post-punk gems, v. 81 — Modern Lovers

Oy, it’s been awhile, and I’ve been keeping busy at the typewriter, and hope to have RD-Esomething substantial to share with you soon. In the meantime, I’m giving a talk in Boston on Th., 10/22, 5pm at Emerson (details in the poster here), and it’d be great to see you there. I’ll pack some books, too, in case you’re looking to get a head-start on your holiday shopping.

Now, since I’m heading to Boston, I have the Modern Lovers on my mind, and the first album in particular, which did more for punk than perhaps every other LP ever pressed. (Yes, more than any Velvet Underground or Iggy disc, I figure. The Ramones’ debut might be a worthy rival.) So, while the MA government takes up arms again in the culture war, in defense of the genius of Jonathan Richman, here’s one of the key gems from that album.

That’s some epic clapping on the bridge. Nicely done, gents. Cheers!

25 Sept — Spirit of ’77 show (most of it, anyway)

‘allo, music mavens! Here’s the audio part of most of last Thursday’s show. It starts off well before ’77 with The Fabulous Counts, and includes tracks by Iggy Pop (from ’77), Game Theory, Costello, Guided by Voices, English Beat, Big Star, The Fastbacks, and The Corin Tucker Band. A bit more ‘merican than I usually do, but I think it’s a decent set.

I’m spinning discs every Th. for an hour, 5-6pm, EDT, @ this fall. Send me requests via @stealingclash or, if you’d like, give the station a call — 440.775.8139.

#Replacements on my mind // the once bashful Tommy Stinson

Happy Sunday, reading people. Twitter’s abuzz with the enthusiasm over last night’s show by The Replacements – their first in 23 years in their hometown of Minneapolis. (Check out this lovely review, by Andrea Swensson, and don’t miss the fabulous photos beneath by Nate Ryan/MPR– here’s a teaser.)


I picked up Tim based on a single review, and then converted dozens of friends to its virtues, with little proselytizing. In the summer of 1987, we drove through the valley heat into SF for their performance at Fillmore and, just before the end (spring 1990, I figure) at the campus gym at UC Santa Barbara. They were great, drunk, and ever-satisfying, and in the pic for Musician magazine, taken from the back of the stage, you can see my head just beyond Paul’s knee.

My favorite memory, though, of Mats live was at Slim’s in SF, when the Tommy-led Bash & Pop appeared in 1994 (or so). I figured the name “Bash & Pop” echoed the punk ethos of getting our noise on the radio. While their debut LP, Friday Night is Killing Me, was uneven, there were a handful of gems there, and how I wish I could find that damn CD. (Timmay, do you still have it?)

Upon taking the stage, though, I realized that echo was rather distant. Rather than the “I-don’t-give-a-toss” indifference Johnny Rotten perverted from Iggy Pop, T. Stinson entered the limelight as a frontman reluctantly: much more bashful than bashing, and we were old enough in mid-twenties to appreciate the desire for affection–“never disappointed by a show of hands,” in the words of Game Theory, and why should they be? “Never Aim to Please” was a song inspired by the past, but was fully reckoned with on stage. Fun times.

Holy cow, is that a non-punk fade-out at the cadence. Maturity, like death & taxes, is inevitable, to some degree.

I’m on the radio for the first time in six years Thursdays this fall, 1700-1800, EDT, @, with my show, “The Spirit of ’77.” There’ll be some punk, and oodles of fun (and errors, I’m sure. Bear with me.) I’ll check @stealingclash this week if you have any requests. Have a fantastically rockin’ week!

Motor City Love — one measure Singapore, two measures Amsterdam

As X’s John Doe scolded many years ago, “Don’t forget the Motor City!” And, since I’ve always done as Doe commands, Detroit was on the table over a delightfully social coffee this morning, and I think our well-caffeinated imaginations have devised a proper solution to the current woes of this once-great city.

detroit  - 1

Like the word “blog,” “Motown” is a portmanteau (“motor” and “town”), and the city’s musical legacy runs deep and wide: John Lee Hooker, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson 5, Martha and the Vandellas, The Spinners, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marvin Gaye, and Aretha Franklin. Saxophonist Donald Byrd hails from Detroit, and of course, there’s the punk legacy: MC5, Iggy Pop (still got it), Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, and Suzi Quattro, with lesser-known bands such as The Necros and The Meatmen bridging the gap to the garage-rock sound of The White Stripes, The Von Bondies, and Electric Six.

Months back my dear friend John grew weary of the tepid solutions proposed by politicians and pundits alike, so here’s our proposal. Now, I’m not certain how we work out the pensions that should be paid (it’s a contract, and defended by the Michigan Constitution), but I think it’s possible.

Step one: Detroit as a geographical entity, alas, lacks natural barriers to development to the north, west, and south, and suburban sprawl thrived as the dominant paradigm in late modernity. Alas, it was much too late by the time folks realized that suburban life was long on promise and short on sustainability. With the Detroit River (and Lake St. Clair) along the east side as the natural border to Canadian neighbors, Detroit occupies a more natural location for secession. Detroit, a la Singapore, becomes a city-state.

Step two: Once the city-state is established, it can free itself from the cannabis-phobia just starting to wane in the US, and become the Amsterdam of the west, with pot salons and a plethora of bicycles. The urban garden scene of Detroit is already thriving, although the recent acquisition of 2000 lots for $600,000 by the Hantz Group may change things–we’ll see.

Urban Farm in Detroit  

(Photos courtesy of

The city has a rich urban cultural center, plenty of decent roadways (they’ll need to turn the street lights back on, of course), and somewhat expensive homegrown bicycles, too. (Images from Shinola and Detroit Bicycle Company, respectively, below.)

Dark Green

Of course, this blog is not advocating smoking and steering, or smoking at all. One might imagine over time, though, that dope taxes could fund pensions galore. (I hear Amsterdam’s swimming in cash.) I would simply advise that the powers that be have, like rock in the late 70s, become ossified, and that we’re due for a punk-rock-esque paradigm shift.

Best of luck to all the parties involved. There will be blood, and tears, and a solution, let’s hope. Many thanks to Sloop John B. for the inspiring conversation and stiff brew.