Archive for the ‘Zac Clark’ Category
Quite a year. Started it with my friends from the Press/Kntrlr/Bicycle Boys: Dave, Alex, Mike and Chuck. We hung out at Chuck’s, where I met their various wives and sweethearts… I got to be the center of attention amongst a group of couples all the while, I never felt like the 9th wheel. I know I can come off a bit boorish at times, certainly a loudmouth, thankfully I lack no amount of story telling. I think Alex, Alex’s girlfriend got the entire history of Rocker Tycoon and the Press (A tale that spans some 4 years now, and 3 then) over the course of the night. At around 1. I went home, relatively dry… I had a few, but aired out quite well. And I woke on Jan 1st hangover free.
Shortly into the year, I convinced Adam Copeland (Black Water/Meltdowns) and Gerry Griffin (Black Water/Meltdowns) to join me in creating a band. For a time Mike Horaz (I Am The Heat) stood in as our drummer. Eventually, Lloyd Naideck (Black Water/Meltdowns) settled in as our fulltime drummer. All the while Black Water was recording its second album Friendly Fire.
I practiced, overcame whatever minutia of stage fear I had lingering from childhood and we played our first show to friends in Jersey City with fellow bands, Holy City Zoo, Cryptkeeper Five and Black Water. Looking back I have to think, what an awesome line-up for my first show with Warface (our working name at the time). New friends I’d found in Holy City Zoo, old friends in Johnny and Jimmy of CK5 and my friends in Black Water 3/4 of which were in my band.
The show wasn’t exactly a packed house, but we had a blast. Played well and plenty of friends I hadn’t seen in a while came out. It was ideal to me.
Around March a new pal of mine and a Barback at my roomate’s bar, Dylan Hiester, convinced me it was time I start untapping again. I took his advice and did my first Tuesday Night Magic Draft of Innistrad Dark Ascension. I was made to feel welcome as I relearned a game I loved so well as a young adult. I remember playing Monique in round 1 or 2. She marveled at how quick I was progressing since my hiatus. “You’ve gotten better since last turn.” When I finally started doing things on her end step.
It was only a few months later I had built a deck, and began to play constructed… Two tournaments in I won the whole thing, to a very land screwed Rob Kofsky. The bug was full on! I was once again a Planeswalker.
Springtime. Warface played a show at Lucky 7 with I Am The Heat, Black Water, and Kntrlr. The Show was a rocket. Everyone had a great time and most of all we surprised some folks. “I had no idea you could sing!” was the exclamation most of my friends had. Hell to be honest neither did I!
Our next show was at the Pianoland Morgan Junction. We killed with They Live and Marvin Berry and the New Sound. I had a time so good I lost my voice the next day… Note to self: you might know the lyrics to the other bands’ songs don’t feel like you have to prove it.
Jersey City Bike Tour: Rained Out. But it’s here that we agreed a name change was in order. Adam and I agonized over a few weeks about whether we should or not then we just decided better now then later. Zac Clark and the Something… Adam argued under a small amount of protest by me that we should use what local celebrity I have in Jersey City and use my name in the band. I conceded that it’s easier to get folks out (especially after a year of promoting other bands) if they know the show is with my band. Zac Clark and the Griswolds was born.
A few weeks later we played a fundraiser for Steven Fulop for Mayor. Few rock bands have played the Zeppelin Hall beer garden in Jersey City. A 9 year old opened for Billy Alpha who opened for us. We ate chicken fingers and drank beer. We helped kick off a political campaign that I believe (no matter it’s result) will change this city for the better.
Right at the end of the summer. We released our first EP. This was momentous for several reasons. It was the first thing I’ve ever had to show for myself as a musician. Following in the footsteps of my forefathers. It was also a mark of success as a band. Now we wern’t just dicking around in the studio playing songs and then one shoting shows. Now we were recording music.
Summer fades. I begin writing Hipsters of the Coast. A blog that at the time detailed my return to Magic: the Gathering an has since become a sort of community forum. Like Rocker Tycoon, I’m now able to reach out to people in my hobby and I’ve since become good friends with my associates that help me on the blog by weighing in with their writings. Matt Jones, Li Xu, Rich Stein, Jess Lina and Giaco Furino have Renewed my thrill for writing and helped me feel like I’m making an impact locally. Even if it’s just a gaming blog.
Gerry Griffin leaves the band for the farmer’s life. We spend a few months looking for a new bassist. Someone who is into our sound, someone who digs Devo. Sam Fit the bill. He more than fit the bill in fact. I had serious concerns about the future of the band post Gerry, Lloyd and Adam assured me they were in this for the long haul. Or however novelty punk rock bands last. We officially welcome Sam in! Griswolds are once more a party of 4!
Fall comes. ZC&theGs played a show at the Lamp Post in Late Sept that really knocked it out of the park! Packed house a ton of friends and strong performances by our friends I Am The Heat, Tijuana Bibles and Secret Country. We’re all very excited and we booked a show with the Everymen for Halloween.
On the Magic front. Grand Prix Philadelphia comes up. I meet up with my buddy Stephano and new friends Brandon and Qu. We and my 20ss friends travel down to The City of Brotherly War (Magic Joke). I go 6-3 on day one narrowly missing day two. But doing super well for my first pro level tourney back. Hurricane Sandy cuts my Sunday short.
I spend the next few days playing cards with my childhood friend Harry. We play a lot of sealed (format of Grand Prix Philly) and then we decide to go to Lisbon at the end of November to play Magic!
Sandy ruins ZCGs for a month. Our studio gets robbed. And the Path makes getting to JC and Home a nightmare.
I finally get to BK. Something like Wednesday. The storm was Sunday/Monday.
November rushed through like bad Chinese food. I was busy with work and sparse Magic happened. Mid month I went on a date, and had a pretty excellent time. Her name is Victoria. We went on a few dates and corresponded during my trip to Lisbon.
Speaking of Lisbon… What a great time. Harry and I flew straight in and took a tour of the city with Taylor (our host and guide at the Oasis Hostel). This being Harry’s first time in another country, we wanted to get in as much of the travel experience as possible. Tours and drinking with locals, meeting new people! Great times, it’s been so long since I’ve been able to hang out with Harry like we did when we were growing up. There’s always some job or I’m traveling or working every weekend while he works the week. We end the trip with a huge Magic Tournament. GRAND PRIX LISBON. There’s a blog post about Lisbon that highlights my addiction to cardboard and energy drinks. So I won’t recant that here. Harry goes 4-5 (pretty good for a guy who plays a couple times a year!) and I go 5-4 not as good as Philly. Still not terrible.
I return from Lisbon, feeling pretty good about life. These trips remind me how good my life is. I’m in a rock band, I get to play games when I’m not working, and my jobs are pretty great! I’m bartending one of the coolest spots in Brooklyn. And I write for a Tattoo magazine as their travel writer. Man, if I could go back and tell that to my 14 year old self he’d … Well let’s be honest he’d probably ask me if I made the pro tour yet. Next Year little buddy, next year.
So I’m back and I’m feeling good. And then I ask Victoria to be my girlfriend. She says yes! Which is a relief, for a few reasons. It’s hard asking someone to be your girlfriend when you’re 32. It seems like something teenagers do. Strange right? Also she’s pretty awesome, and buys me cookies/ laughs at my terrible jokes.
That brings us to the present… Good Job, sweet lady that is content with her nerdy boyfriend and I’m playing some of the best magic I’ve played since 2000. Zac Clark and the Griswolds has a show coming up this New Years Eve with the Everymen at Lamp Post.
Things are looking mighty good, and nix all that crap about the Mayan apocalypse, I think it was most about a paradigm shift. Things are gonna start turning around for the human race perhaps. I hope things do at least. But not all at once, we need strife for the good music. There’s not much good music in the peace and harmony market.
That’s the year for me. Pretty wild when I look back to Jan 1, listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, to going on stage to sign off the New year. Good luck in the next one. Be safe, rock out, and always tap your land correctly.
Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon
(This year I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries as to what happened to Through Sound and Time. If you’re not hip to this section of the blog, it’s a personal reflection of what I was listening to and reading at the time. I started in 1991 with my first CD purchase and I’m upto 2005, I’ve tried to write this post several times but I always felt nauseous as I started. Anyhow, it’s important I do this so we can move on and eventually get to the good stuff … Enjoy?)
Here I am on the final leg of my retrospective journey of literature and music. It’s been a while since I did a Through Sound and Time post. I guess one of the reasons is because I’m scared. Scared? What could that mean? Scared of what? The truth is 2005 and 2006 were a sort of dark age for me musically socially and frankly I didn’t read much. It’s hard to think about that time. I guess I sort of lost the faith for a bit. I focused on other things. So I figured that I’d tackle the next couple of year the way George Lucas handled Star Wars episodes 4 – 6. or as I like to think of them: The Fall of Anakin Skywalker. Here goes…
2005 new years I remember thinking to myself that this was the same year that the Transformers Movie (1985), the Cartoon not the Michael Bay shit storm, happened. Slightly disappointed that I had neither a sentient car or a gun that became a giant robot, I began to listen to a lot of bad emo music. Bands like Brand New, Funeral, Atreyu y’know that sort of stuff. The kind of music that’s about such clever topics as “my shitty ex” or “those friends of mine that aren’t friends” or (my personal favorite) “my vampire girlfriend”. Yea it wasn’t being being me during this era.
In March I had a girlfriend … Really my first relationship. Her name was Lisa she was a really nice girl. My job at rafferty’s was boring the fuck outta me and I finally moved back in with some friends in New Brunswick. Life at the old man’s was sorta too slow for me. So I spent the next few months trying to figure a way outta this town. Between the constant boozing and the existential stasis, I was pretty sick of NB. Many of my friends had moved and I was hungry for a change.
May 28th 2005 (remember this date) I broke up with my G/f and got the fuck outta Dodge. Moved back to my dad’s to regroup. A month later, bought a White ’88 cadillac for $200, then spent the summer on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
A man alone on the road for the first time, since my grandfather passed away, it was nice to just have some time to myself. I knew I was gonna save some money living with my cousin Angela in the South. It was just trying to figure out what to do with that money once I left.
That was a great Summer. It was a stupid summer but it was good for me. I got a job waiting tables at Out Back Steakhouse, and helping a family friend’s Restaurant as a busboy dish washer for in between. Outback never opened til 4pm so that gave me the daytime to spend alone on the beach. Cousin Angela was pretty busy so I spent a lot of the summer by myself or hanging out with Aunt Pam or Cousin Jon Tyler. I’m the eldest Clark in my generation, Angela and JT were Pam’s kids (my dad’s sister) so they were Longs. Both about ten years older than me, JT got me into Punk Rock when I was younger. He used to send me his old punk clothes. Anyhow I spent my days on the beach reading the Wheel of Time. Talk about epic 10 books long this series makes the lord of the rings look like level 1. Rich fantasy world, incredible character development, and tons of political intrigue.
In June I realized my Magic: The Gathering ban had been lifted. I spent a few bucks playing the online version of the game. By the end of the month I wasn’t really feeling it. In August I had saved enough money for an entire semester of school, so I decided that was gonna be my focus. Back to Camden and finish school in the next year.
Halloween I was Shaun of the Dead… It was a little early though not everyone got it. In late October I started dating a girl. I had a job at Applebee’s then Don Pablo’s and ended the year back at Ritz Camera. Since I was back in South Jersey I reconnected with many of my friends from the comic shop. I spent new years making out with my girlfriend drunk on a friend’s couch. It was a pretty standard New Years.
(Well that wasn’t so bad I guess, though ill say it was certainly a transition year. I stepped down a notch and focused on school the year ended well. I’m glad it’s over though aside from the Summer it was a pretty slow year.)
Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon
February 8th Lucky 7 Tavern (@Lucky7Tavern on twitter) welcomed two previously unseen bands into her doors. Nikki Sue & the Bad News played Tuesday nights Local Rock Show with Black Out Stereo. Rock did ensue, forthwith!
Nikki Sue & the Bad News is Nikki Ilchert (Guitar, Vox) , Ben Hutcheon (Bass), Mark Pugliese (Drums), Mike Petzinger (Guitar). Think a punkier Patsy Cline. There’s a ton of potential for these newcomers… Alt Country rock is on a huge resurgence and my question is could Nikki Sue step up to filling the crater that was left in the wake of losing Anyday Parade? Only time will tell, but be on the look out they are currently recording and are due to debut material soon!
Jesse Wolf (vocals/guitar) Chris Manning (guitar) Matt Brewster (bass) Mark Pugliese (drums) are Black Out Stereo. Combine elements of Springsteen with Rancid and Social Distortion and you have a very East Coast Rock-a-Billy band. Songs you hear once and can’t help but sing along to, Lead guitar that begs you to follow along with your personal air system and a Rhythm section that keeps you stumping! All the pieces fit together seamlessly. Where the hell have these guys been hiding out at? Why is this the first time I’ve seen them live? Well, either way, it won’t be the last.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Where do historical figures come from? The answer is simple, the question seems quite stupid once you hear the answer, in truth. If I were to tell you that Ben Franklin is Billy Gray, Sarah Tomek, Eddie Garza and and Adam Copeland, you’d think I was insane. How can one man be four people? More questions! And suddenly the whole mess becomes a deconstruction of not just the man, Ben Franklin, but the concept of him as well. Pretty soon, there you are, questions filling your head. Questions like: Has the Rocker Tycoon lost his mind? Who are those people that the Rocker Tycoon was talking about? And is this not a rock blog?
I’ll answer all those questions and more. Firstly, This is a Rock Blog! Damnit Man! have you been reading? Have you been listening? Have you been to the shows? Fuck there I go, more questions. Let’s assume you have been reading and listening. Then you know that Billy, Eddie and Sarah as well as new comer Adam are a BAND called Ben Franklin. Indeed, then you know that I have not lost my mind. I’m sober as a judge.
Hark! Then if those questions have been answered then you must know this: Ben Franklin will on the first score and fifth day of February (that’s the 25th) have an E.P. release party for their new upcoming album, URGENCY. Knowing this myself (This is what I do after all) I hit up Billy Gray (who knows way more dirt about the women in my life than the women in my life do). I said to Billy, “Billy, man, If you don’t let me check out your new E.P. early I’m gonna write a blog about my first girlfriend, then I’m gonna make you read it… in front of me at the bar during your E.P. release party.” Billy complied forthwith, what else could he do?
I’ve been listening to it everyday since. Listening to it in the shower, on the way to work, when I’m at home writing, and sometimes when I’m sleeping. The songs are embedded into my skull. I can’t get them out. I would if I tried. It’s an E.P. so I’ll break down each song for you. The whole thing start to finish.
Track 1 URGENCY:
Billy’s voice grains in after Eddie’s bass starts it off Sarah sets in with the drums and Adam’s lead melding with Billy’s rhythm, “There’s a sense of Urgency drowning in the frequency, in our headphones.” This song has a few solid and timeless themes. Sibling rivalry, Man vs Future, Struggle against Isolation, and the fight to become what you were meant to be. Basically its a song about getting your shit in order and living your short life with a little purpose… and that your sister is sort of a slut.
Track 2 TEAMWORK
One thing you can’t say about Ben Franklin is that they make tongue and cheek political references. I think I may have said this once. I was wrong. No punches are being pulled here. The message is clear, i think it’s clear at least: Join the military if you want to contribution to the faceless masses of imperialist conniving fat cats that control everything from the food you eat to the information to take in. They’ll sell you a romantic dream or heroism but at the end of the day TEAMWORK will only get THEM ahead. Musically they posit that war is a side effect of over population, and a large game of RISK played at the leisure of the world leaders. I could be totally of base here though. My belief is thus: It’s an anti-propaganda propaganda song.
Track 3 NO PLEASING YOU
Eddie takes the vocal lead on this track. I’d be upset with BF didn’t include one song that centers on relationships. Things slow down a bit this is one of the mellower tunes. The title is the chorus, “No pleasing you, and no reason to.” It’s about giving up on someone. Just finally coming out of the haze and saying, as Eddie puts it, “FUCK IT DUDE! (Let’s go bowling).” That moment of change when you realize this not worth it anymore. There are better thing to concern yourself with and just getting on. The song ends abruptly, which is a nice little touch.
Track 4 SMILE
Smile starts out whimsically enough, Billy is back on lead vocals. This is a great sing-a-long. I can almost feel the how crowd swaying and chanting the chorus. This is definitely a love song. I’m thinking its one of those, I can’t create a song for you, but I can for everything else deals. Why? You ASK! Well cuz you’re too god damn special to sum up in a few chords and some words. I could have totally missed the point here but that’s my guess. I’m sure Ben Franklin will comment on who close or far away I came on a scale of nuclear disasters the scale ranging from K-19 to Chernobyl.
In conclusion, I can’t get some of these songs out of my head. It took a while for Teamwork to grow on me, now I can’t get it out of my head. Oh and the Answer to the first question… HISTORY, dumbass.
Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon
2010 comes to a close and I suppose it’s time for a bit of
inflection. A lot changed this year. In fact, I’d venture to say
this year’s motto, was Change or Die. I believe in kinetic energy,
socially, scientifically, and mentally. You gotta keep on the move
otherwise you risk stagnation. So this year began sober, for once. I
had to work at Lucky 7s. I can’t say I was overly happy about
having to work on NYE. It’s one of those few nights of the year
where I go out with a bit of swagger and get to draw the attention
of the ladies. Generally I travel to some hot spot for good
times with old friends. Sadly this year, I was stuck working. Miss
Nina Petronico was good company none the less. And we did have a
good time, shaking drinks and talking shit during our shift. So the
year started, with mixed feelings. What a telling omen for the rest
of the year. I’ll get into it more when I get upto 2010 with a
Through Sound and Time. In the meantime (as Space Hog said) here
are my top ten moments of 2010. 10.
Audition At the start of football season, a friend
called me up. She asked how much acting experience I
had. I replied “ZERO, but I’m quite a character in my
own right.” She asked me if I wanted to audition for a play
she was helping produce. I decided that I did. Went to
NYC and I auditioned for a play. It was the first time I
ever did anything like that. I did not get a call back but
it was exhilarating anyhow. I’d prolly do it again. It
never hurts to expand your horizons a bit. 9. Stand
Up This was more recent (last week) as I write
this. Local Celebrity and all around funny gal Sarah Roxanne
Shields hosts a Stand-up event at my bar. Two of the
“professional” comedians bailed and after another brave soul
stepped up for his set, I decided I had the nards to try my
hand at it as well. The response was slightly better than the
audition. I got a few solid laughs out of the crowd.
Again it’s fun to see just what new talent I might be able to
uncover. Stage fright wasn’t an issue, and mostly I talked
about my background in art (which was mainly stiffing markers in
3rd grade) and my illustrious dating career. 8. Book
Club Along with my friend Paul, I started a
book club this year. It’s still going, I’ve since stopped
attending meetings and have begun reading much much more on my own,
but it was a spark that reminded me some of the best therapy a
person can get for writer’s block is to just analyze another’s
attempt at the craft. 7. Awarded Best Dressed in
JC I attended the second annual 4th Street Ball at
City Hall this year. After a bit of lobbying and some early
mornings, I won the contest for best dressed. It’s nice to
have a cool title to brag about. Sure beats high school’s
title “the guy that smells faintly of cat piss”. 6.
Moshpit at the Ghost of Uncle Joe’s This years
Halloween event for the Ghost of Uncle Joe’s raised a bunch of loot
for the Harimus Cemetery. That’s a pretty good thing.
But what was really great on top of that, we all had a total
blast. It’s not often I get to work it out in the moshpit
these days. Let alone with all my friends from Jersey
City. We really got it going. I was a little bummed
about the ladies that day. I remember thinking as I was
pounding my way through the Misfits set. “This is Zac
Clark. That 19 year old kid, smiling and dancing and
singin, out there alone and at the same time amongst
friends, doing his thing.” I can’t tell you how many times
someone grabbed me and was like “DUDE, You are tough as
nails!” or something to that effect. True I’m no
slouch, and when the music plays I feel no pain at
all. I forgot my woes for a while, Knuckled
up Buckled up and had a super great time. 5. Started
working at Bar Majestic Late June I had been
thinking about moving on from Lucky 7 for about 6 months. I
was started to get disgruntled, as a worker, which is not to say I
didn’t like it there or I still don’t think of those cats as
family, I was just becoming stagnant, and I wanted something else,
a change of scenery I gathered. I met Dave (the then owner of
the Bar Majestic) we hit it off and I started working a good old
fashioned bartender’s type of bar. Martini’s, cocktails and
wine, That’s the way I started bartending when I first learned. It comes
naturally, and I like playing the role of the gentlemen’s type
bartender. After a short while, I started doing the bar’s PR
and a few month’s later, here I am with my co-worker Ali Charli
running the place. Movin’ and shakin’ that’s just what I
needed. I dusted off some cobwebs and now I feel like I
couldn’t have made a better choice. It was hard and scary to
leave 7’s (i had been there for 2.5 years) but ultimately it was
the right move. 4. Dating an Actress
I don’t make it much of a secret that I date mostly from girls I
meet online. I’m not one to worry about social stigma, and I
look at it as a way to meet someone I would have never had the
opportunity to meet otherwise. One of the girls I dated for a
bit was this super cool actress. We had a total blast hanging
out. She turned me on to some cool stuff (like Scott
Pilgrim), and though our romance fizzled out, I gotta say I had a
pretty fun time with her. She went to England to pursue her
acting career. During that time I worked hard to try and get
out to see her. When it didn’t pan out I opted to take a trip
to Italy instead. It was a hard year for relationships up til
then, I was starting to get pretty jaded about the opposite sex
(more so than my normal level) she gave me a touch of hope for a
while. And for once, when everything ended, I could at least
shrug my shoulders and say hey that’s life. Look at me I’m
growing up. 3. Trip to Italy So I
took up travel writing. So I decided to actually, y’know do a
little traveling. I set out late September on a trip of a
lifetime, into a world I had very little experience with. I
immersed myself in a country I had no ties to. I represented
my country and it’s citizens as best I could. My best friend
of 17 years, Paul Cox, and I had some crazy adventures. I
wrote an account of each event as quickly as it happened.
When we parted and I was alone, I learned a whole lot about
international travel as well as myself. You can check out my
adventures in travel over at Uncle Traveling
Zac. 2. Honored with a position as Inked
Magazine’s Travel Writer. I’ve been a journalist for
something like 8 years, in mind and spirit if not in
manner. All that persistence finally payed off in march when
my friend Rocky became the Editor and Chief of Inked
Magazine. He was in need of a new travel writer. After
reading some of my short fiction, he asked me to take the
job. I could barely believe my luck! After a little
over a year as Jersey City’s Rock writer, I had achieved a regular
spot in an internationally read and respected magazine! It’s
been five months since my first article came out. Everytime I
see my name in print I want to shriek like a little girl.
1. Writing a Book November is
National Novel Writing month. That said, I tried and failed
to write a book in 2009 for this event. It left me feeling
like a huge failure. This year I planned ahead. A few
solid ideas got tossed around and finally I settled on what would
become The Unreasonable
I tried a few different settings for
writing and found that just being home away from the rest of the
world I was able to write to my heart’s content. 30 days
later I gave manbirth to my first novel. It was a lonely
month, I sat there each day trying my best to construct dialogue
and coming up with a story. Once it was finished I had a
nervous tick for 15 days. It sits on my computer waiting for
me to start the dreaded editing process. But out of all the
things I accomplished this year it stands as the greatest.
It’s perhaps the greatest accomplishment of my life, though I’m
sure I’ll find a way to top in in 2011. I must thank Ali
Charli, who soldiered on with her own book while I wrote
mine, surely had we not written in solidarity I would have given up
after the 4th day. Paul bailed two days in. But that’s
ok the three of us are all even with one book written to our
names. The the experience has taught us all that it’s easier
than previously thought. So that’s the whole deal.
2010, a lot more happened. If you’ve kept up with my antics,
you know that I have several blogs. And a twitter account,
Tycoon. I hope you find good fortune and some solid
tunes come 2011. And we can all take heart in the fact that
there won’t be anyone wearing those stupid double zero new years
glasses at least till 2100!
In the interest of full disclosure, two years ago, I didn’t think much of Dave Feldman. He was scrawny, he was young and he seemed quiet. I thought to myself, “Great! Another punker kid with a shitty haircut, is that what this town’s coming to.” Oh gimme a break, I was angrier in those days. I’m not sure what he did exactly but I’m one of those knee jerk snap judgment guys. I get a feeling or the wind changes and for like a whole week anyone I meet is an asshole. Dave must have met me during a tornado. Like I said, though, two years ago. During that time that weaselly little guy with the muskrat haircut and goofy smile burrowed his way into my social circle and since that happened I gotta tell you can just can’t see that fucker often enough.
He told me about his band and every now and then he’ll shoot me a text to let me know his band is playing. I’ve been a busy man lately, working, dodging ex’s (this town is getting smaller in that sense) and working on my fiction blog. Rockertycoon has taken a back seat to a lot of things. I got to 4th street fest a little late on Saturday. Dave’s band was starting to set up, a few people reminded me that he was playing I thought, Well, rad, I’ll get to see the little guy’s ska band afterall.” So they started up. AND FUCK IF I WASN’T BLOWN RIGHT OUT OF THE WATER! They actually sunk my battleship. I moved to the front of the crowd to get a closer look. I hadn’t planned on covering 4th street Fest, but now I felt it was my duty to record and spread the good word.
And the word is that Dave Feldman (Vox) Sam Allen (Guitar) Spencer Alexander (Bass) and Rusty Russ Barrett (Drums) alias WYLDLIFE kick serious ass. Sam and Spencer lay down some steady and catchy Rock n Roll they keep it simple but the impact is like dropping the C-word at your Granny’s funeral. Rusty’s drumwork is nothing short of spectacular, this dude is the bones for sure. If these guys were Transformers, Rusty would be the big one in the middle of the giant robot they form up together to make. And that means Dave is the head. Walking, no, strutting around like Mick fucking Jagger, you can tell he’s been waiting all week for this. The music is urgent and hard to hold still for. See these fucking guys! They rock, I mean it. And Dave Feldman is pretty ok on his own too, y’know, for a scrawny kid with a bad haircut.
I gotta be honest, 2003 was a haze of work and drink. I was living in this house of a fraternity that was totally made up and I was drinking every night after work. Work took a lot of my time. Mostly because they fed me every shift. I would pick up just to make sure I ate that day. Being a busboy was a brand new thing for me. I took the job only a few days after the new year. When my roommates left for winter break I stayed in New Brunswick and worked. Each night I came home to a cold house with no hot water. (I bet you think I’m pulling one of those “how shitty my life was stories”, I’m definitely not. When my roommates left the oil ran out. Paul stayed and I stayed. We could barely muster up rent not to mention money to eat, oil was just something that we knew would have to wait until the rest of the roommates moved back in. Broken windows letting in the cold and no hot water for showers damned near killed us. But we bore down those frozen weeks and huddled around a lone space heater for warmth, not to mention drank a lot of Jim Beam to stop from feeling the cold. January was a pretty scary month.
2003 might have started off slow, but I was meeting a lot of people. I worked in a huge restaurant, there were something like 50 or 60 people working with me. I was never what you’d call a hard worker, but as I was being kept warm and fed as well as being paid I decided to make the very best of the situation and keep my chin up and do some “honest” work. I came home exhausted, but I was fast making friends. The college experience that I was so afraid I was missing out on was starting blossom. If you’re under the age of 21 and you want to be a rockstar, and maybe learn a little about yourself I put this to you: Forget what ever stigma you have about not working in the food industry. The money is good (better than retail) the connections you can make hold up, and if you work in the service of others you’ll learn a lot about yourself. That said, I was 22 when I started bussing tables.
By April I had been promoted to a waiter. I was doing much better and the weather was warming up. I had resolved to keep my mouth shut and work hard those first months. In doing that some of that false altruism actually rubbed off on me. I ingrained diligence into myself. (As gramma used to say after she left the John, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right!” No one went into the bathroom for at least 45mins as a result of that statement). But honest hard work became my mantra, I was promoted several times and given raises simply for being the goto guy. If you needed a favor or an extra hand, Zac Clark was the guy. I like to think I still operate on that level.
My friend Dan Chung turned me onto Motion City Soundtrack. I started going to more concerts. I can’t even remember how many weekends were spent bumming rides to Birch Hill. I settled into a mosh pit style that is still today referred to by New Jersey Punks as “Crazy Legs”.
Summer came and the beach was a regular occurrence. I moved in with co-workers. Tom, Cindy and I lived in a railroad apartment right on Easton Ave. I that years warped tour was a blur it was on the beach in Asbury I think.
I spent that summer rereading Kevin Mitnick’s Art of Deception. I picked up the rest of Icewind Dale and Read the Drow’s Legacy too by R.A. Salvatore. His prose style combined with Lovecraft and Gaiman have influenced my fiction to it’s very core. Also I read Get in the Van: The First Four Years of Henry Rollins in Black Flag. Musically I was finding out about music that I had only heard in passing. Cock Sparer, Adolescents, Smiths, The Damned, a lot of 70’s era punk. And let me not forget local bands like Dibs and Shade were regularly playing on my PC.
By mid summer I had my first drunken restaurant hook-up (that place was like a roman bathhouse of sexual harassment, I’m not sure how It took this long looking back. I guess I was much more reserved back then.) I had formed friendships with people that would later mold me into the cat I am today these people would make reoccurring appearances in my life years to come:
Kate Connolly: She drove me to follow my dream of becoming a photographer. At the time I was a studio trained student. I was teaching her about lighting and how you pose and get the look you wanted from a subject. Today she’s still teaching me things, mostly humility, when I look at her body of work.
Charlie Galvano: Executive Chef of Old Man Rafferty’s. LvL 90 Jedi and master of Rage. If you’ve never seen me buckle under intense pressure, this is the guy to thank. Every Sunday Night I expo’d that kitchen. An 80 Table restaurant of hungover and largely stupid waiters (Not all of you but a lot of you were a special kind of pain in my ass). It was my first taste of responsibility for everyone around me. Mistakes were made and made often. Many time Charlie would bark from one side of the kitchen to “SOUND OFF LIKE YOU GOT A PAIR” it was one of those jobs that tests your ability to think fast organize your next thoughts and deal with whatever else was going on. I fucked up a lot. I got yelled at, I got shit on by the servers, managers and the cooks. But I never buckled. And after most shifts I’d go to the bar. Charlie would be in a little after, order up a couple of shots and tell me I did a good job today. A bold faced lie, I knew it, but it made me feel good, and it made me want to try harder. Eventually I got good at it, I learned to ignore the yammering of the waiters asking for their food and the managers asking how long til whatever comes out, I fell into a rhythm, and my rage was quelled. Today, if you’ve ever seen me at a show or behind a bar, I’m constantly using what I learned there. Suppressing, no killing that anger, was one of the most Zen things I’ve learned in my time. Charlie has most likely saved me from several black eyes and a couple nights in jail.
Dan Chung: Solid friendships stand the test of time. Dan is one of those cats that has kept up with me on a semi regular basis even after the both of us moved on from New Brunswick. And everytime we meet up to hang there’s none of that pissing contest bullshit that comes from time spent away from a friend. It’s all about the here and now. Every year he hosts a canoe trip in Kittatinny. He’s a teacher these days. He’s been a constant source of perspective, whenever I’m setting out on something new or I need some frame of reference he’s been right there with solid advice and a reminder that I’m, at my base, a genuinely good person. It’s hard to find people that have that kind of time for old friends these days. It’s refreshing in fact. (Dan was with me back at the start of Rockertycoon when I saw Cryptkeeper Five)
Bill Schriver: I was just becoming a waiter one summer night after hours when I was hangin out with this guy for the first time. “You’ll be bartending soon, I’m sure of it.” The thought had never ever crossed my mind yet. But he was right. ^ months later I was a bartender (not an easy task in a restaurant where everyone was looking for that promotion). Bill and I became fast friends, we worked together twice a week and he taught me the ins and out of bartending. He was a solid judge of character and avid about steering clear of the slippery slope of restaurant drug use. We used to work on Saturday nights… go out get drunk and then wake up on Sunday and head to Best Buy. Each time the idea was to spend just less than the other guy. Bill lost that game a lot. But I say all that to say this: He taught me a craft that has allowed me to keep a stable rein on my social life as well as my professional career. Whenever I’m in a slump creatively I know that I can pick up a job slinging drinks.
Derek Hayes: How can I mention any of these people without mentioning one of the most solid cats I’ve had the privilege to know. Derek was my food runner trainer. He took pride in his work at the restaurant. And when I got promoted to wait staff, he was the first to request that he personally train me. We hung out pretty much everyday or i should say every night. Derek was a workhorse, and though he was often trouble by home life or women, it was hard to find him without a smile on his face. I remember several times we’d be sitting at the bar laughing at ourselves as we constantly failed with women. You couldn’t help but forget your problem hanging out with him. Derek, Tom (My Roommate) and I were like Gimili, Aragorn and Legalos (respectively). You couldn’t find a more loyal, lovable loser. I remember one night we both walked into work with black eyes when asked what happened, we point to each other in unison and said, “He got in a fight, and I had to break it up.” We spent the next couple of shifts out of the sight of customers in the kitchen. I still contest that he started the fight. Derek taught me simply that loyalty is the only thing that matters in friendship. We never let women get between us or money and several times when either one of us was down and out the other was there to a chin up. I wish he could read this. Derek passed in 2006, he was the first of us to go. And everyone felt it like a shockwave. I’ll touch on that in posts to come.
Moving on though, summer gave way to Fall and I signed up for school and dropped out. It’s the only time I’ve ever given up on education in my adult life. I only include that because the shame itself drove me to start taking classes at Camden again. I spent the holidays amongst friends, and I started working on free writing fiction. But I didn’t yet feel as though I’d seen enough, I certainly didn’t have my voice yet.
New Years barely registers. I think I was at Jenn Walsh’s (later to become Jen Galvano) house. No wait I remember. I was at Knight Club. I drank my fill and I think both Cindy and I pecked on New Years. (We still regret this to this day.) It was like kissing a sister.
2004 started with an interesting character from my past.