That’s the greatest compliment ever!
That’s the greatest compliment ever!
The day is Friday December 17th 2010, the day before Flibworth Thurstein’s 43rd birthday. Flibworth Thurstein, whom I’ve known since 1987, is my band’s guitar player. Flibby made the Coffee Pot Break stencil.
The time is 10:48 PM. I’m driving alone, East on the 10 Freeway, driving home to Westwood from East Los Angeles, near the Soto street onramp. I just left the East LA house & music/art studio of Chepe Escondido, the bass player of my band, whom I also first met in 1987, the year Public Enemy debuted with Yo! Bum Rush the Show, and the same year BDP released Criminal Minded.
My destination is my mom’s condo on the Westside, near Westwood Blvd, where I now reside. We three: Chepe, Flibby, and I, not only did we first meet in 1987; not only did we all live together for the next 3 years, but we just finished rehearsal. We play in trio of drums, bass, and guitar. Flibby writes his own songs and sings them, as does Chepe. Flibby’s songs sound nothing like Chepe’s songs. It’s like we’re two different bands: Coffee Break and Coffee Pot. Officially, we are called Coffee Pot Break, a play in two acts. Flibby is the Break and Chepe is the Pot; which I guess makes me the Cough E.
This neighborhood where I live now in Westwood near UCLA is known as Tehrangeles, on account of all the Iranians who prefer to be called Persians. My downstairs AND next door neighbors both hail from IRAN. Persians began arriving in Los Angeles, mainly to Beverly Hills and the Westside, in the early 1980’s around the time of the hostage crises and Weird Al singing about the Ayatollah to the music of My Sharona. After the Persians, I’d say the largest demographic after white people, in my Westwood Condo/Apt neighborhood, is Asian UCLA students, most of whom seem to be female and fit and college age. I still don’t know what I’m doing on a Friday night NOT chasing poon in my hood. I’ll tell you why, it’s cuz I’m 42 and these females are all 24 or younger, and while that may be cool with some; that may be creepy to others. Like Chepe Escondido, father of 3 daughters, and my older sister, mother of twin girls. My other next door neighbors in the condo I live are an old Chinese couple. They are super nice.
Driving home on the 10 Freeway, the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway, 10:48 at night in the pouring rain with HUGE puddles of rainwater collected on the ground, spraying every which way and slowing cars down, nobody driving over 55 miles per hour…I couldn’t help but think about Double Nickels on the Dime, the quintessential double album by the Minutemen.
Released in 1984, the same year Alex Cox’s Repo Man hit theaters; just one month after Husker Du released their double album, Zen Arcade. Both albums were put out by the SST label founded by Greg Ginn, guitarist of Black Flag, who’s song TV Party appeared in the film Repo Man. At that time, the mid 80’s, a double album by a no name band was unheard of. THEY KNEW, that is, Greg Ginn knew: those albums changed punk rock. Those albums changed music forever. I’ve never really heard Zen Arcade or anything by Husker Du to this day. I’ve tried, but it all sounds very abrasive to me. In any event, the Minutemen changed me and they changed Chepe and Flibby, too. We often channel the Minutemen’s late singer/guitarist D. Boon during our coffee pot breaks. Peet’s coffee usually. By change, I mean, affected us enough to promote change in ourselves and our outlook, and our musicianship. click to watch the Minutemen do Jesus and Tequila
I thought of Double Nickels on the Dime (a pun on driving 55 on the 10 Freeway) because, while I was driving home in the rain Friday night on the 10 Freeway, I was listening to the Minutemen’s EP JOY on cassette. I drive a 1999 Cadillac Seville SRS.
Unlike New Millennium cars, my decade old Cadillac Car came equipped with a cassette player! Earlier today, I’d been helping my mother get the Christmas stuff out of boxes from our storage area in the garage area of our West LA Condo. I spotted a box of MY old stuff that was not taped shut. I rifled through the box and pulled out a few gems: two ticket stubs for the collection – one of the Chicago White Sox playing the Baltimore Orioles at the newly created Camden Yards field from Sept. 1, 1998,
while on a trip home from SKorea, visiting the Pentagon in DC and the Smithsonian and my only older sister Dom and her forever husband E, who had a house in DC and who shares my name AND who has a twin, older brother with the same name as my older brother. I also found a ticket stub from Napalm Death’s concert at the Hollywood Palladium in 1992.
I also found a black and white, passport sized photo of my overachieving ex, Tony (the nickname of my Peruvian born resident, former miss,
who now speaks 6 languages, AND is now a doctor living in Amsterdam, married to a German engineer). I guess I dropped the ball on that one.
I left the storage area with two cassettes: One, still in the case, was BPD’s 1992 Sex and Violence; the other, sans case, was a Minutemen EP called JOY. The JOY EP cassette has only 3 songs on each side, the same 3 songs! Joy / Black Sheep / More Joy, and the total time of all 3 songs is just over 3 minutes! At the end of each side, my 1992 Cadillac’s auto-reverse mechanism kicks in. It’s cool. I hear one side, 3 minutes later, the final song ends; then wait for it, click-click, then the side starts up again: the same three songs on a continuous loop; and every time I hear each song, it’s like I’m hearing it for the first time. I still haven’t figured out exactly what D. Boon is saying! Thank you God! And thank you Chepe E. for introducing us to D. Boon, Mike Watt, George Hurley, BDP, Chuck D, and Flava Flav!
In 1987, in Berkeley California, I first met Flibby and I first met Chepe. We 3 lived together in 87-88-89, not in the same room, but in the same house with 180 other people at UC Berkeley’s legendary Barrington Hall. Primus played Barrington Hall’s Wine Dinner Fall 1987, and we frizzle fried our way through that party. Les Claypool wrote their song Frizzle Fry about that now infamous Wine Dinner. Les drank the same punch that we drank. After Barrington Hall was closed down forever at the end of 1989, each of us moved to Fiction House for 1989/1990 and we lived together there too. But we NEVER played music together until November 2009 – 20 years later. 2009, the year both Chepe and I, independent of each other, first discovered South Park! Les Claypool wrote/sings South Park’s theme song.
Chepe always played drums with a band back in college, and all through the early 90’s. The first band was called BEEF CHURCH and the latter was called MAGGOT BRAIN. They played shows, they played parties. Chepe kept the beat for both. Flibby and I, we messed around with various guitars and basses, we wrote songs and sung to the heavens and to our girlfriends and to anyone who would listen; but it wasn’t until Flibby fully hooked up with Chepe, who’d been my best friend since 1987 – Flib had also been my best friend since 1987, so it seemed fitting that in my absence, me being in Asia for a decade, that in that time, Chepe and Flibby, both married homeowners in the East LA and Inland Empire areas respectively, both avid horticulturalists and artists/ craftsmen, MY BEST LA FRIENDS, both part of the Bravo-fold West and the Spleef Posse, my people – it was only fitting that the two of them would come together without me before my arrival, so that upon my arrived, not just a visit, but for the long haul, that WE could begin our coffee pot break extraordinary rendition. I’ve been in LA 13 months now.
The three of us, Chepe, Flibby and I, Bravo, began playing music together in November 2009, just for kicks, meeting weekly to salute Manny Mota and eat fruit from Jose’s newly created yard and garden, mostly doing improvisation, rotating instruments. And, with the exception of the 5 weeks Flibby spent working construction (that’s what Flibby do) in Washington State back in March, we’ve met every week since Nov 09 at least once. Chepe and I have met two/three times a week for the past few months. Our meeting place is always East Los Angeles.
Chepe turned Flibby and I onto the Minutemen and BDP and Public Enemy back in Berkeley back in Barrington, back in 1987. I think Chepe turned many people onto the Minutemen. The Minutemen are not that well known, but of the people who know them, THEY ARE VERY WELL RESPECTED.
I was in Nepal in early November 2009, just a few weeks before I returned to the US and started my band, Coffee Pot Break with Chepe and Flibby. It was there in Kathmandu with my Arizona pal JR that I first met Olivier, a 50 year old French punk rocker with a Mohawk, living in Kathmandu. Oliver played drums in a drum/bass combo with his Nepalese wife on vocals and bass called Rai Ko Ris. Olivier and his wife have a second band called Tank Girl, which includes a third member, a guitarist, a girl, the wife’s childhood chum.
Tank Girl had that odd mix of musicianship that only occurs when the band members are close friends. THAT is the ultimate display of the physical property that: THE TOTAL EXCEEDS THE SUM OF THE PARTS. Both JR and I agreed that Tank Girl sounded a lot like the Minutemen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGHNcQ4zv6Y
The Minutemen began in 1971 – at the age of 13, two high school nerds playing music together and smoking lots of pot and playing just to gratify the other, as if to say, they only played to make the other player say, “Wow, that was hot!” Mike Watt, legendary bass player and founding member of the Minutemen tells that D. Boon (the other singer and guitar player)’s mom bought them equipment to play in Boon’s bedroom, so she can know where they are at night. “Yeah it’s loud and they smoke weed, but at least I know where they are; and they are not getting into trouble.” D. Boon’s mom called it Econo Child Care. The Minutemen began recording in 1980 and lasted till 1985 when D. Boon died at the age of 27. Twenty-seven years dead, just like Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. “We jam econo,” The Minutemen sang. “Makes a stench!” We Jam Econo is not only a line from the Minutemen song, the Politics of Time, it is also the title of the film: The Story of the Minutemen.
After Tank Girl’s set, both JR and I had the same reaction – “They sound like the Minutemen!” After the show, we met Olivier in person. Olivier, who’s lived in Nepal for 20 years and who has a Nepalese wife and a 5 year old son, said, “You think we sound like the Minutemen?!? That’s the greatest compliment ever! My wife and I, we were just listening to the Minutemen the other night. (to his wife) Honey, they think we sound like the Minutemen!” The wife smiled knowingly and Olivier looked around and showed us his son who was 5 years old, and playing under the table. “Even my son likes the Minutemen!”
It’s very cool listening to a 3 song EP cassette. I listen to JOY in a loop over and over again. Only, each listen, each song is the longest 47 seconds of my life, each an expression of life, over and over again with adequate pauses for affirmation! The Minutemen are an INCREDIBLE trio from San Pedro, California. They are called the Minutemen cuz, in the beginning; all their songs lasted no longer than one minute.
So the next day, Saturday night, Flibby’s birthday, December 18th, I had a pseudo band practice with just Chepe Escondido. Tonight, Chepe’s daughter, who is 16, born almost the exact day as my nephew (also 16, my older brother’s son, a handsome straight A student with long hair, who wears Pink Floyd tee shirts and rocks Metallica and Zep note for note on guitar) – Chepe’s daughter studies violin at a Conservatory in Silverlake started by Flea from the Chili Peppers. Chepe’s daughter is performing tonight at the Nokia Theater, playing in a small orchestra behind Flea and Stevie Wonder. That’s quite an achievement for a 16 year old! Chepe did not have a ticket, but he got to meet Flea and give him a calendar he’s made.
Tonight, Chepe and I jammed out our entire set on bass and drums, 12 original songs, many repeated, Chepe on bass and vocals, me on drums and backing vocals. Chepe writes all the songs we play.
Chepe is wild cuz as long as I’ve known him, which is going on 24 years; he has achieved so much. And it is primarily because Chepe makes such good use of his time. I come from a family of achievers. My mother does more in a month than most people do in a decade; and she is SO old, I’m not allowed to say her age! My sister, the ACLU attorney turned AFTRA union delegate turned organizer, producer, mother of 3 brilliant children; my sister lived in Nicaragua during the Oliver North 80’s and has done so much for so many, my sister makes John Cheever look like a misbeliever. y brother, a 5th grade teacher beloved by his students, hasn’t missed a day of work in the entire 8 years he’s taught at Ralph Emerson Elementary. My brother…circa 1985
Chepe has worked on various projects everyday of his life, as long as I’ve known him, whether it is painting canvases, doing ceramics, playing music, raising children, making calendars, landscaping, creating an exquisite garden of fruit trees in his barren yard; so that at the end of each day, of each week, of each month, each year, he has accomplished much.
I enjoy knowing achievers. They really raise the bar for me. Here’s to you Chepe! Chepe USED TO be a drummer. Still is, but he’s graduated to front man, like Phil Collins did! Chepe graduated. Me, I’m still in school. I keep the beat now. Chepe turned 43 five months ago. I turn 43 in 5 months and Flibby, well…Flibby is the first person in my age group that I know, to get married and buy his own house with his own money. And he did it without a university degree. Furthermore, Flibby has been married longer than any of my peers, and is one of the only people I know in my age group STILL married to the same woman! That’s some achievement. Christmas Eve Day, Flibby begins the groundbreaking on Chepe’s addition, the stairway to heaven and rooftop deck. Happy 43rd, Flibby! And Murry Xmas to all achievers. For Christmas, my older brother got me a South Park calendar. Sweet!
On Christ Mass, what’s the purpose of Santa Claus? — BDP from The Real Holy Place. Fresh for 2010, you suckas!