Thursday, May 9, 2013

Flag photos, Black Flag stories, and Egypt

Ana and I talk about the things we'll miss when we leave Egypt next month. It has been a roller coaster ride the past four years to say the least. One aspect of life we're happy to say good riddance to are the funerals; they are an assault on the ear drums, guaranteed to rain on your parade. There was one outside our school last night and when I got home Ana was ready to wage war. If the funerals don't wear you thin, the random firework blast will have your nerves in a twist. Come and live with us where every night is the 4th of July (or a soundtrack to a civil war if you like).

I wanted to share more FLAG photos that weren't posted last time (call them demos or outtakes) in addition to other sights from the trip and a little bit of Egypt. Here it goes.

Firework blast outside our apartment, sometimes it can be predictable with a wedding or a soccer game. In the States you have to have permits to shoot these off, here you just need the money to buy them. We have a friend here who while visiting Cambodia paid $100 to shoot an RPG rocket, he had a choice of shooting a cow or the mountain. Does the Second Amendment cover RPGs? 
Falafel at Mohamed Ahmed (the best foul and falafel in Alex some say). Next time you buy a $5 falafel sandwich remember they cost 15 cents in Egypt.
Nothing accents a bedroom suite like FLAG setlist next the hand-painted Baroni sign.  
You can always count on Alex for finding an old car lurking around the corner. 

Went to the beach last weekend, this was the lamp in our villa. 
Silence of the Lambs anyone? 
Springtime fashion in Alex. 
Nachos in Brussels served at a Muslim Mexican restaurant with an oriental twist. 
Flag in Munich.

In eighth grade my parents flew out to Los Angeles to visit my dying aunt Flora (I didn't know it at the time). They asked if I wanted anything while they were out there. I told them I wanted the Damaged lp and a Black Flag T-shirt. They said they would try their best. One of my cousins ended up getting me the lp. They or my mom carefully removed the ANTI PARENT STICKER that was on the lp; otherwise, my dad would have never let me have it!.
Mom and Dad went to the mall and had an iron-on letter Black Flag shirt made for me. Yellow letters on a green shirt. You can imagine the look I had on my face, I was bummed. It even had the bars from trimmed letters, the wrong way. Sadly, I never did wear that shirt. In retrospect it was totally one-of-a-kind and a honest attempt to make a teenager happy. 30 plus year later and I still feel like an ass for being ungrateful. 

Two important things the bus drive must have: tour schedule and cheese puffs. 
The show in Berlin was next to Tempelhof Airport (the former Nazi and city airport). 
Goats in Viktoria park, Berlin
A little Berlin Wall.
Squat in Berlin (detail). 
Berlin squat.
New regulation bans on all Egyptair flight. You must now find alternative methods to ship your land mines, gunpowder, TNT, and hand grenades.
I was checking out the "official" Black Flag website the other day to see if Greg has assembled the unit. It was sad to read the petty comments he's made about FLAG. One thing I can say about this mess is the guys in FLAG have been taking the high road. I haven't read nor did I see any Greg Ginn bashing on their side. Great that Greg and Ron have their own thing going but this nonsense seems to be all of Greg's making.    
Fallen punker. 
At one of the Black Flag shows in Denver, I remember Rollins going off on stage divers, told a story about a boot going into someone's eye. Maybe it was the same show that one of the Denver Skins give him their business card (Denver Skins: the few the proud, the Nazis). Rollins jumped off stage and asked for the biggest one. The rest of the band, roadies just gathered at the edge of the stage. The audience chanted for the skins to leave. No punches thrown. The set continued.  
One of my favorite parts of when Black Flag rolled through town was Nig Heist. I thought they were like a loser Van Halen cock-rock band with a little Surf Punks thrown in. The morning after their legendary performance at the Rainbow Music Hall where Mugger came onstage throwing his sperm on the audience and showed his 2 inches of manhood (that was only the beginning) my dad showed me the newspaper article where two of the band members got arrested and asked "what was this SHIT you went to go see last night?" What could I say, I only went to go see Black Flag. I still have the newspaper cuts out in the garage at home. Maybe I should tell my dad that Mugger went into finance and became a millionaire (true story).      

Yours truly in 1982 with my brother Tom's wild and nasty sounding blue guitar I found in the basement. I miss the cut-up army jacket that had the name of every punk band I could think of written on it. 
My letter form Henry explaining the current BF line-up. 
My first mail form SST
True, I was bummed when I didn't get a poster, sticker, or commercials with my copy of Everything Went Black. I appreciate the detailed explanation and especially Henry's hand hurting.   
Waiting for Bill's cue. 
Bavarian purity laws. Water, barley, yeast, and Hops. 
Testing the purity laws. 
Breakfast of champions. 
Set master Keith making the list.

Could the guys in the background be discussing which Pennywise member they want to take down. 
Random band. 
Eat More Cake.
With urgency.
Classic sing-along.
Stephen destroying it. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Flag in Munich, Berlin, and Groezrock. 2013 Get In The Bus.

How I became a stowaway on a Flag tour. It all started out pretty innocently, when the announcent was made that Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson, and Stephen Egerton were getting together and play a set of Black Flag songs under the name FLAG at the Groezrock festival in Belgium, I did a backflip off the coffee table, I was going, come hell or high water. The initial plan was to fly out for the weekend show. I called my friend Chris Shary (All/Descendents artist) to ask Bill or Stephen to put me on the list. I have known Stephen aka Steve-o and Karl Alvarez from when their former band Massacre Guys would frequently play Denver back in the mid-80's. I eventually became a "punk rock" promoter in 1987 and booked one of my favorite bands All (Bill, Stephan, Karl's band) during the late 80's and early 90's. That was really the start of our friendship.  

The week prior to flying to Belgium I noticed the band's back-to-back dates for Munich and Berlin. "Shit, I'd like to see those shows as well." In my quest for All, I sent Bill an e-mail and he replied that I'd be on the list for the three shows. I was flying in from Cairo to Brussels and catching a train to Munich. I know this might put me into Flaghead status, but what's a seven hour train ride to see old friends and hear your favorite songs. It is much more than that, seeing Black Flag in 1982 at the age of 13, they made a huge impression on me. They were the band that responded to my letters, sent me stickers, approachable, and just all around good people. More importantly they embraced and lived the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) work ethic, If you read Black Flag's chapter in Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life, it'll blow you away and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about. In life you create your own dreams and choose a path to follow. I may have not made all the right choices but at the end of the day I know that I gave it my best shot. 

After a quick band vote on to whether let me come along with them on the bus or not, Dez looked over at me and said, "he's wearing a Meat Puppets shirt" and that was that. 

Stephen enjoying his bonus cup(s) of coffee before going on. "Thou Shall Not Partake In Decaf"
Tour bus, I got the bottom bunk. 
A trip to Berlin isn't complete without currywurst.
Backstage Berlin.
Figuring out the set list. 
During downtime I'd walk around. In Berlin, I rented a bike and rode for a couple of hours. Above is a little mural action on a squat. 
Playing the down notes. 
Chuck told me something to the effect that he wears bright colored clothes so no one mistakes him as George Bush supporter. A question that Chuck posed in one of our conversations about wars was "where do the poor people who do the fighting get money to buy bullets from?" He pointed out that poor quality bullets cost about thirty-five to fifty cents each. Think of all the people that could be fed. We agreed that most people in the world just want to live their lives and enjoy their family and friends. You're right Chuck, most world leaders are sociopaths.  
At Groezrock in Meerhout, Belgium the promoters fenced off the houses in the village to keep the punkers off the lawn. It looked pretty surreal. For some residents it was punk rock parade. Party with me punker!
Setlist Belgium. 
Flag's manager/Off's guitarist Dimitri Coats. Strangely enough he posted what I caught him taping at this moment. In his video you can see me taking this photo.  
Bill and I whispering sweet nothings.
Keith tells a good story. The man sitting next to him is tour manager Toad. He made sure shit got done at the shows.  
Love the colors in Munich.
Where's Andrew? Andrew the soundman is missing from the photo. 
Oye ese, no mas fotos. Smile now, cry later holmes. 
The coolest part of riding on the bus was the live Creedence Clearwater Revival videos we'd watch into the wee hours. Dez was a lot of fun to chat with, I often carried his guitars, picked up cigarettes so he could get his gator voice on. Hey Dez, I'll be your roadie for the Misfits! 
Serious Flag.
The words. 
Monster Bash
Gator voice.
Security and barriers. Word to the wise, don't try to punch a bouncer.  
Pennywise, a crowd favorite and super nice guys!
Monster Bash audience.
Fletcher looking up blood thinning med's on his phone. He and Bill were having a discussion about blood clots and bleeding out. The realities of aging punkers. 
JIm offered me a slice of pizza and I replied "yes, please!" Chris and I met Pennywise when we hung out with the The Descendents during the Warp tour in 97, they were famous for their BBQs. The three best things about being a teacher-June, July and August.  
Dez red.
Take away the barriers and the crowd goes wild. My thoughts on the matter. The night before Bill, Stephen, and I talked about live shows and all agreed that there is a certain amount of energy a band gets from a crowd. That has always been the case in the bands I played in. If everyone is into the mix, then no matter how sloppy the band might play, the show is still a success because everyone got their groove on. I don't like barriers. In Belgium I caught 5 minutes of Bad Religion and up'd and walked away, there is nothing more sad than a band going through the motions of playing their songs. I rather stay home and put on my headphones and jump up and down on a bed to my favorite tunes.  
The stage diving brought back memories of the salad days. 
I have written about this many times, but in the summer of 1981 between 6th and 7th grade, my best friend Jimmy Lopez went to California and hung out with his cousin Abe who was a punk rocker. When Jimmy came home, he asked if I've ever heard of punk music. I gave him a blank look. At the time my limited scope of music was the Star Wars soundtrack, Charlie Pride, and José Alfredo Jiménez 8-track tapes my parents had. He put the Black Flag tape his cousin made in the tape deck, hit play and that was it. The fast beat and rage clicked with my nerves, it was ritalin. I wanted to be a punk rocker whatever that was. We stopped dressing like Cholos and bought markers and white t-shirts. 

When Flag went on I though I'd help try to keep people from running into the band, knocking over monitors, etc...didn't happen. 
"What makes a man start fires?"  
The soundtrack to the riot brewing inside of you.


Monster Bash Berlin
Back in All's gray days, I remembered asking Stephen if he painted his Danny (Dan Armstong) guitar gray. After looking at all the equipment, I soon realized that is was the band's M.O. Stephen's modified his reissue and removed the volume and tone knobs and replaced it with the on/off switch. 

Dez and Chuck are in the attack mode. 
Keith telling Chuck to stop, the audience broke Keith's mic cord. 
Bomb Pop!
Keith said bow down to Dez, damn straight!

Dez Ramone.
Audience member showing Dez his ass tattoo.
Even the ladies jumped off the stage. 

Yours truly helping sing along to 

Rise Above and Louie Louie.