Tag Archives: 1970s

Michael Hendrick on The Clash – “I Made Joe Strummer Avoid Drugs!”

clashWorldly Readers,
We miss Joe Strummer. Today we listened to The Clash Live At Shea Stadium and it brought back all those years to the Punk Rock days. Joe’s star still shines bright. He will always be missed by many. He was a good man.
In 1980, the start of the Reagan Era, we bundled up and went to the Sears Store at the mall and stood in line to buy our tickets. That is what you did back then. If you got there early, you got a better seat – it was that simple. We ended up with seats around the seventh row or so…good seats but we must have arrived late since we cannot remember who opened the show.
In the early days of punk, band members made a habit of spitting on the crowd while playing live and the pogoing crowds reciprocated moistly.
Like standing in line, it’s just what you did.
With this in mind and the spirit in our hearts, we set out in the cold last days of February (a crueler month than April, really)to get some drugs for the show. Two things daunted us…Reaganomics and a dry spell, translated ‘no money, no drugs’. As oft happened, we ended up at the door of Crazy Timmy. Crazy Timmy is actually the only person so crazy that we don’t have to change his name here…like Ferd. Timmy had been tossed by the Armed Forces after some schizoid incident involving a stolen tank and a German village.
His Section Eight got him plenty of pills – all the wrong kind. Psyche meds were more primitive in the seventies and eighties. They made you fat and sleepy and depressed. Today we have much-improved meds which give wack-jobs the gumption to initiate a school shooting.
Timmy dispensed a variety of pills that we never saw before. Even Timmy didn’t take them but he had to get the prescriptions filled so he could keep claiming his full GI benefits for being nutzed. So we pocketed the crappy tablets. We went there to see if we could get some pot to smoke before the show, actually, but even Timmy had no reef. He bought an ounce a month with his VA check and then cut it up into thirty bags or thirty one, for each day of the month; then he would smoke his way through them in the first week.
The pills were an afterthought because we thought he may have something abuse-ably fun.
The main thing we recall is the solid front they put up; Strummer out front, writhing around the mic-stand as he sang, Paul Simonon laying down the bass with legs spread in shooting stance, Topper Headon banging away on the skins and Mick Jones up there with Strummer, playing off him.
They launched into the London Calling Tour and they rocked the Casbah. Michael Hendrick, who drove us to the show, launched a handful of lithium, depakote and other odd dopamine blockers directly at Strummer’s head. Strummer clocked them coming from his spot at the edge of the stage. He ducked to stage left without missing a note. Hendrick volleyed a second, smaller batch of meds at Joe, who avoided them by ducking to stage right.
Yes, Dear Friends, he avoided the drugs.
We were there and saw it happen.
A great show!
God Bless Joe Strummer. We are not sure about Michael Hendrick.

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Facebook – Friends and Enemas, Part II

     Gentle Readers,

     Since so many of you were interested in the subject of the last blog and, since Your Humble Narrator had a nasty virus, we shall pick up where we left off – with poor, pissed-on Wankie and his appearance on the ‘friends’ pages of the same people who stole his car, poisoned him and pissed on his noggin.

     First, you will notice that today’s photo is one of a public library.  This is not the library I grew up with…this is just a library I happen to have a picture of.  It is the Reading, Pa., Public Library in the center of the city.  I have the photo because it is the first time I ever held a protest sign.  That is me, behind the sign with the Converse Chuck Taylors sticking out from beneath it.  I had two libraries as a child, a great one in Whitesboro, NY, which used to be an Underground Railroad station which had secret tunnels for hiding slaves; my other library in Whitehall, PA, was an excellent one, too,  since it was a brand new building and had tons of new material and a huge kid’s section.  This was the library where Your Narrator first threw up as a result of nicotine overload at age ten.

     When vomiting, you are pretty helpless.  Locked in that bright, well-lit library lavatory, spewing the broth with the librarian rap, rap, rapping on that door,  the puking was private until the door was opened by my ghostly form, sweaty and white as sun-dried bone.  It is best to be left alone in one’s misery.  Do Unto Others, as they say.

     So, that being said, mostly by way of ADHD-fueled diversion,  it was never my pleasure to see anybody suffer, aside from siblings when growing up.  My old man was a boxer in the US Marine Corps divisional matches.  My brother was a master of martial arts, Black Belt in Judo, Karate and Martial Arts Weaponry, all.  Much of this writer’s childhood was spent hiding from some bigger, older kids who were always rumored to be ‘after him’.  The urge to hurt others never took seed in me.  On the other hand,  my father and brother never got laid very much (judging by their childlike unfamiliarity with the sex act) and it is better to be a lover than a fighter, anyway.

     The kids who chased me were usually two or three years older, in high school and short…short as in sawed-off, as in runt.  Over six feet tall going into the seventh grade,  the target was on my back.  The library was devoid of this type of juvenile as well as most all the kids who went to school with me.  None of them cared much about reading.  Even in high school, only one or two were anywhere near approaching the state of ‘book smart’.  The library was sanctuary.  The outsider behaviour came early to me.  My friends were books and my dog, the ever-faithful Gus.

     But that is okay, since being an outsider kept me away from most scenes like the one described in the previous blog.  However, let us revisit that behaviour and ponder a few things.

     What real joy do we get from pushing somebody to the limits, using the most uncivilized behaviour?  Worse yet, how do we still find joy in incidents which openly point to our own depravity?  How do you find joy in what would be dubbed ‘torture’ if it were performed in Gitmo Bay?  We all do irresponsible things as youths but isn’t it a bit sick to revel in them forty years later when, as adults, we should own our actions in the name of either Karma, Christ or culpability?

     Worst of all, how do you ‘friend’ a person who has poisoned you and urinated on your shag hair cut?  How do you see the faces of people who stole your car, your weed, fed you treefrogs while hungover, laughed the whole time – how do you send a message to ask them to be your ‘friend’?  Of course, we have always let bygones be bygones but some things are too warped to be bygoned.  Is it short memory?  Is it a desperate attempt to hold onto your school days?  Is it proof that the drugs in the 1970s were really that good and so such incidents are seen through a warm and dreamy haze of comfortability?    

     When queried as to why Wankie appears on the ‘friends page’ of these guys, they patently denied it…which was stupid since he was right there on the screen, in alphabetical  order.  When it was pointed out that they had to manually accept him as a ‘friend’ for his profile to show up there, it always seems to have been an accident.  “How did he get in there,’ they ask aloud. 

     Many of these guys married early, made homes, got taken by their ex-wives and are starting over.  Some of them hate women because of the grief caused by premature marriages which gutted any hope of an exciting future and bank accounts gutted by exes who got tired of coming home to hear the strains of Genesis drifting out of the windows.

     Can you get therapy for things like this? Certainly if you are the pissee as opposed to the pisser,  the need for therapy is probably a personal thing that begs to be answered in the recesses of the mind of the put-upon.  What kind of therapy do you give adults who still find this sort of stuff to be funny?  That is the real question.

     These days, ‘bullying’ is a big issue.  Considering the way kids acted when we grew up, the ‘bullying’ of today is small potatoes.  Kids need a certain amount of denigration to put them in place.  It toughens them up for the world of Facebook.

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In the Poetry Corner With the Metal Machines

     Brilliant Readers,

     We were happily surprised that our last blog from the Beat CookieJar went over so well! We had been trying to think of new subjects, like K2, which would cause a stir but were happy to see that a bit of poetry gets more readers than a rant about our less-than-stellar form of government. The last poem got more views than anything we posted since the one about Obama getting the shotgun blast to the face.

     You may wonder what iambic pentameter is doing in the Beat jar but Allen Ginsberg told me I had a gift for the rhyme and that a lot of my poems would make very good song lyrics. It is on record in the Ginsberg Archives, if you care to see. Ginsberg, himself, had taken an interest in songwriting and rhyming meters at the time, which was during the heady ‘Punk’ days of the mid-1970s.

     All of my poems are open to interpretation since I will never explain them, so take it as you will and this one is titled, Metal Machines.


                                    The metal machines move, mashing,

                                    gleaming, reaming blades all gnashing

                                     – a million daggers slashing,

                                     slicing, tearing, digging, thrashing –

                                     and chains that strike home smashing.

                                      like a billion forearms bashing;

                                      the victim stands alone.

                                      The victim’s skin flies, splashing,

                                       his life before him, passing –

                                       – before his eyes all flashing –

                                       like a flaming film impassioned,

                                       while the machine keeps fiercely crashing

                                       through the skull and finally smashing

                                       dead, bruised skin and splintered bone.


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