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Playing with dolls 

So I'm standing on the corner of walk and don't walk, minding my own affair, when I get a phone call. My ears were immediately treated to squeaks and shrieks of feedback, noise, and a faint voice in the background menacingly chanting; "I stick it deep inside, I stick it deep inside... " It was The Stooges live at Jones Beach, and my NYC Tiki bar chanteuse Nell felt like reaching out and touching me.

            LA punk legends The Dickies rolled through town last Wednesday to play a loud 'n' fast show at the Bug Jar. Singer Leonard Graves Phillips was bitter, bitchy, and in rare cynical form as he fielded questions from the audience, molested an inflatable doll, and played the roll of punk rock ventriloquist with a plush penis puppet. Despite the fact that the majority of the band is new blood, The Dickies still pulled it off classic and real.

            It was The Blastoffs and The Shakletons that got the ball rolling. The Blastoffs are the perfect marriage of their components: the speed and might of Dead Blue Hand and the drunken slop 'n' sleaze of The Grinders. The Shakletons, though apologetic for not having any new material, still sounded fresh, brash, rude, and tight. You have no business being in front of the TV when either one of these bands is playing.

            You ever have a song get in your head and haunt you for weeks? Thelonious Monk's"Ugly Beauty"(circa 1967) has been running through my head for about eight days now offering some seldom enjoyed serenity. Even when some drunk loser on a bicycle collided with me --- on 490 --- the tinkling of Monk's ivories in my head kept me from strangling the jackass.

            You wanted the best, you got the... well... Kiss. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Kiss fan and have been since the fourth grade. It just seemed a little tired at Darien Lake last Saturday when Kiss opened for arena rock granddaddies Aerosmith. Kiss got up and did their best Kiss for approximately 18,000 rabid fans. Kiss fans are kinda like hockey fans weaned on comic books. Lots of dudes dressed up like their heroes including Eric Thayer, who now gets to dress up like Ace Frehley and play with the band --- "Look Ma, I'm in Kiss!" Apparently Ace just can't say "no." Kiss' stage show was a sensational pyrotechnic extravaganza. How was Aerosmith going to follow that? By bringing the rock.

            With virtually no frills, Aerosmith blasted out from behind the red velvet curtain with the opening classic "Mama Kin", followed by "Toys In The Attic." Utilizing all of the stage and the thrusts, lead singer Steven Tyler pranced, preened, wailed, invoked, incited, and drove the crowd wild. Very few have ever come close to this band's energy. Sure, Kiss has the show, but Aerosmith has the songs. Tunes penned close to 25 years ago still sounded great.

            Sunday was the fourth annual Lyell Avenue Music Festival; a day of live music that complimented the beautiful day and the family atmosphere. Kids ran around, vendors vended, and everyone washed the sunshine down with plenty of ice-cold beer. Highlight performances included Shinbone Alley with a powerhouse female lead, Sarahi in all their merengue hip-shake and beauty, and The Legendary Dukes, who floored me with a soulful rendition of John Hiatt's "Have A Little Faith In Me."

            My pal Ernie just got me the new Joey Ramone doll. He doesn't talk or have kung fu grip or anything like that, but he's so cool. Stop by the office and pay your respects, he's lording over my desk as we speak.

            And speaking of The Ramones, The King Biscuit Flower Hour has just released the Ramones NYC 1978. It was recorded a few months after the classic live album It's Alive and sports virtually the same set list and mistakes. As I popped it in the dash Ernie protested, "It's gonna be terrible." I countered, "No, it's gonna be great." Sure enough, we were both right.

            I'm 36 years old, and I'm still buying Ramones records and playing with dolls.


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