Bourdained

We’re in the Pho joint right next to Til Two Club in San Diego a few months back.
Pho King….. get it?

It’s a good place, noodles with just enough surface tension, a bone broth deep in flavor with just that faint waft of urine that lets you know the place is legit.

I look up from my slurping and notice a little Vietnamese boy watching me intently.
I look away, but when I look back he’s still staring. I shrug to his Mom.

“He thinks that’s you,” she says.
She points with her chopsticks at the TV montior hanging above our heads.
I look up and there he is, Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown or maybe a rerun of No Reservations.

The kid looks up at the TV where Bourdain is also hovering over an Asian noodle dish, then down at me, and back to the TV again. He laughs.

Got Bourdained, we’ve grown to calling it.
Without fail, on our travels here and there, I inevitably get the double take and then it’s Hey, anyone ever tell you, you look just like….

I come back to the United lounge and sit down with the fellas.
“Got Bourdained again,” I tell Kimm. “That’s three for the day.”

I don’t see it.
I mean, am I really that grey of head?
I’ve always seen myself as more of the Wayne Newton doppelganger, or maybe an Osmond brother with gigantism.

But man, they keep coming up to me to point out the resemblance.
One chap actually cornered me at the back of the plane while we floated a mile above Duluth.
“Hey man, don’t want to bother you, but just wanted to say I love all your stuff!”

I am immediately inflated, thinking, ah, you meet CH3 fans in the strangest places! Now where is a pen for me to sign an autograph and make this mortal’s day special?

But then he takes a closer look and his face falls in disappointment.
“Ah, sorry about that, you’re not him are you? Anyone ever tell you ya look just like….”

What I’ve come to understand is people really love-loved- Anthony Bourdain.
It’s made me appreciate at least I don’t look like Mike Pence for fuck sake.

And for some reason they feel the need to tell me how much they enjoy the shows, can only dream of his lifestyle.
Man, if I could only live like that! I wish!

Now we learn of his farewell, and it hits you like a sock to the gut.
It makes you wonder at the blackest of holes that can lurk deep inside us all.
What deep despair pulls at a soul, no matter if they are lounging on a tropical beach with a Michelin rated chef or sucking cock for rock in the alley?

But besides this tragedy, and the show we will miss– that food, the smarmy commentary! —I think this hurts so hard because we all felt Bourdain was one of our own:
A punk.

My fave episodes of his shows are when he hung out with musicians.
I think he understood just how connected bands are to food and travel, the twin comforts and demons to any touring band.

There he is, in the city with David Johansen, cruising the backstreets of Helsinki with Sami Yaffa.
And when he sat down with Iggy, you could just feel the adoration Anthony had for the man and the music.

But my very favorite show was when he went to Montana and sat with fuckin Jim Harrison for a meal and a chat.
The grizzled lion of letters, croaking out his poetry in a cloud of American Spirits.
Anthony Bourdain sat, rapt and respectful, and I could only hope I could hold my own half as well in the presence of a hero.

And, damn.
Both gone?

In Kitchen Confidential he was open and honest about the drug use and fuckups, as well as his love of truly good music.
It made him that more relatable to our tribe.

The line cooks with their own demons, listening to the Dolls while blanching the Brussels Sprouts.
Smoking in the back alley before dinner crush, comparing their Cocksparrer tattoos blemished by yet another 2nd degree burn by a molten saute pan handle.

Punk rockers connecting the dots with food, rejecting corporate fast food to search the back alleys for a memorable meal after soundcheck.
Trying to capture the essence of a city by its food, where in the past it may have been a more lethal gluttony.
Now: Ingestion, not injection.

And when we saw him sitting down to noodles with Barack Obama, the graceful world leader meeting junkie punk, we could only feel it as somehow a triumph for all of us in the tribe.

On Damian Abraham’s excellent Turned Out a Punk  podcast he shows a respectful and deep history with the New York scene. No celebrity poseur with the 10 grand Crass leather jacket here.
The guy knew the food , the music, the places.

But now another one gone.
This tragic news we consume with resignation, seems like nearly every week.

I never met the guy, no connection at all.
I’m just a fan, just like the people that feel the need to come up to me and point out the resemblance.
They take a moment out of their day to tell me about their connection to Anthony Bourdain, and I can see their love for him even though they are disappointed they did not get to meet the man.

Sometimes, I tell them, “Hell, tell your friends you did, though, right?”

And they think about that for a moment and then nod their heads in agreement.
And they walk away, happy.

‘Tones and Gears and Flag……oh my!

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As surely as the Swallows return to San Juan Capistrano each year, as inevitable as the spike in domestic violence and gambling-related suicides on Superbowl Sunday, we await each June for the annual return of prodigal son Jay Lansford.

After the Summer Solstice stretches the day long, we find ourselves squinting into the Western sky—-not for a flock of lice ridden birds, ready to shit a new coat of guano on the mission bells, no.
We wait for Sir Jay to touch down upon the blazing tarmac of LAX, bringing back with him the wiry guitar leads and sensible hair products that have been missing, lo, these past 12 months!

OC Slam, 2010
OC Slam, 2010
Alex's Bar 2012
Alex’s Bar 2012

When we released Jay from his CH3 contract, what? almost 25 years ago?—to live among the storied beerhalls of Hanover, it was under the strict condition that he return at least once a year.

Yes, God forbid he forget the taste of proper Chile Rellenos or lose his Southern California dude drawl completely to his adopted Teutonic crew.

Besides, creatures of habit and ritual are we, and it’s a grand thing to have this annual party to kickoff the Summer in proper fashion with The Simpletones!!

Beer and Sausages...bet ya don't have this stuff in Hanover, eh?
Beer and Sausages…bet ya don’t have this stuff in Germany, eh?

The night starts off in the usual fashion:
Icy schooners of Busch and salty fatty specials at Joe Jost’s down the street.
Between bites and burps we go over a tentative set list for the night:

Shall we play True West? Waiting for the Sun?

We shall!

Open with Lord o the Thighs?
Sadly no….not this time.

We are giddy with the possibilities of the 3 guitar attack as we skip back to our beloved Alex’s in time to catch the White Flag fellas ripping it up:

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Has it been that long since we were last kicked out of Alex’s?

The place has been spruced up, a bit of the dusty bric-a-brac stripped from the walls–is that a flat screen?– and I’ll be goddamned if LuLu doesn’t hand me an honest-to-God drink menu when I finally sidle up to the bar…..!

The Jack Rocks comes not in the flimsy urine sample receptacle we’ve grown so fond of, but in an impressively weighted highball glass with craftsmen-select ice cubes…..
ándale!—so hi-tone, Mijo!

...Karl gives us the oooh-la-la after checking our drinks....
…Karl gives us the oooh-la-la after checking our drinks….

Heh.
The night is rolling now, and the knuckleheads have come out of the proverbial woodwork to get in on this blast!

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....take a goat and smile like a drink!
….take a goat and smile like a drink!

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With LA Artist Kiyoshi Nakazawa
With LA Artist Kiyoshi Nakazawa

It’s a rare treat to have The Gears onboard the show, and they get up there before the red velvet and absolutely destroy!

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Ah, a night at Alex’s:
With each band the floor gets stickier, the drinks sink faster and the drunks get louder.

And with the crowd warmed up for the main event, the ‘Tones take to stage and ring in the Summer, proper!

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The crowd knows these songs, of course, and it’s as if they’ve been waiting the whole year to shout the lyrics out at the top of their lungs.

I can only imagine the puzzled passerby out on Anaheim blvd as they pass the cacophonous roadhouse on this night:

Is it a religious revival?
Military boot camp?
Cultists Karaoke indoctrination?

You wouldn’t be far off with any answer, brother.

For on this night we are all Simpletones, joined in song, a collective organism taking place of dear departed Snickers…..!

The fellas cap off the night with Rock and Roll All Night, a fitting theme to this marathon of sloppy rawk….but the night isn’t over yet!
Yes, once again, yer old pals have to go up and bat cleanup.

We untangle guitar cords and try to get 3 guitars within a semblance of tune before the loopy crowd abandons us for Tacos Mexico or Roscoe’s………
Downbeat? 12:30 am!

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I glance to my left, mid-Indian Summer, taken by surprise for a moment by the twin guitar players hacking away.
It is then that I allow my gaze to fall down , and upon the sight: Naked and pale, Euro calves and thighs twitching beneath the klieglights—Gahhh!

Jay has broken CH3 Cardinal Rule 6: No shorts on stage!!

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...what's next?  Shower shoes and bathrobes?!
…what’s next? Shower shoes and bathrobes?!

Heh.
It’s no matter–I guess we can be thankful Jay didn’t show up in a Hasselhoff-esque Speedo, am I right?

I regain composure and we play the stuff–short hair and long! stopping only to address the hecklers and allow people to try on the suspiciously free skate shoes that have been sailing through the air all night….don’t ask!

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...take your time buddy.  Not like we have anything better to do up here.
…take your time buddy. Not like we have anything better to do up here.

It is great fun–surely much more so for us than the crowd watching our shameless goofing.
Brings back the memories of a hundred nights just like this, thick Summer nights, playing loud guitars and not so much singing as laughing out loud.

And mid song, we each look and catch each others’ eye, and we smile:

It’s us back together, and where we should be:
On a creaking stage littered with empty cans and shot glasses, wrangling the rumble of the 3 guitars into the same general direction.

Standing on a stage, in a room full of friends who graciously allow us to act like, if not kids, then grown men half our age.

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Thanks for additional photos: Martin Wong, Deborah Runions, and anyone else ripped off from Facebook.

The CH3 Year in Review: 2010

Has it really been 365 days already?

You know that old saw about how things just keep speeding up as you grow older?
Word.

Oh sure, we’ve had our laughs.
But for the most part a year is made up of the mundane, the daily rituals that mark off one more day on this rock in the middle of this crazy cosmos, baby!

I look back on the past year and the images fly by, like a vhs porn tape pinned on fast forward until the dopey dialogue stops and the good stuff begins.
So let’s forget about the pizza guys and the lonely housewives, and get right to the money shots!!

uh huh.....and guess what topping is on that pizza!

The year began slowly enough, with a leisurely jaunt out to Phoenix for the first show of the year.

Hollywood Alley, Mesa AZ

We like to start things off out of town, the better to try out the new dance moves and dye the hair while we shed that holiday weight.
The usual hilarity ensues—food, booze, and male nudity, a strangely common theme of 2010!

Gaaa.....my friggin eyes!!

Onto March and House of Blues with Bad Religion. As you can see in this photo, combined age of the 2 bands is roughly equal to that of the LaBrea tar pits.

Ben Gay and Cialis, the backstage drugs of choice these days!

April now, and time for the first proper road work of the year, Pittsburgh and Cleveland:

All is right at Primanti Bros.

The welcoming front entrance of Now That's Class....

Punk Rock Bowling moved to the supposedly warmer month of May this year.

Punk Rock gone legit? Bowling gone decadent? Help me out here, will ya?

Yes, I suppose the temps were a bit higher than the old January freeze outs of past, but the gale force winds kept things interesting on the outdoor stage!

June saw Mr. Lansford coming back for a visit, and a gathering of bands in a public park in Costa Mesa–the OC Slam!

Simpletones and Crowd, along with CH3 and a Stitch, surround Slam Den Mother July Cleaver...!

What a great day that was.
Drinking out of plastic cups, eatin carnival food, getting to see an actual reunion of the goddamn Simpletones!!
Alfie doin time with the 'Tones

A Sunday afternoon in the park....

Late July had us out on the road once more.

Honestly, I am exhausted trying to explain the logistics of this jaunt: The nasty litigation that ensued, the trail of broken restauranteurs we left in our wake, the wound to Kimm’s head.
You can read all about it here: 2010 Summer Tour

We wrapped things up on the East Coast and skipped across the Atlantic for the Rebellion Fest:

Autumn saw a quick trip out to Vegas, and the christening of the new Shakedown Bar in San Diego.
Again, the night is marked by shameless male nudity!

Revised cropping on the dicknose clown. Happy now, T ??

Which pretty much brings us up to the recent past, the gala Christmas show at the Blue Cafe in Long Beach!

The office party was business casual this year, a change from the usual formal soirée the company throws.

As we held the stage for one final time in 2010, we looked out and saw the faces of family and friends.

Yes, perhaps there were a few more lines in the faces of loved ones, and the hair up top thinning and gray.

But isn’t this what it’s all about, really? To travel this crazy journey together?

We’ve become older now, and yes–wiser too. We say goodbye to our raucous pasts and take our positions now as the gentle elders.
Perhaps the wild old Demons have finally been purged and we can all grow old with the quiet dignity we deserve!

Uh oh.....

Goddamn it.
This is whay we can’t have nice things!!

Happy new Year's kids!