Sunday, January 23, 2011

Alex Cavanaugh’s THE TOP TEN TUNES Blogfest

[Forewarning: Currently I am suffering from a cold that I caught from a woman where I work. So, read this blog bit at your own risk. If you proceed anyway, you might want to spray your eyes and your computer monitor with disinfectant afterwards.]

Hey, look, it’s a square record. It must be a polka!

‘I won’t be able to participate in this blogfest.’

That was my first thought upon learning of Alex Cavanaugh’s upcoming ‘TOP TEN TUNES’ blogfest.

You see, I love such a wide variety of music that I figured it would be virtually impossible for me to narrow my choices down to a mere ten songs or musical selections. But just to prove I couldn’t do it, I sat down with a pen and a piece of paper and in no more than five minutes I had done it – without even once looking at my compact disc collection!

And, actually, I think that was probably the trick to it. The songs that a person loves the absolute most, the person doesn’t need to be reminded of – they spring right to mind immediately.

Now, to be sure, any list of my all-time favorite songs and musical compositions is preposterously incomplete if it doesn’t include anything by The Carpenters, Waylon Jennings, Howlin’ Wolf, Tom Waits, the song ‘The Same Thing’ by Muddy Waters, the instrumental ‘If Ever I Would Leave You’ by Richie Cole, ‘Sarah’s Crime’ by Toshi Hinata, nor ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘Long Promised Road’ by The Beach Boys.

Nevertheless, below is my preposterously incomplete list. Every song title is a link to a video for the appropriate musical piece. I couldn’t possibly rate these songs in order of preference, so my Top Ten Tunes list has been alphabetized by title:

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S by Henry Mancini And His Orchestra / Chorus
2:48 (Instrumental)

What a sublime piece of music. It flows like a wistful, lonely, melancholy stream emanating from some ancient, half-remembered dream. It always breaks my heart.

BUMPIN’ ON SUNSET by Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express
10:07 (Instrumental with a few lyrics)

I first heard this on AM radio (yes, AM!) circa 1979, and this was the song that initially made me sit up and take notice of Jazz – later to become my favorite musical form. Previously, all I had cared about was the Rock music of my day.

‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’ was written by the great Wes Montgomery (and I own his original version, also), but Brian Auger gave it his Hammond B-3 treatment and it became Auger’s “signature tune”. This particular live version is my favorite, and I’ll bet I have whistled this melody more than any other in my entire life. The drummer on this track was Steve Ferrone. Remember that, you’ll need it later.

HOW I GOT OVER by Mahalia Jackson
6:26 (Song)

Holy God Almighty! I can’t believe I found a video of this! Despite poor picture quality and a few audio glitches here and there, if this doesn’t give you chills, you’re dead, my friend, you’re just dead!

In my opinion, this is the most Divinely-inspired, and hence the most powerful, intense vocal performance of all time - EVER! Mahalia’s face is just so beautiful and there’s an almost unearthly, spiritual light that can be discerned shining in her eyes as this song just pours out of her! The moment you see Mahalia start in with that odd, non-rhythmic clapping at the four minute and eight second mark (4:08), you know it’s on, baby, IT’S ON!!! Scoot over, The Holy Spirit’s drivin’ now! Oh, my God!!!

I AM WOMAN by Helen Reddy
3:04 (Song)

This one is sort of a personal anthem for me. I can’t listen to Helen Reddy’s ‘I Am Woman’ without feeling very empowered!

OK, I jest! I jest!

Alright, m-m-m-ove along now. Th-th-there's nothing left to see here. That's all folks. Hmmm... I like the sound of that... Th-th-th-that's all, folks!

7:30 (Song)

The song title is a link to a video of Bob Dylan playing the first two minutes of this seven and a half minute song.

In 2008, I rediscovered this song from my youth and was amazed to suddenly realize what an impact it had on my writing and whatever capacity I have to think creatively. When I was in my very early twenties, Bob Dylan’s album “Bringing It All Back Home”, and this song from it especially, really opened my mind, almost as if they were some sort of creativity-expanding drug.

These are some of the greatest lyrics ever penned; a song loaded with bons mots and a remarkable rhyming structure unlike any I’d found before or have encountered since. So great are these lyrics, that I’m posting them below. Had he written nothing else but ‘It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’, this one alone would have marked Bob Dylan as a songwriting genius:

It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

Darkness at the break of noon

Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn

Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying

Temptation’s page flies out the door

You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you’d just be one more
Person crying

So don’t fear if you hear

A foreign sound to your ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing

As some warn victory, some downfall

Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Except hatred

Disillusioned words like bullets bark

As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred

While preachers preach of evil fates

Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked

And though the rules of the road have been lodged

It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it

Advertising signs they con

You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you

You lose yourself, you reappear

You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you

A question in your nerves is lit

Yet you know there is no answer fit
To satisfy, insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to

Although the masters make the rules

For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something they invest in

While some on principles baptized

To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him

While one who sings with his tongue on fire

Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in

But I mean no harm nor put fault

On anyone that lives in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him

Old lady judges watch people in pairs

Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony

While them that defend what they cannot see

With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes must get lonely

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed

Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen

They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only

3:25 (Instrumental)

I think this is probably the most beautiful melody ever composed, and it is the very essence of “romance”. Quite likely my favorite musical piece of all time.

MY FAVORITE THINGS by . . . just about anyone - which only goes to show what a great song it is! This Jazzy version, however, is by Diana Ross And The Supremes, and it would be very hard to beat.
2:52 (Song)

When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Very clever lyrics married to a very clever melody. In fact, to my ears, this is the catchiest melody ever composed. I can’t hear it once without it bouncing around in my head for days. And after every Christmas season has come to an end, it takes a month or more before I can stop whistling or humming it. For example: Christmas 2010 is now four weeks behind us but I’m still whistling this tune on nearly a daily basis. No, seriously!

SLEIGH RIDE by Leroy Anderson
2:50 (Instrumental)

There have been a zazillion versions of this tune recorded, but my favorite remains the 1948 original instrumental conducted by the composer himself, Leroy Anderson. This is such an inventive arrangement. And how about Anderson’s imagination? Did he have one? I should say so! From the files of Believe It Or Not: Did you know that Leroy Anderson composed ‘Sleigh Ride’ during a July heat wave in Woodbury, Connecticut? Perhaps he was just trying to make himself feel cooler.

SPIRIT IN THE SKY by Norman Greenbaum
4:01 (Song)

This was my favorite Rock song when it was getting played about once every hour on AM radio in 1970, and it’s my favorite Rock song today. It features one of the most immediately recognizable guitar riffs ever and a fabulous fuzzed-out howling solo. What’s not to love? I could NEVER get tired of this one. Well, heck, I haven’t so far, and it’s been 41 years!

9:30 (Instrumental)

I know this isn’t what Pat Metheny had in mind when he composed this masterpiece, but to my mind, this is a musical retelling of the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is an extraordinary piece of music that slowly builds in power, layer by layer, with the most majestic sounding strings and horns eventually added. And then at the five minute and forty second mark (5:40), Metheny “winds up” his guitar and just lets it SOAR and SOAR!... And that, my friends, is the moment when our Savior is being Resurrected from the dead!

Although Metheny, it seems, is a non-believer, somehow or other God used him as the instrument by which one of the most spiritual pieces of music ever written came into being.

Steve Ferrone. I told you to remember that name, because you’d need it later. Well, it’s “later”. Ferrone was the drummer on Brian Auger’s ‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’. He’s also the drummer on Metheny’s ‘The Truth Will Always Be’. What’s Steve doing these days? He’s a Heartbreaker – the permanent drummer for Tom Petty’s band.

2:51 (Song)

The finest harmonizing by the world’s finest harmonizers.
The sad news that President Kennedy had been assassinated prompted The Boys to capture their feelings in song, resulting in the gorgeously melancholy ‘The Warmth Of The Sun’. [Click the title and check out the YouTube video. Beautifully appropriate photos make this video a treat for both the ears and the eyes. Nice. Very nice!]

So, those are my all-time Top Ten Tunes.
Thanks for stopping by, y’all.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - BAY STREET"

[The League Of Soul Crusaders, left to right: - Stephen T. McCarthy; Twinkie; Wally; Torch (driving); Napoleon; and Pooh.]
This blog bit is dedicated to POOH, unquestionably my best olde-tyme drinking buddy and a guy whose company I really miss.

[. . . And Pooh, that's not all: May we never forget to fondly remember those fuzzy nights we've forgotten and blessedly can't recall! Alcohol-induced Blackouts: Just God's little way of saying, "I've punished you enough already. Receive My mercy."]

Here is an infamous line Pooh came up with back in our "Bay Street Daze":

"He's not our breed! He's not our breed!"

Pooh repeatedly said that about some rich kid - an acquaintance of a friend of ours - who showed up one night at one of our house parties. That was shortly before Pooh started the fight. :o)

"The Bay Street Daze" refers to the years 1980 through 1983, when Pooh, Torch, Twinkie, Cranium, my brother Napoleon and I, and a revolving cast of occasional "pinch hitters" were partying wildly day and night and headquarted in a house at 824 Bay Street in Santa Monica, California - a four minute drive from the beach. We formed what one might accurately describe as "a drinking gang" called The League Of Soul Crusaders.

Here's how we came by the name: Napoleon (Nappy) and a couple of the other gang members were fond of shouting out "Leadin' the league!" when they were being particularly rowdy and/or creative. (Yes, believe it or not, we weren't just drunk most of the time, but also very funny and very creative. We couldn't walk into a bar or party without half of the other patrons or partygoers gathered around us within 15 minutes time.)

So anyway, Nappy and some of the others liked to imagine that we were involved in an alcohol-related sporting event of some kind and that, like baseball Hall Of Famers of yore (think Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, etc.), we were "Leadin' the league!" That became a sort of rallying cry.

Then one year our unofficial leader, Torch, had a birthday and I presented him with a birthday card to which I had signed all the names of the great young rebels of the past that I could think of - James Dean, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Bruce Springsteen and many others. And to this whole grouping of talented punks I applied the name "The League Of Soul Crusaders".
At that time, Springsteen was pretty much "The Boss" to us, and the "Soul Crusaders" aspect of the name I had borrowed from the lyrics of his song 'Night' in which he sings, "The rat trap's filled with soul crusaders / The circuit's lined and jammed with chromed invaders." Well, shortly after Torch's birthday party, we in the "Leadin' the league" drinking gang began referring to ourselves as The League Of Soul Crusaders.

Hell, we'd drink almost anything, you name it - NyQuil, Rubbing Alcohol, Lighter Fluid, Brut Cologne, Coppertone, Bain de Soleil ("for the San Tropez glow"). If it might induce a high, we'd give 'er a try!

Some years after we had matured a little bit and sort of grew up (Aww! Don't say that!!), Pooh encapsulated our drinking habits in a short, funny, and perfect three-line poem:

We drank.
We drank a lot.
We drank more than we did not.

Now that's what Pooh said. Below is something that someone once said to Pooh. He'd been 86ed in '86 from the Bucket Of Blood Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada, the night before. I wasn't there - I was lying on a motel bed with the worst hangover of my drinking career. The next day, Pooh and I entered the Bucket Of Blood Saloon together, the bartender took one look at him and said:

"I remember you from last night."

Over time, the Bay Street Daze of The League Of Soul Crusaders inspired me to write two poems and one book. Below is the shortest of the poems, written on May 20, 1983. It's not good but it's accurate and it was read at Pooh's (first) wedding:

Last night there was a birthday party
The League Of Soul Crusaders met

And these boys make commotion
Altercations will arise

These boys know no fear
Living and dying every moment

Oh, and these boys drink beer
Whiskey and beer and

These boys bleed red
Twice each
But they rather enjoy it

And they don't accept East Coast
Poking fun at Brooklyn accents

These boys don't cry when they should
And laugh
When they shouldn't

They have talent
Dream of glory and
Imagine victory

Energetic boys, wild and innocent
Leading a league
That doesn't exist

These boys lack courage and confidence
Telling jokes and howling
To nowhere

Many years ago, I put together a tape cassette of songs that I figured would be the ideal musical soundtrack for an imaginary movie about the Bay Street Daze of The League Of Soul Crusaders. I titled the tape "Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - BAY STREET". I mentioned this tape to my old friend Pooh recently and he asked me what was included on it. This blog bit is my way of answering his question. [Sorry 'bout the wait, Pooh!]

I have included links to YouTube videos for all songs where possible, and in the case of a few of the more obscure songs, I even included the lyrics. [I will be interjecting in brackets some relevant comments here and there in red text.]

And now take a musical trip with me in the Waybac Machine to the early 1980s and party with The League Of Soul Crusaders when they were Wild and Innocent and didn't have a grey hair to speak of :
[Jolly Jack's bar - a second home to The League Of Soul Crusaders, 1980-1983.]

[Twinkie was a singer and this is a song he wrote and recorded after our partying ways had come to an end. My computer skills being next to nil, sadly, I know of no way to include an audio clip. And it's too bad because I think it's an excellent song that truly had Top-40 potential and which includes a Rock guitar solo that is so quirky and yet so melodic that I number it amongst my all-time favorites.]

Ritual of the summer
Obligation passed on from generation to generation
He's got a mission - He don't know it
He's on a mission - He won't show it
He's headed right into the arms of his savior, yes he is

He's living in the League of the Soul Crusader
Livin' in the League of the Soul Crusader, once again
Livin' in the League of the Soul Crusader
Livin' in the League of the Soul Crusader - Soul Crusader

Plyin' his magic - But is it what he's a-lookin' for?
Losin' would be tragic, yeah!-yeah! - Would it even the score?
He's on a mission - He's got a vision
And he don't know it!


Real joy's when you follow your passion
I said, real joy's when you follow your passion!
A boy has a dream of being in the circus
But isn't that a shame? - You've got to be a man
Whoa-ohh - Waww!

[Great Guitar Solo!]

Tonight's the night!
Tonight's the night, we're gonna jump into the sea, yeah!-yeah!
You and me
We're gonna ride the blue sky, we're gonna try to touch the moon!
You and me
We're gonna jump into the sea!


2: 93-KHJ Los Angeles, Beach and Traffic Reports
[Here, I placed some beach and traffic reports that I happened to have taped from a major AM radio station broadcasting in Los Angeles. Mention was made of the new Agatha Christie movie "Ordeal By Innocence" then playing in the theatres. So, depending upon whether that movie was released in 1984 or '85 (I've seen both years noted on the Internet), that's what year these radio broadcasts went out over the airwaves in Southern California and were captured by my tape recorder. Below are a few excerpts from the reports.]

"93 KHJ - We are L.A.'s greatest cruising station ... Coming up, Diana Ross And The Supremes. ... It is 12:50, Jay Gardner riding along with you on a beautiful day - out at the beaches? Ohhh! Heavenly! Heavenly! Air temp is about, oh, around mid-seventies, and the water temp is about 65 to 70 depending on which beach you go to. Just BEAUTIFUL! ... Freeway reports ... Westbound Santa Monica Freeway past the San Diego Freeway, disabled in the center divider area. That's Westbound Santa Monica Freeway past the San Diego Freeway."
. . . . . . . .
[Then came another beach report from likely a different day. With the Surfaris song "Wipe Out" playing in the background, a lifeguard named John reported from Santa Monica Beach:]

"Sunny skies - visibility about ten miles - air temp 73; water temp is 68."

3: SUMMER - by War

4: A PIRATE'S LIFE FOR ME - from the Disneyland
(E-Ticket) Ride
[This is a song we often sang, but changing the lyric to: "Yo!-Ho! Yo!-Ho! It's a PARTY life for me!"]

6: ADAM-12 - Television show theme song

7: HELLZAPOPPIN' - by Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong[Click on the title, then scroll down and click the linkythang to hear the song. It might be that no song lyrics capture the Bay Street Daze better'n these.]
Hold your hats...the roof is 'bout to tumble in
Holy cats...the walls and floors are crumblin'
The whole gang's whoopin' up the whoop-de-doo's gonna be uproarious
We'll fly high...tonight we'll be notorious
And you're invited to the party too

Better look out...ain't no cook-out
We're playin' this one by ear
We threw the book out!

It's a bash...the signs are unmistakable
What a smash...we're breakin' all that's breakable
There's no stoppin'...Hellzapoppin'...why not drop in
We won't stop until the night is through
We won't tire...we'll fly higher
We'll be hotter by far
Than a four-alarm fire

Raise your glass...the party will be riotous
What a gas...the cops will never quiet us!
There's no stoppin'...Hellzapoppin'...Hellzapoppin'
We'll be Hellzapoppin' till the night... is... through!

8: WANG DANG DOODLE - by Howlin' Wolf
Tell Automatic Slim , tell Razor-Totin' Jim
Tell Butcher Knife-Totin' Annie, tell Fast-Talking Fanny
A-we gonna pitch a ball, a-down to that union hall
We gonna romp and tromp till midnight
We gonna fuss and fight till daylight
We gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long
All night long, All night long, All night long

Tell Kudu-Crawlin' Red, tell Abyssinian Ned
Tell ol' Pistol Pete, everybody gonna meet
Tonight we need no rest, we really gonna throw a mess
We gonna break out all the windows, we gonna kick down all the doors
We gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long
All night long, All night long, All night long
Tell Fats and Washboard Sam, that everybody going to jam
Tell Shaky and Boxcar Joe, we got sawdust on the floor
Tell Peg and Caroline Dye, we gonna have a time
When the fish scent fill the air, there'll be snuff juice everywhere
We gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long
All night long, All night long, All night long

9: BADLANDS - by Bruce Springsteen
[If I were going to alter this tape, one change I believe I'd make is to save Twinkie's song 'The League Of Soul Crusaders' and place it last, as the grand finale. And I think perhaps I would move 'Badlands' up to have it function as the opening cut of this imaginary movie soundtrack.]
10: Song samples from THE PIANO HAS BEEN DRINKING by Tom Waits
[Here, I just "sampled" some lyrics from the Tom Waits song heard earlier at #5. You won't understand why I selected these particular lyrics, but the League Members, the Soul Crusaders, they'd know why - believe me - they'd know why. One word: Zucky's!]

"And you can't find your waitress with a Geiger counter - and she hates you and your friends and you just can't get served without her - and she hates you - and she hates you - and she hates you and your friends and you just can't get served - can't get served - can't get served without her.".
[Backside of The League, left to right: Torch (driving); Pooh; Napoleon (in a Bruce Springsteen Los Angeles concert T-Shirt); Stephen T. McCarthy; and Wally. Twinkie scarcely visible. Some of the bumper stickers read: "Crush All!"; "I'd Rather Be Killing Communists"; and "You Gotta Have Art". The car is a 1964 Cadillac named "Tiburon" - Spanish for "Shark".]
[Side B begins with "The Hangover Waltz", known to the rest of the world as Side 2 of The Beatles' "White Album". We Soul Crusaders partied to a lot of different music although Bruce Springsteen reigned supreme. At that point in a night when the "Born To Run" LP got put on the stereo, we were in high gear.
However, on the mornings after the nights before, when we would all wake with hangovers, there was one album and one album only that we would begin the new day with and which would get us started toward the next hangover, and that was The Beatles' "White Album". And not just any of that double-album's four sides - it HAD to be Side Two. And as the needle tracked the songs we would become more and more energetic, and invariably by the time we got to 'Rocky Raccoon' the hair of the dog had revived us and now we were dancing and prancing and romping and tromping around the living room in a frantic activity we called "The Hangover Waltz".
I did not include on this "soundtrack" the last two songs on Side Two of The Beatles' White Album, "I Will" and "Julia", because by the time those songs were playing we were usually already heading out the door to get breakfast at one of several "Breakfast Club" destinations.]

1: MARTHA MY DEAR - ibid.

2: I'M SO TIRED - ibid.

3: PIGGIES - ibid

4: ROCKY RACCOON - ibid.
[One of YouTube's very best videos! I love this one!]

5: DON'T PASS ME BY - ibid.

7: THE BACK ROOM - by Van Morrison[I have 3 different associations for this song: "The Back Room" of Seamus Liquor Store in Venice where Pooh worked for the liquor store owner, Seamus, who also happened to be Pooh's Dad. "The Back Room" behind the Bay Street house, where Pooh would sometimes "sleep it off" and where Mickie, our truly insane dog, once ate Pooh's eyeglasses while he was passed out. (Nappy referred to Mickie as "Part Shepherd, part Keeshond, and part Pain In The Ass".)

And this song also formed an essential part of the Soundtrack for a major 1986 road trip that Pooh and I took together. I used to give names to all of my road trips, and that particular trip was called "The Show No Emotion In A Big Way Tour", which pretty much sez it all!]

8: ADAM-12 - Television show theme song
[OK, you're wondering why the Adam-12 theme song has made a second appearance. Our Bay Street house was well known by the Santa Monica Police Department. They were constantly being called to pay us a 415-visit. In California Penal Code/Police Terminology, the number 415 stands for "Disturbing The Peace" (remember that, you'll need it later). In fact, I learned from an old friend of mine who happened to be a Santa Monica Police Officer at the time, that at the police station there was a map of the city with stick pins inserted into all the regular trouble spots. Well, you guessed it: there was a stick pin in the map at 824 Bay Street.

You see, they were getting called to try to quiet our loud parties so often, and there were so many people coming and going to party with us on such a regular basis that the police were convinced we were dealing drugs out of the house and they often had plain-clothes cops conducting stakeouts of our house from the dry cleaner's parking lot nearby. Sometimes we'd say hello to them as we walked by their unmarked car on our way to our favorite liquor store (Lucky Liquor).

In truth, not only were we not dealing drugs from the house but there was a standing rule that no drugs were even allowed in the house. Which is not to say that rule didn't get broken a few times. I'm not going be naming names of the transgressors, but Pooh and Twinkie know who they were.

Our all-time 415 response record was the night 8 cop cars were sent to the house. The whole street was bathed in a red glow and there were squad cars from one end of the street to the other. What was it about? Aww, nothing really. It's just that Nappy learned some guy had grabbed our Sister in an inappropriate place earlier that night at a dance club called The Music Machine, and he made a scene about it. It was just another night.

Which reminds me of the time that some friend-of-a-friend brought his girlfriend to 824 and was partying with us. When I later heard that he had gotten into an argument with his girlfriend and had hit her, I went looking for the guy and tracked him down in the kitchen. We were rowdy as hell, but there was also a code one had to live by. And any female who had the courage and enough faith in us to party with us at 824 (and there were a few), she had ironclad protection under our roof.

So I told this guy that he had to leave. He protested, and when I grabbed the beer bottle he was holding, to remove it from his hand, he made the mistake of yanking it back. Napoleon happened to see that and just went absolutely GONZO! (Nappy was The League's 5'6" "Enforcer". Hence the nickname. Think "Joe Pesci" only 100 times tougher!) Well, with about six guys trying to hold Nappy back, this guy literally - literally! - went crawling out of our house through the back kitchen door, and was very happy to be doing so!

Then this "friend-of-a-friend" went to his car parked in front of the house and called the police from his automobile phone to complain about being assaulted. This was before cell phones, of course, and he evidently had a little money, from dealing drugs I suspect. The cops arrived and in the process of questioning him, discovered cocaine in his car and hauled his ass off to jail. The cops never even knocked on our front door. They must have figured he'd been assaulted for good reason. Ha!-Ha! Man, do I ever have some great stories from The Bay Street Daze!]

(Warren Zevon from the song 'Join Me In L.A.' and the song from the Disneyland ride Pirates Of The Caribbean.)
"Well they say this place is evil, but that ain't why I stay. 'Cause I found something that'll never be nothing, and I found it in L.A. -- Yo!-Ho! It's a pirate's life for me. We pillage and plunder, we rifle and loot. Drink up me hearties, yo ho! We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot. Drink up me hearties, yo ho! ... We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do-well cads, Drink up me hearties, yo ho! Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads, Drink up me hearties, yo ho. Yo!-Ho!, Yo!-Ho! A pirate's life for me."
10: FRIENDS - by The Beach Boys

We've been friends now for so many years
We've been together through the good times and the tears
Turned each other on to the good things that life has to give

We drift apart for a little bit of a spell
One night I get a call and I know that you're well
And days I was down you would help me get out of my hole
Ohhhhhhhh . . .

Let's be friends - Let's be friends - Let's be friends

You told me when my girl was untrue
I loaned you money when the funds weren't too cool
I talked your folks out of making you cut off your hair

We've been friends now for so many years
We've been together through the good times and the tears
11: SEALED WITH A KISS - by Brian Hyland
[Why is such a "romantic" song on this soundtrack? Well, back in those Daze, we frequented a few different dance clubs, you know, trying to score chicks and usually just scoring another hangover to add to our collection. But the one dance club we went to most often - and quite often at that - was called The Music Machine, located at 12220 Pico Blvd. in West Los Angeles.

This place was pretty large, attracted a good crowd, had two bars and seemed more down-to-earth, without the usual snooty, stuck-up glam people one might expect to find in most L.A. dance clubs. For quite awhile a house band there called The Gumbys played current covers but also a lot of old Rock 'N' Roll songs that had a good beat and you could dance to. 'Sealed With A Kiss' was the song they closed with every night, and to this day, I can't hear that tune without being mentally transported back to The Music Machine.
Incidentally, it was just outside The Music Machine one night where our Mr. Johnson acquired his classic nickname "Twinkie". The story is funny as hell, but this blog bit's already too long.
It also happens that living so near to the beach, Summer was an extra special time of year for The League Of Soul Crusaders. Cranium actually had a job monitoring the beach parking lots, and we'd often spend weekends at the beach and sometimes drive down there in Tiburon just to drink a few beers and watch the Sun set. So, there's also a bittersweetness to that line in 'Sealed With A Kiss', "I don't wanna say goodbye for the Summer."]

[The "Bay Street Soundtrack" closes with a whole slew of lyric samples from Disneyland's "Pirates", Warren Zevon's 'Desperados Under The Eaves', 'Sloop John B' by the Beach Boys, and audio clips from the Adam-12 theme song. It sounds like this] :

Yo!-Ho! It's a pirate's life for me. We pillage and plunder, we rifle and loot. Drink up me hearties, yo ho! - all the salty margaritas in Los Angeles, I'm gonna drink 'em up - drinkin' all night - drinkin' all night - drinkin' all night, got into a fight - One Adam-12, a 415 fight group - One Adam-12, a 415 fight group - Yo!-Ho! Yo!-Ho! Drink up me hearties, yo ho! - drinkin' all night - drinkin' all night - drinkin' all night, got into a fight - One Adam-12, a 415 fight group - a fight group - a fight group - a fight group - a fight group - fight group - a fight group - a fight group - a 415 fight group - One Adam-12, a 415 fight group - got into a fight - drink up me hearties, yo ho! - got into a fight - a 415 - a 415 - a 415 - a 415 fight group - Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads, drink up me hearties, yo ho! - One Adam-12, a 415 fight group with chains and knives! . . .

[And thats how "Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - BAY STREET" concludes.]
[The trunk of Cranium's 1959 Cadillac. From left to right: The RCA Victor dog, "Nipper"; Cranium's chair for working the Santa Monica Beach parking lots; Cranium's straw hat; and bottles of... Jack Daniel's whiskey, Gordon's gin, E & J brandy, Jack Daniel's whiskey, Popov vodka, Jack Daniel's whiskey, Gilbey's gin, and Gilbey's gin. -- Now we know why his name was "Nipper". If you ask me, that dog had a drinking problem!]

Overall, I think I managed to capture that personal era in song pretty well. If I were remaking the soundtrack today, as stated before, I would lead off with Springsteen's 'Badlands' and close with Twinkie's undiscovered Rock gem 'The League Of Soul Crusaders'. And I would correct an egregious omission: where the #%&! was 'Come On, Eileen' by Dexy's Midnight Runners?! The Bay Street Daze coincided with the birth of MTV and we spent plenty of time sitting in front of the tube getting hammered to MTV music videos. At that time, 'Come On, Eileen' was in heavy rotation and few songs take me back to The Bay Street Daze more effectively than that weird but joyful tune does.
And finally, I would add a kind of coda; a song to provide my perspective on those Daze from nearly 3 decades down the road: In the Summer of 1982, Eddie Money released an album titled "No Control" which spawned a couple of radio hits, one of them being 'Shakin'.' Interestingly, the goofy video for that song, which also got a lot of air time on MTV back then, was filmed at a popular little diner in Santa Monica called Rae's - a place where The League Of Soul Crusaders often conducted their Breakfast Club meetings. Click here to see Rae's in that old video: Shakin'. (Play it loud!)
I liked the hits on "No Control" and bought the LP in '82. Played it plenty of times under the 824 Bay Street roof. However, when I switched to compact discs in 1988 and sold off all my old LPs, I didn't reacquire "No Control". That is until four and a half years ago . . .
For some reason I recalled a song from that album titled 'My Friends, My Friends', and now with decades separating me from the height of my partying daze with my friends at Bay Street, that melancholy song took on great significance. I had no personal context in which to place 'My Friends, My Friends' back while I was still living that rowdy life with The League Of Soul Crusaders, but now I am able to fully relate to the sentiment being expressed by Eddie Money in that song. I own "No Control" on CD now and guess what! - As much as I still dig the rockers like 'Shakin'', 'Think I'm In Love', 'Take A Little Bit', and 'Keep My Motor Runnin'', my favorite song on the recording, by far, is Track #8, which I will place last, as a sad coda on my new, classic, updated, old-fashioned "Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - BAY STREET":
13: MY FRIENDS, MY FRIENDS - by Eddie Money
["I really do miss my friends."]
With several major changes soon to be imposed on my life, and at the age of 51 and feeling like this go 'round is coming to a close, I don't mind telling you that video for 'My Friends, My Friends' nearly brought tears to my eyes.
Well, thanks for reading, y'all.
Yak Later . . .
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
(Known as the character "Moody" in the book 'The League Of Soul Crusaders', but known by Pooh as "Mr. Intense" back in The Bay Street Daze.)
YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement..

Saturday, January 15, 2011



If you're working on a blog bit and it's going to take several days or a week or more to complete, you can save your work in progress in the Blogger system and come back to it later.

The problem is, however, when you finally get the project finished and you publish it, the blog bit will get published in the blog sequence when it was first begun, NOT on the date when you actually completed it.

Therefore, my latest blog bit for 'STUFFS' titled "Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - BAY STREET" is not here, where it should be, but down below, where I don't want it. And there's no way to bump it up to this spot.

So, if you're interested in hearing songs about "my friends" and the good (and wild) times we had from 1980 through 1983, either scroll down a little bit or click me, baby, click me: "ME".

[And by the way, I will be coming after the first person who comments with something like, "Oh yeah, I used to have friends like that". No, you did not. You may have had friends, and you may have consumed some 80-proof in your day, but, doggone it, you DID NOT have friends like this! If so, show me the books, songs, and poems that they inspired.]

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Thursday, January 13, 2011



Twice now in the last four months or so, I have received E-mails supposedly from friends of mine who are in possession of my E-mail address, but these E-mails have contained computer viruses.

Fortunately, both times, my computer's virus security detection system has caught the intruder and disposed of it safely and effectively. These E-mails had the return address names of real friends of mine and appeared to be legitimate.

The one peculiarity, however, was that in both instances, there was nothing typed into the "subject" space. The subject area was blank.

Be it known that from now on, I will immediately delete without a second's hesitation any E-mail sent to me that does not include MY name in the subject space. Dogged if I'm gonna get "bugged" by some liberal flea who has managed to gain access to names in my computer's address book.

Sending me an E-mail? Include my name in the subject space or be assured that I won't even open what you've sent, but will send it to hell faster'n Doc Holliday dispatched Johnny Ringo to that uncomfortably warm location!

~ Stephen T. "Quick Draw" McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Monday, January 3, 2011



My buddy DiscConnected posted a comment on my blog bit titled “Margarita Day – 2011”. As the whole world knows, every New Year’s Day I post something on both of my blogs about what I call “Margarita Day” and I always include the Margarita Day slogan, “A Tradition Since 1986 (Except For 1994)”.

DiscConnected had a couple of questions about this great national holiday and I answered those questions in the comment section. But I’m thinking that it’s “high” time I publicly revealed the origin of Margarita Day and the history behind that famous day’s slogan.

So, below is a reposting of DiscConnected’s comment and my response which will finally clear up the mystery and the myths surrounding this worldwide day of celebration.

DiscDude wrote:

What happened in 1994?
Were ya on the waggin?

Do Jack Daniels shots count?

Happy New Year, STMc!

The world did not end again....

Stephen T. McCarthy (that would be me) responded:

What happened in 1994?
Ha! It's kinda humorous because, believe it or not... well...

It was actually my Dad who started the Margarita Day tradition on January 1st in 1986. He was out and about doing things and at one point he decided to stop in at a local bar to watch one of the college football games and have a drink.

Now, Margaritas definitely were not my Pa's usual drink of choice; he was generally a beer or bourbon man. And I can't recall WHY he decided to have a Margarita that day but I think he saw someone else in the bar drinking one and on a whim it looked appealing to him. So in a very unusual moment, my Dad ordered a Margarita. In fact, I think it may have been the first Margarita he ever had. And he said the thing tasted so good and went down so nicely that he ordered a second one. And a third, and...

Well, as these things tend to happen, one drink led to another, and so on and such and such, and then suddenly in one moment it occurred to him that he was crocked! So, he called me and asked if I could come down there and pick him up because he didn't think he should be driving.

And that's how the Margarita Day tradition was born. From then on, he and I would go out every single New Year's Day and have a Margarita or two together. He passed away in 1996, but I keep the tradition alive, and intend to continue it until the day that I too pass away.

So, what happened in 1994?
Ha!-Ha! It's hard to believe but, after 8 years of having Margaritas on every New Year's Day, somehow or other we just plain FORGOT to do it in 1994. It didn't occur to either one of us that we were supposed to go out and get a Margarita. It wasn't until the next day, January 2nd, 1994, that it dawned on me that we'd neglected the tradition. I went to him and said, "Oh, my gosh, Pa! You know what we forgot to do yesterday?"
"What?" he asked. And I reminded him.
"Well, I'll be dogged!" he said. "How did that not happen?"

But we picked up where we'd left off in '95 and again in '96. And then on April 10th of 1996, at 66 years young, God called my Pa Home (the lucky guy!)

Looking back on it now, I'm kind of glad that he and I forgot to get a Margarita in '94 because it gave birth to my slogan "A tradition since 1986 (except for 1994)", which I think is really funny! When did you ever hear an advertising boast like that?

Nah, I'm afraid Jack Daniels shots don't count. You see why it must be a Margarita, right? However, "virgin" Margaritas DO count - I've gone that route a few times when the idea of a full octane Margarita didn't appeal to me.

And HAPPY NEW YEAR to you, too, McBuddy!

I think that, for me, the theme of 2011 might turn out to be "Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes".

~ Stephen

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Hey, you all, it's January 1st! And you know what day that is. That's right . . .
Margarita Day:
"A Tradition Since 1986 (Except For 1994)."
So, have yourself a merry little Margarita. Brother Nappy and I already took care of that important business. But dogged if we can remember where. Too many Margaritas can have that effect on a fellow's memory. Oh, wait . . . it's all coming back to me now in bits and pieces.
Nappy and I went to lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant in the Phoenix area - ABUELOS. Good food, good drinks, good atmosphere:



Ahhh . . . yes! And now we come to the object of our January 1st quest, the elusive Margarita. We caught two of them and they are now in captivity. That is, the cavities I call our stomachs:

Be sure you catch yerself a Margarita too!
At the Abuelos restaurant near me, there are a few murals and some paintings hanging on the walls. One painting in particular has always fascinated me because it's so downright A-List creepy! It's a picture of an evil looking clown character and the painting reminds me of something we might have seen on the old TV show NIGHT GALLERY [link]. Remember that series?
I could write a thousand words about this painting, but since a picture's worth a thousand words, I'll just post a picture instead:

Is that A-List creepy, or what?
Well, anyway, "Happy Margarita Day, Y'all!" Go get you a Margarita . . . and tell 'em Stephen sent ya!
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.