What All Went On
*** slightly slanted memory *** my first memories of athens *** Hear the Method Actors! *** saved from a crazed redneck *** Look at us, ain't we neat *** Night of the Red sticks *** I partied at Beaver Mansion *** a little trailer behind Wax *** raid the dempsy dumpster *** playing our very first show *** He hollered "WHOA, MULE!" *** the Barber Street Motor Club *** the start of the Athens music scene *** wonderful things happening on roofs... *** I remember both too much and too little *** Friend Ship *** I couldnt get in because of my age *** later i was out of my mind ***
*** I was known as Mark Phredd *** Random Memory Fragments 1977-1981 *** my own slant on some of the same events *** living and sweltering at Stichcraft *** Automatic Gallery Image of the Moment Slideshow *** my first great winter in Athens *** Tyrone's burning down with all our tabs! *** turn on the hose in my living room *** secret meetings of the Barber Street Mens Club *** The tall, shaggy-haired clerk in a black trenchcoat *** PARTY TALK *** A Few Unclaimed Party Memories *** Groundhogs Day, 1979 *** "put mustard on them then they aren't so bad" *** The Arnoldsville Swim Club ***
*** a little farther down Barber Street *** LOVEMETHODREMHER... *** our moonshine had turned to poison *** my sweetest Athens moments involved boys *** We were called Looking for Mr. Donut. *** naked only hiding ourselves with trench coats & boots *** Easter Punch *** the grey house across from 169 *** I came from Columbia, SC in June, 1986
Stream your Conscious
Write a story,
...by the way, how are you guys putting together 'stories' ? or in some cases, some folks' slightly slanted memories? you know who you outta contact if you haven't already? Slant Six - that would be Paul Webb, Joel Jones Chief and the others - you know Joel, right? Doubtful Paul would be interested, but you never know - that was the group that for quite a time used to hang out in Susannah Tomesella (sp?) building - now the Grit - Jeremy and I used to also bang around a lot on his steel drums, etc - but there was also the rest of the archaeologist bunch i worked with - Chief, Dan...Joel knows where/how to contact - but that you might ask Jeremy A. who else used to go to the 'point' -
i've got some fun memories of travelling around w/ tone tones, m.actors, etc - and did perhaps anybody come up w/ pictures of the 'Dancettes' who did the gig with B's at the Ga. Theatre? I was one, and a gal I went to elem. school in Atlanta - Paige Bynum was another - i'm not sure who the others were -
other fun memories of fowlersville and normaltown/blvd - also, here is Michael and Patty's email if you'd like to send them a notice: Michael Rofkar (german michael & patty rametta, Yves' mom): firstname.lastname@example.org. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they tried to make it - I sure with they would. Keep keep in fairly close touch - they're in CA.
there's also Kemp Jones and his bunch; Silent Partner. They were big in the Athens 'scene' tho didn't hang out much - at least not Kemp. But Don Porterfield, David James, Ben Bickerstaff (Susanne's beau back then) - David and Ben did 'hang' a lot - esp. late at the diner for eggs and such after Uptown -
seems that i remember Don has been playing at/ in Sautee-Nacoochee - and of course you know that my cuz Caroline lived here, played at the old Speakeasy - opened for Taj a time or two - was w/ Turtle Bay on keyboards (even have a pic of her on the front porch @ our old house in Fowlersville) - and Mike Oglesby (bill and beth's older bro) played music here; we did a couple of open mics @ the old Last Resort - so did David James and I - and actually won a time or two; i worked there but that was later.
and Jay Weidner...old manager from Eldorado - he was a big supporter of music here; last i heard he lived in Savannah- and Gary Crider; bet he's got some pictures..and might remember David...from Eldorado, who likewise might have pics - and Diane Cable...the artist..she was my roommate when i was working w/ or trying to sing w/ Athens Gold (Ned Bridges, Joel Cordle..Jeff of course and Chip Smith) - I think Jeff and Candice still around Bogart somewhere -
i know it's all kinda 'crazy' but it's a full circle; like David...dang it, can't remember his last name just now - from Little Tigers - ah yeah, Helmey. I see him every so often - him and Joe Kuhl - Paul (both of them)... what about Bryant Mickler and 'Tools of Freedom'? That was one of the highlights @ Rockfish - and of course Jody Grind - tho not from Athens, a big part of it -
i'll leave it alone now - once i get going, i just see one face, and think: "hmmm, now who came to the house for pot luck"??? and remember the Fall Equinox Arts Fest we had at Fowlersville? Nancy Chalfant, Eddie Glicken, etc. >>
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Jeff Walls: my first memories of athens are from '76-'77, they are of the poss house, the house that curtis crowe & bill tabor had (behind poss's barbeque) on the atlanta highway. the site of much debauchery, i remember seeing the b-52's play one of their first shows there around '77 or so, on top of a huge wooden dining room table that curtis made. for many years i had a live tape of their short set that night, made on one of those little mono cassette recorders. i remember that they would play one song, stretching it out maybe 6-8 minutes, and everyone would be dancing like crazy. then when it was over, they'd take a break for like twenty minutes and everything would cool down. they'd be partying and chatting away,
mingling and still standing up on that table. eventually they would get around to playing another song. it would last maybe another eight minutes or so, everyone would start dancing again, then they would stop again to party for another half hour. i remember being amazed that they sounded like they had been listening to "the ventures go to outer space" album, one of my all-time faves. i had a big crush on cindy, i thought she was the coolest thing on two wheels. i remember being real impressed that she made the scene at my friend guinne flournoy's party at her family's cabin on lake alatoona around this time. cindy was friends with curtis, and she came to check out the band we were in together with murry attaway and charlie seay. we called ourselves "strictly american", we played that night out on the
screen porch. somewhere there's a black & white super-8 movie of that night floating around, i remember cindy being in it.
i was 20 years old, and i remember that a lot of what i liked about the then newly-developing athens scene was that it reminded me of the mod mid-60's when i was a kid. very pop art, space-age, absurd & upbeat, and dance/party oriented. it felt like the 70's were already over and something new was positioning itself to replace them.
one of the bands i was in played a party at the poss house around '76 or '77, jim herbert was there filming some crazy girls. i remember the party scene back in those early days seeming to me like some arch spoof of a 60's hollywood party or something out of fellini's la dolce vita. self-conciously arty, but with a sense of humor, very tongue-in-cheek and set in a very uniquely southern milieu.
i lived in marietta and was working for muzak in atlanta in '77-'79, i used to have to come to athens a lot on service calls. i'd do a few service calls and then hang out all day (& sometimesnight) partying.
i would always stop off to see curtis & tabor, or guinne flournoy, who lived on nantahala. many times i would wind up sleeping on their couches. i remember coming up to see the b's at the georgia theatre, around '78. this was just after their debut album came out, and they seemed like big stars now. my marietta friends and myself snuck up to the balcony and took it over (it was closed). of course we we were drinking gin and tonics all night BYOB, i don't think they served liquor in those days. the opening act was a "fashion show" that featured guinne in a cowgirl get-up, riding a stick-horse and cracking a whip to a recording of "these boots were made for walkin'". by the time the b's started playing, we had discovered the old unused spotlight that was in the balcony. we lit it up and took turns spotlighting people in the audience. every time the stage lights would dim, we would adjust the aperture down to a thin
needle of light and focus it on fred's crotch, spotlighting it. wherever he went, we would follow-spot his package around in the dark.
after the show, we began a ritual that would become de riguer for athens roadtrips: that is, roving from keg party to keg party with a swarm of people, usually seeming to arrive at a party about an hour before the beer ran out. as soon as there was no more beer, off we would zoom to some other party with rumored free beer. it was around this time that michael lachowski started the partyline, a phone number you could call and get a recording that detailed the most up-to-the-minute info on developing
i remember being there when the 40-watt got named. in the pre-pylon days of '77 there weren't many places for an original band to play. our band, strictly american, wanted an excuse to play. so curtis set up a halloween party in the loft space he rented downtown (now above the grill on college ave.). it was a huge sort of ballroom space on the third floor with three arched windows looking out over college ave.. there was no power though, so we had to run long extension cords out of the front windows and back into the floor below. bill tabor had brought back a pound of shitty pot from mexico, so we rolled up about a hundred joints and put them inside of balloons for party favors. we
spent the afternoon trying to fix the place up a little, in doing so we realized there was only one light bulb in the place. resigned to this, tabor said "this is about a forty-watt club..." this stuck, and history, as they say, was made.
of course, that halloween party was completely over the top. guinne and her friends were the hostesses, decked out in fredrick's of hollywood lingerie. everyone was in outlandish costumes, dancing to devo, television, and iggy. randy bewley wore some sort of inflatable space-suit that required a source of electricity to keep it inflated. he had to
run a couple of 100' extension cords out the front windows and downstairs to pick up power. every once in a while we'd go unplug him for a laugh. he'd be on the dance floor busting moves and sscchhhhlloop! his space-suit would suddenly collapse and suck him up in it, much to everyone's amusement (and consternation).
as it got into the wee hours, things were getting out of hand. steve reardon and larry coles were over in a corner smashing beer bottles together until they would break. this offended some stray out-of-place frat boys who were there to oogle the girls in lingerie and drink free beer. to our
amusement, they threatened to have us thrown out. dementedly we crowed "throw us out? you can't throw us out! it's OUR FUCKING PARTY! WE'RE THE ONE'S IN CONTROL!"
i was from marietta, and the athens scene was significantly different from the atlanta scene that had been my stomping grounds growing up. the scene here was considerably more inventive, playful and less contrived (or at least contrived in a fun way) than what i had experienced in atlanta, and i always found myself feeling more at home here than there. by the time guadalcanal diary had gotten big enough to move from danny beard's db records to elektra in '84, pylon had broken up and the athens scene was being documented for a movie
guadalcanal did a european tour in spring of '85, and when rhett & i got home from it we couldn't deal with the culture shock of being back in cobb county. in our panic, we fled to athens to escape reality. intending to stay only a week or so, we wound up renting a house and never went back. later on, in '87 we wound up buying a house on nantahala, just across the street from guinne's old house where i had crashed so many times ten years before.
by '89 guadalcanal broke up, and pylon was doing its first reunion.nicky gianaris, murry attaway and i started hillbilly frankenstein. rhett & i split in '93 after having two kids. hillbilly disbanded in '95, and i married hillbilly bassist
phyllis bridges in '97 (the second bass-playing bandmember i've married). we currently have a house in east athens where we hope to age disgracefully.
i'm in the woggles now, they are a garage band that started in athens in '87 and were a fixture here for years. but they've since moved away and are scattered thither and yon, and i'm the only member still living in athens. we tour the world regularly, last year we played around a hundred shows, and i spent more time abroad than in the u.s.. i've come to the sad realization that just about every place in the world rocks harder than the u.s. right now. i hear more good music in one night at the clubs we play in europe & japan than i hear !
year living here.
my kids carson & lilli are 15 & 16 now. they are fixtures on the downtown athens scene, chips off the old block. they love living here. we're taking them to amsterdam for vacation next week, they need to see the world. i saw mike mills the other day, he said that REM was going to be in amsterdam then too, so maybe we'll hook up. some things never change, i still see old friends from athens in faraway places around the world.
my kids have read the pop culture books about the athens scene, and they've grown up in the shadow of the history our friends made here before they were born. athens has changed a lot over the years, to me it feels like it has grown bigger, more enmeshed, self-congratulatory and cutesy, and yet more provincial at the same time. sometims i just have to scratch my head and wonder.
somehow i managed to outlive my times and the scene has moved on. i'm sure there's a scene out there now, but it's waiting for my kids, not for me. but it's still great to come home to
i'm royally pissed that i will not be able to attend the athens rewind party, i'll be on tour with the woggles then and can't get out of it. thanks for letting me wax nostalgic, i'll be there in spirit.
drink one for me.
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Method Actors @ Tyrones
you'll swear you're at the club again-
Robert Warren: played bass in Go Van Go. worked at the Grill and Kinko's. lived in Vic Varney's house. played a one-off gig with Dana Downs as Kid Aries & Blush. was saved from a crazed redneck at a Limbo District show by Vanessa from Pylon... she wagged her finger at him. This was at the 40 Watt Club.
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Robbie Ethridge: I worked at Kinko's downtown. I xeroxed many of the posters on your website, and I loved it when the bands came into Kinkos to do their posters. I lived on Wilson Ave., in Five Points and Grady Street (with Dundy Dunderville and Tina Whatley Chesnutt). I later played bass in 28 days and Mrs. Atkins. One of my most memorable moments was seeing REM play at the 40 Watt when it was above Blimpies. We danced and danced until I thought the floor was gonna fall through. I don't remember the year, but in the late 80s, Dundy, Tina, me, and Watt King had a big art show at our Grady Street house, where many local artists showed some of their favorite pieces. I loved all the bands, posters, parties, fun, dancing, creativity, and energy that was Athens at that time. To quote the Side Effects, "Look at us, ain't we neat."
Looking forward to the party, and thanks for putting this all together.
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Tom Cheek: OMG...all over..barber,boulevard st with kilkenny and m.mills and bill b. in the other half..riding around m. mills car somewhere in GA and getting sick...best party for me was M lachowski birthday and debut of kilkenny cats..Is Ought Gap playing under "the night of the red sticks" decorations at the old coffee club..the house of Rimbaud and a couple of strange shows we did there..there is so much I was there from fall of 79 until summer of 95
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Eric Eaton: Your most humorous moment (kind of)-dancing by myself to Dancing With Myself; and/or embarrassing moment (kind of)-Passing out in a deep sleep on the floor of Judy's room at a party at Lauren and Judy's house. Memorable contribution-good friendship, sweetness and kindness. Where you worked-Abbot's Pizza, The Taco Stand, Bells, a few other places that I no longer remember the names of. What street you lived on- Barber St. Cobb St. Jimmy Elisons's house down accross the river, in a little trailor behind Wax up the street from the dorms. Who did you hang out with-the guys in R.E.M. and the Side Effects, Chuck Connolly, Kurt, Lynda and Cyndi, Julie, Sheila and Linda, Leslie Michel, Farley Daniel, Beth Glaze, Candy Huygens and Ingrid and many more. A great bunch of people. did you have a big party? I went to many big parties. Some I remember well.
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Sarina Galanti Freedland: I lived on S.Pope in the duplexes. I hung around with Marian Connelly, Rachel McDowell, Caren Smith, Clint Maffit, Anthony McSwain, James Paulen. I went to the parties where we danced to 'Rocky Top' (can't remember where the house was). My favorite places were Friends, Last Resort (quarter beer night), Hoagies - awesome sandwiches, and Sons of Italy pizza. I saw Police at the Georgia Theater - the place was almost empty. I was in the J school (advertising. I worked at the Peddler Steak House on Broad Street. My roommate worked at the Spaghetti Factory
(or something like that) on Broad Street. Marian Connelly Bradley: I lived on Pope Street,near the tree that owned itself. I hung out with Sarina Galanti, Rhonda Fleming, Vanessa with Pylon (opened for B52's), Jack and Kat, James Paulen, Clint Maffit, Anthony McSwain. I partied at Beaver Mansion. I hung out at the Last Resort, Hoagies for great sandwiches, Friends, Sparky's, Tracks, T ? Hardy's, Sons of Italy.
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Lynne Friedlander: We lived @ 169 Barber St, Behnd the Bells Market where we used to raid the dempsy dumpster to compliment our communal grocery supplies. There with Paul Lombard, Andy Dahm, Carol Corry, Roger, Joe Kuhl and of course Larry who was my partner at the time. There was a "Barber Street rapist" one summer. And at that time the boys were having regular weekend acid parties. I was not an drug user but the boys woldn't leave me in the house alone. So I recall wandering the streets of Athens in the wee hours with the gang trying to convince them that the creature behind the picket fence was only a dog and it was time to move on. I ended up moving next door for a time because the racket from practice sessions (between the Little Tigers and REM) was too overwhelming for me to study.There were long smoke filled political discussions in the parlor of the old victoran upstairs, and midnight raids to deface the post office long about the time of "line of Sight". Remember those? I miss Larry and Carol every day of my life and dream of them often. There's a lot more, but.......
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Betty Alice Fowler: former member of the Post Card Club
It must have been fall quarter of 1982. The 40 Watt Club West at 256 W. Clayton Street was in full swing and hosting shows four nights a week. We were busy and there was always something to do even on Sunday morning after a big Saturday night performance. Mark "Coach" Segura, Pat Biddle and I had been up all night at the club drinking and playing "Sylvester Setback" which is a particularly nasty version of the card game "Hearts".
About the time the sun was rising, Pat announced that he had other places to be and promptly split. Coach and I finished cleaning up the inside of the bar before braving the light of the new day.
Saturday night must have been a doozy because the outside of the joint was in worse shape than the interior. Half full and half empty beer cans littered the sidewalk, the street curb and the brick windowsill beneath the plate glass! of the club's office out front of the building. As Coach and I stood there trying to formulate the quickest and easiest way to subdue the previous evening's remnants, a short, old, grizzled black man wearing a full-length trench coat and a Gatsby style hat meandered up to our spot on the sidewalk.
We were still feeling the affects of some now long forgotten chemical inspiration, which was doing a fine job of keeping us both off-balance in this surreal landscape of colors, movement and the rather large quantity of post-party trash. We hadn't been too attentive to our visitor as folks from all walks of life routinely ambled by the little establishment.
So, Coach and I were smoking our Marlboro reds, mulling our situation over, when it became apparent that the little black man was attempting to communicate with us. He started out by mumbling something unintelligible then resorted to hand signals as he realized that whatever language he spoke was not making the connection with us. After a couple of false starts, we finally realized that the old dude wanted to bum a cigarette.
Coach handed him a smoke and then offered our new friend a light with that trusty Zippo lighter he always carried. After a few satisfying drags on his fresh smoke, the old codger set his sights on a new target, which of course, was the array of dead soldiers lining the brick windowsill.
In our altered mental state, we were a tad slow in grasping the eventuality that was sure to befall our new rumpled friend. When the not-so-dapper dude reached for that first spent beer can with an old cotton, fingerless work glove that covered his trembling hand, Coach and I looked at each other with a "shit, THIS is going to be interesting" look on our faces.
We held our breath and disbelief in check as the morning drinker began to drain the dregs of his alcoholic windfall. First one-then two, three, four, five, six, seven cool but surely flat beers went down without a fight. We were mesmerized.
Then it happened. Number eight was not our man's lucky number. Mid-chug the old guy froze. I assume that's when he associated the genuinely bad taste with the soggy cigarette butt that bumped against, but hopefully never made it past, his lips. He spit nothing out.
He swallowed what remained of that last gulp like the risk-taker that he was, and immediately started to shake all over violently, then sort of danced a little jig while declaring the only two words I understood from him that morning. He hollered "WHOA, MULE!" as he regained his balance and composure before turning towards Pulaski Street, never to be seen by me again.
There was that brief few moments of silence between Coach and me as we processed what we had witnessed, followed by ten solid minutes of uncontrollable, side-splitting, both of us literally rolling around on the sidewalk laughter that was interspersed with the cry of "WHOA, MULE!" between us whenever we could catch our breath.
Maybe, you just had to be there. I think of Coach, the old man and the events of that Sunday morning quite often. And at Rewind, should you hear those two fateful words from somewhere in or around the 40 Watt, check your drink before you run.
Can't wait to see everyone at Rewind! All the Best - Paul E. Scales
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First Night (April 5, 1980)
Boy, are we nervous. In just a few minutes we are going to be playing our very first show ever. Who could have known when we decided to get together and make some music that we would actually be playing in front of an audience? Tonight is the birthday of one of my oldest friends in Athens, Kathleen O'Brien who I first met while we were in high school at a German convention for high school students who were studying the language, when we snuck off with a few people to get high. I used to work with her brother when I was 15 and her best friend was in my high school German class.
On February 29, 1980, John Cale played the last show for a long time at the Georgia Theater, after the show was a birthday party for local college radio D.J., Kurt Wood, who started the first "New Wave/Punk" show at WUOG, the student-run University radio station. It was at Kurt's birthday party while standing on the front porch of Ginger Schulman's house on Lumpkin St. that Kathleen O'Brien asked if Kit Swartz, Jimmy Ellison and I could play at her birthday party on April 5th. She said her roommates' band was also going to perform, if they could get a set together. Nervously we agreed, even though all three of us had only been playing music together for about 3 months, we also hoped to have our set, too. We decided we needed a name, so we went to Barnett's to get ideas for a moniker from the title of a book or something. Finding a book called "The Side Effect", we decided to call ourselves The Side Effects, with the "t" in the always capitalized, so as not to be confused with the disco band of a similar name.
We began practicing every night, going over and over our set list, which was only about 9 or ten songs. One thing that always bothered me about the way we practiced was that we would stop and start over at every little mistake so it took a long time to go through our few songs. As of tonight I had only been playing drums about 6 months and Jimmy our bass player had only been playing 4 months. Kit, the guitarist has been playing a little longer than me, because his brother knew how to play guitar and would show him different tricks. At the time we are listening to a lot of Ventures albums and the Gang of Four is our favorite band, though we do like most of the "New Wave/Punk" that is coming out at the time, I'd say they are our biggest influences. Therefore we became an "instrumental band with vocals".
During spring break a few weeks after the Kurt's birthday, I had ridden to New York City with the future singer and guitarist of the headlining band, Kurt Wood and a couple of girls whose names escape me at the moment. The trip to NYC was, to say the least, quite eventful. It was while in New York that we all were somehow invited to attend a birthday party for Lester Bangs. Years later I would ask the hostess if she remembered us from that day, and she said, "Oh yeah, you were they guys that smelled so bad." We spent the whole time living in a van off of Columbus Circle in front of the club Hurrah's and didn't get to shower, though the guitarist didn't show up one night and said he had picked up some girl at a bar just so he could get a shower. I knew the guitar player, because he worked in a record store and the singer and I worked together at the Steak and Ale restaurant where the crew would sometimes get together and have go-go parties at a house outside of town.
Two weeks ago, the singer and a friend of his, Mark Cline, came to see us rehearse at a house my parents had bought out in the suburbs of Athens. We were quite the amateurs. We plodded through our 9 song set and asked them what they thought. The singer seemed to feel that we were really no threat to them musically, but we definately may have had them beat in the originality department. We played several covers, but after the singer for the headliner came to see our practice we narrowed it down to two, "Boots are Made for Walking" and "For Your Love", because the other band was playing some of the same songs. However, our versions were played not at all like the originals, yet still captured their essence. We decided not to play "Secret Agent Man" so that they could perform that as well.
Last night we loaded our equipment through a back door into the sanctuary of the old Saint Mary's Church where Kathleen lived with the guitarist and singer. There is a two story apartment built inside the church occupying half of the available space in the sactuary. Fortunately there is a back door, or we would have had to load the equipment through the closet in Kathleens bedroom, which has a small door about 3 feet high that one has to duck through to enter the sanctuary from the apartment. After setting up our equipment in the dark and dusty chamber, we ran through our set. We played our set for the drummer of the headlining band and the bassist. It was the first time the guitarist heard us as well. We were quite nervous, since they had just finished performing some of their songs for us. It was the first time I had ever heard them play, and it was much more professional and quite tight. Their set consisted of mostly covers, with about 40 percent originals interspersed throughout it.
"That is interesting the way you accent the downbeats the same as the upbeats," said the other drummer to me.
I honestly had no idea what he was talking about, having never taken a lesson in my life. "Thanks," I said through the microphone after our set while doing a very lousy impersonation of Johnny Lydon in the Public Image Ltd vein. We were really wasted on the Quaaludes that were going around by the time the last night was over, because we wanted to play sober tonight.
Today, earlier in the evening members of both bands had done interviews with Kurt Wood on WUOG. The party was to be a big secret. The headlining band hadn't even chosen a name yet and were asking the audience to vote on such names as "Twisted Kites," "Third Wave" and "Negro Wives." Both bands were really playing up the big rock star image. It was quite hilarious. We made about 8 posters for our show with only the name of the band "The Side Effects" and a photo of a kid in Central Park with a hand grenade by Diane Arbus. Since the headliners didn't have a real name they didn't have a poster, though the poster at the Wuxtry had written on it "Coming to a location near you with Twisted Kites, only the Kugat will know." Kugat being our catch phrase at the time for things that were more than keen, from the Woody Allen movie Sleeper which most of us had seen a few weeks earlier.
Time for our debut set, and the whole place is packed. It is G-Day weekend and perhaps word made it out beyond the downtown scene. There are people hanging in the windows next to the stage being careful not to fall through the holes in the floor. We are scared to death! We open with "I Always Used to Watch You" and run quickly through our set, ending with a song the other guitarist would eventually name for us, "Neat In The Street." For some reason I think the idea of playing before the audience has given us some weird boost of energy. Finally our set is finished and everyone is screaming for an encore, so we play our first two songs over again.
The headlining band finally takes the stage for their premier performance as well, "Oh No!!! Ba ba bada ba ba ba badaba" They play "I Can't Control Myself" Or maybe it was 'Nervous Breakdown." It is hard to remember. Our set is over and the need to remain sober has long vanished. However, their set is just beginning, and for them it will be the first of many for years to come.
The next day I return a van to my brother which had been used for the spring break trip to NYC with Peter and Michael. While cleaning it out I find a pair of underwear inside the refrigerator. For years I had no idea where they came from until one evening in a casual conversation with Peter Buck he admits that they were his and that on that historical evening he had an intimate encounter with what was perhaps his first rock groupie. Funny how things turn out that way.
Looking back on the last 25 years it always amazes me how much the scene has grown. From small secluded parties in old warehouses and peoples homes to a major industry bringing in thousands of dollars to the local economy. There would be no place now for a band like ours, once referred to as the nerds of the local scene. Therefore I am thankful to have been in the right place and the right time to capture the small town magic that was once the Athens music scene. I am sure there are those who experience the same sense of oneness with those in the audience and those on stage, but self awareness may have removed some of the naive charm and wonder one experiences when everything thing is new, every note is fresh, and every beat is empowering -PB
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Homesick for Athens on the Internet
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Living up all those stairs 169 Barber Street is a window on the world without anybody on the street knowing we were watching.
It was 24 hours a day, 7 days a week action.
For example, consider the corner of Prince Ave and Barber. Behind a ramshackle service station among various species of dead motor "CARcasses" washed up by a freak tide stranded baking in the hot sun on an asphalt beach, dwelled a gathering of grizzled homeless men.
Depending on what cars were there and where, the guy's positions changed. At night they usually retreated to a favorite car to pass out. For a while, a convertable without a top was the "living room" of choice. It wasn't unusual to see 2 or 3 guys and a cooler sitting in it. The "driver" would wave when we walked past. We'd always wave back.
A derelict school bus appeared. It became THE social center. During the day the men would gather in the bus, one to a seat, all facing forward and drinking. Looking like they were always goin' on a road trip, we called them
the Barber Street Motor Club
Directly Across the Street from 169 and a little to the right was the 24 hour coin operated car wash. During the day there was nothing out of the ordinary going on. The true entertainment value came on as the sun went down. The wee hours and weekend nights after the bars closed brought the place to life!
Guys from the projects farther down Barber Street brought 70's era pimp mobiles and their associated ladies to wash cars, show off, sell dope, talk shit, squeal tires, occasionally fight, turn up the funk on car stereos, and carry on in all sorts of ways- dressed in anything from sweats to flamboyant polyester outfits. Summertime there were hose fights, ladies in wet t-shirts, etc. What a show!
One morning Michael Stipe and I were walking through the Bell's parking lot. The part nearest 169 had a car parked in it with a guy sleeping in the front seat. It was a bench seat , and he was stretched across it with one leg up. We looked at him and commented how comfy he looked.
Later in the day we walked by again. He was still sleeping and we commented how tired he must be, because now it was getting hot. He never opened up his windows.
That night from the perch of our porch we watched as a swarm of police surrounded the car. They began sliding that sleeping guy out of his car. He was still in the same position. He did not wake up.
He was DEAD!
It was my first time ever seeing a real dead person.
From the kitchen at 169 the Bell's dumpsters were the thing to behold. Mark Phredd Rizzo's room adjoined the kitchen. The every other day cacophony of the dumpsters being emptied inspired him. He started a ceremony to pay homage. Coffee would be brewed- the current drawn by the coffee maker dimmed the lights, we'd take our steaming fresh cups of coffee and sit on the hill watching and listening to all the sounds and commotion with reverence, waving goodbye to the garbage men as they went on there way
Sometimes others would notice our house and look at us. Occasionally cars full of drunk frat guys stopped right in front of 169's steps. The group would stare intently up at our house. If anybody noticed the siteseers and walked out on the porch the car screeched away. Very strange!
Well, the Side Effects got a gig playing at some frat house who wanted a band for their "Punk rock party". A bunch of us went to see what we could see- or for endless free beer or both. I started talking to a group of frat guys with sliced up white T-shirts adorned with safety pins and fake mohawks. Somehow the subject of where I live came up. When I told them they were stunned.
My collection of little black dresses hung neatly from the picture rails on the wall around my room. Linda Hopper's black cat, Stella, sat around looking sinister. I had a headless mannequin on the front porch. People hung around wearing black clothes with purple or black or henna red hair and are awake at all hours looking "spooky"
The mystery was finally solved! 169 Barber Street was a major fraternity/sorority drive-by attraction! Somehow the greeks got the idea we were a witch's den of iniquity. My black dresses were ceremonial robes. The mannequin served some demented function. They believed we did all sorts of bizarre sacrificial things and burned enchanted candles. And we were worthy of their close observation and speculation
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] Not only am I a longtime pal of Leslie Michel, who alerted me to this site, but:
I was actually born in Athens GA when my dad was in Vet school there in the 50s. We moved to Atlanta in 59 and I returned to UGA in 1973 as a freshman in college.
Not that I can recall anything I studied in college but I do have vivid memories of all the great parties and the nightclubbing we did almost every night at places like the B&L Warehouse and Wall St. West in the early years, The Circus, The Last Resort in the mid 70s and the big house parties on Lumpkin St., Beaver Mansion, Hill St. etc. and of course Jerry Lewis' famed "basement cave."
Aside from attending Jurnalism school and talking all my feiends into embarrassing themselves in my crazy student films, "Walk on the Wild Side," "Boots" and "Sick Young Men," I did some time at WUOG with pals John Kelley, Billy Sherill, Ginger Bailey, John O, Bill Murry and Johnny Pride and worked nights spinning records at a club called Episode 247 in 1977-78 with Peter and Mark Cline, then at the Madd Hatter my last year in Athens. We had some great times playing funk and new wave music for the kinds of diverse crowds that inhabited Athens at the time.
I felt fortunate to be around to see the start of the Athens music scene and remember in July 1977 sneaking our friends the B-52's into the University's Broadcast Jrl. studios to make their first videos of "Hot Lava" "Hero Worship" "Strobe Light" and "Devils in My Car." I told the University facility managers that we were shooting a training video for the National Socitey of something or another and they pretty much gave me the keys to the building. Things were going along smoothly until Cindy, Ricky, Fred, and Keith suddenly burst into the studio with Ruby and their entourage and go-go dancers in rainwear drag causing a stir in the halls and men's bathroom. Dana Downs, John Kelley, Brad Sergi, Rhonda Fleming, Tom & Carl, John Thrasher and Curtis Knapp and I were despartely tying to set up and shoot under a tight deadline while "the Man" tried to shut us down before we had gotten what we needed. We literally had to bribe the University engineers and tape operators who didn't want!
to "waste good video tape recording crap like this." In the end we prevailed and went home with our video masters tucked under our arms and with a new sense of the power of music video years before it would actually permeate our lives. It was such a blast even though I was almost kicked out of Journalism school and fined for the rock n roll rouse. The really funny thing happened a few years later when the same group of University brass who had come down on us all so hard went public in their recruiting material and press with their praise for "Athen's own B-52's who made their first music videos in our very own television studios.." It kinda feels good that every one of them has been exposed countless times to "Rock Lobster," "Roam" or "Love Shack" over the years each time they turn on the radio or see a TV ad or listened to their children blasting music from their rooms.
Anyway, to put it mildly - I can't believe this happened almost 30 years ago. Where has the time gone?
I am planning to come back home and hopefully meet up with a few friends from the past and make some new ones.
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I worked at WUOG from 1976 to 1980... actually helped run the place for a few years... without realizing that we were plugged into music history. There was an awful lot of good energy in those days, so it's not too surprising that great things sprung up.
I remember a lot of wonderful things happening on roofs-- lovemaking... dope smoking... star-gazing... etc. Good things also happened on the railroad tracks overlooking the football stadium. No surprise that so many good things happened outdoors. Athens is a primo place to be outdoors.
We did a lot of live broadcasts at WUOG... pretty much anybody worth a damn who would give us legal permission to broadcast their shows made it on the air. My favorite, still in my collection, was Gregg Allman with the Nighthawks presented by The Last Resort at The Georgia Theatre. (Does the name Sam Smart ring a bell??) Gregg was just coming off his Cher years and did a little tour with the Hawks. I kept thinking he was going to cut off our legal rights at showtime, but we got it on the air.
We also did shows with Cowboy, Glenn Phillips, The Dixie Dregs, Loudon Wainwright III, Gove Scrivenor and many others. Maybe one of your other readers can kick further that list.
When I think of Athens, I think of warm, moist nights... healthy vegetation... Southern accents... beautiful women... water-filled quarries, although I only remember visiting one of them. I knew they were there. And most of all I think of the radio station... and the music. What a soundtrack... what a place to attend college. Bravo.
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From emails from and to Adele Madry:
The shoes were to die for. But the hat and make-up? Oy vey gesmir!
I do not watch the telly. I own 2, but only play DVD's. Much more
And how are you?
I always admired those pope shoes myself!
Wish I could see the rest of this message between you and Mark.
How the heck are you Peter? I couldn't avoid the new pope ceremony yesterday, but I kept switching away from those stations. This guy is a worse homophobe than the last one. I do not understand a religion that condones pederism yet discourages condom use in countries w/rampant HIV.
Talk about a mixed message.
Even the Latino community, the last Catholic stronghold, is leaving the Church for evangelisms, the President's church. Can you believe all of the TV shows on about Revelations, angels and psychics?
Love 2 U, Adele
Athens reunion? No. Tell me about it. When? Is it past? Randy Rudisil and Lyn Roberts got in touch with me not long ago when I was on local TV. And where can I find pics of DG? I remember getting very drunk with him one time on tequila.
Let's see: Single. Principal of a large Jewish day school. Have a largish house and garden in Roswell. Love to garden. Spend summers in Highlands, where I hope to buy another house some day. I do not go out. Simply tired of the night life. I do keep up with new music, though except for Bowie and Morrissey I have no desire to see any of the bands I like live.
I am in a new garden at present. Been here a year since November, so I'm just getting started on this one. I have pines in the back, and river birch and willow in the front. So far I've laid in mostly hard scape and backbone plantings. There was nothing here but grass and ivy before, both of which I despise. I'll attach some pics of the old garden in Smyrna with this mail. I had a little 2 bedroom brick ranch from the Fifties. I lived there about six years. I have a German friend, Alexandra, whom I met on morrissey-solo, who liked to joke that I lived in Smyrna und Tizer, and it was sort of like a cheap and dated cocktail but it suited for awhile. That too was all grass and ivy. By the time I finished there was very little grass left. I had 5 different garden "rooms," three shade and two sun. I don't think the poor girl who bought that house from me knew what she was getting into. I averaged ten hours a week in that garden. This one is planned to be lower maintenance. Right now it!
is mostly azaelas, hydrangeas, hosta, astillbe, day lilies of quite a number of vareities, viburnum and a few perennials that I am trying on for size. I did dig a koi pond last summer, into which frogs promptly moved. And there are koi in it as well, which have managed to spawn, so I suppose I have the right to to call my self a progenitor of sorts.
The website was very strange, though it was nice to see Mark trying on that polka-dotted number. My, her figure has changed. Not many pics of people, which I would like to see, but so many old posters displaying such poor graphic design. We thought we were all so original at the time, but really we were just young. The Elizabethan period has become a big area of interest for me over the years and they had no concept of originality. Instead they focused on artifice and embellishment. Nature existed only to be modified. Have you read about Tudor and Elizabethan gardens? Their closest modern equivalent would be a miniature golf course, but gaudier. But the web site did spark a short moment of nostalgia de bouie. We may not have been original but we did have fun. I remember the phrase "Fuck art, let's dance," with particular fondness. It might be gruesome fun to peek in on the reunion and see those who have survived. I'm afraid I remember most vividly those who did not. In any event, !
my approach most generally is in line with the Patti Smith line --- "I may not fuck much with the past but I fuck plenty with the future."
I get to NY every few years. I like Mark's new bf much better than the old one. Tomas is quite nice, intelligent, and a good anchor for my little sister. I'm hoping they'll come for a few days to the cabin I take in the summer in Highlands this year.
Where do you live in NY? In the city? Outside the city? Tell me all about your domestic arrangements.
is there a statute of limitations on the limits of love?
I remember the summer and fall of 76. Hot and green. I was so happy to be away from my ©catholic youth. It was freedom. I could look from my room at shirtless youths playing bball or at the cemetery across the road, listening to Patti Smiths Horses. It was like having breakfast all day.
At Reid Hall I met Lynn, DeAnne, Randy, Carol, Janet and others. We listened to Suicide, the Ramones and DEVO; mostly we annoyed everyone we could. It was fun. I began working at Episode 247, where I met Charles (now Chuck, now God knows what), and I learned to dance. I hung out with Fred and Jerry Ayres. I also met the Macon crowd --- mostly, in memory, Annette and Keith B. I met Adele, and through her, Davey, now a subject for the Kaddish. He is of blessed memory, and I will speak no more. It was disco time, but disco didnt matter. We appropriated the beats. Everyone had sex, but no one talked about it. We all danced. And we didnt talk about that either.
I was at the party where the Bs first played, and I remember thinking, OK, this is neat. We should do more of it. And we did. And there were the Tone Tones, The Method Actors, Pylon, Love Tractor, The Side Effects, The Space Heaters.
I remember parties, and Mark Phredd and how we threw a party and tried not to let the ubiquitous drug dealers know about it, and failed. MP split his head open on someones hatchback and we lied -- you are not bleeding!, then rode bicycles. And Mike Richmond and the Insomniac Club, and learning about Simple Minds and Bauhaus from Mike. And going to frat gigs with REM, when the art crowd didnt recognize REM. And singing with Stipe, ABBA songs, when Pete broke a guitar string. And, always, dancing.
And working with Kay at Eldorado and going to work on dew wet Sunday mornings, stealing newspapers from quiet lawns. And laughing because that is what you do when you are young. And serving eggs to vegetariansJ
I remember being hungry and poor and thinking 20$ was a fucking fortune, and eating at the Taco Stand and hoping for freebies and praying to be on the guest list. I remember going with Chuck, in our best preppie drag, drugged, to the Holiday Inn and tormenting business men, offering spankings. Some accepted. And we made money.
I remember living in the Talmadge house across from Allens. Black fraternities would rent it and I would hide in my room and piss out the window. I learned a lot about R&B that year. I remember living with my sister, Betsy Cline on Prince Ave, with Richard et al, and the bus bench by the Dunkin Donuts. Oh, we smoked, and I wasnt good at it, and Troy would visit. The gas heater hissed, orange flamed. Mostly I remember Cobb Aveneue and Kay as landlord. What a great time. I had the servants room and Stipe came and went through my clothes when I said I was moving back to Atlanta. I think Kay replaced the bathroom window when I left.
I remember Chip and Donna. I still have the photos Donna took of me. I still have a photo Donna took of a relatively small portion of Chips anatomy. Chip, if you need it, you can have it back. I remember Donnas scary turned-inside-out animal sculptures and their early foray into loft-living.
I remember playing guitars with Jay Emerson and Steve Modelmough. I remember a pick up band with Jimmy Ellison on bass, Mike Richmond on drums, and me on vocals and a Muson borrowed from Pylon. I remember being in an early version of Oh-OK after Carol Levy (also of blessed memory quit); with Mike Mills and Linda Stipe showing up at my kitchen door saying that each would do it if I would, and having to sing songs written for a girl singer in front of a large crowd from Atlanta. I threw up afterwards.
I remember poetry readings. The Gang of 400. Virgin Soldiers. New Arts Magazine. Dave Bottoms and Coleman Barks (whose poetry I now like, particularly his translations of Rumi). I remember reading with a lesbian collective, the only male poet, and puzzling the late comers with my, dubious, maleness.
I remember the Coffee Club, and all the incarnations of the 40 Watt Club, and Tyrones OC, and the Mad Hatter, and KTs and the B&L Warehouse.. I remember small town drag queens who didnt know (or care) if they were black or white. I remember dancing with Wes to Hotel California, drinking too much at the Speakeasy in the Georgian Hotel. I remember being young, elegant, and not having any idea that I was either. God bless memory.
Writing all this, I realize, I remember, that I remember both too much and too little; that memory is unreliable, frangible. I remember the dead, who I will not recite here but whom I remember with every living breath and regret, not nor their dying, which is impossible to regret, but that, likely, I did not cherish them in life as they deserved, as I should have realized they deserved, to be cherished. I will remember, they will not know, I will forget, and we will all be forgiven.
Peace is just a word.
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