Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Knockoffs shape"

As I stated in my last entry, The Knockoffs are playing our 20-year anniversary show on August 24th. I had the bright idea that it would make a good goal to get my fat ass into shape. What we call "Knockoffs shape". I haven't been exercising much the last couple years, and I definitely haven't been eating right. I was never much of a breakfast eater, so I usually skipped it. I don't have to be to work til noon, so I usually didn't eat lunch. Then, when I got off work at 6, I'd be completely starved, so I'd eat a huge plate of pasta, or something else packed with carbs, then crash on the sofa. I'm almost 50, and I realized that that habit wasn't going to get me into shape, and it wasn't going to get better til I did something about it. So, one day, I made a complete lifestyle change. I haven't had a soda in over 3 weeks. No snacks. Cut way back on the carbs. I bought a scale. I went to the grocery store and bought nothing but fruits, veggies, eggs, and skinless chicken breast. I've been eating a good breakfast everyday, a salad for lunch before work, stir-fry veggies and chicken for dinner, and fruit (bananas or oranges) for a snack. I bought good running shoes and I've started running in the mornings. I even have the goal of running a 5K at the end of July. I've always HATED running. HAAAAATED it. But I'm learning the benefits so after forcing myself to run, I'm starting to enjoy it. Starting to. But I'm definitely liking the benefits. I started my journey at 227 pounds. After 3 weeks, I'm at 219. 8lbs. in 3 weeks. Not bad! My goal is to lose 25-30 by the show, but I'm already ahead of schedule. And, like I said, it was a lifestyle change. I can't picture myself reaching my goal, then saying "Ok, I did it! Gimme a bacon cheeseburger!!" I can picture these habits staying with me. If I get below 200, even better! I've seen pictures and videos of myself the last couple years, and I don't like what I see. I'm hell-bent determined to get into shape! So, with a shit-ton of hard work, when you see me at the Knockoffs show, you'll be seeing a skinny-ass Tom H.!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

They said it couldn't happen....

Ok, *I* said it couldn't happen. The Knockoffs are playing a show this year. I really thought I was done. But, happily, I've been proven wrong. I picked up a guitar for the first time in almost 2 years the other night. Yeah, I got some work to do. The callouses on my fingertips went away about a month after I stopped playing. So I've gotta work on getting those back. And I'm sure my voice is somewhat more than shot. So it's going to take a buuuuuuunch of practicing to get that back too. But I really am looking forward to it. It's been an interesting couple years, but I think I'm starting to want to get back out there. Just talking about playing again stirred a tiny bit of my creative juices. So, maybe, just maybe I'll have a new song or two to play at the show. We'll see....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Retirement....

So, I was watching a documentary on Jack Nicklaus' 1986 comeback win at the Masters today. At the end, he was asked by a reporter after his win, if he was going to retire. He responded "No, I'm not smart enough for that". His reply wasn't really important to me. What I wanted to know was "What the hell does a golfer do when he retires?" Take up tennis? Build a bridge? Be a greeter at Walmart? I don't know...

Anyhoo, I can't believe it's been almost 3 years since I've posted anything here. I don't know if anyone even comes here anymore, but maybe that's for the better.

I'm not really writing this for anyone to read. If someone does, so be it. That's fine.

What does a punk rocker do when he retires? I'll find out, I guess.

A lot has happened in the last 3 years. I've made some friends, lost others, found out exactly who my real friends are. And aren't.

But the main thing that has happened is that I just don't have the passion for music I once did. But, why, you're probably axing yourself?

A thousand little things added up to the one big straw that broke the camel's back.

About a year and a half ago, I missed a very important day in a very good friend's life. But with good reason. A family member was diagnosed with a very serious illness, and I, along with my whole family were a little more than preoccupied for the last couple months of the year. And, as a result, I didn't go to this event. I apologized many times, with no reply. I've been un-friended by this person on FB. I've been snubbed. So, now, I'm over it. The band I've been in for many years is no more. But that's ok. My hands are developing a tremor, my voice is no doubt shot, and all the other inconveniences that come with being an aging punk.

A few years ago, my other band, The No-Goodniks, were playing at Shire Rd. Club. We were playing with Ashtray. 15 years ago, every punk in a 50 mile radius would have been there. But this night? About 8 people managed to make the drive. At the time I was 45 years old. I was up on stage, sweating my ass off, trying to entertain the people who did show up. I looked out into the "crowd" and saw an audience member stare off to the right, arms folded, while he yawned. I had what the drunks call "a moment of clarity". "What the hell am I doing??" I thought to myself. I write these songs, haul all this equipment to practice them over and over, haul the equipment out to wherever to play in front of 8 people who don't give a shit? Why should I, then? Now, I know, anyone who's been in a band has looked out and saw an audience member yawn. But this one got me. Before our set was over, I knew there was a light at the end of my musical tunnel. On our way home from our next practice, I told Jessi I didn't want to do it anymore. She thought that was fine since she was moving to LA. Cool.

When I was in kindergarten, my best friend was Mark M. We're standing next to each other in our kindergarten yearbook. He's still my best friend 40+ years later. We started our first punk band together, The $windles. We played at our high school talent show, and various other shows around town, mostly basement parties. Mark and I were really the only "punks" in our school. No one really knew what the hell "punk" was at the time, especially in Tiny Town PA. We did mostly Sex Pistols, Ramones, Undertones, and Clash covers. I'm sure we sucked, but it didn't matter. It was more fun than I ever thought it could be. And I promised myself then that I'd stop when it stopped being fun. I'm a couple steps past that point now.

Mark was a part of Captain 9's & the Knickerbocker Trio when we started, too. I met Lee, the drummer right out of high school and Lee and I played as a 2 piece in his sister's basement. We had no aspirations to anything but just that. But we ended up doing some recording at a local (PA) recording studio and released some 7"s. Mark played bass on our first recordings. Last March, 2011, Mark flew out to CA to play some Capt. 9's shows with Ed Nar on drums. I booked shows in Fresno, Stockton, Sacramento, and San Francisco. And we had a blast! It was so fun playing those goofy songs again with someone who knew exactly why I started playing music in the first place! But, once the tour was over, I knew I had my stopping point. Mark was onstage with me the first time I sang in front of people at our high school talent show, and he was onstage with me the last time I was onstage, 30+ years later, playing Goddammit I'm Pissed on a filthy stage in S.F. to a good-sized crowd who, for some wacky-ass reason, knew all the words.

The only time I've been onstage since, and really, the last show I went to was The Creamers at Old Ironsides in June of '11. I felt, as the old saying goes, "about as welcome as a turd in a punchbowl" at that show. So, I haven't gone to a show since. I'll certainly miss the people I only saw at shows. But the way I felt at Old I that night, snubbed and alone, it's not worth it.

So, I've since sold my Marshall amp to someone who I hope will love it and use it like I did. If you go to a show and some kid is playing a grey fuzzy Marshall amp, that's probably it.

I know, people like Kepi and Kevin Seconds, who are both around my age are still out there doing it, and they more than deserve your support. But they do it for a living. I was doing it for fun, and I wasn't having any. So, you can now look at my musical "career", such as it is, and judge away. Like what I've done, love it, hate it, ignore it, it doesn't really matter. I've got nothing else to prove.

So, what does a punk do when he retires? I'll let you know. Probably in around 3 more years or so. But in the meantime, go to a show.

And stifle those yawns!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cover Me

I heard a few covers of songs in the last few days that triggered my desire to make my list of Top 10 All Time Great Cover Songs.
Being in a band, I have 2 different mindsets on covers.

Mindset 1. Pick an obscure song, make it your own. That way, there's that one person listening that goes "Wait a minute.... Is that.... No... They're covering (insert obscure song title here)!"

Mindset 2. Pick a hit. BUT, and this is a big "but", make it your own! I heard the Aerosmith cover of the Beatles' "Come Together". It sounds EXACTLY like the original. What's the fuckin' point of that??

Anyway, here's my list. It's not in any order. It's just the order that they popped into my head. And it's probably gonna have a distinct "punk" slant.
I wanna hear yours, too. Not necessarily 10 of them, but ones I may have missed. I know I'm gonna come up with more when I'm done.

1. Devo- "I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)" (Rolling Stones)
2. The Dickies- "Knights In White Satin" (Moody Blues)
3. 7 Seconds- "99 Red Balloons" (Nena)
4. Rolling Stones- "Just My Imagination" (Temptations)
5. Sex Pistols- "Substitute" (The Who)
6. Ramones- "Time Has Come Today" (Chambers Brothers)
7. The Clash- "Police and Theives" (Junior Murvin)
8. Motorhead- "Louie Louie" (The Kingsmen)
9. Plasmatics "Dream Lover" (Bobby Darin)
10. New York Dolls "Stranded in the Jungle" (The Cadets)

There you go.
Thanks for reading.

Bye.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What the Steelers mean to me- by Tom H.

I usually take a large amount of crap from my non-sports loving friends, of which I have quite a few of.
And that's ok.
I can take it.
But let me try to explain.
I'm from a tiny town in Pennsylvania, as I'm sure most of you know. It's lumber territory. It's coal mining territory. It's steelworkers territory. Very blue collar.
Very hard-working community.
I remember as a kid watching the Steelers on tv with my dad. With the black and white uniforms, the decal on only one side of their helmets, the absolute bad-ass defense.
One of my first memories of the Steelers was when they were on the cover of Time Magazine.

I remember cutting all the pictures out and making my own Steelers montage that my dad hung on the refrigerator.
My friends and I would play sandlot football games and we all wanted to be the Steelers. We spent more time figuring out who would be the Steelers than we actually spent playing.
When playoff time came around, the entire town went Steeler-crazy. Posters, cardboard cutouts, non-stop football talk from strangers.
What I'm trying to say is it's forever ingrained in me.
But I've only recently come to realize how deep the love of the Steelers runs in others. Just off the top of my head, I can count 2 Steelers bars here in Sacramento. I can't even count one 49er or Raiders bar here. I'm sure they're around, but I don't know of them.

The Terrible Towel.
Yeah, it's hokey. It's played. Whatever. I've only just recently read the history of the Towel.
The Steelers' longtime announcer, Myron Cope, wanted to come up with some gimmick the fans could rally around. Originally, he came up with a Chuck Noll (long time head coach, and winner of 4 Super Bowls) mask with the Steelers emblem on it. But it was deemed too expensive to produce, so he came up with a yellow-gold towel. After the Towel took off, and everyone wanted one, he signed over all copyrights to the Allegheny Valley School, a school for developmentally disabled and autistic children. To date, the sales of the Towel have generated over 3.2 million dollars for the school, which Cope's autistic son was a resident of. Astronauts have taken the Towel into space, and one was even left on the summit of Mt. Everest.


I've met more Steelers fans in California than I can count. The Dallas Cowboys call themselves "America's Team". Well, I can't think of ONE Dallas Cowboys bar here in Sacramento. Or anywhere else for that matter. I have to think that the Steelers are the "New America's Team".

I know, I can almost hear you saying "Geez, Tom, you're talking about a game played by a bunch of millionaire crybabies". And yeah, you're right.
But, for me, it goes deeper than that.
I watched the Super Bowl at my friends Dan and Erin's house. Both are Steelers fans, and it was a LOT of fun watching with them and their friends. (edit: There was a lot of talk before the Super Bowl that no one cared about a championship game played by two small-market teams. Well, this past Super Bowl was the second most-watched program in TV history, second only to the final episode of MASH.) There was a lot of yelling at the tv, jumping around, burying our faces in our hands when it didn't look good.
A few minutes after the game had ended, I went out into the driveway and called my dad. We relived the game, talked about how we can finally breathe again. We laughed and talked about the final play.
And suddenly I was twelve years old again, cutting pictures out of Time Magazine, reconnecting with my dad over something as trivial as a football game.
When I was growing up, I was into music. I was in the marching band, and started a punk rock band. All stuff he didn't understand, I'm sure. But the one thing we could always bond over was the Steelers. The Steelers gave me a chance to be a part of something bigger than our little town. More than any other sports team could. I'm proud to be a part of Steeler Nation, and I'm grateful to my dad for introducing me to something that maybe he didn't even realize the scope of.
The Steelers were, and are, the one thing I can relate to my dad about. Or, probably more specifically, my dad could relate to me about.
So, there you go.
I'm a Steelers fan.
Always will be.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

R.I.P. Lux Interior

Well, I suppose it's inevitable.
The heroes you grew up looking up to getting older at the same rate you are.
They eventually start passing away.

Today, Lux Interior died.

I was a fan of the Cramps starting in high school. The first recording I heard of theirs was Gravest Hits.
Human Fly.
I was blown away. There was no bass guitar. Didn't need one.
The picture of them on the cover was so.... weird.
I'd never seen anything like them before. And the picture on the back of them playing live just looked like sheer chaos. Even to this day, I'm not sure where Lux is in the picture. I've always thought he was in the pajamas-looking outfit and climbing over the seats, which was even cooler.
I never got to see them till I moved to California. The first time was at the now-defunct I-Beam in San Francisco about 1985.
My friends and I were in line out front when Lux walked right by us.
He was bigger than life, and wearing a gold suit. He actually fit right in with the Haight St. crowd.
I had a cassette of my band Capt. 9's & the Knickerbocker Trio with me, just in case I got to meet one of them. Here was my chance.
My friends and I jumped out of line and ran after Lux, yelling his name.
He turned around and greeted us with a huge smile. Wasn't expecting that!
We ran up to him and told him what huge Cramps fans we were, blah, blah, blah. Stuff I'm sure he heard a million times from a million kids. But he was genuinely flattered. We told him it was our first time seeing them and he said he hopes we enjoy the show and asked our names and shook our hands. He started to turn to walk away, when I suddenly remembered my cassette!
I said, "Lux, I want to give you a copy of my band's cassette. I hope you'll like it!" and handed him the tape.
He could have jammed it in his pocket, muttered "thanks" and kept walking and that would have been good enough for me.
But he didn't.
He looked at the cover, said the name of the band out loud (which was a thrill right there! Lux Interior saying my band's name!) and started laughing at the song titles, reading each one out loud. " 'I'm a Pig'! Ha! That's great! 'Fireman's Stomp'! Haha!"
He was so freakin' nice to us when he didn't have to be. That's stuck with me all these years. THAT'S how you treat fans. With respect. Like it's because of them that you're where you are. Not condesention. Not with an "I've heard this shit a million times. Tell me I'm great and go away" attitude.
He was one of the absolute all time great rock n roll front men. The Cramps put on some of the best shows I've ever been to.
One of punk rock's truly "nice guys".
He'll be missed.

As my own stupid little tribute, here's a video of Capt. 9's & the Knickerbocker Trio performing the Cramps "I Ain't Nuthin' But A Gorehound" in an alley in Williamsport PA sometime in 1983.
video

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Google Earth Part Deux

Here's some more images I found on Google Earth.
The island from the Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away"




A couple making out in a park in Germany


Capsized cruise ship off of Africa


A Russian plane that crashed in Antarctica in 1979