NYC: A Grand Victory Indeed


It’s like a fucking shot of adrenaline to the heart, crossing the bridge and those buildings come close into view.

We’re out here on a turn and burn weekend, five hour red-eye flights, eight hours of driving and three-make that two!—quick shows.
Back to work by Tuesday morning.


When we left the tarmac in Long beach it was a scary 90 degrees–this at 9:30 pm people!!
I mean, yeah, we like the warm weather out here, but don’t ya think we should start getting concerned when our local ground temperature feels like a microwaved burrito at dusk in mid March?

The winter coats we hold in the crook of our arms at check-in feel like jokes, and we all eye the dumpster to possibly unload these bulky things.

But as we land on the east coast we learn Winter still has a home.
We walk along the frozen terminal sidewalk with the red-eye Zombie gaze, for somehow we lost 3 hours of our lives in the middle of the night.

Not bad though , as it gives us a chance to wear those stylish scarves that Anthony is always raving about!


Even with the canceled Boston gig the day is not a total loss, not with the bars and pubs in Cambridge all quivering on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day.
Soon the storied cobblestones will be awash with green vomit, so why not get a jump start on things?
Gotta love this town!

Touchdown Boston
Touchdown Boston







We’re up and out early-ish on Saturday, and the lucky sunshine we enjoyed on Friday has given up to a cold gray sleet.


Ah well, we know at the end of the journey we’ll be enjoying the warmth and fine humor of family and friends, so we push on and make it to the state capitol safe and dry.

We pick up ex-Californian Johnny at the Amtrak and make it out to Voorheesville and the Guinness-stocked fridge of Barb and Larry!


We regretfully say our goodbyes after foamy Stouts and corned beef sandwiches, the cold winds just a vapid threat outside of this warm family kitchen.
We squeeze back into scarves and overcoats like grouchy children bundling up for the cold walk to school, each of us eyeing the couch with a silent farewell to the fading chance of nappytime.

On the ride through the countryside we peer out foggy windows at alien sights: Snowdrifts and startled does, the yellow-lit farmhouses breaking long stretches of such beautiful, rare, darkness.


It’s into the Lowbeat club in the heart of Albany for another Saturday night gig in America now.
The place is all warmth and beery comfort to these old Californian bones, and we are soon amidst familiar friendly faces from past visits…..



A rare treat tonight, it happens that Capitle, who we actually played with in Albany our first time out–1982?!-is on the bill with us once again!



We do the thing once again, and then more yucks with the crew!





Sunday is the cold twin of Saturday, but we’ve come to enjoy this weather.
We are hearing of record temps back home and dire predictions of Cali running out of water by year’s end.

These things mean nothing to us as we are just too excited at the unique prospect of wearing gloves—Gloves, people–gloves!


A quick drive back crisscrossing the slutty Hudson, and it’s not long until those iconic buildings of Manhattan come into view.

Chrysler building
Chrysler building

Ah Jesus, it’s grand to be back in this place.

We find an honest to God parking spot on 7th, and spill into the streets like the tourists we are!
We stop to pet every rat, pester the panhandlers for selfies until they run away screaming.
We’ve made good time, so it’s Lower East Side and the usual haunts for us!





With each photo of a sweating round of beers, after every tavern check in on Facebook, we get the usual responses:
Ah Jeez, here we go again…!
Keep it together Boys!
Can I get a refund for my presale please?

Hah–but no worries, we pull together for a classy burger at Alder and then there’s plenty of time to freshen up for the night to come.



The Grand Victory, it’s quiet from the outside on this night as we pull up.
The streets are empty on a goddamned cold Sunday night and we wonder, just for a moment, hand upon frozen door handle–if no one has showed.


The door opens and we may as well be back at CBGB’s, that first Winter of 1982!
Faces from back then, some hair lost, some hard earned wrinkles gained, but the same damned smiles we’ve known for decades!


We play well, catch up on a million years.
We tell stories we all know but can’t wait to hear again.

Jimmy Gestapo hugs it up and we talk of the Mad Marquis, that fateful rental car we used to power-push parked cars down the snowy streets in front of Jack Rabid’s place.
This three decades ago, he just a kid of 16.

Davey Gunner there too, we drink a toast to Doug Holland and he recalls floating in my Mom’s sparkling pool in Cerritos, the Summer Kraut was on tour in California while we boiled in Astoria.

Huge, serious looking men come over with 3 shots of Bourbon per fist, reminding us of gigs we played when they were skinny street punks at A7.

Women, former girls, catch our eye and shake their heads slowly, just a wisp of a smile.

We shout hellos and goodbyes over the punk rock DJ who keeps the crowd dancing long after the bands have loaded out.

It’s fucking great.



Tomorrow there’ll be an all too early check out time, an hour drive to JFK in rush hour, the squinty scrutiny of van rental return.
The date rape antics of the TSA, the overpriced drinks at the airport bar, and, finally, a seat.

On that jet traveling West, racing now with the Sun and gaining another 3 hours of precious youth, we’ll have a moment motionless.
And that’s when you can let the weekend catch up to you, and you smile the whole way home.

Our Travels with the In-Crowd

It feels like a lifetime ago we were last on the 5 freeway heading North.

The day starts gloomy and cold.
A gray blank slate of the sky melts seamlessly onto the concrete walls and buildings of the downtown skyline–let’s get the fuck outta here!

It is a thankfully easy drive beyond the gravitational pull of Friday Los Angeles traffic, and we are soon sailing along the green hills.
We count the cow pastures until we find just the right one to pull over and eat one of those delicious Bovines–you got it brother!: Harris Ranch steakhouse!





We use fried smelt to scoop counrty gravy off of the chicken fried steak, take bold stabs at each others’ plates with flashing forks, only to find new drummer Woody staring at us with disgust.

There’s a new man aboard, and he hasn’t spent a lifetime eating and drinking with us.
We dab at our chins, finally, strangers on a first date.

Ant and The Wood man
Ant and The Wood man

It is a fine and rare occasion to have local chums and legends The Crowd with us for a weekend jaunt.

We’d been trying to coordinate this weekend with Jim Kaa for seriously five years.
Oh, you just try finding a weekend open to travel for 2 bands, 9 guys, each with family and jobs and schedules of their own.
It’s like…well, it’s like some simile involving juggling or doing something difficulty or something—write your own goddamn floral prose ya lazy bums!

So we are all thrilled the weekend is finally here:
I mean really, people–the fucking Crowd!
These are the guys the Go-Go’s used to open for, the band that invented punk dancing beyond the retarded art-school notion of pogoing!

..and Decker makes the extra point!
..and Decker makes the extra point!

We load into Johnny V’s as the sky turns dark, and are soon met with some familiar faces from home.
We sit and try to add up the combined age of all the men assembled here backstage, but those Iphone calculators only go up so far……
all right, we get it–we’re old!




And to make a very cool night even cooler, we are joined not only by The Defenders and Sad Boy Sinister but also SF mainstays , The Vktms!

Jeesus–what do you people want?
A ten dollar cover charge for 5 bands that have busted their asses for years?!

Maybe we should tack on a goddamn six buck service fee and 2.50 printing charge huh?
I didn’t hear any bitching about that the last time you bought Monster Truck tickets through Ticketmaster–now did I?!


Vktms !
Vktms !

We foolishly let The Crowd go first on this night and they get up there and lay down the law!
The bar becomes a turbulent ocean, bodies bobbing up and down in undulating waves as the salty spray of cheap domestic pilsner rains down.

You can forget just how many great songs these guys have, and you catch yourself shouting along to verse and chorus that you never knew you knew…



And then we have to follow these guys!
Woody does well on his first official show, though he is somewhat shocked when one bold chap sits down on the stage and actually starts eating Fritos…… during the breakdown to I Got a Gun!

As with all things for a 30 year old band, it’s happened before!


Just a quick snack midsong, gotta keep the blood sugar up!
Just a quick snack midsong, gotta keep the blood sugar up!

Saturday breaks clear and bright, and somehow we are missing miserable weather back home on this No Ca jaunt.
There are soon breathless accounts of thunder and lightning, actual hail coating the sands of Huntington Beach!

Great.  Another racist white dude from the 909....
Another racist white dude from the 909 in town….

We somehow have a hard time sympathizing as it is a gem of a day in San Francisco!
The sky is clear, and it is as warm a day as I’ve ever felt in the shadows of those beastly skyscrapers.

Something tells us a toast is in order, so we follow our inner compass to our old go-to, Vesuvio’s!


Of all things, I turn to the door and who walks in but Mr. Decker himself!
It is either pure destiny or we have become awfully predictable drunks, but we all settle into an upstairs booth and watch the glorious day roll by…


Capn’ Jimmy looks down upon the neighborhood, eyebrow elevated, as he hasn’t been up here since the Mabuhay days!
We point up Broadway to the sleazy locale and reminisce over days of smooth skin and fresh internal organs.

There are a few drinks and then it is decided on some snacks at The Boardroom in North Beach.


And now it's nap time!
And now it’s nap time!

Thee Parkside has become thee club to play in this town, mainly so we don’t have to hear the locals bitch about the parking!

Modern Kicks are kicking off the night, and not only do these kids sound great, but they have the best hair since Angel!


And then Sharp Objects get up there and roar through their set of poppy punky goodness:

Thankfully we get to play first tonight, so it’s up there and play a quick set for a roomful of pals.
We resist the urge to just play covers of the whole Beach Blvd album and claim we were on there too!


The Crowd gets up on stage to bring their songs back North once again, and the joy in this club is palpable.

It’s been far too long!



As usual, the night dissolves into the usual greetings and farewells:
Familiar faces glimpsed in passing, a few nods to those across the room.

Hugs, sincere.








We load out on a rare warm night, for this place, at this time of year.
It’s as if we’ve brought the sun baked atmosphere of Southern California along for the weekend.

Back home there is a flash flood watch along Mulholland, there are icicles forming on the gaudy facade on Grauman’s Chinese.
Have we made some devilish pact, as Home freezes over while we bask in the warmth of friends and music?

We’ll take it!

Many thanks Mark Hanford for additional SJ photos and Mike Schmitt for the blurry SF ones!