Saturday, February 25, 2012
Sounds like it looks, look like it sounds, feels like our bizarre and wonderful alto sax/flutist Bob Akers. Obviously the nickname is simply a shortening of his real last name, Akers. How great life would be if it were only that simple! But no. And now that I've had occasion to actually write it down, it occurred to me that this nickname has been a self-fulfilling prophecy all these years. For Akes is not the nickname one would expect for a fellow named Akers. Spell it Acres and you've got Green, Frosty, 40 _____and a Mule, Sunny, Windy, Peaceful and any number of adjectives. But for some reason we chose Akes. Or, more accurately: Aches.
To be honest, for the first several years of Bon Tempe's career Akes was a fine spelling. In fact any spelling would have worked because we had no idea what to call this alto sax/flutist fellow anyway, except perhaps a damn fine player who knew buttloads more about music than any of the other guys did. The reason we were at such a loss for a salutation was that for several years Bob Akers didn't talk. Wait. I take that back. He did talk. We saw him talking to other people quite regularly. He just didn't talk to the rest of us! When Kenny the Corn Nibbler was on the drums, and Meathead was blowing like a wounded foghorn, there really wasn't any need for anybody else in the band to say anything. Of course Nellie frequently voiced his displeasure with the sounds coming from the horn section, and I babbled senselessly about shit like crunchy roasted nibs, Kenny and Albondigas each had independent running monologues that only ceased when interrupted by the music we periodically played.
Bob, unlike the rest of us, was a real musician. He didn't read books, he read music, and we were amazed. Stick a sheet of music in front of him and he could play it, bingo, if not just like it was written then interpreted in a sneaky fashion that made everybody believe it was what was written. Since he did little communicating outside of blowing on the saxophone or flute, we knew little about him. We knew that he came from the general direction of Corte Madera and when he spoke to others they were generally from that area as well. He had an older brother and a girlfriend that he had been with since he was old enough to walk, his arms appeared unusually long and a hunched over shuffle gave him a somewhat simian-like profile that would later serve him well as a postal service employee. And he pretty much always had that crusty fresh-outta-bed look. For several years Akes idea of a rock n' roll get up was to wear a navy pin-striped railroad engineer's cap. Think about that for a minute and if you still have questions, send us an email (with your hat size so we can enclose a navy blue pin stripe railroad engineers cap in there for you!)
When Akes did start talking it was a sad day indeed for we realized that, like many real musicians, he made absolutely no sense. And thus Akes turned to Aches. But whatever Aches lacked in verbal communications skills he more than made up for with primitive engineering skills because wherever he went he always had a fresh role of duct tape and a can of WD-40. It's long been known that these are really the only two inventions mankind has ever truly required: moves when it shouldn't? Tape her down! Doesn't move when it should? Give 'er a squirt! What Bob realized was that all sorts of musical accessories could be substituted with duct tape, particularly but not limited to microphone clips. Aches could tape a microphone onto a straight stand such that you needed a few cherry bombs along with the WD-40 to get it off. This isn't to say that Aches would ever forget to pack small accessories like microphone clips. Did I say that?
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Nobody knows where Nellie came from, how long he's been here (on planet earth) or how long he plans to stay. We only know that he is here now and for that we are deeply and profoundly indebted. First, to the best of our knowledge he might be the only guitar player that goes by Nellie, or Nelle, and that includes the Red Headed Stranger who, while he might occasionally go by Stray, has never been known to go by Bill and certainly not Nellie or even Nelle. The other Bill Nelson of Be-Bop Deluxe with whom Nellie is often mistakenly confused isn't known to go by any nicknames in fact these days he isn't known to go by anything at all. So we are not only thankful and indebted but also fairly confident that Nelle won't disappear due to a case of mistaken identity. The other perhaps more reliable reason to be confident is that nobody, on planet earth or elsewhere in the known or unknown universe, plays the guitar like Nelman. If you can think of somebody that does then you either haven't been listening carefully or more likely are dealing in very very broad generalities like yes it's an amplified six string instrument. And there the similarities end.That's because Nelle will tell you that back when he was practicing 8 hours a day (I know this to be a fact because we shared an apartment on Mountain View near Jewel St. in San Raffiyell that was originally Jeff Manson's pad but morphed into me and Nellie and a host of fucking weirdos parading through the third bedroom) he didn't try and cop the riffs of other guitars players, rather he tried to turn the guitar into a saxophone, or at least phrase his lead playing like Coltrane or Wayne Shorter or trumpeters like Lee Morgan and Miles, and phrase his rhythm playing more like the approach a jazz pianist would use to comp with his left hand. The main thing was that Nellie wasn't trying to be the next Pat Methane or Al Dimwittedola he would rather some young comely nugget would approach him after the gig and say something like "wow I recognized that Mile riff you threw in there how about a blow job?" (Honestly if I had known that trying to imitate Miles on the bass would inspire such a lovely response I would have been playing Nefertiti while scampering around the apartment naked on all fours too!)
Senor Nelman is the musical leader of Bon Tempe, much to the chagrin of the horners and especially Albondigas who doesn't like to get his meat masticated. Nellie himself may not like to admit it but, besides Bob Akers, the mysterious and peripheral alto sexist/flutist who at one time joined the navy so he could get to play music AND carry a gun (nirvana for some though few of them are free to mingle with the law-abiding population), he is the only professional musician. In other words he is the only member of Bon Tempe who makes his living solely from playing music, and in Nellie's case, it literally is performing music - not sitting in some home studio with a monitor and a box of kleenex but out there playing whatever stringed instrument is required for that gig: upright bass, electric bass, guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukelele shit I think he told me he played a Greek wedding on bazooki! Yep Nelman is a New York City local whateverthefuck dues-payin' union man, making scale from gig to gig. It's true he has the chops to be a jazz great and he is a jazz great only thing is only me and now you know about it. Albondigas would even admit it! But a recording artist Nelman is not - Charlie Parker has more recordings out there than our man Nellie!
So next time you have the pleasure of hearing Nellie Nelle Nelman light up whatever stringed instrument he happens to be lighting up - SaturdayMarch 3rd it will be eclectic guitar - pay close attention. Bring your little digital recorder and commit a few of his solos to posterity because until the next time Nelman is in town you won't hear anything like it! Again, Albondigas, despite his undying lust for Nellie's furry butt, would admit that he usually whips out something so fuckin' jaw-dropping that all you can do is shake your head in wonderment. Pretty good for a guy some people call Nellie or even Nelle but usually Nelz. And, on rare occasions, Bill. But don't tell anybody!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
"Hey, shut up and play the intro!"
BonTempe was, is, and always will be the quintet-essential unknown Ross Valley cult band, and many believe there's a good reason it should stay that way. More accurately, Bon Tempe was the Redwood High School seventies cult band. You could say Bon Tempe is a testimony to the old credo “don’t spread yourself too thin”. Bon Tempe generally didn’t do any spreading at all, save for perhaps one gig at a military base in the valley (no, not the San Geronimo Valley). BT never made it over the GG Bridge save for one Halloween quartet event, and never made it north of Novato. Nonetheless if you asked some hippies in Mendocino if they ever heard of Bon Tempe chances are they have. I don’t know how that works.
If you asked 8 or so musicians that have been in Bon Tempe in some shape or form you would get 8 different stories. There was also a period from 1973-78 when I was in college and I missed all those gigs each of which has a story of its own. So this is far from any kind of authorized biography of the band rather it’s just me and my porous memory telling portions of the story bit by bit from my perspective, thinking that it could give some of the March 3, 19 Broadway gig-goers a little hysterical perspective (which I apologize to this point has been remarkably unhysterical!).
I guess another attribute that plops the band and it’s music into the heart of the Ross Valley and the surrounding watershed is that we named ourselves after one of the 5 reservoirs in the MMWD. One interesting fact about the name: the reservoir was named after the brothers that ran cattle in the valley and around the creek that was eventually dammed up to form Lagunitas, Bon Tempe, Alpine and Kent Lake. The brothers Buontemps (I know this isn’t the correct spelling but I can’t find my source materials right now) sold the land to the water district who named the reservoir after them. So while the name may mean “good time” or “good weather” or “good tempo” (my definition!) it’s really just a bastardization of this Swiss-Italian immigrant’s name.
I’ll save some of the window dressing around the whole Bon Tempe reservoir experience during our high school days. Suffice to say it was prime real estate for recreational activities of all kinds, and when I think back I’m amazed at how many of those recreational activities took place at night! You gotta love the woods at night. Still there was no special meaning behind the band name, other than it was a great place for high schoolers to hang and do the things that high schoolers in the early seventies did. If I got into any kind of detailed description of those activities I’m positive some band members would take issue, since it’s pretty easy for our kids (and yours too!) to stumble upon this little story and, though I would argue that what a bunch of southern and central Marin teenagers generally did in the early seventies is common knowledge, that doesn’t mean we have to broadcast it. Or so some of our extended Bon Tempe family might say.
I’m pretty sure Bill Nelson and I started the band, though Albritton and perhaps the Corn Nibbler (Ken Corsiglia) might disagree. Nelson might remember exactly how it was that we got together with Nibs (not the crunchy roasted kind, I’m afraid) and Albritton. I’m not 100% sure since events around that time are, for me, extremely clouded for some reason (WTF?). But I’ll hazard a guess anyway and say it was the result of jam sessions we were having at Peter Horton’s house on West Shore Rd. I was already playing in a band with Nelson, Harry Likas and Graham Shieks that was called Goodywuffo, and then Hot Goodies. I don’t know that we ever played any gigs though we did audition for a dance at Kent School. Unfortunately Graham had the flu that day, and when we went to pick him up for the audition he was puking his brains out and could barely walk. We loaded him and his drums in the car, set them up at Kent School, walked him in there, and tried to play Hendrix’s “Fire” and Graham was on another planet. I do have VERY vivid memories of that experience, and Graham’s basement where we rehearsed, plus a song that we played over and over and over: “Lookin’ In” by Savoy Brown. Nelson will remember all the other songs.
Anyway Horton was dating my sister. I don’t remember how I knew that Kenny played drums, but we gathered in Horton’s family room and played “The Ghetto” with Horton on piano and Nelson on guitar. Horton’s sister Annie was a singer/songwriter and we put together a little band to play Annie’s songs and shit like “Popsicle Toes”. I think we were introduced to Albritton via Mike Jackson (or Pete, perhaps), an older guy with an old Ferrari that we would race around Belvedere Island. I don’t know if the first time Ken, Nelson and I first played with Albritton was at Horton’s house. Somehow Anne Dransfield, a flutist, got added to the mix – we might have played a lunch time gig at the CEA - but she wasn’t around for long before Albritton brought in Bob Akers and the first iteration of Bon Tempe was formed. Imagine how Bon Tempe might have been if we had stuck with the chick flute player! No references to female genitalia in songs about vegetables, that’s for sure!
That’s my take on the pre-Bon Tempe gyrations that eventually led to version 1. I’m gonna leave it up to Nelson to fill in the blanks with comments. If you follow the blog you’ll be alerted when Nelson’s comments and you’ll get the facts straight vs. my fuzzy recollections. Hopefully we will get some guest bloggers to help round out the picture. Should be en-chinalya!
Next up: The first set lists, the first parties, the first original songs, the “album”…and “What’s The Sons Got To Do With It?”
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I went to the new Good Earth tonight
My tummy rejoiced at the glorious sight
Clean and well-lighted, a connoisseur’s dream
With custom made pizzas and organic ice cream
I think that the whole town of Fairfax was there
Grumbling and moaning, the usual fare
The store is so spacious it would be hard to smell
The pot and patchoulie that we all love so well
I noticed a gray haired man in a frock
Who rode in on a fat tire from Spirit Rock
He was pointing at light fixtures, warning his mate
The fluorescents would no doubt poison all that they ate
The aisles were broad as a fine thoroughfare
The shelves all packed with the same lovely fare
Gluten free this and wheat free that
Dairy free milk and sugar free fat
Organic soy bacon and cayenne foot powder
Crunchy green kale chips and coconut water
And though it was crowded there was never a panic
For at the Good Earth, all is organic!
I paused by the apples, counting the species
When a fella walked by who smelled like fresh feces
And employee walked up with his pan and his broom
And directed the stinky one out of the room
“This isn’t the old days” he said in a snit
“You can’t just walk in here smelling like shit”
And so the old regular with the thousand yard gaze
Went out to his bench, where he sat in a daze
We got in the checkout line, our bag at the ready
Our checker looked frazzled, bug-eyed and sweaty
“There must be ten thousand people in here!
Oh what I wouldn’t give for a bong and a beer!”
She tallied our groceries and rang up the tab
The usual two hundred dollars a bag
And as we departed, I saw Shivad on the bench
Picking his teeth with a hammer and wrench
He stared at the parking lot, scratching his itches
Gawking in wonder at all the crossfit bitches
“It doesn’t seem right” he said soft and low,
Where is a ratty old hippie to go?”
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
|My brain on shakes.|
Tomorrow: And so it begins, needles and pins. In truth though, how could this stupid cleanse begin again when it has already twice begun already? If we buy into the linear and sequential view of the universe then things like dietary cleanses can only have one beginning, one middle, one end. But I think we - that is me and my 4 Various and Sundry blog followers, 2 of whom I've never met but love dearly like we have been having slippery transcendent sex non-stop for years - we have stepped out of line. Quite literally, a line being quite literally a linear thing. (If a line isn't linear then a circle isn't circular and a square isn't squarular - who can argue that? Who would want to bother?) And we, my 4 pals and I, have, with this insufferably tedious cleanse, started, stopped, started, and stopped, and now have the (insert substitute for f-bomb here) nerve to pick up where we left off. I suppose picking up where one leaves off could be considered linear behavior, so I prefer to think of it as neither leaving off nor picking up, but simply stepping out of line. Out of line like we got off the train in some cold forgotten town among the tired, wispy sugar pines and half-past-dead leafless scrub oaks and, seeing that the people there had nothing but were willing to share it with us out-of-liners, decided to stay awhile. Upon our return wherever we had left off was so far away that it was beyond the furthest reaches of our memory. So there couldn't be any picking up where we left off for that place could not be found and besides there was nothing there to pick up anyway.
Which leaves us - me and my 4 Various and Sundry companions (you could be one too if you just followed this stinkin blog by clicking that little button that says follow in the upper right hand corner trust me nothing bad will happen or if anything bad happens it will be so bad as to be good) still out of line - off the linear path - heading into the 14th day of a ridiculous dietary ruse so blatantly and cleverly stinking of capitalistic snake oil that you can't help but lose weight because it's probably the last lick of sense you might of had in that (insert f-bomb substitute here) almost 57-year old dented and rusty skull - how much do you suppose that one of those (f-bomb sub) shakes costs? Does anybody think I am more likely to get laid if I drop 15 pounds? Speak up I can't hear you!! Is that your phone number or your social? Let's face it the answer to that more sex question is no, so what vain non-linear collection of brain cells is behind this cleansing insanity? I'll tell you! It's called fear of eminent wardrobe replacement. That is if another ounce is packed on the pant size will rise, period. I just don't wanna go there folks is that so repulsively vain?
So...we're off track, out of line, out of time, and so completely non-linear as to be considered dangerous in some societies many of them not far from where we're standing now. And we've only got 7 days to go after which God willing I will never ever blog about diets, or cleanses, or shakes, or abstract physical properties like waist size and lines, straight, crooked or otherwise, again. 7 more days. 6 after this. We're just gonna knock 'em down like dominoes! Or to use a tired cliche: bada boom, bada bing.
Let me know if I can make you a shake!
|Smart dog. Eats trees.|
Thursday, February 2, 2012
|The view from the Black Dog park...|
You know me. I'm the guy that was happily blogging away about esoteric dietary adventures that led to vivid hallucinations of crunchy roasted nibs, Angela Merkle, urinary fantasies, and other sophomoric rantings to banal to mention. Then, without warning, a black dog walked into my room. Or should I say skulked, or slunk, or otherwise entered my consciousness in what I would characterize as an almost liquid fashion. For those of you who know about the black dog and most likely wish you did not know about the black dog, I apologize for mentioning the cur's unwelcome name. For those of you who have not had the misfortune of having this miserable creature nipping at your heels, slobbering on clean pant leg or otherwise messing with your life, we envy your well-lit clarity and dauntless sense of purpose. Doubtless some of us would like to spend an afternoon in your shoes, dogless, and feel that surge of pure optimism coursing through our veins, soaking up the sun and saving it for a rainy day. Unfortunately once you've met the black dog you can't unmeet him, though it is possible that he will board himself at the kennel for long periods, entirely of his own accord, and leave you alone to have a little fun like blogging about crunchy roasted nibs. But he always returns, and, unluckily for me, he has taken up residence in my room, happy to just curl up in the corner and just be there. Perhaps this is now his permanent hang. I doubt it, but you can't help but worry because once the Black Dog is here it feels like he'll never leave.
However I am glad to report that hope has arrived in the form of a harmless email from what I thought must be the stupidest scammers, or hackers, or identity thieves that I have ever seen. Just last night I received the following email:
Good News From The FBI Office
Attn: Beneficiary This is to inform you that we have have the warrant to arrest you if we dont hear from you immediately. You are advice to download attachment link for more details for your own good if you dont want to go to jail.
"Certainly this is the most priceless slice of stupidity I have ever seen in Dumbo's Pie Shop," I said to myself. Well imagine my surprise when I figured out, in the process of posting the silly slice that some wise viral marketer - well, let me take that back. It probably isn't that wise to imitate a Nigerian scam artist, is it. Ok, some clever but not particularly strategic marketer thought the note above would be a great way to get people to click on his link. But I wasn't gonna touch that link with my neighbors wanger, much less my own! Seems like infection practically bleeds off the letters. So I didn't. But I was fooled.
For the thousands of you who are wondering why the reference to the dentist in the title of this post, suffice to say that my brain was abducted by aliens when I was having some dental work being done today (yeah dental work at the dentist holy fuckin shit who would have ever guess you probably wonder what the hell kinda dentist is that? Why wasn't he getting his prostate checked?) and the photograph above was taken by one of the cheeky little bastards. This is the kinda shit you can expect to happen to you once you start, and stop, and start, and stop one of these royal cluster fucks known as a Clean Program Cleanse! Beware the shakes, my friends. Beware the shakes!