Posts Tagged With: Daily Texan

Name games, then and now

KimmelSomehow, Ryan Adams has never played Coachella, the big annual springtime music festival in California. Neither have Regis and the Philbins, Obesity Epidemic or Get the F*ck Out of My Pool; but the difference is that Ryan actually exists, while those bands don’t. Jimmy Kimmel has been getting lots of online mileage this week out of an inspired little bit that his Lie Witness News crew pulled off at Coachella, in which they asked hipsters about these and other non-existent bands. Not wanting to appear out of it, said hipsters replied that of course they knew about the Chelsea Clintons, Dr. Schlo Mo and the GI Clinic and all the rest; even played ’em on community radio back home in Canada.

Very amusing, and it reminded me of a little personal history from a long time ago. Way back in the summer of 1984, I was going to graduate school at the University of Texas while working for the student paper, the Daily Texan — in which capacity I had a fondness for the sort of mishievous, ill-advised dumbassery that college kids often indulge in. One week, we were compiling club listings and idly wondering if anybody actually read them. So we concocted a fake band and club name to slip in, just to see if anybody would notice:

Flamin’ Globs of Vomit Death

appearing at the

Rock Daze Inn Cocktail Lounge

Near as we could tell, no one noticed because we didn’t hear a word. Over time, we grew bolder and started putting FGoVD into listings for actual clubs. We even listed them as one of the opening acts when the Dream Syndicate came to town, went to the show and asked our fellow attendees if they’d gotten there in time to see the Globs’ set. A few actually said yes. When we asked how they were, answers ranged from shrugs to “I dunno, pretty decent.”

That inspired my friend Ron, who was one of the Texan’s other music columnists, to take it to the next level. Ron wrote a several-paragraph item that I wish I still had (this was long before the days of electronic archiving). But I do remember the beginning — Accounting majors by day, neo-fascist skinheads by night — and that he claimed their instrumentation consisted of drums, multiple basses and no guitars. That should have made them highly rhythmic, but the Globs were just a mess due to basic lack of competence.

GlobsWe had a pretty good laugh over that, and it seemed like no harm no foul. Until a month or so later when the phone rang in the office one day and it was someone from Newsweek, wanting to get in touch with this band of UT skinhead business-school types for an item in the magazine’s fall “On Campus” supplement. That induced a bit of panic, as we pondered options. For a brief moment, we even considered actually forming a band to see just how far we could take the ruse.

But while we figured we could pull off the rank incompetence that the FGoVD experience called for, none of us really wanted to shave our heads. That being the case, it seemed best for us to put the Newsweek guy off and shut down the Globs. We retired the name, for good, and it never saw the light of print in the Texan again.

In retrospect, however, we might have quit too soon. Maybe we could have been one of the non-bands playing Coachella this year, in the ’80s reunion division.

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Austin calling: The Chronicle weighs in

Another “Losering” review is out today and it’s from a publication I’m very happy to turn up in, the Austin Chronicle weekly. I used to write for the Chronicle a bit in the mid-1980s, while I was a graduate student at the University of Texas, although I did a lot more writing back then for the Daily Texan. But the Chronicle is the one I still keep up with afar (although mostly in the spring, around South By Southwest).

Anyway, have a look. The review is part of the Chronicle’s advance coverage of this weekend’s Texas Book Festival shindig, which I’m tickled pink to be in. So if you’re going to be in the Central Texas vicinity, come on out to Shangri-La in Austin at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.

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Alejandro Escovedo: A fan’s notes

His name only comes up once in “Losering,” regarding the Strangers Almanac song “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight,” but Alejandro Escovedo is a key figure in my musical cosmos. I’m not alone in holding him in such high regard, either. In 1997, when he did that “Excuse Me” cameo, Alejandro already had a reputation as an inspiration to younger generations.

“I’ve been told that some people consider me to be this ‘rock sage,'” he told me in an interview that year. “Somebody all these young musicians in bands now cite as influential. For a long time, I didn’t think much about the historical perspective because I’ve always been more interested in where I’m going next than what I’ve already done or where I’ve already gone. But I’m enjoying it now, y’know?”

Escovedo has always been near and dear to my heart, and it’s been a pleasure to watch him finally make some commercial-career progress in recent years. I wouldn’t say I grew up with his music, because I didn’t hear him until I was well into my 20s. But it’s no exaggeration to say I grew up as a music writer with him, going back to a highly amateurish interview I did with him, Jon Dee Graham and the rest of the True Believers in the summer of 1985 for the University of Texas student paper, the Daily Texan. In the quarter-century-plus since, I’ve written about the man…well, an embarrassing number of times.

My online blather about Alejandro goes back to the True Believers’ 1994 reunion and includes a few things from No Depression magazine — a 1997 piece about his contribution to “Excuse Me” as well as a 2001 Q&A. There’s plenty of stuff from more recent years here.

His performances are something like compass resets for me — regenerative rituals in which I am reminded anew why I write about music — and it’s difficult for me not to get carried away when I get to rhapsodizing about him. So I’ll just say that he’ll be in the Raleigh vicinity Sunday night to open for Heart at Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre; which might not be the most optimal situation for maximum appreciation, but if you’ve never seen him…well, the man is worth your time.

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