Anything I happen to think of may get posted
here. If you have any comments about this page, write to me
By the way, the location shown above is not
too far north of Rome, New York. Just poke around on Google
Maps for awhile and you can probably find it.
* * *
For electronic repair products,
some of which can be used to repair music equipment, please
try my company, Fixit
Products. We are the master distributor of Anders Products
KEYPAD FIX, CORROSION GONE and SURFACE MOUNT COMPONENT FIX.
THIS BLOG UP AND DOING SOMETHING
THE NEW JOHN
HOVORKA SOLO ALBUM!
Finally even some more tracks for it, although
one of them is definitely not final.
Zero Sum Game probably
needs the lead vocal re-recorded as well as the electric rhythm
guitar part and then there are things about the mix that I don't
like, but at least here it is. As for
Get A Job who knows? I started
writing this song in 1983 and finally got it written. While
I'm on this subject, I put a guitar solo at the end of the Change
of Status song but that revision is not up here yet.
By the way, I saw Pere Ubu and Minibeast on
Sunday night. Totally worthwhile, and it's about time, too!
And now here are some more tracks for this,
although many of them are not final.
Is Your Country
By the way,
for a complete list of all this new stuff in one place go to
Metal Snowball Homepage
Way is now up as an MP3 here and also as a video on Youtube.
Some of these tracks still need work, in fact
except for Cloud they all need at least a bit of work. So as
I complete my work on these songs I will replace them with new
versions here. Meanwhile I have nearly completed Change of Status.
Also This Is Your Country and The Big One are coming along.
Beer audio is done. I'm also working on a video for this
My work on my new solo album continues. By
the way, this is not to be confused with the second John Hovorka
and the Dawn of Mechanized Farming album which is also still
underway. That is something I am really looking forward to,
very excited about that project. But meanwhile I'm excited about
So here is something more for it, a Youtube
Video of Cloud
This weekend I am also starting work on the
music for both "Machine Beer" and "Country",
some basic tracks at least, and possibly on the video for "Machine
Beer". And I plan to release a video for Industrial
Way on Youtube in about a week.
Also if looking at this page on your smart
phone is giving you eyestrain, these videos and maybe some other
info can also be found on @John_Hovorka
And at some point I will move this blog to
a smart phone friendly location on Wordpress, like maybe when
I have time for that 10 years from now, although you'll probably
be able to (yikes!) implant it by then.
I'm working on the new John Hovorka solo album
so here are first versions of 3 new songs I just recorded for
it. These are probably not the final versions. I have between
9 and 12 songs for this.
As I make progress on this project I will post
the results of that here. Also any related efforts, like I'm
working on some videos for these songs that I am putting on
To start with there is this:
Not A Scientist
And the Youtube Video
Not A Scientist
And to find all of these in a list go to Metal
Snowball Records Homepage.
Also another thing I did sort of recently was
my first show in 3 years back on June 21st in front of Main
Drag Music in Brooklyn for Make Music New York. It went really
well. I was a bit nervous about the new material, like it's
the kind of stuff where I get concerned that some of these songs
might bother some people, although maybe that's just due to
my self-consciousness. Some people liked it a lot.
As I recall, the set was:
The Industrial Way
I'm Not A Scientist
Change Of Status
This Is Your Country
Meawhile back in the days of old, going back a decade or so,
or this is actually a historic novel about 1988, so even farther
John Hovorka wrote a novel. It is about the
rock and roll scene of the 1980's.
find out more about it and to buy it, CLICK HERE
For electronic repair products, some of which can be used
to repair music equipment, please try my company, Fixit Products.
We are the master distributor of Anders Products Wire Glue and
other Anders Products. We can be found at www.fixitproducts.us
6/07: John Hovorka interview. by Dave Bromwich
and Rebecca Stimson. SEE BELOW!
Well, a ways below now...
5/07: The 2x4's studio album, recorded
in 1980, finally released!
Here is some info about The 2x4's
for you to have a look at.
at Church of Boston 5/1/10
Turbines reunion last Saturday night! A celebration
of Johnny D's, a place full of bands and beer back in the mid-80's.
This reunion event was at a club called Church of Boston, and
featured Moose and the Mudbugs, The Classic Ruins, The Prime
Movers, and the Turbines. It all went great and Jack and I are
already talking about doing another Turbines show soon. Meanwhile
here is our extremely anachronistic set list, nothing new, just
a solid selection of Turbines songs.
Rock In My Pocket
Big Motor Man
Rules Of The Road
She's My Witch
Eye For An Eye
Skull & Crossbones
That's The Way
I Get Excited
here is a link to a digital camera type video of a couple of
these Turbines songs that can be found on youtube.
Please click here...
Finally, I'm writing here, yet again. Today is hot and humid
so I want to stay in and continue to write some new songs. Then
after I write them I want to get some more shows. But meanwhile,
here is an essay I wrote about how I got into rock and roll
music to begin with.
My First Day As A Rock And Roller, Or Alternatively
How Hearing The Song Henry VIII By Herman's Hermits
Too Much Almost Made Me Hate Rock And Roll
For whatever reason, I have been thinking back
to my first day as a rock and roller. There actually was such
a thing for me because before that I didn't care about rock
and roll at all, then after that, it was the only thing I cared
I had glimmers of interest in rock and roll before that day
in the summer of 1965, probably starting with the first time
I ever heard Surfin' Bird by The Trashmen back in 1962. I made
my friend Marc play it for me 3 times in a row. But with few
exceptions1 [I don't know how to get superscript in Dreamweaver...],
that kind of music did not interest me any more or less than
anything else did. By the time I was 12 I had branched out from
the classical music that my parents were listening to. But what
I got into was old jazz like Cab Calloway and Fats Waller. Then
a year later, seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show did
nothing for me at all. Not long after that I was kind of intrigued
by The Rolling Stones on some teen show on TV doing Heart Of
Stone, somewhere around the end of 1964 or the beginning of
1965, their grim, surly appearance, and also by The Shangri-Las.
They also impressed me. But basically rock and roll was about
things I didn't want anything to do with. Occasionally I thought
positively of it, like the time I heard House Of The Rising
Sun by The Animals in a dimly lit cavernous discount store called
Zayre's which was right down the street from some housing projects,
that resonated with me. And I liked Help Me Rhonda by The Beach
Boys when they played it at a beach party on the shores of Cayuga
Lake after I graduated from junior high school. It was pretty
much our "class song" and one of the greaser kids who had a
Honda and liked to break into places had an alternative version
that went, "Help Me Honda, Help Me Get Out Of The State".
My life without much rock and roll continued with Boy Scout
camp, by the shores of Seneca Lake in New York State in the
summer of 1965. There I heard two songs on the radio in the
mess hall, over and over again. I was intrigued by "Here Comes
The Night" by Them, although I could not understand why anyone
would put up with having problems like that song was about.
(It seemed like this song was about a guy's entire life revolving
around seeing his girlfriend walking around with some other
guy.) But I hated Henry VIII by Hermans Hermits. One day I was
in that mess hall washing the dishes and they played that song
twice in a row on the radio. (No I'm not kidding. They actually
did.) Its incessant inanity made me want to never hear rock
and roll, ever again!
This morning I looked at some Top 40 song charts from 1965 on
the Internet in hopes that they would provide me with some information
about the day that I suddenly from-out-of-no-place became a
rock and roll fanatic. On looking over these Top 40 Charts,
the first thing I noticed was that this occurred later that
summer than I had thought, towards the end of August. I remember
how it started. What I don't remember is that the song that
finally got me was way up on the charts at the same time as
Henry VIII, but apparently due to the strength of my repulsion
for Henry VIII, I was mentally blocked from even noticing the
song I became obsessed just with a few weeks later.
Here is an excerpt from my huge unfinished and quite possibly
never to be finished John Hovorka Autobiography Project that
describes this point in my life.
"I was on one of my long bike hikes near Geneva, NY that I took
back in those days. I was quite a ways down Pre-Emption Road
just past Billsboro Corners, but not quite as far as Bellona.
In other words, I was absolutely in the middle of no place.
I was surrounded by cabbage fields. I stopped to take a break
under some trees. It was windy, so the cabbage leaves in a field
all looked like they were waving at me. I tuned in my little
transistor radio. There was The Rolling Stones doing Satisfaction,
a song that had always sounded repellent to me, up until that
moment. It hardly even sounded like music to me. Very cold!
What was this about? A pounding repetition that made me think
of robots. I had no idea what to make of this song but I wanted
to hear it again. So that was the breaking point for me. Because
it was at exactly that moment that I turned into a rock and
roller, and a really bad student. I simply fell into the fascination
of it. Nothing else made any difference to me at all anymore."
But how does a fascination with one song lead to "all this"?
Well, I wanted to hear this song a lot, all the time, so I figured
I would go to the local record store, Cass Records, and buy
a copy of it. But that single was on its way back down in the
charts just that week so they didn't have it. I had to hear
this song or else. So I turned on my radio a lot. They never
played it again, at least for a week or so. But I was determined
so I kept the radio on. And then given the chance, I never turned
the radio off, for the next few years at least. (I could have
gotten the album I guess, but on a budget consisting of mowing
lawns for 25 cents an hour, spending $3 for an album was too
expensive! I mean yes, I was fascinated with this song but I
was only willing to work 4 hours to get it, not 12.)
One might figure that this rock and roll on the radio trend
might be a short-lived fad for me since I had never previously
shown any predisposition at all to listening to current hit
songs all of the time. I can't explain that, and it might be
too much to ask for any kind of explanation. But it does raise
a question. What songs were on the radio during the week of
August 29, 1965?
I'm looking at this chart, http://top40.6pack.net/pages/main.php
and there are a few songs out of that Top 40 list that I don't
remember, specifically Number 23, You'd Better Come Home by
Petula Clark, Number 25, Take Me Back by Little Anthony And
The Imperials, Number 37, Shake And Fingerpop by Junior Walker
and the All Stars, Number 39, Sugar Dumpling by Sam Cooke, and
Number 40, I Don't Want To Lose You (boy that sounds like a
loser song!) by Chad & Jeremy. Also I note looking at some of
the charts previous to that one that I heard a few other songs
But starting with Number 38, You Tell Me Why by The Beau Brummels,
I liked it a lot, and I still like it a lot now.
Moving right along here, at Number 36, Eve Of Destruction by
Barry McGuire, was an immediate hit with me then and I still
like it now. It reminded me of suburbs.
Number 35, I Like It Like That by The Dave Clark 5. I did not
like this one, and I still don't like it now. Number 34, Looking
Through The Eyes Of Love by Gene Pitney. Back then I thought
it was annoying, not to mention, depressing. Now I like it just
fine, although it's not rock and roll. I still find it depressing.
Number 33, Houston by Dean Martin. Not rock and roll either.
But I liked it a lot then and I still like it lot now.
Number 32, Ju Ju Hand by Sam The Sham And The Pharoahs did not
move me then and still doesn't now. Just not the song for me,
Number 31, Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows by Lesley Gore.
Not what I was looking for then, but no problem with it, nor
Number 30, I Want Candy by The Strangeloves. This was great.
It still is.
Number 29, Action by Freddy Cannon. Yeah! Too short, but sweet!
This song pretty much defined what I wanted out of life at the
time. I mean, what more could there be? Oh yeah, Paul Revere
and the Raiders playing the same song in a swimming pool.
Number 28, Heart Full Of Soul by The Yardbirds. I didn't know
what to make of this song. I thought ""soul" was good, so why
was this song apparently trying to say that it's bad? This song
does have great guitar solo, which I immediately picked up on,
Number 27, The In Crowd by the Ramsey Lewis Trio. It's easy
to forget how much not-rock was on the charts back in those
days. Pleasant enough, though.
Number 26, Cara Mia by Jay And The Americans. That was fine
with me, and still is.
Number 24, It Ain't Me Babe by The Turtles. At first I was perplexed
by negative sounding Bob-Dylan-written songs. My first reaction
to hearing The Byrds doing Mr. Tambourine Man a few months before
that was bad, and my reaction to first hearing Like A Rolling
Stone by Bob Dylan was worse. Yet strangely after I heard the
Bob Dylan version of Mr. Tambourine Man I no longer thought
this stuff sounded terrible, in fact, I liked it. Meanwhile,
back towards the beginning of that "process", the Turtles doing
It Ain't Me Babe sounded to me like something straight out of
suburbia, almost like surf music except inland. This song gave
me images of huge suburbs, kind of like a nightmare, except
not entirely unpleasant.
Number 22, In the Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett. I remember
hearing this but it didn't make much of an impression on me.
A year and a half later I was a Wilson Pickett fanatic, but
in August 1965, not yet.
Number 21, Since I Lost My Baby by The Temptations was fine
with me. It was not what I was looking for at the time (more
like what I was looking for a year later) but I thought it was
Number 20, the Tracks Of My Tears by Smokey Robinson and the
Miracles. I was always drawn in by his singing, and he is one
of the few celebrities that I would actually like to meet because
I think he's just plain amazing. Meanwhile, although this "tracks
of my tears" concept was a bit creepy to me I liked this song
Number 19. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones.
Out in Geneva, NY which had a playlist that seemed to play by
its own rules, this was not on the radio by then, but I was
getting some kind of satisfaction out of some what I was hearing.
Where does Mohair Sam by Charlie Rich fit in with all this chart-wise?
I liked that one a lot, and also Seventh Son by Johnny Rivers.
Number 18, Save Your Heart For Me by Gary Lewis & The Playboys.
This song was so lame that it ruined the idea of accordions
in rock music for me right up to the present day. Plus I hate
songs like this. The only band that could pull this lyrical
theme off without sounding terminally wimpy was The Four Seasons.
Number 17, I'm A Fool by Dino, Desi & Billy. Not too exciting
then and I wouldn't want to waste my eardrums on it now.
Number 16, Nothing But Heartaches, by The Supremes. Fine with
Number 15, All I Really Want To Do by Cher. Fine with me…
Number 14, I'm Henry VIII I Am. One of the good things about
WGVA in Geneva, NY was that sometimes they did drop songs before
they fell off of other charts. I knew a DJ there, my English
teacher, Mr. Vogt. Maybe he got sick of it.
Number 13, Baby I'm Yours by Barbara Lewis. Not in the rock
and roll category, maybe barely in the R&B category, nonetheless
I liked it then and I like it now.
Number 12, Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me by Mel Carter. Fine with
Number 11, Down In The Boondocks by Billie Joe Royal. I liked
this one. It was kind of like if you took Geneva, NY and moved
it 500 miles south and also it was slightly worse than it actually
was. So lyrically, yeah. I got the impression something bad
was going to happen in this story.
Number 10. Papa's Got A Brand New Bag, Part 1 by James Brown.
What could I think? What is this? Uh, totally impossible to
ignore. After a few days I started to like it a lot. And I still
Number 9, Don't Just Stand There by Patty Duke. This never did
much for me. I still don't like it. I actually have this record.
I found it abandoned on the streets of my neighborhood.
Number 8, You Were On My Mind by the We 5. I thought some of
the lyrics were odd. "I went down to the corner, just to
ease my pain" made a certain amount of sense to me if I
thought about it very hard. But did they really sing, "I
had wounds to bind"? I must have that wrong. It doesn't
seem possible. Anyhow I liked this song then and I still like
Number 7, Help! by The Beatles. I bought this single. I played
its flip side, I'm Down, hundreds of times at top volume on
my parent's stereo when they were out. I went to see the movie
twice. Then I went out to find all their other music, which
was not hard to do since it was all over the place back then.
Number 6, It's The Same Old Song by the 4 Tops. I liked it a
lot then and I like it now.
Number 5, California Girls by The Beach Boys. I liked it OK
but I liked their more rockin' stuff better back then.
Number 4, Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers. At some
point I finally got into the Righteous Brothers to some extent.
Months later I liked Soul & Inspiration by them. This one did
not catch on with me then. I associated it with ads for Stridex
Medicated Pads. The Righteous Brothers were on TV a lot. First
there would be them, two skinny, pale white guys with crewcuts
mournfully singing. Then there would be a medicated pad ad.
Then there would be some lame filler band called The Shindogs,
then more medicated pads. Maybe it was good ad strategy for
selling acne pads but it failed to sell me on the Righteous
Brothers. I like that song OK now.
Number 3, What's New Pussycat? By Tom Jones. This song was played
so much that it was completely unbelievable to me. Oh I liked
it… And I wouldn't mind hearing it right now. (It's in that
stack over there with that aformentioned Patty Duke record.)
Number 2, Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan. Although I found
this song totally unbearable for the first 2 months it was on
the charts, eventually I gave in to this propaganda-like assault
on my senses and just said, yeah… Months later I was buying
his albums. But who can resist a song title like From A Buick
6? Not me!
Number 1, I Got You Babe by Sonny & Cher. The part of this song
that I liked best was that piano break in the middle where they
stopped singing for 4 bars. What I really liked by them then
was Baby Don't Go that was getting airplay at exactly the same
time. I have no idea what that song was about or why it isn't
on this chart.
Was this really enough to get me in to rock and roll to the
point where I never got out? Maybe or maybe not, but like a
bad lengthy infomercial in the middle of the night, how about
these other inducements? From the following September 5, 1965
chart I note that I may have also heard the following new songs
Number 39 9/5/65 chart: Who'll Be The Next In Line? by The Kinks.
Sort of like an answer song to Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones
in its cold approach. Hard for me to like, but impossible for
me to ignore. Plus then it made me notice all those other songs
by The Kinks.
Number 38 9/5/65 chart: Summer Nights by Marianne Faithfull.
I was floored. I almost still am. One of the greatest songs
Number 37 9/5/65 chart: Agent Double O Soul by Edwin Starr.
I could not get enough of this. Also it was not on the charts
long enough. I definitely wanted more of this.
Number 36 9/5/65 chart: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place by The
Animals. This was great. It still is.
Number 34 9/5/65 chart: Hang On Sloopy by The McCoys. Not to
be denied, then or now!
Number 31 9/5/65 chart: Catch Us If You Can by The Dave Clark
5. I never thought much of them until I heard this song. (After
that I backtracked to hear their earlier stuff.) This song was
great, especially that drum sound, who can beat that?
Also from the weeks before that there were some still lingering
All I Really Want To Do by The Byrds, which struck me as not
being terrible "like their version of Mr. Tambourine Man was",
then I rather quickly warmed up to them. Ride Your Pony by Lee
Dorsey, I liked that one a lot, too. Then there were songs that
lingered around upstate a lot, although not necessarily in towns
of any size, like there was no shortage of Bobby Vinton, Bobby
Tillotson, or Bobby Goldsboro in Geneva, NY. More positively,
there was also plenty of Roy Orbison, and country and western,
Buck Owens, Little Jimmy Dickens, and what made a huge impression
on me was The Statler Brothers. And soon there was plenty more
rattling around my head. But this answers my question about
what was on the radio on August 29, 1965 OK I guess.
1 In addition to the ones I already mentioned, the pre-8/29/65
rock and roll songs that got my attention were: In 1955 my mother
brought me into Mister Donut on Route Two in Cambridge, Mass.
to get some donuts. I was very interested in the teenagers who
were standing around the jukebox, the power they seemed to possess.
The music coming out of the jukebox was probably rhythm and
blues music from that era, something like Shake, Rattle and
Roll by Joe Turner. It left a strong impression on me, the beat,
the shouting, the incessant repetition. It wasn't something
that I could put in context at the time. When one is 4 years
old, what is? My mom pulled me away from it. But I never forgot
about it, that tough looking guy in the soft sweater with long
hair on the front of his head, slouching in front of the jukebox,
swaying to the beat like he was hypnotized. There he was, and
so was I. So maybe I was a rock and roller almost from the first
moment that anyone was, except that it took me about a decade
to realize it. On the other hand, there was plenty of rock and
roll that disturbed me at best, between then and August 1965.
For example, there was a Neil Sedaka song I don't remember which
one, but I was standing alone in the middle of a playground
when I was in grade school with this song in my head and I did
not like it. Also back in those days, there was Johnny Angel
by Shelley Fabares, and I Will Follow Him by Little Peggy March.
All of these songs made me think that being a teenager was going
to be an all-out nightmare! On a brighter side of things, when
I got ill with the mumps my mom lent me a radio and on WCOP
1150 I heard: Bobby Bare doing All American Boy, where first
he has an argument with his dad about his love for rock and
roll, then he becomes successful at playing it in Memphis, then
Uncle Sam says, "Gimme that guitar. Take this rifle. Gonna cut
your hair off!" My parents hated rock and roll but they did
have a record of Ballin' the Jack by Emil Coleman and his Orchestra,
which was rock and roll so far as I am concerned. I played that
one over and over again. In 1962 in Lexington Mass. I was invited
to a teen party, a twist party. There I heard and danced to
The Twist by Chubby Checker and The Peppermint Twist by Joey
Dee And The Starlighters. The day after we arrived in Geneva,
NY in 1963 the song on the radio was Shop Around by Smokey Robinson
& The Miracles. Mama Said by Jan Bradley figured in all of this
someplace, probably later I think. The Locomotion by Little
Eva and Blame It On The Bossa Nova by Edie Gorme (does that
count as rock and roll? That organ break in the middle makes
me say yes), Suspicion by Terry Stafford, She Loves You by The
Beatles, I Wanna Hold Your Hand by the Beatles, Beatle VI album
in its entirety around when it came out, Green Onions by Booker
T and the MGs even though I didn't know the name of the band
at the time I heard it, Time Is On My Side by The Rolling Stones,
Downtown by Petula Clark, Land Of 1,000 Dances by Cannibal And
The Headhunters which I became aware of early 1965 because all
the kids were talking about it, and also about Wooly Bully by
Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs, and I'm Telling You Now and Do
the Freddie by Freddie and The Dreamers. And I was kind of interested
in It Hurts To Be In Love by Gene Pitney, although I also thought
it was a bit creepy. And I heard lots of songs by The Searchers
over the PA systems of stores (which I identified as theirs
afterwards), and also Red River Rock. Also I was vaguely aware
of Elvis Presley. And that is the end of this short list. I
recall no other rock and roll songs that I heard before 8/29/65,
I'm lining up some solo shows and starting to record an "acoustic"
album. Also Empire State, the long-awaited Hovorka album recorded
back in 1988 - 1989 has finally been released. More on this
soon, because it's such a big deal to me that I want to make
a big deal about it. But meanwhile, it is available here on
this web site by clicking on the usual buttons, Catalog and
Orders as can be seen at the top of this page.
The poster shown above was for the show I did
last night at Laila in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I used it as
a handout, as a poster in various stores and as an attachment
for the show email. By the way, if you want to be on my emailing
list, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I will send you info about my upcoming shows. The photo
used in this poster is of a highway near Provincetown, MA on
Cape Cod. It was taken by my brother, George. The show went
very well for me. I even got an encore. So I am planning to
do more of these, preferably a lot more, all over the place.
(The moment I woke up this morning I wished I was doing another
one someplace tonight.) Meanwhile, working with The Young Bialys
who were also on this bill was great, as usual. I love that
band. And it was great to see Joe Marabotto up on stage with
them on lead guitar.
Here is list of the songs I did at this show. Usually I don't
follow a set list when I do solo shows but this time I did.
Colin requested Wilderness Man for an encore song and also Alcohol
Beast during the set. Thank you, Colin.
3/8/08 John Hovorka solo show at Laila set
(the dates these songs were written and which
of my albums they can be found are shown in parentheses)
Eyes Shut Tight (1998, Chalk Pyramids)
Greenland (1998, Chalk Pyramids)
In The Long Run (1983, Drive All Night)
The Dawn of Mechanized Farming (2004, will
be on my next album)
Machine Beer (2004, will be on my next album)
The Ballad Of Sheriff John Castle (1996, Drive All Night)
Corporations (2002, will be on my next album)
The Red Trucks (1983, will be on my next album)
Bridgeport Lathe (1979, The 2x4's, Drive All Night)
Iron Line (1982, Noise Pencil, Drive All Night)
My True Story (1994, Drive All Night)
Alcohol Beast (1996, Drive All Night)
Wah Hey! (1983, Turbines Last Dance Before
Highway, Hovorka Greenland)
Wilderness Man (1994, Hovorka Greenland) (This was the encore
song of the set)
Well it's about time I said something here. Ken left the band
and we are looking for a new drummer. So if you know of anyone
who might be good for that, please let me know. Meanwhile I
am looking forward to doing a solo show next Saturday night
at Laila Lounge. Also there is some possibility of me doing
solo shows in Cambridge, Massachusetts sort of soon, as well
as in Buffalo, NY and Cleveland, Ohio in July. And in the Brooklyn,
New York area, yeah. So I will have more info about that soon,
John Hovorka And The Dawn Of Mechanized Farming is fully reorganized
at last, the fourth version of the band over the course of nearly
5 years. Joe Kelly who used to do backing vocals, percussion,
occasional keyboards and even more occasional guitar in is now
working out very well on bass guitar. And Marc Bendian who used
to play bass now plays guitar, quite some guitar. And I'm probably
going to be putting away my 12-string Rickenbacker guitar and
playing my Gibson Firebird guitar instead. And Ken is still
on drums. So it sounds different, totally focused on just rock
and roll and nothing else at all times. That's what we were
about anyhow, so it makes sense. I'm not sure what Bill is doing
now but he says he's going to come up to Massachusetts with
Colin our first drummer to see us play on November 17th.
Meanwhile, I have managed to finish the CD re-release of The
Price Of The Truth, a 7" EP that I did in 1980 - 1981 just
after I left The 2x4's. It is stark and bleak and relentless,
quite possibly relentlessly awful but nonetheless, relentless.
On a more cheerful note, the first Hovorka album, Empire State
(from 1988 - 1990) is ready to be released. I need an OK from
the other band members but it's done. And I think I should promote
it any way I can think of. Because it's great!
Bill who plays guitar in John Hovorka and the Dawn of Mechanized
Farming has left the band. Thus we are in a state of reorganization.
I think this is going to go OK and work out just fine. But it's
going to slow us down in terms of recording, and I'm not sure
when we will be ready to play out again. By November, I hope!
Meanwhile The Noise, a magazine in Boston has a very positive
review of The 2x4's in it. And the rest continues apace.
The show at The Knitting Factory last night
went great. The Hunting Party which featured Colin formerly
of Provan and DOMF on drums did a dynamic set of melodic rock
and roll. Then The Damned Shames, a new band fronted by fine
guitar player Sean Condron did a shamelessly super set of original
rock-a-billy tunes. And then John Hovorka And The Dawn Of Mechanized
Farming just plain rocked out if I do say so myself, a longer
set than usual which featured both old and new songs. Just in
case you're interested in exactly what we are doing nowadays,
here's the set list which includes the dates of when the songs
were written and which other band have done them, where applicable.
8/10/07 DOMF at The Knitting Factory Set List
Don't Stop Now (2001)
In The Long Run (1983)
Rules Of The Road (1985, Turbines, Hovorka1, High Society)
Might Get Shot (1988, Hovorka1)
I Can't Help (2001, Hovorka2)
Imagine The Day (2001, Hovorka2)
War Zone (2003)
Reality (2002, Hovorka2)
Expressway Girl (1990, Hovorka2, Please Release Me)
The Dawn of Mechanized Farming (2004)
Wah Hey! (1983, Turbines, Hovorka1, Hovorka2, Wah Hey!, The
A-Bones, Fall Fan Dave, plus a string band from Cambridge, Mass.
who did a great version of it a long time ago)
Bridgeport Lathe (1979, The 2x4's, Noise Pencil, Turbines, Hovorka1,
Hovorka2, Joe Harvard, Provan, The Infestations and my apologies
if I can't remember any others right now on 4 hours of sleep)
I'll Take (1989, Hovorka 1 Hovorka2, Turbines 1994 reunion show)
Drillin' (1990, Hovorka1)
Songs we did not get to included
I Get Excited (1982, Noise Pencil, Turbines)
Blocked (1998, Hovorka2)
Finally Realize (2001, Hovorka2)
Little Cities (1978, The 2x4's, Noise Pencil, Turbines, Hovorka1,
Wah Hey!, Hovorka2, The Rox)
Empire State (1988, Hovorka1)
And here's the poster for that show. I figured
that Pink Floyd had good luck with including cows in their art
so maybe us, too.
(Note: This image was reconfigured from the original
for use on this
OK, so moo-ving right along here... not only does DOMF have
more shows coming up in Brooklyn and in Massachusetts but we
are developing a serious intention of recording our next CD,
preferably during the next few months. Also (while you are waiting
for this eventuality), if you would like to hear a different
take on Turbines songs, please check out the Fallfandave myspace
page for links to his versions of some Turbines songs. I particularly
recommend his version of "Wah Hey!" It's practically
a different song I think, but I like it a lot. "Stopover
at the Turbines Motel" indeed!
Uh, excuse me, I have a bit of Wah-Hey-ing
to do myself now... Namely get out the guitar and write some
new songs already!
So little to say, and no time! That has been my story. But enough
of this dead air space already. Aside from the raw, pulsating
excitement of the latest Trash Bar show, not to mention the
thrill of playing at The Plough & Stars in Cambridge, Mass.,
also with Triple Thick a while back, there has also been The
2x4's Studio Album release back last month, AND NOW a John Hovorka
magazine interview, which I have reprinted below.
The Pseud Mag John Hovorka Interview. by Dave Bromwich and Rebecca
Stimson is contained in The Pseud Mag, Issue 16, June/July 2007.
Dave Bromwich who edits this The Fall fanzine asked me if I'd
do one, so I did. Plus there is plenty of info on The Fall and
Mark E. Smith. The Table of Contents of The Pseud Mag can be
found on-line at www.freewebs.com/pseudmag/issues1618.htm and
you can order it at: The Pseud Mag, PO Box 2162, Bolton, BL6
9BT, UK. I recommend it.
HAD A RUN IN WITH BOSTON IMMIGRATION...
AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN HOVORKA
by Dave Bromwich and Rebecca Stimson
This interview is justified simply because the editor is a mega
fan of Boston band The Turbines [who all love the Fall btw...]
1. THE 2X4s: I was looking at your discography on the Metal
Snowball site and I was surprised to see just how long you have
been doing music - it says it was late 78 when you began with
the 2x4s. What inspired you to start singing and playing the
guitar? I have heard a couple of 2x4s tracks ... 'The Spaz'
sounds a fun track ... was that the nature of the 2x4s generally
? How much 2x4s stuff did you do?
When I was 14, in 1965, I was sitting in a field in the middle
of noplace in upstate New York and "Satisfaction" by The Rolling
Stones came in on my transistor radio. It sounded cold, mechanistic
and monotonous. It excited me. I rapidly became obsessed with
the music and have stayed that way ever since. I started playing
guitar in bands in 1967. As for singing, the first lead vocal
I ever did was the song "Little Girl" by The Syndicate of Sound.
The 2x4's Story began with: I saved up enough money to get to
England and other parts of Europe for about a month in 1978,
and saw some bands, including The Rezillos and Stiff Little
Fingers. I liked it there but I was not going to get back again
soon because I had spent all my money. So I focused in on the
United States and what it consisted of. A lot of fields and
a lot of factories, mostly. That gave me something to write
The 2x4's had three sides to them. Tom (on bass) was a disturbingly
quiet electronics technician, Steve (who played drums & devices)
was extremely blue collar and not someone you'd want to have
a problem with, and I was formerly working in factories but
now in libraries. The Spazz was Tom's. It was great fun to do.
My songwriting was not much like his. His material had some
minimal amount of looseness to it while mine was more tense.
But we all worked together well; it was a concept band. We called
it "industrial rock". (By the time that meant something else
we had already broken up.)
How much 2x4's stuff did I do? Well, we started in 1/79, really
got going in 9/79 and broke up in 6/80. We played perhaps 15
shows. We ended up with 25 songs, 16 written by me, 5 by Tom,
1 by John Morrill who played drums with us for about a month,
and 3 of which were covers. We did 4 recording sessions then
released 2 tapes to radio stations and one single. And The 2x4's
songs that I have done fairly often since then are "Bridgeport
Lathe" and "Little Cities". We plan to have a studio album out
2. NOISE PENCIL: I see you did a solo album after the 2x4s ended,
and that included some of the members of the 2x4s, but then
you hooked up with Jack Hickey and became Noise Pencil. Was
this band very similar to The Turbines?
Noise Pencil was not much like the Turbines. I had just finished
a 7" solo EP called "The Price of the Truth" with a band that
included Tom and Cubie from The 2x4's. Although we had a great
time recording it, I was somewhat disappointed by the results.
So I was looking for an opportunity to do something else. Noise
Pencil was it, and working with Jack was great. By the way,
the all-night loft parties that we played at inspired me to
3. THE TURBINES: I know your Turbines work more than anything
thanks to Andy Kershaw playing it on the radio as he was a bit
of a fan. But I was totally bowled over by the sound. This was
your 2nd LP, and the track was Roy's Motel. I rushed out and
tracked down the album in Manchester , and later eventually
got hold of the first album. All brilliant stuff I must say.
Did The Turbines tour a lot?
Wow, thanks! And many thanks to Andy Kershaw, too. The Turbines
toured a fair amount, up and down the East Coast opening for
The Blasters, The Hoodoo Gurus, X, The Gun Club, Southern Culture
On The Skids, etc. And we did a nationwide tour for a couple
of months, to Los Angeles then back.
4. HOW THE TURBINES FORMED: You say that The Turbines formed
after seeing The Fall at The Rat in Boston in 83. Was this sheer
coincidence or was you actually inspired by The Fall in some
It was a coincidence except for the fact that we all went to
see them, which surely must indicate something, probably that
we were all fans of The Fall.
5. WHY DID THE TURBINES SPLIT: Was it down to musical differences
that The Turbines split or was it just lack of motivation or
Our tour left us completely burned out. Our record company was
obviously about to drop us, our van was falling apart as we
drove it, we couldn't afford to eat anything but French Fries
if that, and we were barely on speaking terms. What we should
have done was taken the summer off, been patient about finding
a new label, then organized a European tour. But Jack and Fred
became motivated to do something else. Dave wanted to reorganize
the Turbines but for a variety of reasons I thought a new version
of the band without Jack was not worth doing.
6. 10 YEAR RECORDING GAP: There seems to be a long gap from
the late 80s after the end of The Turbines until the late 90s.
Although you continued to play live. Was there a specific reason
After the second Turbines album there was the first Hovorka
band album (my first New York album) recorded in 1988 - 1989,
harder edge than the Turbines and/but rock and roll. I didn't
like the contract we were offered, and we had no money to get
it done ourselves. I hope to release this one myself later this
year. But yes, after we released the Hovorka "Drillin'" single
in 1990, there was a 5-year recording gap. The band was doing
fine with live shows (soon to be released "Hovorka Live at The
Middle East 1993") but band members were either leaving or just
joining up, thus we had no chance to record. After we broke
up in early 1994 there was my "country music experiment", "Wah-Hey!"
which was about as "country" as an industrial New Jersey swamp.
In 1995 I did not play music. In 1996 I was sideman in a band
called Tandy. A few good things came out of that. It forced
me to practice a lot. I got to work with some incredible engineers
from whom I got a lot of great ideas, at Willie Nelson's ranch
in Texas. And last but not least, it made me realize that I'd
better record a John Hovorka solo album ASAP!
7. NEW YORK CITY: So you moved out of Boston in 1990, to go
to NYC? Was there any particular reason for this?
I moved to New York in 1987. The economy in Boston was terrible
yet I got a job in New York for a higher rate of pay than I
had ever gotten before in about two days. The music scene in
Boston was not worthwhile to me at that moment, while in New
York, I figured, who knows? What I didn't know was how much
living in New York would inspire me to write.
8. LYRICS: Do you think your lyrics have become more political?
I always wrote political stuff, from the second song I ever
"wrote" back in 1976, a scathing ten-minute version of "Hanky
Panky" which was possibly influenced by what Patti Smith was
doing at that time. But it has gotten more prevalent in the
last uh, 17 years. The first Hovorka band did a song called
"Next Alabama", which was against racial violence that was occurring
in New York. The second Hovorka band "Greenland" album (Year
2000) had more political content than anything I had done before,
mostly social-political like "The Unconcerned" "Answer Is No",
"Blocked", and "Social Control", but then there's "Imprisoned
Populations". My current band, John Hovorka and the Dawn of
Mechanized Farming do "War Zone" which I wrote during the beginning
of the invasion of Iraq, "Imagine The Day" which is about 9/11,
and newer ones: "The Dawn of Mechanized Farming" which is about
agribusiness, and "Corporations" which is about acquisitiveness
and greed. "Music For Republican Convention Halls" (2005 solo
album) is almost all instrumental because I was too disgusted
to say anything coherent about that.
9. LATE 90s SOLO ALBUMS: I've not heard these albums... do you
have any favourite tracks from these?
From my point of view, these solo albums, "Drive All Night",
"Chalk Pyramids", and the Chalk Pyramids "remix" CD, "State
Highway 946" are all basically one long album because there
was no significant gap in the recording of them. I started this
3-album project in late 1996 and finished it in early 1998.
This is moody and often hypnotic stuff, fairly dark, tends towards
minimalism, and some of it gets very personal. Of the lot, I
like "Chalk Pyramids" the best. "One I Love", "Blocked", "Angel",
"Back On The Grid Parts One And Two" and "Icy River" are my
favorite tracks on that. As for "Drive All Night" I like most
of it a lot, as well. "Alcohol Beast", "Dirt Road" and "My True
Story' are often other people's favorites on that one. As for
the somewhat-related "Hovorka - Greenland" album, I like the
loud rock ones, "Expressway Girl", "I'll Take" and "Cult of…"
10. DAWN OF MECHANIZED FARMING: How are things going with the
current DOMF band that you've had since 2003?
Since 2003, but with some gaps in our existence lasting over
a year. The band is going great in terms of the music. And (since
our reorganization late last year) we are off to a good start
with touring, which is what we want to do; starting with regional
shows. Our first out of town show in Cambridge, Massachusetts
a few weeks ago went very well. We plan to record our second
EP this summer.
11. IGGY: The Turbines covered 1969 on the second album, Mark
E Smith is also a big fan. Whose idea was it to cover this song?
And are you a big fan of Iggy?
To me The Stooges were the best band ever. As for the rest of
Iggy's albums, my favorites are "New Values" and "Zombie Birdhouse",
although the songs from "Soldier" get stuck in my head the most.
It may have been my idea to cover "1969", but it was not my
idea to put it on the album. I just went along with that. In
retrospect I think we should have recorded our version of "Boss
Hoss" by The Sonics and our fast no-frills version of "Can You
See Me?" by Jimi Hendrix for that LP. By the way, many thanks
to Joe Harvard for his engineering and production on that "Magic
Fingers and Hourly Rates" (second Turbines) album! We could
barely stand to be in the same room together by then, but he
still managed to capture all that sound.
Happy Valentines Day! AND then there is this.
No, not quite.
This show is now on Sunday February 25th.
Happy New Year! My New Years Resolution is to Rock!
Our show on 12/21 at Trash Bar here in Brooklyn, went great.
And it was lots of fun. The Hi Way Stars also truly rocked,
as did The Live Ones, a band I was waiting to see again for
far too long. Here are some photos of the DOMF part of the show.
These were taken by Monika Bolino.
John & Bill 12/21
We now have a web site at www.dawnofmechanizedfarming.com
And a few weeks ago, our first show (in years) at The Pussycat
Lounge (in exciting downtown Manhattan) went very well. From
that we got various photos and even a lo-res video (as can be
seen on the aforementioned web site) as well as more money than
I would have anticipated... The Young Bialys also did a very
John Hovorka, Corlears Hook, Manhattan 9/06
Photo by Monika Bolino
Dawn of Mechanized Farming finaly has a new
drummer. His name is Ken. This is going very well. Now we need
some shows. Meanwhile I saw the New York Dolls at South Street
Seaport last Friday night and that was a lot of fun. Bill and
Marc of DOMF made sure the fun continued, with an after-show
visit to a rather stark but large bar up near the former site
of The World Trade Center, then a late dinner at Union Picnic
back in Williamsburg.
Maybe my band has finally found a new drummer. But "it
ain't over 'til it's over" so please feel free to inquire...
We are getting together this coming Tuesday, in any case. Meanwhile
my real job is going well, for a change, so that puts me in
a slightly more communicative mood. Well, maybe. And maybe because
it feels so much like 1961 all over again (it does???), I am
listening to Gene Pitney a lot. When I was a kid I found him
garish and a bit creepy. Now I'm impressed by the quantity of
melodrama involved. I am not quite up to (or down to) liking
Bobby Vee (also circa 1961) so much, although his first hit
(if indeed it was, it says it was on the back of this album
cover I have here) "Suzie Baby" has a plaintive heart-felt-type
rock-a-billy thing going on which I like, a lot! (Of course
if you know where I can find some more circa 1961 stuff by Billy
Storm or Sheila (?) and the Gothics, please let me know!) (Don't
even ask if I am trying to recreate a "Cold War mood".
That idea crossed my mind, but on further reflection, I have
no idea.) Meanwhile, in the world of old but less old, I plan
to see Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men at South Street Seaport
tomorrow night, and if possible, also Mission of Burma since
they are playing a block from my house, and maybe even The Reid
Paley Trio at Union Pool. As for what's new, not a heck of a
lot if you ask me, or at least not much that qualifies as entertainment.
Too much of the collapsing infrastructure as well as various
more active forms of trouble, as described in "the news
I got very excited by how well my series of "Brooklyn Bands
Podcasts" was going but I sure could use more material.
Because repeating the same 15 bands over and over again just
ain't gonna work. Well, not for me anyway. The next one which
I should have out in a few days has mostly new bands from the
previous ones, though. And I may stick up an obscure old R&B
one just for a change. To start with I have been listening to
the "It's Too Late" album by Wilson Pickett (re-released
by Upfront Records, originally from 1963) a lot. I have plenty
more of stuff like that around here, and maybe people oughtta
Yet another Brooklyn Bands Podcast put up. Possible DOMF drummer
in the near future? And finally the release of the State Highway
946 CD, within a couple of days.
Last Sunday I ran into a guy named Ken over
at the bar and he said why don't I do a podcast of Brooklyn
bands? That struck me as such a great idea that on Monday I
did research to figure out what a podcast is, and much more
importantly, how to put one up. So here it is at Brooklyn
Bands Podcast 5_18_06 or find it and some brief descriptive
writing about this or these at www.metalsnowball.com/podcast.html
Not too long ago I thought you could only hear
podcasts on an i-pod while in fact just about any computer with
a sound card and speakers will do. Although back when I first
heard of podcasts my first thought was that people were using
their i-pods to broadcast shows on Wi-fi. (I think that something
like that would actually be interesting.)
As for whether an mp3 that does not have RSS feed and is not
accessible by using
i-tuner is actually a podcast or not, I have no idea. And I
really don't care. Although for the purpose of "getting
this out there" of course I will set that stuff up soon.
This first one is just 7 songs and includes a "Brooklyn
Bands Concert Report". The next one will be at least 10
songs divided into 3 or so sets thus offering "rock &
roll", then "other", then "punk-rock".
Or at least that's how I see this going right now. "Stay
The other day I looked myself up on Google (under Hovorka Dawn
Mechanized Farming) to see that people have written a bunch
of stuff about me that I didn't know about on www.thenoiseboard.com
and it is mostly extremely even overwhelmingly complimentary
(thank you!!!). But people have questions about "all this",
like what they see on this site (I mean overall, like on the
Catalog Page, etc.), that I might as well try to answer. For
example, someone asked for "a generic description of this
stuff". And that sounds like a perfectly reasonable question
to me but I'm sure glad to have someone else jump in on trying
to answer that first. (Although I find that "generic descriptions"
almost always lead me to think "oh no, another one of those..."
and sometimes I end up missing out on great music because of
that.) So I really appreciate "Castaway Carm"'s part
of all this, her answer to that. You can find that under April
4, 2005 www.noiseboard.com,
but I will quote one bit, the part about my music being "americana-before-americana-was-called-americana".
That sounds about right. And other people have simply said,
"It rocks" and I say "Yeah but what about say,
the stuff I did on Chalk Pyramids?" and they say, "It
rocks even when you don't think it rocks." And some people
call my recent stuff "out of category music" but I
don't think it's all that esoteric. (Or is it???) Then a question,
from someone else, "and maybe his stuff has changed over
these 27 years he's been recording?". To which all I can
say is, yeah sure, but if I'm still waking up in the morning
with Duane Eddy music in my head, then it probably didn't change
all that much, well, not from my point of view anyway. But all
of this really begs these questions. I guess it all started
when I first heard rhythm and blues on the jukebox at Mister
Donut at Fresh Pond Circle in Cambridge Mass. back in 1955,
and continues straight through my childhood adventures in Buffalo,
NY, those steel mills and all, and then (skipping ahead a bit
here) rock-a-billy tunes about industry with The 2x4's, new
wave rock and roll about industry with Noise Pencil, those rockin'
Turbines that some people frame in the context of industrial
wastelands ("John Hovorka writes songs about places where
no one ever goes and no one wants to be", someone once
wrote something like that.) Then there was the Hovorka band
that started out kind of like that but included a lot about
my impressions of New York City when I first moved here. But
after I got all used to that, the band morphed into a straight-out
old-school hard rock band that did a lot of songs about "beer
drinkin' and hell raisin'". (The "Hovorka Live At
The Middle East" CD; I need to get that out already!)
Then that ended and around the end of 1996 or so I got all serious,
well depending on what one means by serious. Anyhow I decided
to do something different. I was mostly interested in describing
the mood of the moment, evoking it, even (if I was making my
points the way I intended). So I decided to take a chance on
doing what I felt I had to do anyway. My feeling was that "the
forces of vacuousness" which probably lead directly to
people getting randomly gunned down in convenience stores while
Lite FM tinkles in the background were "transpiring"
to leave nothing but fake-everything and/or death. So I figured
I might as well get real and make music that is about, or more
to the point in the context of, "newly renovated"
strip malls, new prefabricated slums, dating bars that are actually
pool halls and vice versa, recreational drugs that are actually
animal tranquilizers, regret that is actually an impetus to
do things even worse, the places where factories used to be,
the few remaining factories where people slave away for just
above minimum wage as Lite FM drones on (I know; I worked there!),
and great big fluorescent-lit rooms full of computer terminals
and telephones, another increasingly common version of the same
thing. And mostly I wanted to get away from making music that
is a distraction from these things and other things lots like
them, the stuff that I call reality. Because finally if things
kept going like this there wasn't going to be anything else
and who the heck wants to write still more songs about things
that no longer exist? (As soon as the subject turns to sentimentality
"John Hovorka has left the building". Some things
about my approach to all this never change.) Anyhow this world
was not about to change, or at least not in its direction, so
I figured I'd better. And did anyone really want my version
of "the retro-americana commodity" anyhow? I saw no
evidence of it so I decided to "break free" from all
that. I asked, What would make me not know what to expect of
myself? How could I break out of this cycle of boredom caused
by either overly repetitive or annoying "cultural stimuli",
wherein supposedly things are interesting even when one knows
perfectly well that they aren't? Also the idea of lugging heavy
2" tape into some studio full of bored rock and roll music
engineers "on autopilot" appalled me. So to start
with, how about recording digitally? I had never even thought
of that before. (I bought my first CD player in 1996; maybe
that made me think of that then.) So my next question was obviously,
how can I make this tinny, smooth as glass new type of media
work in my favor? I didn't know so I needed to find some people
who did. I asked myself, Who knows the most about digital recording?
And is NOT going to try get an "analog sound" by digital
means, which is kind of like trying to toast toast in a washing
machine if you ask me. Well, techno studio engineers, obviously.
So I met some at a party full of club kids and techno music,
down in the depths of The World's Greatest City very late at
nite, then the rest was history. (Note: I doubt if I would do
things this way again, although I have no regrets about it at
Drive All Night and Chalk Pyramids were only limited in their
move towards "techno music played on conventional instruments
(and "programmed" entirely by hand)" by their
tons of lyrics and possibly "folk" influences. (Drive
All Night was a mix of bleak and possibly-pop elements, while
Chalk Pyramids was just plain dark. By the way it is my favorite
of my CDs.) Greenland was somewhat similar in intent, but with
musicians from a hardcore punk rock background; in retrospect
I love how the hard rock parts of that project (about half of
it) came out. And then there was the "rock" version
of this project, John Hovorka and the Dawn of Mechanized Farming.
But after spending like 8 or so years at this, particularly
after I took that all farther than ever with Music For Republican
Convention Halls, an anti-everything-like CD, which came down
particularly hard on music (not to mention what such a mind-numbing
"wall of spite" might not do for my alleged "music
career"), I realized that I might as well try to entertain
some people for a change. ("Who knows. They might even
need it. Maybe it's even a political issue?" "No John,
let's not get carried away here...") So then I entered
my current phase which is "I stand there with an acoustic
guitar and just deliver the goods". Not that I haven't
done that before, but this is going really well (with "the
goods" REALLY getting "delivered" this time around)
so I may be sticking with this approach for a while. Although
the end result will probably be me fronting some tear-up rock
and roll band. But in answer to your question, "What's
it all like?" I can only say, I have no idea. But if it
has all been as fascinating to me as it has been, it's gonna
interest some people. And it does!
By the way, here is my (if silent) "shout out" to
whoever included me as a reference to their article in Wikipedia
about Wilmer Alexander & The Dukes. Thanks, but thanks for
not quoting me. All I know about him and them is that I was
fortunate to be there for their shows at The Teen A Go Go in
Geneva, New York back in 1967 because that was life-changing
stuff to me. But beyond that I know nothing, really. Although
doesn't "Distributed by Master Releasing Inc. 1790 Main
Street, Buffalo, New York" just about say it all?
But enough of all this writing about me. (But people had questions
so how can I NOT try to answer them?)
So how about some pictures of me? I haven't put enough pictures
up lately and I have some new ones of me (and hardly any of
anything else), actually dozens of them. So here some.
Here I am hanging out with some hunks of granite
up on Diamond Hill
in Cumberland, Rhode Island last summer.
Photo by Rolfe Anderson
And here I am playing some songs at Jennifer Gryziec's
birthday party at
Grand Press in Brooklyn about a month or so ago. She requested
The Red Trucks (are on the highway and I got the blues!) and
so I am probably playing one of those.
Photo by Monika Bolino
Back in the 60's there was a not too exciting song with the
lyrics, "and the smell of incense filled the room".
Today it's more like "and the smell of burned polyester
or else something very much like that filled the room".
Actually it has filled all the air outdoors around here, something
from that huge Greenpoint Fire that we had here a few days ago,
and perhaps it is still burning right now. And although I like
industrial New Jersey I'm not thrilled about feeling like I
am there right now. The EPA says that this air is safe, while
I think that what people regard as a stench is not necessarily
a matter of their acculturation, it might have more to do with
instincts of self-preservation. And so on, on into the nite.
The dark backyards, the distant water tower, the hazy sky, the
Empire State Building rising up from behind other buildings,
the still and nearly silent air, and you guessed it, The Stench!
But I slept well last night anyhow.
Those recording projects are still moving forward. "State
Highway 946" actually is done now and I plan to get it
out by the end of next week. John Hovorka Live at Zablozki's
2/22/06 still needs some work. I hope to get it out by June
anyhow. As for the rest, I'm playing at another birthday party
later this month. And I am very busy; I just wish it was busy
with playing more music live. So what else is new?
I am doing the final test of the master for State Highway 946
- The Chalk Pyramids Remix CD, right now. (I'm not expecting
any surprises here; I have heard this stuff about 10 times in
the last week or so.) Back in 1998 when I was mixing the tracks
that later became the Chalk Pyramids album I noticed two things,
1) I liked a lot of the ones which have vocals as instrumentals.
2) There were some alternate mixes of tracks that I liked just
as much as the ones I included on that CD. (The result is all-instrumental
and all-spaced out!!!)
I am also working on turning my tape of me
playing live at Zablozki's back in February into an album, solo
mostly though various other singers joined me onstage sometimes.
My first "multimedia" album, and also my first (and
possibly last) acoustic album. It includes 15 tracks of me doing
what I do, plus a digital-camera video of one of the songs,
a whole bunch of pictures in jpeg format, and all the lyrics
that I sang in that set.
The show at Zablozki's (in Brooklyn) last Wednesday
went exceptionally well, or at least my part of it did. Solo,
theoretically-acoustic, rock and roll thing that it was. And
plenty of it, or at least plenty of my part of it. Unfortunately
John Berry got ill (just ill, nothing serious) at the last minute
so he couldn't do his set, nor could we get together at the
end to do a song together like we had planned. The rehearsal
for that had gone really well... Sometime we will do that, the
only question is when.
Finally we managed to book "The John & John Show"
(see above). It will rock. Meanwhile The 2x4's will probably
arise from their winter slumbers very soon. And I am traveling
to Asbury Park, NJ, hopefully this coming Tuesday to get various
master tapes back from Joe Harvard. So more CD releases are
likely to be happening soon. Also I am apparently going to be
in Buffalo, NY at a funeral soon. I don't think I have been
there in the winter since I was a teenager. Sometimes the weather
is not so good there. That is why.
All I know is that I must rehearse! Meanwhile, in the old albums
category of my life I have taken to listening to "Zombie
Birdhouse" by Iggy Pop quite a bit, as well as Chuck Berry's
Greatest Hits Volumes 1 & 2. Also the new Rolling Stones
albums is good!
AND I am now on www.myspace.com
blatantly listed as john_hovorka, so you can also look for me
there. And while you are there, if the music I'm talking about
above sounds like it might be just a bit too rustic, if not
outright rusty to you, check out Coppermine (pun intended, I
guess...) on myspace.com. They sound very current (enough of
these metallic puns already?), rather metal, have great vocal
harmonies, and if that's not enough, they are from Brooklyn.
I don't have a lot to say. Maybe these pictures will say something
to you. To me they "say" "It's beginning to look
a lot like Christmas". By the way, these were taken by
The wildlife of Providence, Rhode Island prepares for the festivities!
(Actually this one looks like it is preparing to kick your ass!)
The Long Island Railroad "Taking you where
you want to go!" Well, maybe...
Ornamental towers which vaguely resemble Christmas trees..
(Baltimore's way of wishing you happy holidays!)
The Turbines short-EP entitled Early Turbines, which includes
the 4 songs recorded in late 1983 has just been released. See
the Catalog Page and the Order Page for more info on that. I'm
planning to go out Sunday (12/18) evening to see what is more
or less "The Swans". They will be at 210 Metropolitan
Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the show starts at 5 p.m.
Or at least that is the info that was given to me... As for
the rest, I need to get out there to buy some Christmas presents
before that transit strike (MTA/New York) might get started
on Tuesday. Hey, Happy Holidays!
The 11/25 show at The Abbey Lounge in Somerville, Massachusetts
went extremely well. All the bands were great.
The Classic Ruins, John Hovorka (solo),
The Black Clouds and Triple Thick.
ALL DELIVERED POWERFUL ROCK AND ROLL THERE!
Special thanks to Dave of The Black Clouds for setting this
one up. And for inviting me back up there to do a show with
them in February or so. As for the possible hook-up of me with
The Classic Ruins "as back-up band", I will keep you
posted. I mean, don't I already have 2 bands to be in? On the
other hand, what a great idea! This really should happen!
The rest continues apace. Repair the amp, re-string
the guitar, learn how to play my new songs, and so on. Get some
Brooklyn and NYC shows already! What am I lazy? No, just busy.
"So what else is happening?" (I note that this is
"the typical refrain of the booking agent") Uh, Jerry
Reed is playing in New York a few days before Christmas. And
I'd kind of like to be there!
I have been rehearsing for the show on 11/25 in Massachusetts
and look forward to it very much. As my birthday is coming up
on 11/22 I decided to buy myself a present, something I hardly
ever do but I need it anyway to do the show. Time to retire
my 1952 hand-made jazz guitar acoustic guitar, and whip out
this 2005 Takamine Dreadnought electric-acoustic guitar I just
bought instead! It's pretty terrific, all shiny and black, quite
large, not quite up there with the 1952 Rickenbacker acoustic
that I most want, on the other hand I don't have tens of thousands
of dollars to spend on a guitar just now.
I would like to get the "Early Turbines" e.p. as previously
described, out in time for Peter Zollo's radio show in San Franscisco
- KUSF, December 11, 2 -4 p.m. PST, including on Internet Radio
if you get that. This radio show is going to feature some or
all of those songs plus other old Boston area stuff, like Phobia,
now that was one heck of a band!
10/21/05 but not put up until 11/18/05
These long unexcused absences of me from here.
I think I finally have a lead on an actual place in Manhattan
for The 2x4's to play at. And I have at least tentatively decided
to release an "extended play" single-like CD with
the Turbines 1983 radio airplay tape sessions on it. That's
"I Get Excited", "Independence Day", "Whirlpool"
and "Final Line". There appears to be some interest
in this specific bunch of stuff right now. Then upon playing
it a lot over the last few weeks I have found that I really
like it. "Early Turbines", as it were. Especially
"Final Line". Never before released anywhere. I am
amazed by it. It rocks hard and it appears to be about astronauts,
like I'd know. Having written it I ought to know, but in regard
to that one, I have no idea and I never have. ("Do the
right stuff, yeah!") So who knows when that would be out
but I figure in about a month. It's not exactly going to take
a lot of doing; the material sounds just fine as it is and I
plan to keep the cover art very simple since I don't have any,
or at least not any that doesn't belong to who knows who, so
thin-line jewel case and low price. Then see how that does with
ya'll out there. Right now I am listening to the first Procol
Harum album. Now that is one weighty artifact of distant days.
This was my favorite record back when I was dropping out of
B.U. No, really, I was. And it was.
I don't have much to report. Hopefully these
pictures will be worth a few words. Mostly I have spent this
last chunk of time working, writing and lost in thought, fairly
introspective of me, I guess. Also I worked on gathering source
material for my next novel. And I am coming up with a set of
songs for my upcoming solo show.
A few weeks ago I managed to get as far as The Catskills with
Rolfe, Brad and Paul. It was an adventure of sorts. Brad's house
up there has water supplied by a cistern. Unfortunately the
cistern was dry.
Here is a picture of me in Hudson, New York. "Power to
the machines right on!" or what?
Here is a picture of Brad's house. We did no
recording at "Big Turquoise" (not much of a color
match there, oh well...) but Rolfe almost brought a guitar.
Who knows, maybe next time. With the possible exception of Paul,
we have all had some experience with that kind of stuff. Rolfe
used to play bass for Human Sexual Response and for The Modern
Lovers, not to mention that he is now in The 2x4's. Brad had
a great band called Alda Reserve a long time ago in New York.
He plays keyboards.
Here is a picture of Rolfe, relaxing amidst the splendor of
Pratt Rocks, Zadock Pratt's monument to himself.
Oh yeah, the monuments. Go to www.prattmuseum.com
for more info on this.
And thanks, Monika for finding this website!
The 2x4's had a great rehearsal with me in it up in Waltham,
Mass. a week or so ago. We are starting to book shows now. For
example, my solo show on 11/25 was originally supposed to be
a 2x4's show. But then familial obligations entered the picture.
Who knows what I'll do, except to say that it is going to involve
NEW SONGS! I went hiking with Rolfe last Sunday and we had an
unexpected photo session of sorts on Diamond Hill in Cumberland,
Rhode Island (in our ongoing attempt to get new 2x4's photos
for our press kit). There was a water tower up there, and lots
of large concrete blocks with huge rusted screws poking out
of them, covered with graffiti, left over from the ski lift
that was there years ago. Whenever either of us gets this stuff
developed I'll post some of it here. Meanwhile, here is a photo
of Steve and Tom from 1979.
Steve Donnelly and Tom Martel of The 2x4's, October 1979
The Dawn of Mechanized Farming may still be on hold, but at
least we're hanging out, like on Friday before Labor Day some
of us went to Coney Island and hung out at Ruby's Bar &
Grill, where some denizens of ancient disco danced up a storm.
Then later we went to Sonny's in Red Hook, where a guy played
Johnny Cash songs on an extremely fuzzed out sounding electric
How can I even bother to write this stuff when there is so much
disaster going on out there? I have no idea.
I've been working too hard for a change. About all I
can say is that this can't possibly be good for me. It's definitely
not good for this ongoing account of not a heck of a lot going
on. I can't even recall the last time I went anywhere outside
of the neighborhood. Probably it was to deliver a Fedex for
my job a few weekends ago in town. Today I have to go in town
to deliver a Fedex, for work, again. I'm putting this off for
a while because once I leave my apartment I'm not planning to
be back until, say, long after dark, but since I have no plan
beyond delivering the Fedex I may be back soon; I would like
to avoid that. I read a book last week called The Education
Of A Felon by Edward Bunker. It gets pretty serious, and I actually
found it inspirational. He's lucky he even survived. Meanwhile
what I have not found inspirational is that there's a bar I
go to where they have somehow found (who knows how; I don't
because to start with, I wouldn't look) a classic rock satellite
radio station. And they do not turn it off often. So there it
is. It's interminable, well I think... I could see this coming
a long ways off. Someday there would be "The Classic Rock
Station", "The 80's Station", and so on, just
one of each. I guess there are others. I could do with a blues
station, although I hate to think of what the programming would
actually be like. But it is good that there isn't say, one station
that everyone has to listen to all the time whether they wanted
to or not and it couldn't ever be turned off. Back in Edward
Bunker's day, in one prison they had a station that always seemed
to be at least faintly audible. I don't know what they played.
It was called "The American Airlines Station", or
at least that's what he called it.
At least I went out to see a band a few weeks
ago. Thee Eyes. They did a show that I liked a lot at Matchless,
a small club here in Greenpoint. Maybe The 2x4's will play there
soon. I'm going to look into it.
Suddenly I'm getting a lot more high-level Google placement
out of this page than I could have possibly imagined. Just type
in "hovorka dawn mechanized farming" and it's number
two on the list, and even straight into my favorite subjects
of the moment, The Dawn of Mechanized Farming and The 2x4's.
So is that great, or is that scary? Now the number of people
reading this is probably gonna jump from say 5, to say 10! (Uh
oh...) So does that entail a bit more "journalistic"
responsibility on my part? Honestly I never expected this. Well,
so it's still just me "reporting in" from Greenpoint,
Brooklyn. Where it is still too hot and humid. But that was
one great barbecue yesterday. Thank you Mark and Shelley!
Also thank you Shemp, whoever you are, for putting that Don't
Stop Now song by Dawn of Mechanized Farming on your list of
things to listen to on "Last FM". And obviously I
cannot convey enough thanks to the folks at WMBR, WZBC, WMFO,
and WVKR, as well as whoever else may have played it on their
station, for the airplay of that EP. But my most amazed thanks
have to go out to Bob Westphal at WFDU for playing Frozen Zone
from my "Music For Republican Convention Halls" CD
on his Shape Of Things To Come show. The thing about that CD
is that I don't have any idea where to send it. I sent a copy
of that one Al Franken of Air America, and theoretically one
was on its way to Senator John Kerry. But it just doesn't fit
in with what I see around in the world of "ambient"
nor "techno" and I didn't quite think of "goth"
although apparently that is a place to place it, because at
heart it's more "garage rock" than anything else,
if an extremely cold take on it played on instruments that 98%
of those folks hate. Well I guess that if anyone describes their
show as "experimental" I should send them a copy ,
because that one was experimental all right. As in, after I
finished it I just wanted to get away from it and back to rock
and roll as fast as possible. Not that there isn't going to
be a follow-up to it. When I get around to it I plan to do "another
one of those" about "The Environment". Imagine
the possibilities. Song titles like "Silent Spring",
"Ozone Depletion" and my personal favorite, "Coal,
Oil, Natural Gas and Uranium".
Well I must have gotten up this early for something. Today's
big one is gonna be "work on The 2x4's stuff". And
there's plenty to do, that's for sure. The AC is on full blast
and the coffee is taking effect! If all goes well we will be
doing our first show in Boston in say late September, then Brooklyn
in say late October.
Oh yeah, I haven't put up a picture in weeks. So what will
that be? Hmm... Here's one of Broz, me and Ramona back in 1997
eating food at Sam Chinita's Restaurant which was 8th Avenue
and 18th Street, I think, and was my favorite restaurant ever,
though now it is long gone, replaced by some ultra-yuppie commercial
establishment, I forget what kind, probably a restaurant/bar.
We were working on my "Drive All Night" CD.
And here is another one of those. This one
is of me in the basement of a factory in Paterson, New Jersey,
next to "the compressors" and the 55 gallon drums
of what was alleged to be "elevator oil". (That object
at my feet was a vacuum pump.) This one was taken by Alan Chin.
Oh yeah, here are the results of my "Nowheresville's
Greatest Hits" project, liner notes for it and for "GUM
- The History Of Bubblegum Rock". You are going to have
to bear with me here because these liner notes are very lengthy.
Obviously this music can't be released by me because that would
violate copyright laws. But meanwhile here are the liner notes
for this project.
"Nowheresville's Greatest Hits"
This is an album of familiar songs done by unknown bands, a
few B-sides of 45's by known bands, and various other stuff
that was heard in "Nowheresville" in the sixties. To me, "Nowheresville"
was Geneva, New York, a backwater little city in Upstate New
York. I had always loved music, but the music that I found during
the 4-1/2 years that I lived there changed my life. Although
the "normal music" of the day, and the music that would eventually
lead to the construction of a large museum also had a big affect
on me. But this is a musical journey through a world of also-rans,
could-of-beens, commercial-errors that bands that later had
hits made, and total unknowns. It starts with a couple of tracks
that might be a bit (?) hard to take by one of James Brown's
MC's, and also includes what I used to think of as the worst
record I had ever heard in my life, except that now I'm starting
to like it. I did not include tracks that did absolutely nothing
for me. Thus My Generation by The Stumps, and Out Of My Mind
(Neil Young song) by The Improper Bostonians were not included,
nor anything by The New Colony Six, or Group Therapy, to name
a few. Some of what is here is beautiful-if-extremely scratchy,
some of it is very ugly.
Sad Sam Bethlehem (Records) High Fidelity
1.) Advertising Man (G.C. Redd, R. Lenhoff, W. Whisenhunt) 3:03
Dynatone BMI 45-3090 2.) Poverty Stricken (ditto) 2:45 Release
date: unknown. Question: Is G.C. Redd, Redd Foxx? On further
research, Sad Sam was one of several MC's who introduced James
Brown on Live at The Apollo, Volume 2. Also, he is not to be
confused with the famous baseball player named Sad Sam. I did
not hear this particular record in my youth, but there was a
lot of stuff similar to this on the radio.
Ruby and the Party Gang Law-ton Records (distributed by Avco
Records Corp, New York, NY) 1554
3.) Hey Ruby (Shut Your Mouth) (R. Martin, J. Mobley, Bessie
Martin) 2:55 (Mardix Music, Mable Lawton Music, Bessmar Music)
Release date: Unknown. Who knows if I heard this record back
then or not. But there was a lot of stuff like this on the air
back then. In any case, this is one of my favorite "party music
Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces Checker (Records) 1129, Chevis
Music Inc., BMI 2:53
4.) Hey, Mister DJ (Robert Moore)
5.) Searchin' for My Love (Robert Moore) 2:29 Searchin' For
My Love was a huge hit in the summer of 1966. For me, it defined
the summer of 1966. Meanwhile I started going out to Teen A
Go Go, a local teen night club in a bad part of town. I saw
some great bands there. The Heard who did Laugh With The Wind
b/w Stop It Baby! On Century Records were out of Rochester,
NY and so were The Humans who did Take A Taxi, also on Century
Records. (If I had these records they would be on here, as well
as Do The Hump by The Invictas, I Wanna Do It by Bobby Comstock,
and various other stuff, but I don't because all of these Upstate
regional records are hard to find.) The Heard (not to be confused
with The Herd who were from England and were an early Peter
Frampton band). They had long, greasy, dirty hair, and a bad
attitude. Their job was to play Top 40, but they didn't do it
like anyone else. They were very loud, extremely intense, and
their sneering rendition of "Listen People" by Hermans Hermits
gave that song a whole different sound. They seemed like they
hated playing a lot of the songs that they did, but they did
them all with a lot more style than the local bands did. But
much I was impressed by The Heard, my favorite band to go see
Wilmer and the Dukes (originally known as Wilmer Alexander Junior
and the Dukes) Aphrodisiac Records, Distributed by Master Releasing
Inc. 1790 Main Street, Buffalo, New York, Produced by Gene Radice.
Brass Arrangements by Gap Mangione; Full length album. APH 6001
Stereo released in early 1967.
6.) Get It (Doug Brown) Tupper Publishing, 2:40
7.) Gimme One More Chance (Ditto) 2:40 In Geneva, NY in 1967,
there were two kinds of kids, the ones who went to see "Wilmer"
and the ones who didn't. R&B was the province of greasers, hoodlums,
and everything "cool". Showing up at the Teen A Go Go to see
"Wilmer" instantly changed my social life, from almost nonexistent
into "in with the in crowd", well, sort of.
The 5 Americans HBR Hanna Barbera Records, Hollywood, CA
8.) I See The Light (Ezon, Robon, Durrill) Produced by Abnak
Music HBR 454 A&R Dale Hawkins, Jetstar Music, 2:10, released
in late winter 1966. This band was from Chicago and went on
to have a Top 40 hit with a song called "Western Union". What
was this one about, some sort of religious conversion?
Count Five Double Shot (Records) "every shot counts", Hollywood,
CA, Hot Shot Music, Inc. DS-104 I believe they were from Oregon
9.) They're Gonna Get You (J. Byrne) 2:25 The flip side of Psychotic
Reaction. Although the A-side was a big hit in 1966, I'd say
that this track defines "Nowheresville".
The Byrds Columbia 4-43424
10.) She Don't Care About Time (Gene Clark) 2:28 Produced by
Terry Melcher. This is the flip side of Turn! Turn! Turn! Maybe
this song is easy to get a copy of, but maybe not.
The Roamers HIT Records, 4 Star Sales Co., BMI, Record No. 140
11.) G.T.O. (no author shown) A cover of the Ronnie & the Daytonas
song. I bought this at a flea market in Florida in 1985. I didn't
hear this when I was a teenager, but it definitely belongs on
this comp, and I seriously doubt if you are gonna find it anyplace
The Ohio Express Cameo Records (but with Cameo-Parkway logo)
12.) Beg, Borrow and Steal (J. Day, L. Zerato), Produced by
J. Katz and J. Kasenetz. I note that these guys were "the bubblegum-
rock production team" slightly later for Kama Sutra Records,
including the other records by the Ohio Express. 2:15, Kaskat
Music BMI, A Super K Production C-483-B Released in 1967. A
band that went on to record some of the great bubblegum hits
of 1968, "Yummy Yummy Yummy" and "Chewy Chewy". I was rehearsing
with the first band I was ever in, Falik Distortion, in Spring
1967. The guitar player Neil's sister Evelyn brought it downstairs.
I can't say that we liked it, except for the guitar solo, which
we played over and over and over again. By the way, the actual
band playing the instruments was probably The Shadows Of Knight
The Jordan Bros. Phillips (Records)
13.) Gimme Some Lovin' (S. Winwood) Producer Billy Carl & Joe
Veneri, Island Music, Ltd., 2:42. I note that the flip side
of this record was on Fingerlake Music, Inc. But although I
lived in the Finger Lakes at around this time I did not know
of this band. I liked the fuzz-tremolo guitar sound.
The Road Kama Sutra Records
14.) She's Not There (Chris White) KA-255, Al Gallico Music,
BMI, 3:00 From Buffalo, NY. 1967 Did they actually think that
they were improving this song?
SRC a.k.a. The Scott Richardson Connection Capitol Records -
from the album SRC-2 15.) No Secret Destination This probably
came out in 1968. Early prog rock by a Detroit band. Maybe this
was "garage prog-rock".
The Druids of Stonehenge UNI (Records) 55021
16.) Painted Woman (J. Goldstein Jerry Goldstein Music, BMI
Same label as The Foundations who did "Build Me Up, Buttercup"
From the moment I put this record on my turntable back when
I was 16 I hated it. Fortunately I only paid a quarter for it
at The Family Bargain Center. But after listening to it a few
times over the last few years I'm actually starting to like
17) The Kangaroo
18) It Ain't What You Got
This record was not on the original version of this compilation
because I thought it wasn't quite interesting enough. But on
second thought, it's just plain peculiar. When was it recorded?
Why was it recorded? Who did they think would buy this record?
(No one did. It cost 5 cents as a cut-out.) It's sort of like
"Bubblegum R&B" possibly from 1963 is my guess, and my gut feeling
is that this is a Midwestern band. Something was run through
a Leslie, but the overall recording quality is so bad that I
can't tell if the organ or the rhythm guitar was.
Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
19) Jenny Take A Ride
With some regret, it is now time to depart from "Nowheresville",
particularly since is has been so long forgotten. But only in
a way, as some of its characteristics were absorbed by a bigger,
stronger and much more organized musical entity called "Detroit".
Which then flung its stuff back into "Nowheresville" come what
20) Hey Joe
Presumably from California. Yet another indication that things
were very different someplace else. It blasted out of the radios
of muscle cars, and was one of the last hits on the radio before
I left Geneva, NY and (was) moved to Massachusetts.
"GUM" - The History of Bubblegum Rock
Due to my shortage of material for this one, I'm going to keep
this short, but sweet. Without "Simon Says" by The 1910
Fruitgum Company or "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies, this is a
seriously abbreviated take on this extremely important music
genre, one that affects (or is it afflicts?) popular music to
this day. Basically I guess the idea was to come up with a kind
of music that incorporated all popular music influences in one
place then blend them in such a way that it would appeal to
the maximum-size audience possible. Anyhow, here is an essay
on this subject that I wrote a few years back. (Note: This is
not fully researched so please excuse any factual errors. Also
the "music theory" aspect of it may well be completely
fatuous. I'm not sure. It's just something that popped into
my head from out of noplace, much like this music did back when.)
Bubblegum - A Major Force In Rock! (An essay
I wrote in 2003)
Bubblegum Rock probably had its roots in 50's novelty songs,
or earlier novelty songs for that matter, but basically it was
planned. While songs like Lou Christy's "Lightnin' Strikes"
(1966) followed by "Rhapsody in The Rain" (early 1967), and
many others, set the groundwork for it, it did not really take
off until these guys named Katz and Kasanek decided to do it
full on. Evidently, in 1967, they were working in Detroit as
a production team for the Cameo/Parkway label (c.f. early Bob
Seger System) with a band called The Ohio Express. Others equally
down in the trenches of producing rock and roll, for example
Bob Crewe, who produced The Four Seasons, and Mitch Ryder and
the Detroit Wheels, all the folks at the Brill Building in New
York, Terry Melcher out west with his "folk rock" production
team, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Lou Adler, as well as many
other Top 40 producers were having chart success. But Katz and
Kasanek's production of Beg, Borrow and Steal by The Ohio Express
was (so far as I can recall anyway) barely visible on the charts.
I don't know much about the Kama Sutra record label except that
they had great success with The Lovin' Spoonful. But when Katz
and Kasanek joined the label and it "went bubblegum" it really
took off. When The Ohio Express came out with Yummy Yummy Yummy
in 1968, that was it. Bubblegum Rock instantaneously arrived.
This was soon followed by their next big hit, Chewy Chewy. Meanwhile
the same team came up with Simon Says by the 1910 Fruitgum Company.
And that was a song you simply could not get rid of. If you
turned on a radio, it was just plain there, immediately, in
your face, and that was that! Then by mid-year there was The
Archie's Sugar Sugar, I'm on not sure what label, and also Green
Tambourine by The Lemon Pipers, on Kama Sutra. The 1910 Fruitgum
Company quickly followed up with 1 2 3 Red Light, another big
hit. (I also note a bit of not-on-Kama Sutra competition from
Gimme Gimme Good Lovin' by The Crazy Elephants, although it
is not strictly speaking "bubblegum". Also just taking a wild
guess here, this song was probably an influence on the Ramones.)
But by the end of the year, it was all over. Bubblegum's First
Wave had passed.
1969 was a bad year for "First-Wave Bubblegum". But it was a
good year for Tony Orlando and Dawn who were if not exactly
"bubblegum" not dissimilar from it either. Nor was Lou Christy's
comeback hit "I'm Gonna Make You Mine". In 1970 there was a
bit of what I would call "second-wave bubblegum" with Kevin
McNamara's "Lay A Little Lovin' On Me", and Andy Kim's
remake of "Baby I Love You". But the formula was changing. These
guys were promoted as solo performers, albeit as ones with no
identity in particular, no longer as bands who had no identity
at all. (Of course they didn't. Because in reality they were
the 60's "garage rock" band The Shadows Of Knight (and who knows
who else; I don't; more research is needed) backing unidentified
singers.) But the changeover to "post-bubblegum", similarly
"manufactured" music that was based on a "star" concept, and
which has continued on all the way from 1970 to 2005, was already
completed. The first "post-bubblegum star" was Bobby Sherman.
1970 was a big year for Bobby Sherman, a rock and roll guy who
started out with a minimal amount of chart success in 1962.
His "comeback" was huge. Who can forget "Hey little woman, please
make up your mind. Come live in my world and leave your world
behind." I can't. I have been waking up every morning with that
song in my head for the last 35 years! Anyhow, if not for the
work of early pioneers in the "bubblegum field" (now there's
a song idea!) would "manufactured" bands as Abba and much later,
singers like The Spice Girls and Britney Spears, have been possible?
Not to mention The Osmonds, The DiFranco Family, The Cowsills
(no wait that was also in 1968), The Partridge Family, every
hit song of 1974, and (even) (although more like a "post-garage
band" if you ask me) the Ramones? I doubt it. We owe it
all to The Ohio Express, 1910 Fruitgum Company and The Lemon
So wake up and smell the gum!
21. Yummy Yummy Yummy - The Ohio Express
22. Chewy Chewy - The Ohio Express
23. 1-2-3 Red Light - The 1910 Fruitgum Company I note in passing
that the back-up singers sound exactly like Lou Christie's,
as do a lot of other things about this production. So does that
mean that Katz and Kasanek produced him, too? I'll have to look
24. Green Tambourine - The Lemon Pipers
25. Orange Marmalade - The Lemon Pipers
26. Gimme Good Lovin' - The Crazy Elephants
Is this the hottest day of the year? It sure
feels like it and that's what my air conditioner is telling
me, too. It's going up to 98 or at least that's what they said
on the radio. So due to lack of motivation to do anything else
I got on www.weather.com and looked up weather in other places.
Places with much nicer weather right now include not only Kansas
City, Cleveland and San Diego, but also Sao Paulo, Veracruz
Mexico, and even Monrovia in Liberia where today's expected
high is 83. But the best weather for me that I found was in
Rapid City South Dakota where it is going up to 57 today, down
to 42 tonight and up to 70 tomorrow.
But the facts of what I need to do today and tomorrow remain.
From my gigantic list of possible projects to work on, the things
I really need to do include: 1) I have to track down a drummer
who expressed an interest in joining DOMF a few months ago.
2) The 2x4's need to start doing shows soon but first I have
to write to them about that so that "we're all on the same
page" with that. 3) I have to get those 2x4's masters from
the guy who has them so I'd better write him an email, and 4)
I need to finish up the next draft of The 2x4's album cover
art. 5) Also I could work because there's no shortage of that,
but that's what I did last weekend and I didn't like it much.
Things that I don't need to do today include 1) finding out
about new bands that sound sort of like New Order like The Killers
and The Bravery, 2) compulsively check www.weather.com every
ten minutes to find out what the temperature is, 3) continue
to work on an essay entitled "Why Kid Rock Is The Next
Bob Dylan" even if it is true (well at least I think) that
Bob Dylan is doing such a boring job of it these days that...,
4) and also I don't need to recompile the CDROM compilation
that I put together a couple of years ago entitled "Nowheresville's
Greatest Hits". Its subject is "bands and entertainers
from the 60's that (almost) no one has ever heard of".
But maybe I will do that. Well, maybe. (Note: I did that.
And it is going very well.)
Meanwhile I have received a few comments about
this blog. One is that I should be updating it more often (even
if it does lead to posting boring paragraphs like the above
is what I say). Another is that if I put the names of other
bands on this page I will get more "hits". (I say
that if I go in that direction much, sooner than not I'll end
up turning this into a "Page 6" gossip column type
thing and then everybody's gonna hate me. But I decided to start
to do that anyway. [Talk about trouble brewing!] But there is
a limit. If I start writing about hanging out with so and so
who runs the such and such studio where blah blah blah was produced,
it's gonna get ridiculous really fast. What I mean is that personally
I'm totally against "name dropping INC." If you can't
make it by your own merits then I say fuck it.) But Kevin Eleven
asked me an entirely reasonable question, why did I suddenly
redesign this blog, aren't they supposed to be like you leave
everything up on it no matter what it is? Well that's a valid
point. The answer is that a few days after I started it I didn't
like the direction it was going in. But OK. So if I'm gonna
go around "altering my blog", then why don't I put
all that stuff back? (CLUNK!) There it is, put back. (It
is after the picture of a Jackman, Maine.)
Just so ya know, there is a show coming up
on TV about why people don't have sex anymore. The first time
I ever heard of this trend was when I read George Orwell's "1984".
As a sixteen year old kid it was difficult for me to comprehend
that anyone would put up with "no sex".
I guess you can't see her pin clearly but the
writing on it says "Anti-Sex League". This is an
illustration of an "anti-sex rally". As the story
line goes, they are about to hook up. Well I
figure, so much for the anti-sex concept.
On the other hand, he is gonna be punished
for this, that's for sure! And as for her,
well I guess she was just "part of the system"
as if that wasn't punishment enough. (There,
that's the plot, so you don't have to read this.)
Meanwhile for lack of a better idea, here is
a band that I used to like a lot when I was a teenager, and
I still do. Can you name this band?
I has a dream the other night about swimming around in dirty
water under a bridge. It would have been a good photo but I
don't have one of that. So here is a picture of a power plant
on the shores of The Ohio River instead.
I finally got to rehearse with those 2x4's
again, up in Waltham, Mass. That stuff is really starting to
rock! We need to play out soon. Also I went camping in northern
Maine by myself. That went well. I pitched a tent then sat at
a picnic table in the dark for hours. I was waiting for interesting
animals to show up. It sure was quiet out there! And cold. It
went down to 51 degrees. Also I went swimming in a beautiful
lake, about a mile wide and four miles long, which turned out
to have quite a current for such a small lake, and I climbed
a mountain. Well, so much for that. It's hot here in Brooklyn
and not exciting. Oh yeah, I forgot, blogs are supposed to be
political aren't they? Yeah, well how about John Bolton? Yeah
well how about him. I didn't think much of Michael Bolton either.
Today I continued my efforts to learn The 2x4's
material for our rehearsal this coming week. Not only is it
strange to come back to this music 25 years later, just in general,
but it's also strange, for all of us, just how convoluted some
of it is. I have joked that some of it is like "math rock
using irrational numbers" but as I study such songs as
"Guitar", "Aluminum", my ode to the strong
possibility of a large-scale military conflict in Iran back
in 1980 "Draft Registration Time", and the first song
I wrote that was called "Iron Line" (a distant ancestor
of my more current song "Iron Line") I am finding
all of these music structures (songs) have a rather intensely
applied logic to them throughout. Much like worn down obelisks
poking out of barren rock fields in long-abandoned lands, there
is scarcely a clue as to why anyone would write songs with structures
like these, and yet the structures themselves are in fact decode-able.
And I find that really heartening! Especially Tom's song, Guitar.
I despaired of ever getting a grip on what that arrangement
was about. But it's not all that complex. The stanzas are in
pairs. The second pair of stanzas (4 per verse, usually but
not always) is always with the chords reversed. Which only leaves
about 5 other strange things about the arrangement, and that's
not so bad. Well that's a real kick in the head. That's actually
sort of easy! Or at least if it wasn't blasting along at 120
beats per minute or so, it would be.
But I can think of one reason why we all wrote
and arranged stuff the way we did. We all worked in factories.
So we were into precision, plus it was also a requirement of
that line of business. Of course that kind of atmosphere is
bound to make one feel "like a robot" to some extent,
which of course meant that we needed to be able to "operate"
both forward and in reverse. (A fact lost on many wannabe robotic
bands but that's not our problem!) Sometimes this robotic-ness
brought us happiness of a sort, like in my song "Bridgeport
Lathe", boredom like in Tom's song "another day, another
8 hours, of boredom. I don't look up. From my work. "Cause
it makes it worse", seriously frustrated like in my song
"Recombinant Phase", or just plain fed up, like Tom's
song about "put your finger in your eye while you're doing
up your fly do the spazz. Spit up. Fall down. And do the spazz".
I guess it's a way of life that's fading into
the past these days. Work in the factory during the week, go
bowling at night, and work on your car (whether for basic transportation
needs or classic-car-obsession needs we all did it) during the
weekend. Then for summer vacation I usually went to Buffalo,
Cleveland, Detroit, and of course Industrial New Jersey.
Should I be giving The Dawn of Mechanized Farming equal time
here or what? Yeah, obviously, but what can I say? Where we
last left of we seemed to be moving in some new directions.
Here's the lyrics to a new one that is starting to sound to
me more than a bit like Public Image of all things.
The Dawn of Mechanized Farming
When your meat is someone else's poison
And the rains have flooded in
Your wasted time continues
But all you ever do is win
All you ever do is win
Residual benefits are there
As if in proof that you care
You live your life in suspense
As vegetation grows dense
Vegetation grows dense
It's the dawn of mechanized farming
A tractor showing up in every yard
It's the dawn of mechanized farming
Why did life used to be so hard?
When your poison is someone else's meat
Please do take a seat
You're nearly as untouched as a god
Until you feel that cattle prod
Until you feel that cattle prod
In a field where your seed has spilled
Whole continents and countries populate
Uh no, try to keep your head straight
Try to keep your head straight.
It's the dawn of mechanized farming
A combine parked on every blade of grass
It's the dawn of mechanized farming
Why does that make me want to kick some ass?
It's the dawn of mechanized farming
Silos popping up on every street
It's the dawn of mechanized farming
Why does that put me off my feed?
Copyright 2004, John Hovorka, Jr.
Meanwhile back in the past...
Local Boston bass player, feels alienated, writes some
songs about lathes and drill presses, needs to start band
(John Hovorka in his apartment, a.k.a.
"Eraserhead Villa", October 1978)
Scene from a typical 2x4's rehearsal
(Steve Donnelly, Tom Martel, September 1979)
Today's activities include getting ready for
The 2x4's rehearsals in Massachusetts next week. The 2x4's were
my first "original music" band back in 1978 - 1980.
We intend to perform historical re-enactments of those events
with original members of the band, myself and Steve, plus Rolfe
Anderson who used to produce the 2x4's sessions on bass, and
Matt LeBlanc on guitar. What I need to do this weekend is continue
to re-learn this material.
Here is a picture of The 2x4's from back in
1979, relaxing in an abandoned factory in Lynn, Massachusetts
during our photo session for the Bridgeport Lathe b/w Little
The 2x4's John, Steve and Tom.
Here are some illustrations of things I thought
about a lot when I was a kid.
The Snow Queen by
Hans Christian Anderson
("be the passenger" indeed)
Night in the city looks pretty to me?
Cracking towers. For all you aficionados of
industrial distillation processes out there.
I just woke up from a dream where I was sitting
on the bench in front of The Brooklyn Ale House. A tiny, three
foot high, shiny black, new VW pulled up at the stop sign on
North 8th Street. There was a small, pretty woman sitting in
the driver's seat. A little boy, maybe four years old, ran up
to her and her car. He stood right next to the car, less than
an inch away from touching it. Then he stayed there perfectly
still for minutes on end. She didn't notice that he was there.
I was afraid that if he didn't back away from the car that he
would get his feet run over. Then I realized that the kid had
something in common with me. When I was little the same thing
happened to me, though with a few differences. When this happened
to me the car was big, it was moving, and it ran over one of
my feet. So I actually know what that feels like, to try to
get close to a woman who is oblivious to the fact that I am
there. It's not as bad as one might think, oh, I mean getting
one's two biggest toes run over, by a huge yellow Fort Fairlane
Station Wagon, although the woman did have to take me to the
hospital and I was not walking so well for about a week. Also
I was a bit older when that happened to me, almost six years
old. Anyhow, in the dream, I wanted to yell at the kid to tell
him to get away from the small black car with the woman in it,
or to get up and do something about this. I tried to yell but
no voice came out. This was just as well because while I was
sleeping the window was open and people were in the courtyard
below, about fifteen feet away. Then I tried to get up from
the bench but I couldn't move. Then the whole scene of the kid,
the woman, the street and the car looked like an illustration
except moving. It turned out to be odd shaped cards being shuffled.
I could see this from the point of view of the person or being
that was shuffling the cards. I had a vague impression that
it was a fairly old woman wearing a red kerchief who was doing
this. Anyhow, what I had seen turned out to be one possibility
among many. Who knows what sort of imagery that was, the black,
relatively egg-shaped car, and a woman ignoring a child, because
she was unable to sense that he was there. I note in passing
that she also was not turning her head to check for any fast
moving traffic coming up Berry Street before she went through
the stop sign. And why didn't the child call out to her? Why
did he just stand close to the black car and her in silence?
Maine. 1980. My brother and I took a drive up there, climbed
some mountains, and made my 1969 Chevy Nova (not pictured here)
climb a mountain. That was a bad idea.
As promised, here is the stuff
from my first draft of this blog, put back, just in case you're
interested. This is from the 7/12/05 - 7/14/05 time period.
"Beautiful Field" Dream (2003)
I had a dream that I was waiting for a bus in
the suburban looking part of "Generic American City". My dilemma
was that the bus was not showing up. I had to get from one OK
part of town to another quickly. But if I walked I would have
to go through a bad area for about half a mile. It was the middle
of the day so I figured it would be OK. I walked about two blocks
down a street that I thought went to where I needed to go, but
it ended. I was on top of a large hill. There was an incredibly
beautiful vista of hills and lakes in front of me. In the far
in the hazy distance I could see power lines and some skyscraper
towers on the horizon. I had been in a different version of
this place in other dreams. This landscape was more beautiful,
yet it looked very dangerous. There was no evidence that people
had ever been there except for one dirt road that ended at the
end of a point of land that went out into the lakes. This road
was fairly wide, had very neat edges and tire or bulldozer tracks
on it. The entire landscape was way too neat. Its lines were
way too clean. It was mostly hills covered with short grass
or dirt, and not many trees. It was obvious to me that if I
went down there it would be extremely difficult to get back.
But I couldn't see anything obviously dangerous about it, so
I walked down the hill and started across it. A woman appeared.
I didn't know how I could have missed seeing her down there.
She had tawny skin, long messy light brown hair, large breasts,
large teeth, and eyes like those of a wild animal. I avoided
her. Then an animal approached. It looked like a Chihuahua dog
only much larger, about four feet in height. It began to speak
to me in a nearly human voice. It said, "Ba ba wa wa, ba ba
wa, wa" over and over again. It came closer. I was afraid of
it. At this point I realized that I was in a dream, either that
or Saturday Night Live. Nevertheless, it had me cornered on
the descending ridge of this point of land. Then it began to
bite me, over and over again. It had pointed teeth that were
as sharp as glass. Then I woke up. It was six in the morning,
and just barely light out.
It's not time for me to go to sleep yet, so check
this out. I like this one. It is entirely factual from beginning
to end. I wrote it about a year ago about my life in 1962 when
I was eleven years old.
Johnny, Those Are Cracking Towers
Visiting my Grandma in Buffalo, New York was
a regular part of my life. We drove there from Boston at least
once a year. She had a Cocker Spaniel dog named Ebbie because
he was black. I liked Ebbie. We went down into the basement
to the "fruit cellar" together. There was no fruit, maybe a
few canning jars, but there was a very old refrigerator full
of RC soda pop. It was kind of dim and it smelled funny down
there. I knew it was not an ancient Egyptian tomb, of course,
but I liked to imagine that it was. My grandpa was there in
Buffalo, too, but somehow he made a bit less of an impression
on me. He was very serious and he seemed to keep to himself
as much as he could. (Actually from what I've heard since, he
was very sociable, but evidently, not around us.) I was impressed
by the machine Shop where he was a vice president.
I can barely remember my early visits there,
maybe a few glimpses of the highway there, or something. By
the time I was six to ten these started to come into focus as
a current memory. I looked at the trucks as we rode out, and
the names of the truck companies, Spector, which was spelled
sort of like an apparition, and CF which meant Continental Freightways,
yet their logo looked sort of like CCCP, which might not be
good advertising unless they were so far ahead of everyone else
that they were preparing themselves for Life Under Communism.
There were constantly more and more CF trucks.
After we got there, there was a billboard just
a block away from my grandma's house, which I couldn't see from
there, but I could see the light it made over the houses. It
had an elf on it and it advertised a soft drink. I thought that
it looked creepy when I saw it, but seeing it in my mind even
though it was actually hidden from view gave me some sort of
comfort, the idea that there might be something out there besides
that which is kind of dull. I knew the elf was just a picture,
but I felt like he was watching over us, for better or worse.
The house was dimly lit on the inside, mostly by flame shaped
bulbs in sconce-type fixtures, and there was more dark-stained
woodwork there than I have ever seen anyplace else. When I learned
how to read I read a huge series of little red books of stories
with child characters with names like Corey and Nedrow. They
had adventures that started in suburban backyards from the twenties,
much like my Grandma's backyard but years before, then ended
up in fantastic places. But these "fantastic places" began to
fall flat of my expectations after the first few books. What
I really liked reading was The Snow Queen by Hans Christian
Anderson. She filled bad kid's eyes with bits of broken frozen
ice, then they had to go through what I guess would amount to
a repentance or realization to get back to the way they were
to begin with. This sounded a bit threatening to me, and perhaps
like it wasn't worthwhile to do anything really worth doing,
like go off to ride with her on her sleigh, since it would make
things worse. Still I hoped to somehow ride with her, and get
out of the place where I always was.
The trip from Boston to Buffalo took about a
day. First there were mileage markers that went from 138 to
1. Then there were markers that went from B-1 to B-37. And finally
there were markers that went from 143 to 423. I didn't like
the way the longest bunch of mileage markers came last. There
was a black paved highway. Then there were concrete highways.
My parent's 1955 Olds 98, a gift to them from my grandfather,
made a clunk every time it hit the edge of yet one more concrete
pavement slab. Who knows how many slabs there were. My dad turned
on the radio to get in the classical music station out of Schenectady.
That lasted a little while. Then we listened to a station out
of Amsterdam, NY. They played "Just A Little Bit Of Luck" by
Mitch Miller and His Orchestra. The constant repeating echoing
chorus of this song was "Just a little bit, just a little bit,
just a little bit, just a little bit, just a little bit, just
a little bit, just a little bit of luck". I thought about luck
for a minute. I guess I was not brought up to think much about
luck. Still, I liked that song. Then that station got faint,
too. My dad turned the radio off. I stared out of the back seat's
right hand side window looking for something to look at. The
flat part of the Mohawk Valley continued. I looked at the Thruway
map. It said on the back that if you got tired of driving at
60 you could slow down to 50 for a while for a change of pace.
That sounded like a bad idea so I didn't say anything about
it. We passed the Gerber Baby Food factory in Herkimer, the
LifeSavers candy factory in Canajoharie, and the typerwriter
factory in Ilion. Eventually we would pass the Sylvania factory
in Syracuse. I looked forward to that. It was huge and had a
giant neon sign on top.
The only thing I didn't like about my grandparent's
house in Buffalo was that there was almost nothing to read there.
But it was full of dark paneled room, alcoves, and stairways.
There were candle-shaped light bulbs that were ensconced in
peaked-capped dark copper holders that looked like they had
something to do with elves, and wall sconces with flame shaped
bulbs in them that looked like they might have something to
do with mummies. Of course these were perfectly ordinary art
deco furnishings when the house was built in 1921. It was all
quite cozy, albeit in an odd way. Yet when I looked beyond their
yard, I wondered what the city might contain. I was at an age
when I was just beginning to wonder. Breakfast was corn flakes
with milk and sugar, and orange juice. I would get up early
to sit with my grandma and look at the birds that were out in
the yard. Mostly there were robins and sparrows. But often there
were cardinals and blue jays, as well. Their stove was new and
fancy, a huge GE. It had a long row of not very reassuring looking
rectangular buttons that lit up in different colors, blue, green,
orange, and red. These did not look like normal colors. They
looked like sleek, cold, artificial colors that had just been
invented. My mom told me that the stove was dangerous. I believed
her. When the red button was lit the electric stove burners
glowed red hot. But no matter what colored light was on, or
even if there was no light on at all, the stove could still
burn you. So I didn't trust those buttons, I stayed away. Early
in the morning my grandma always had the radio on. It played
music that I neither understood nor cared about, on and on.
It sounded to me like it was always the same song. It was sort
of soothing. It was hard to concentrate on. As soon as breakfast
was done she would start preparing dinner and making a cake.
Usually dinner was a pot roast and the cake was either a sponge
cake or an angel food cake. The main course always included
peas in butter, lots of mashed potatoes, and Jello off to the
side. After dinner, if I wasn't too stuffed to even move I would
go out and play. But there wasn't anything to do out there so
I just walked around the outside of the house and looked at
things. I saved going over a block to watch the cars and trucks
going down the brick-paved Niagara Falls Boulevard for last.
I wanted to leave something to look forward to. Their driveway
was paved in concrete, just like The Thruway except smaller
slabs. There was a little house in the back of their house for
the trashcans. My grandma said it was to keep squirrels out
of the trash. If the lawn needed cutting, there was a Reo lawnmower
in the garage. It was a reel mower with a gas engine. I was
a bit afraid of it because it would move under its own power
even if you took your hands off it. Who knows what it could
mow down, maybe even me. I knew I had to trust grownups to operate
such dangerous things. My grandma put canned fruit in the jello
right after breakfast. Soon after that, the milkman would show
up and put milk into the little cabinet on the side of the house.
Sometimes I said hi to him. He seemed friendly. The neighbors
weren't. They lived in a darker looking version of my grandparent's
house. Its blinds were always drawn. Its lights were mostly
out. By way of explanation, twenty years later in 1982, my grandma
simply said, "That house belongs to The Black Hand." My brother
spent a lot of time down in the basement putting old plumbing
together then taking it apart. He had no interest in toys. The
main thing in the yard was my grandpa's car. It was very large
and long, a 1959 Olds 98. It had huge fins that looked like
castle towers but very stretched out. Since he was the vice
president of a large machine shop, a large, powerful new car
seemed to suit him well. I had always been fascinated by little
details, like what the plants and flowers outside looked like,
and the way the tires in the garage got orange around their
edges from sitting around too long. But when I was eleven I
quickly got bored by these small pleasures. I was not used to
seeing so much television. There was a show about a detective
named Topper. I had seen a lot of signs advertising Topper Pilsner
on the long drive to Buffalo. My father said that pilsner was
a kind of beer. I didn't know much about beer. My grandpa let
me taste a tiny sip of his Carling Black Label once. I thought
it tasted salty yet not salty, both at the same time. I had
no interest in beer. But I did wonder why this detective named
Topper never drank any beer. Still, for a curious kid, one fascinating
question was not enough for one day. My grandma told me about
shows I might like, but the only ones I liked were a soap opera
called "Quiet Storm" because I liked watching the women that
were in it, and The Buffalo Evening News. My folks were dismayed
that I was watching the news. They had always done their best
to keep me away from it. All the stories were about murder,
car crashes, and nuclear war. Dinner was great. It always was.
I especially liked the Jello. What was it made of? It came in
so many flavors.
But when all was said and done, I was stuffed
full, I was bored, I was restless. Looking at my grandparent's
photos of a convention they attended in Winnipeg could only
hold my attention for so long. I turned my attention to Life
Magazine. The pictures were great but there wasn't much to read.
There were lots of pictures of Jacqui Kennedy. Then I turned
my attention to a huge pile of Reader's Digest magazines. A
lot of the articles were boring, but I managed to find a few
that fascinated me. My father said, You can't believe everything
you read, especially in a magazine like that! I took his advice
on that. For one thing, I had no problem with being a patriotic
kid, but why were so many of the articles about flag-waving
patriotism? Were they trying to convince commies, the only unpatriotic
people I had ever heard of at that point in my life, that they
should be patriotic? Probably not. So then they must be to reassure
people about something. I quickly realized that this magazine
was directly mainly to old people. Reassurance seemed pointless
to me. Up until I was ten I didn't give politics much thought.
But as soon as I did, I realized that there was no way out of
World War III. It was plain to me, if not to anyone else, that
we were all going to get blown up and die horrible deaths, maybe
in a year or so, but more likely in about a week, especially
with that stuff in Cuba going on. But despite my concern about
that, I didn't know any of the grisly details of how bad things
were, or could be, in other parts of the world. I learned about
these things that afternoon, in Reader's Digest. First I read
an article about how women were treated in Cuban prisons. I
took my father's advice and didn't believe anything in this
article, but who could even think of such things? The article
said that prison guards made them get naked then dance for them.
Then other things happened to them. I was too naïve to read
between the lines, but it was plain to me that things went downhill
from there. Then there was an article about people in some Middle
Eastern country being sold motor oil to use as cooking oil,
then they died. That sounds crazy to me. How could anyone eat
food cooked in motor oil without knowing that it was bad for
them? Slowly it dawned on me that writing could be full of lies,
and also evil. There was an article about cannibalistic Mau
Mau head hunter tribes in Rhodesia. I thought to myself, Why
go there? They obviously wanted the place to themselves. Still,
I found that article chilling. I also read every horrific story
about mountain climbers perishing, ship wrecks, and of course,
The Communist Threat and Nazi death camps. I was horrified.
Things already seemed bad enough. But now these things! By the
time I got through the stack of 20 or so Reader's Digests I
was terrified. Because after all, even of none of these things
happened, similar things must be going on or else no one could
have thought to write about them. The sun was getting low in
the sky. My head was spinning. My father said, You'd better
stop reading that stuff. I said, OK.
In the evening we went for a drive with my grandpa
in his 1959 Olds 98. All six of us fit in it OK. It was huge.
The ride was so smooth that looking out the window was almost
like watching a movie. It had a speedometer that consisted of
a strip of color that was green up to 35 mph, turned orange
around 40, and red at 55. I had never seen anything like that.
I was impressed. We got on The Thruway. I immediately realized,
a feeling in my guts, that we were going farther away from Massachusetts
than we already, and towards some other place. My grandpa said
he wanted to visit a friend of his who ran a gelatin factory.
We could take a tour. We took the Lackawanna exit. Soon there
were huge steel mills all around us. The smoke was intense and
there were flames coming out of huge black machines and structures.
There were small train cars full of orange molten metal moving
along. The air was hot. The smell was awful. Then there was
a section full of decrepit housing and neon-lit bars with people
standing around on the sidewalks out front. There was hardly
any light at all. I could hardly even imagine that these were
people. They loomed up like from out of a dream, skinny or fat,
male or female, all dressed strangely, plainly or garishly,
but in any case, just plain odd. They looked badly cared for,
badly fed, and like they might have bad intentions. I knew that
this was real yet it also seemed like it wasn't. Then the traffic
light changed. I was reassured to see an ordinary traffic light
working correctly on this bleak and to me extremely unusual
road. We moved on. We passed a chemical factory. In back of
that was an oil refinery. There were two tall towers poking
out of it. They had long, orange flames on top. I asked, Grandpa,
what are those? He said, Johnny, those are cracking towers.
Soon we arrived at a large and extremely gloomy looking brick
building. We got out of his car. As we approached the door to
this building the smell became horrendous. I asked, What's that
smell? My father said, Dead horses. We were greeted by a beefy
looking man in a tired looking suit. He looked hardly any better
than those people I had seen in front of the bars. My grandpa
introduced him to us then we all went inside the gelatin factory.
There was a gigantic room full of enormous iron vats. We took
an elevator up to the top of the room. There was a long, wide
metal catwalk over the vats. The air was chokingly bad. The
man took us to a large room off to the side where the control
panels were. With great pride he showed us the factory's new
electronic controls. They had brightly colored buttons and meters
That night I slipped on the stairs of my grandparent's
house. My grandma was playing the piano and singing her old
songs downstairs. I became fascinated by her sweet voice. Then
I suddenly lost my grip on the railing and plunged down the
last two stairs. I got an ankle sprain. It really hurt, at least
for a minute, then I limped a bit for the next few days. My
mother and my grandma found liniment in a bottle that looked
like it was from the turn of the century. My mother poured some
onto a cloth, and applied it to my ankle. Then they sent me
to bed. I got up and stared out the second floor window. I couldn't
see the elf on the billboard across the way, yet I could see
him in my mind's eye. He looked like he was taunting me, and
seemed to me like a wicked being. I thought of praying. But
I was not brought up to pray. I decided to pray anyway. It helped
I had a dream about being back in Lackawanna,
with the huge steel mill sheds, smoke all over the place, flames
leaping out of machines, the small train cars full of molten
metal moving along, and a horrendous smell in the orange colored
air. Then I was above all that on the edge of a cliff, on the
edge of a dark forest. A dark figure approached me with a knife
in his hand. I asked, Who are you? He said, "I'm the assassin."
Then I woke up. I realized that the horrible
smell was the liniment. The billboard with the elf on it was
no longer lit up because it was so late at night. I wished I
was back in Lackawanna, watching the train cars full of orange
metal. Then I longed to see the cracking towers again, their
tall, wavering, orange flames.
Last night I had no dreams that I could remember.
Here is a dream I had on March 9, 2004. I just woke up from
a dream about subways.
I was walking down an outdoor walkway that was
about 30 feet wide. There were a lot of other people walking,
too. It was probably around the start of rush hour. This walkway
was about two stories above ground level. Below us, at ground
level, trains that were being taken out of service were pulling
in. Strangely, they were being driven at a high rate of speed
off their tracks and on to huge white cloth mats, which were
about as wide as tracks and continued on under the building.
I was very impressed with this technology. How did it work?
Then I was walking across the Williamsburgh (original spelling
used) Bridge (JH dream-stock-footage). Many other people were
also walking across. There was a lot of mechanical equipment
involved, sort of like escalators, except I couldn't walk on
them and there were lots of gears all over the place. I think
it was a situation where the people who were walking had to
supply the energy to run the escalators. They were somehow indirectly
hooked up to them by these gear mechanisms. Men wearing top
hats and other elegant 19th Century clothing were the only people
riding on these escalators. Walking across this bridge was extremely
tiring. Once across the bridge, the only train from there went
down into a deep underground cavern, where all the subway lines
in New York met. There were dozens upon dozens of platforms
to choose from, although it took about 20 minutes to find one
that was in use. The lighting down there didn't amount to much,
and most of the few signs that were down there were wrong. Also,
all the trains were labeled F or J, no matter where they actually
went. So figuring out which train to take was difficult. They
were labeled as to where they went only in a code, which it
was possible to crack, but you had to study it very hard. I
once had a dream where it took me half a night to figure this
out. It's useful to do this because one of the trains will get
you to Times Square in about ten minutes, while another train
which is labeled almost identically goes in a huge circle around
East New York then ends up back where it started about an hour
later. The reason why I "know" all this is that I have had this
dream about twenty times. Also, it is very hard to get on or
off these trains because they never come to a complete stop
and the doors open and close very fast. And because any given
train only runs about once an hour, most of the people down
there are running, sprinting, to catch their train. train.jpg
Then I was back at the place I first mentioned, again, except
now there were fewer people around and the walkway was about
four stories up. The trains kept coming in, being zoomed on
to these cloths, more often and much faster. Then the walkway
was ten feet wide and there was no railing and it was about
15 stories above ground. Hardly anyone was around, except eventually
some cheerfully adventurous college students with mountain climbing
gear came up on to this walkway, now not much of a walkway,
by means of a tiny fire escape-like ladder that I hadn't noticed
before. And then the walkway was reduced to being four feet
wide, and there were concrete posts blocking any exit from it.
Then I noticed that the small ledge of concrete that I was standing
on slanted downwards. So I kept sliding to the edge of the tiny
concrete platform that remained, and I was about thirty floors
up. I thought about using the tiny ladder to get down from there,
but felt that if I did that it would scare me too much. So it
seemed just about inevitable that I was going to fall from there.
Then I woke up, feeling quite annoyed that my choice was either
to lose sleep by getting up too early, or else continue to be
stuck in this dream and probably have it turn into a falling
dream. So then I managed to strike a compromise in which I was
able to get back to sleep, and did not sleep well at all, but
at least the platform quit being slanted towards the edge and
widened to about six feet. And then an hour or so later, I woke
up, still too soon, but not as under-slept as I might have been.
"Current Events" Dream Or What?
Last night I had a dream that I was in a messy
urban place, like a cross between Abercrombie & Fitch and a
desperate slum. Expensive looking blood-spattered clothing was
thrown around all over the place. Maybe it was a recent terrorist
bomb site. There was an anti-terrorism demonstration going on.
Then some guys pulled long yellow guns out of their robes (yes,
robes) and started randomly shooting at people. Within moments
there were torn apart bodies lying all over the place. Then
another gang of guys showed up. They had long black guns and
looked sort of like undercover cops, although who knows who
they were. Large muscular guys in dark colored sweatshirts.
They said that the anti-terrorism demonstrators were promoting
terrorism by protesting against it. So they started shooting
up the place. Then I woke up. Usually after a mess like that,
I feel like going to the bathroom. But instead I just stared
at my dark apartment for about five minutes then went back to
sleep. My apartment also had clothes scattered all over it,
but not like Abercrombie & Fitch, more like Dollar Tree, Dollar
General, Family Dollar, Dollarama, or even a 99-cent store.
The horror! In the dark and without my glasses on everything
looked like it was pulsing, even moving. Is this place haunted?
Yeah. It's haunted by me! And by my dirty clothes I guess.