Merry Christmas, I Don’t Want To Fight

Every Christmas season I seem to be starving for stress. I bury myself under a mountain of internal conflict about shopping, schedule, and money.

Earlier today, my two youngest daughters, aged 10 and 9, came to me and said.

“Don’t worry, we have a plan. We’ll be done with mommy’s shopping in no time, then you can go to the gym”.

We drove to two stores in the busiest sections of town, in heavy rain, stayed under budget and laughed the whole time. Their mom has gifts under the tree and I did thirty minutes on the treadmill then another thirty lifting.

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*****blogger’s note******

This is a personal response to my friend @velvetverbosity ‘s “starving” prompt. We battled bad weather but got my wife’s presents from my daughters bought and wrapped, today.

I’ve been trying to behave in spite of myself, this holiday. Here’s The Ramones with a Christmas classic.

Stuff your stockings with my books:

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com

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Blank Generation

Last week https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/viscious/ , I went over the important cross genre dynamic of glam rock and proto punk. While the seventies saw the bloat and excess of rock music, some acts decided to take the riffs, attitude, and youth culture of the decade, pile of 1950s and 1960s garage band influences and then do their own thing.

Time for part two of 1970s, Twisted Mixtape Tuesday.

The later part of the decade saw three seminal moments that essentially “changed everything”. In 1973, CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City opened in New York City. Both clubs demanded that all acts play their own music. On February 23rd, 1976, The Ramones first record, Ramones, was released and influenced dozens of musicians who would later form bands. Then, on June 4, 1976, British bad boys, The Sex Pistols, played London’s Free Trade Hall, and in the audience were several artists who would later form bands that would matter in American and British music for decades.

Punk music isn’t pretty, it’s only sexy in it’s uncompromising belief system, and sometimes it’s frightening, sonically. But once it gets inside of you, it’s unforgettable and the effects then and now are undeniable.

These are five of the greatest songs, punk and otherwise, ever recorded. I chose 2 American, and 3 British. Make sure to play them all very loud, then tell a friend or fifty about his post. It may change lives like it did mine, 25 years ago, when I first heard this music.

The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop. The greatest thing I’ve ever read about The Ramones back to basics rock music, featuring count offs, two minute songs, and pure energy is that “listening to The Ramones first record must have been what watching the atom spilt for the first time was like, because nothing was the same after”. Hailing from Queens, NY and destined for nothing special, Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Thomas Erdelyi put on leather jackets, stood against walls a lot, played faster than fast and adopted the stage names Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, and Tommy Ramone, using an old Paul McCartney pseudonym. They changed music, forever.
The opening cut from their debut album, Blitzkrieg Bop, sets a tone that alsy created a fire in many musicians that came after them.

Punk was about as much as what you looked like and how you conveyed that as it was about he music. It was about an alternative lifestyle among people who came from little and cared about the same. Richard Hell and the Voidoids weren’t the most famous CBGBs bands or American punk acts, but for one album, in 1977, they put it all together and so many acts that came after, especially in England. Richard Hell was years ahead of the game and Blank Generation is a microcosm of what worked. I love this song.

The Sex Pistols may have only made one album, been more about chaos than music as guitarist Steve Jones famously told journalist Nick Kent, but their record Never Mind The Bollocks in a perfect moment in time. Every song is a classic of the genre and 1970s defining tunes but the most memorable because it’s opening line “I am an Anti-Christ, I am an Anarchist” froma sneering devil child, John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten to Steve Jones brilliant cross-bred guitar work, Anarchy is simply amazing. It never gets old. And screaming “get pissed, destroy” while you’re picking your kids up from school in the carpool line is a life moment that’s indescribable.

It was difficult to choose between the two punk “love songs”, but both The Damned’s New Rose and The Buzzcocks “Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Should’nt’ve” are punk’s high water marks in irony and musicianship. I went with the Buzzcocks because the message is universal and the song has been cited by so many other artists as influential. Just listen to the lyrics while you pogo. This is the song for you for so many situations. It’s one of the best heartbreak songs, ever.

The Clash is my favorite band. They’ve been called The Only Band That Mattered. Hell and yes on that. While their masterpiece is the double live album London Calling and the title track are the best things they ever did, artistically, that song and album were released is very late 1979 and more like 1980 in America so it falls outside the boundaries of the post/prompt. Their lead single from their first album, Complete Control from The Clash, 1977, says everything that needs to about how they changed the game. You should love The Clash as much as I do. Go listen and get in it.

Go see my sister from another musical mother, Jen at http://www.jenkehl.com and listen and read the great posts about the 1970s. Jen does a terrific job hosting.

Also head to amazon/kindle, smashwords.com or Good Reads and get a copy of my book, heavily influenced by punk music, The Ballad of Helene Troy. It’s also available on Lulu.com or Pound Publishing headquarters (signed) in paperback.

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Rock and Rock High School

I’m one of those rare suburbanites that you will never hear nor read, bash teachers. My dream job, other than published author, is to teach English composition and reaching skills to grade school children.

My kids stay annoyed at me because I ask them for details of their school day. Usually I’m met with “I don’t know, stuff, whatever” but I still ask. My teenager will let me know about tests or difficult assignments or teachers with whom has issues. My two younger ones, aged eight and seven, give me as few nuggets of information as will get them a juice or a chance to watch television.

My seven-year-old, known in this blog as The Goose, is my favorite child to question. When we’re in the car she’ll drop various bombs like “you know, dad, we should really recycle, it saves the Earth” or “Did you know you eat horribly, dad, and if you want to live longer you should diet and exercise more”. She’s very blonde, very blue-eyed, and so cute, that this stuff rolls off my back like an Olympic breaststroking duck.

It sometimes bugs me that she takes everything her first grade teachers say as gospel. The words of her mother and I often fall on deaf ears but if someone at her school tells her something, it’s gold. I appreciate her school but I’d like for them to help her mother and I out, some. I’m offering some ideas for them to drop on my daughter, and if my eight-year-old and teenager’s teachers are reading, their minds, as well.

1) Cleaning your room, spotless, where mommy and daddy can eat off the floor, will save ALL of the planets. I’ve never invited any of you to my house and the reason, is because my three girls’ rooms often look like the aftermaths of Taylor Swift and Big Time Rush poster tornados and dirty clothes hurricanes. Listen, public school teachers, put room organization on your agendas.

2) When your parents make you dinner or take you out to eat, it IS NOT optional as to whether you devour the food. My youngest kids think mealtime at home is open mike night at the Apollo meets merger and aquisitions negotiations on Wall Street. No, fools, eat your food. And stop asking for snacks two minutes into dinner. For my sixteen-year-old daughter I would like for her high school to offer a Home Ec class where she learns that while eating out, ordering the most expensive thing on the menu and eating half of it IS NOT OKAY. Dad’s wallet is light these days, kid.

3) Going green is great AT HOME TOO. The amount of waste in water, toilet paper, garbage, and other various odds and ends at our house is pretty alarming. Listen, could I take two minutes off my showers and conserve on the terlet paperz too, yes. But you should see these girls. They talk about their Earth Day type studies from their school then come home and make our footprint the size of a New Jersey landfill. Don’t get me started on televisions left turned on while they go outside or run upstairs to talk to their friends on the phone. Oh, and that basement light that I have to turn off everynight at 10pm because they always forget? Yeah, get on that kids’ schools.

4) Why there isn’t an economics class that’s mandatory for all children starting at the age of five is beyond me. But I think those moments in stores when out kids start saying “I want that” or “Can you by this” or “I saw this on tv, can I get it”  can be brainwashed out of them? Come on schools, help me teach these kids the value of a dollar. If you tell it to them, then my job at home becames cake.

5) There needs to be a rock and roll 101/music appreciation class for the good music we, as parents, know and love. I’m fighting the good fight at home trying to shove The Clash and The Ramones and Radiohead down my children’s throats but imagine if the school opened their days with Imagine by John Lennon? Our kids generation would be so much better than us. This needs to happen at the high school level. My teenager’s Taylor Swift obesession has got to end. Making her know who the New York Dolls were is a great start. T.Rex class starts at 9:30am

Feel free to add your own classes or trades the schools could indoctrinate into our children. We’re all in this together, parents. Neurotic, over-tired fist bump from me.

Today’s song had to happen. I haven’t played the Ramones in months. Here’s Rock and Roll High School. Break something and dance.

Hit it Marky!

They Shoot Ramones, Don’t They?

I walked out of the gas station with my diet dr. pepper. A tall, floppy haired young man, no older than 20, walked in the door I exited. His scraggly appearance was hi-lighted by a black leather jacket and a crisp, black t-shirt that looked like this:

I smiled, then smirked, and spoke to him.

“The Ramones are great. They’re one of my favorite bands.”

I was proud of the kid’s response. Full of anti-social attitude and get away from me creepy older dude snarl, he mumbled incoherently and passed me into the store. The Ramones would be proud of him.

Ramones t-shirts are sold at Target. You can’t open a music book or website and not see The Ramones epic 1976 debut ranked in the top ten of something. That wasn’t the case 35 years ago. When the The Ramones released their record, most people ignored it and them. The only major critic that paid attention was the legendary Lester Bangs. He loved them. People ignored Lester, as well.

Time has been kind to the memory of the four losers from Forest Hills, Queens, New York. I always harken to this example when people talk about criticism.

I’m “this close” to finishing a book. I’m also self publishing some short stories by the end of December. I’m terrifed at the reaction.

Two years ago, when my wife shook her head at my scribbling in notebooks and suggested I resurrect my blogging career, I paced my entire house dozens of times wondering if anyone would care. I’d been divorced. I’d been through therapy. I now live with four strong willed, determined women who know how to push my buttons and get their way. I could handle comments from “strangers” on the internet. Right?

Over the past 11 months, I’ve written every day. Most of what I’ve penciled hasn’t made it to My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. Crazy Robot Stories passed 57 thousand words for Nanowrimo, thus certified or “won”. I’ve got about 67 thousand words en total. Ironing out the ending should make it novel-sized and editor ready. Helene Troy, my wife approved girlfriend, has about 22 thousand words written, with about 15 of it shown. Millicent, the serial poisoner, is a solid 4 thousand word short story sitting with my editor/writer friend Grace http://thegraceofpirates.blogspot.com/ aka @octoberesque . Italian Radio’s 4 thousand words are with Writer’s Digest waiting for a thousand buck cash prize and the adoration of tens. Among those works, I’ve received over 600 comments. Some have been beautiful. Others have been harsh. It’s the rough ones I’ve learned the most. They’ve made me a better writer.

I know I brag about being part robot. I don’t believe if I wasn’t wired this way, I could handle the reviews. Waking up wrong, every day, with these women I live with, gives you rhinoceros skin.

Joey Ramone, The Ramones lead singer and song writer, died 10 and a half years ago, from cancer. Before he died, he gave an interview to Maria Bartriromo of CNBC financial news fame. She asked him if he regretted toiling in obscurity for the first part of his career. He responded profoundly.

“You know, I always wanted to be liked. Now, I just want to be appreciated. I enjoyed my life when I had nothing… and kinda like the idea of just being happy with me. “

I hope, if this writing I’m doing, sees any light of day, I can be as thoughtful as the late great Joey Ramone.

As my comment box asks, Whatdya got?

Today’s song is the first thing anyone ever heard from The Ramones. If you don’t like this, then you’re the problem. Here’s one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard, Blitzkrieg Bop….