Song of the Middle Class


It’s a Wednesday night, well after closing time.
Not that closing time, as a concept, means anything to us.
Every drunk in the van is under 21, most under 18.

A quiet night, no gigs and no parties, just good honest underage drinking of malt liquors and driving the endless tracts of Artesia Boulevard to Bloomfield to South St and back:
The Cerritos loop.

The Blue and White.
The Blue and White.

So we’re sitting there, bored, Naugles parking lot.
Me and Kimm, Chris and Paul maybe, Larry and Rich, some of the DC boys…. hell—I don’t know.

Any Summer night is interchangeable and unique.
Nights of aimless driving and drinking, talking and listening to cassette after stretched
C-90 cassette on a stolen Blaupunkt.

The mixtape comes to an end, cutting off 999‘s The Boy Can’t Make it with Girls
There is that organic pause, then the mechanical snick of the tape head flipping and side B starts: Middle Class, Out of Vogue!

Even in 1981 it is an oldie.
One of the rare first ones, brought back into the fold after one of Kimm’s reconnaissance missions downtown LB to Zed Records.

Kimm would unveil the latest finds around the drinking table, stacks of alien vinyl that we would pore over, front and back, sleeves and labels, before resting on the tunrtable and letting blast.
Suburban Lawns’ Janitor, The WeaselsBeat Her with a Rake……The Normal and Warm Leatherette!

These early punk songs were all startling listens within context, wildly different from the polished shit coming at us from KMET.
But those songs held onto that nouveau artrock aesthetic, somehow, songs showing a winking intellect above the rawness of the take:

Yeah, I know it sounds like shit to you, but this is art, no?
You cannot possibly understand what we are trying to say here, dummy!

Not the case with Middle Class, no.
This was straight ahead business, no time for phony poses:

The frantic pace, the militaristic cadence of the vocals over the gallop of bass and drum, these blueprints have served us-all-since the needle first dropped, and the pause button released on tapedeck to let spin the tiny reels of Memorex.

We stole a dozen ideas from that blast of an EP.

...putting our spin on things....
…putting our spin on things….

And now, in the dead of night in the lot of a dearly departed fast food joint, the song makes for the perfect soundtrack for the action:
Doug comes tumbling into the van, rubbing hands together and cackling.
“Go, go—fuckin punch it!”

I start the Blue and White without thought, so used have I become with these sudden get aways from stupid mischief.

“Skanker,” yells Chris–“what about Duane?”

Under those August fluorescents, Duane falls out of the double doors clutching a bathroom sink.
His Sex Pistols homo-cowboy shirt is stained with fresh blood, as is the porcelain hunk in his mitts.
Apparently Skanky had a little trouble yanking the sink off the wall and blood has been shed.

He is crying with laughter as he almost gets his prize to the van, but the sink is slick with blood and the plumbing goes crash to the ground.
Shards split across the parking lot, diamonds against asphalt, and the sink splits in two separate halves with a final clank as Home is Where comes on next.

Another good one, all throbbing bass line and syncopated riff, the guitar sound honest still.

Duane does the only logical thing left.
He takes the bigger of the chunks, looks back at us and gives us the gap tooth grin we’ve come to know as the green flag of mayhem.
He holds it aloft for just a moment before letting it sail through the glass doorway:
Here’s your goddamn sink back–happy?

The night is full now, blood and breaking glass and people yelling, confusion and chaos over the charging music……and are we being chased?
Wild noise in the night!—-it was all we wanted, really.

I can do nothing more than put the Chevrolet in gear and turn the stereo full blast.

Sorry for the inconvenience-Bathroom is closed.
Sorry for the inconvenience-Bathroom is closed.

The destructive nature of punk rock?
Is that what yer saying?

Hell, everyone’s got a million stories like that, all over the place.
Punkers of a certain age were free in the night, untethered by cellular device and social network, free to write the story as it went along.

But God bless us, if nothing else we all seemed to grow up and learned, yeah, you got it brother–No Man is an Island!

And we found out that there was value in this music and in these shows.
And regardless of a hundred asshole promoters that ripped us off in the past because they had no respect for what we were doing, we’d come to a place where we could come together for something good.

We’re honored to be part of this fundraiser, but mostly just proud of this funny little tribe.
Because maybe by helping each other we’re just helping ourselves.

And we can somehow soothe the scars on our arms and patch the holes in the walls, souvenirs of the songs that said what we couldn’t possibly say.

Click and help. Contribute to Mike Atta’s Fund please

Our Last Gig: Observatory Santa Ana


It’s a nice way to kick off the year, nice and easy:
Playing the local shed on a Friday night, the bill packed with chums.

But it’s freaking cold out!

...wearing the overcoats inside the club, yo!
…wearing the overcoats inside the club, yo!

Yes, we are talking about the weather, what do ya expect?
We’re old folk now, and the major topics of conversation around here are weather, sensible footwear and good local deals on vitamins…

...forget about the Black Flag reunion--this is real news!!
…forget about the Black Flag reunion–this is real news!!

Oh, you smug Mid-westerners and East Coasters laugh at our frail tolerance to the chill…fuck ya’ll—I’m talking into the 40’s out there!!

Listen, it’s all relative, am I right?
So we aren’t used to seeing our dialogue telegraphed in puffs of white fog.
And just the odd millimeter of frost on the morning windshield is enough to launch a thousand breathless Facebook updates.

But do we giggle at your antics, hmm, when the 2.1 temblor hits the Eastern Seaboard and sends ya’ll scurrying underneath the door sill?
Do we laugh at yer awkward erections when the girls bare three inches of ankle come Summer time?

Yeah. Yer right.
We do.

..we will rebuild!
..we will rebuild!

It was only a few weeks back we played the Observatory, but when we heard old chums Lower Class Brats were coming through town we begged for a slot.

Besides, with our pal Ronnie now manning the bass duties, we had to take advantage of the opportunity to heckle him from side stage–finally!

That's my boy!
That’s my boy!

It’s nice, the subtle renovations of the joint, as the old Galaxy was looking a little worn those last few times.
Just a bit of tweaking to the sound system, a new space in the lobby and a drink station front of club, and the place is feeling fresh again.

Our favorite though, has to be the bar and lounge upstairs, relatively empty as the groms haven’t figured out how to get up there yet!


..and this is before soundcheck.
..and this is before soundcheck.

We are billed third out of five…..and we like!
Oh, in the old days bands would fight over who gets to play last…!
We are getting used to this middle spot, quite befitting for us older statesmen.

On a regular Friday we’d already be in Pajamas and waiting for the milk to warm at this ungodly hour of 10pm, having already done three pushups and composed an angry letter to those wiseacres at Levi’s:

Dear Sirs:
In what way are these jeans actually a relaxed fit?
Perhaps you need a brief lesson on the mature male anatomy–
I bid you good day!

Killer sets by The Scarred and Media Blitz:



……. and then we are pushed onto the stage once again!








It is a young crowd tonight, but they seem to put up with us ok.
They don’t know any of our songs, but they’ve been taught not to sass their elders.

Besides, they’ve seen the goddamn stickers and patches around long enough….we must be someone!

...alrright, let me just catch my breath and I'll be right with ya!
…alrright, let me just catch my breath and I’ll be right with ya!

The Brats come on and kill: the crowd going nuts, Bones has ’em in his pocket!



And then it’s time for Cheap Sex to whip the crowd in a frenzy.




We watch the wild pit from the cozy balcony, Jameson in hand, like blowzy chaperons at a Catholic school mixer. those hands, Mister! those hands, Mister!

The band features the second tallest man in punk rock…. well, first if it’s late in the evening and Uncle Mike is feeling a little slumpy–ya got me?

And then it’s backstage to greet old pals and say our Happy New Years.






Those goddamn yacht rock hoodlums!
Those goddamn yacht rock hoodlums!


We head out to the night, happy to kick off another year right.
Good to catch up with pals and crank the amps once again.

They roll open the bay doors and we head out, Anvil cases in hand.
And ya know what? It’s not that cold at all….!

Once again, many thanks to Sals Photos for the awesome pix!

The CH3 Year in Review 2012


It’s always one of those late November afternoons-those nasty gray days-that I’m up in the attic, searching for those goddamn holiday decorations.

Bloated from the gluttony of a long Thanksgiving weekend, reeling from far too many birthday toasts launched and sank, I inevitably find myself dizzy and set back on my haunches in that dusty crawlspace clutching a hopelessly tangled ball of Christmas lights:
a Medusa’s head tipped in green and red.

Along with the lights, hastily ripped down and thrown in a garbage bag at the start of this year, I find a short note I wrote at the bottom of the bag.

It is a note that starts out as simple instructions for putting the lights up again (start with female end-duh!– on northwest awning. Don’t use the extension ladder, you’ll kill yourself!) —but the scrawl soon turns introspective, a letter to my future self.
I write these notes on a morning just after the new year, time to pack away the holidays and get on with the business at hand.
These little messages tend to be as much a plea for moderation-Let’s keep away from the Jager this season-remember the Christmas party and the duck pond, hmm? – as a wishlist of sorts for the coming year.

The gentle admonishments soon turn to snarky commentary:
Yer not still working at that hellhole I hope? Sheesh, this year was a bitch!
….and howsabout laying off the pasta tubby?!

And that band, ya still playing gramps?

And then the note ends, as always, with an order to get those lights up and adjourn to K.C. Branigan’s for four Imperial pints and a fatty corned beef sandwich: Mercy at the last.

And so goes another year past with your old pals.
So before we rip down the tinsel and get ready for Lent, let’s look back at the thing we shall know as 2012:
The year started off slow and easy, a couple local gigs and then the gala OC Music Awards.

Finally! –they’re gonna reward our genius, is that what yer saying?

Sadly, no, but they saw fit to recognize our dear friend Rodney Bingenheimer with a deserved award, and we were lucky enough to play a song in his honor.



A one song set and free beer & sausages backstage?
Known in the busness as a win-win!


The vernal equinox comes and goes, and we are surrounded by dozens of raw eggs standing on tiptoe as Record Store day arrives in Seal Beach!

It’s at the dear departed Left of the Dial that we set up shop, and although they no longer grace our sterile community they have found new, far more hospitable digs at the Santana location–go see em, ya nuts!


Record stores became a recurring theme to our year, and we are now veterans at playing to disinterested bums under fluorescent lighting and sneaking booze around in Gatorade bottles.
Many thanks to our pals at TKO Rcords in the Valley of Fountain, as well as Fingerprints in the LB!






Speaking of records, guess what? We made one!

Yeah, I know by now you are sick of seeing our shameless self promotion,
proud as a newly toilet-trained toddler stumbling through the cocktail party with a freshly birthed poo in the bucket….. but c’mon!

We don’t do this often, let us have our fun!





Many thanks to scrappy Hostage Records for working with us on the new release, and putting up with our outrageous demands for fresh cut lillies in the studio each day as well as a nacho cheese fountain for Alf…!


The touring was easy, simple 4 or 5 nighters that left nerves shattered by their concentrated intensity.
Texas, Louisiana, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, etc– these are the places that put up with our hijinks for the agreed upon hours, and then rightfully kicked our ass across border, someone else’s problem now.

Good times…!















Weekend of the year award, though, must go to a nutty little jaunt we took midsummer up to the wilds of Winnipeg.

Long had it been sice we visited that hearty outpost, and our return found the place to be in fine spirits indeed!



Great to catch up with Mark Stretcher and Matt the groupie, and although we had to help them up the stairs a few times and cut their food for them, they seemed to be holding up fine….. for gentlemen of that age!











Our tour of the finer Injun drinking establishments made for a busy weekend, let me tell ya!



Alright then, let’s crunch some numbers, shall we?


In terms of the ol blog that lights up the smudgy ipad yer holding in your grimy paws at the moment, we had a wacky 21 thousand visitors to the page.
And –again!- not one of you could be bothered with clicking through and buying a shirt or even a sticker for Mom’s minivan—c’mon now!

The most poplular entry for the year was our in depth look at the religion of of Ramen, again showing that the CH3 audience is ironic or cheap, probably both when it comes down to their food porn.



In other statistics, we played a measly 27 shows for the year, traveled 12 thousand miles, drank 510 gallons of shitty domestic pilsner and ate the sodium and fat equivalent of half a herd of wild swine.


...finally!  Rest my monkeys...!
…finally! Rest my monkeys…!

And now we stand at the edge of a new year, a year full of hope and promise.
Fresh as a clean PeeChee in September, graffiti-ed not yet by the scribbled diagram of peni nor mammary that will surely befoul it by graduation day.

It’s time to drag that pine needled cactus out to curb and unplug the lights.

And this year, we’ll take down the decorations with care and package them gently as a favor to our older, wiser selves of December 2013.
…..nah, fuck that, lets get this shit down and hit the bar, got me?

And when we jot down our note to be thrown in with the lights, thoughts and hopes to be sealed away in that dark triangle upstairs for another 4 seasons, we’ll write a hopeful p.s. at the bottom:

–and that band — Ya still doing it or did ya finally grow up?