Erie shore...

   Jackson Pollock, Payne Stewart, Franz Kafka

   ...is truly inspirational. I mean, the whole state has been out of work for the last two years, but tell that to the rat.

   Dan Blocker, Bobby Fischer, Guy Fawkes

   I lived within walking distance of the Pacific for fifteen years?

   Earthquake McGoon, Florence "Pancho" Barnes, The Sheik

   & I can't guess what they'd train to eat rats there-- councilmen? Wait, mink are descibed as fearless. And I think they have bigger brains...

   Cha Cha Muldowney, Wednesday Addams, Joe Don Looney

   Thing is, I haven't seen one all summer?

   Willie Shoemaker, Spike Jones, Billy Barty

   There is a very good chance the mink were "let go." In a definitive way. They are going to be a BITCH to retrain. I hope they ate something on the shores of Lake Erie that will allow them to grow bigger than people. They will show the Employment Development Department people what's what. I hope the EDD people dress up like vermin for Halloween.

   Texas Guinan, Johnny von Neumann, Big Daddy Roth

"A rat became the unit of currency."

-Zbigniew Herbert

   Urban Shocker, Flannery O'Connor, Banksy

   OK, enough. watt has a new album & they're gonna tour it & they're gonna post those diaries-- goofy valentines from the spud cannons of their hearts.

   Man, the people in the hat came out with such a ouija board resonance-- I mean, the two wrasslers together, and the two short guys together with the one short guy's employer-- better not let 'em languish-- here's the rest:

   Guppy Troup, Philippe Petit, Eddie Gaedel, Gus Grissom, Beth Bussey, Timothy Carey, Boo Radley, George Chuvalo, Nelson Algren, Yvette Vickers, Flann O'Brien, Charles Portis, Ernie "Ghoulardi" Anderson, Rainer Maria Rilke, Salvidor Dali, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mordecai Richler, Alan Turing, Jim Clark, Meat Bomb, Red Jacket, Chris Burden, James Leo Herlihy, Godzilla, Felix Pappalardi, Diego Rivera, Harold Vick, Don Garlits, Clarence Reid.

- Uncle Ray                                 

this page created 21 sep 10