February 1, 2012

The Drunken Frenchman once told me that “if you’re good with your barkeep, you’re good.”

Earl was our barkeep and, with him, we couldn’t have been better.

And The Iguana, a local bar with a quasi-cantina vibe where he plied his trade, was a reliable place to find grist for my imagination

From one night’s worth of notes…

Dave sits nearby, a sodden sort who perpetually attempts to engage me in conversation. He’s not good with his barkeep, nursing his drink as though he intends to still be drinking it when The Rapture arrives.

Elizabeth Shue is sitting alone, sipping a Bud Light.

(it’s not really Elizabeth Shue but, rather, a reasonable facsimile)

Would Elizabeth Shue drink Bud Light?

There are snatches of conversation everywhere.

“I keep a place in the city, but I’m building a townhouse.”

“I think I’m a nympho.”

“Five grand and they’re all mine.”

Gina Zinnia is several seats down, perched at the corner of the bar; devouring a burrito as though she is performing origami with knives. I know her name because she has announced it in a shrill voice that has surely awakened the dead for George Romero’s next movie.

She has been babbling without pause for forty-five minutes about her opera singer father, a bad flight to Seattle, the time she was lost as a girl scout (I suspect she was abandoned), and numerous other traumas both small and smaller.

Her date sits slack-jawed and inert, certainly wishing for death or a stronger drink.

“To make a long story short…” says Gina.

I now know better. Gina Zinnia has never made a long story short. She has, however, made short stories into excruciatingly painful, long epics.

A blonde nearby – a model she claims – is lamenting for all to hear that she’s not in New York and nothing compares to New York and she should know because she just got back from Paris.

I want to write a bad country song and call it This Imperfect World Doesn’t Suit My Perfect Ass.

A smartly dressed young fellow is leaning against the bar, waiting for his drink and reeking of cologne. He waves to someone he obviously knows on the other side of the watering hole.

“I’ll be right back,” he tells his companion as she makes no effort to hold back a yawn.

“No,” she says. “Take your time.”

“Are you trying to get rid of me?”

He asks the question flirtatiously, but, in the most honest moment, in this particular bar, on this particular night, the girl replies, “Yeah.”

Here are the first four songs to catch my fancy on the iPod…

Phantom, Rocker & Slick – My Mistake
from Phantom, Rocker & Slick (1985)

Take two Stray Cats (Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker) and add journeyman guitarist Earl Slick and you have the short-lived trio Phantom, Rocker & Slick.

The ferocious Men Without Shame got a lot of airplay when the self-titled debut arrived in late ’85 and though My Mistake apparently got some attention, too, I don’t ever recall hearing it.

The threesome hardly reinvents fire, but My Mistake is a loose, bluesy rocker that recalls The Stones.

Porno For Pyros – Pets
from Porno For Pyros (1993)

Perry Farrell’s post-Jane’s Addiction venture failed to capture the imagination or interest of his previous band, but there are some pretty cool tunes on both of Porno For Pyros’ albums.

On the atmospheric Pets, Farrell considers a world where humans have been supplanted as rulers of the planet, noting that “We’ll make great pets.”

(personally, I’d opt for a dog, cat, or howler monkey)

Lone Justice – Ways To Be Wicked
from Lone Justice (1985)

Lone Justice had quite a buzz surrounding them when they were burning down the clubs on the Sunset Strip of Hollywood.

(or so I was reading at the time in Rolling Stone)

Everything would have seemed to be in place for the band’s success, including a lead single written by Tom Petty in Ways To Be Wicked. Instead, Lone Justice remained a cult band and critical darling favored for their ramshankle country rock and the sultry vocals of lead singer Maria McKee.

Duran Duran – Rio
from Rio (1982)

Duran Duran hooked me the first time I heard Hungry Like The Wolf. The song seemed to be always on the radio during the first few months of 1983 (and the song’s video a staple on the fledgling MTV – though our small town wouldn’t get the channel ’til the following summer).

Q102, the station of choice for me and my friends, was playing Rio well before Hungry Like The Wolf had worn out its welcome. Though I much preferred the latter, Rio‘s manic charm proved to be irresistible as well and made its parent album one that most of us owned.