Friday, March 12, 2010

On The Road and Jack Kerouac Friday 03-12-2010

On this date in 1922, Beat Generation Writer Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Mass. He was to become one of the most famous novelists of the 20th Century. Jack wrote the Beat Generation classic On The Road. This novel was read by just about every writer of my generation. It was an instant hit when released in the early 1950's and inspired the entireBeatnik movement, predating the Hippie movement by at least a decade.

This iconic novel has been in print forever. I remember reading it in high school. It was required reading for misfits and troublemakers- much like Catcher In The Rye. Like most people I wanted to hit the road immediately and have all the adventures the guy in the book (fictional character Sal Paradise, who was based on Jack's real-life friend Neil Cassady) had.

I bought it at least 3 times in my life- in High School, College, and later when I was on the road as a musician.

The cool thing about On The Road was that it was originally written on a scroll- one continuous piece of paper 120 feet long. The original manuscript (now owned by a private collector) is one of the most valuable manuscripts in literature. It was written in 20 days. Jack was a man possessed.

There is a street named after Jack Kerouac in Chinatown San Francisco connecting Grant and Columbus near the City Lights Bookstore.

Jack influenced a whole generation of writers, poets, and musicians, among them Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, John Lennon, Lou Reed, and Tom Waits. Jack was a media star in the 1950's long before the phrase was coined. He appeared on the Tonight Show (when Steve Allen was the host) reading his beat poetry. This was a major turning point for American literaure. Like theFrench Impressionists of painting a generation before, The Beats changed everything.

His writing style influenced me greatly when I started to write novels. There's no question Jack Kerouac was one of the most influential writers of out time. He coined the phrase Beat Generation, and Herb Caen came up with the term "Beatnik" to describe the Beat Generation in North Beach, San Francisco. This was after the Russians sent the satellite Sputnik into earth orbit in 1957, officially kicking off the space race. For a while everything popular had a "nik" on the end of it, like such terms as "no-goodnik." So Herb put "nik" n the end of "beat" and got "beatnik."

Just thought you might want to know...

See ya Monday! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Early Floyd Thursday 03-11-2010

On this date in 1967 Pink Floyd released Arnold Layne written by Floyd founder Syd Barrett, the twisted genius who started the group then fried his brain on acid and wound up in a mental institution. Syd was the principal songwriter in the early Pink Floyd. When he left the group, Roger Waters took over that creative spot. Later, when Roger parted ways with the band- David Gilmore took over that role.

The video for Anrold Layne is one of the trippiest videos ever made. Check it out on YOUTUBE:

Pink Floyd are one of the most enigmatic bands ever, and their creativity in the recording studio is the stuff of legends. They did a lot of their early work at Abbey Road Studios where they worked with engineer Alan Parsons. They pioneered the use of non-musical elements in their music. The beginning of Money or Time feature custom recorded quadraphonic sound effects such as Alan Parsons recording noon in an antique clock shop.

I am currently reading Inside Out, A personal History of Pink Floyd by drummer Nick Mason. It's a real eye-opener. There is so much information about the groups history that I find myself reading some parts twice just to make sure I got it. I recommend Inside Out for any rock fan, not just a Pink Floyd freak.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Bleached Skulls Wednesday 03-10-2010

“The road to rock and roll heaven is paved by the bleached skulls of guys like him.”

I don’t know who said that. It wasn’t me, I’m pretty sure. It’s a bit too clever for me. Actually it sounds like something Lester Bangs may have said in a review somewhere. I Googled the phrase, but came up with nothing. I’ve used it several times in published stories. No one has come forward to claim it, so I guess it’s mine to use as I see fit. Why am I so interested in this one goofy phrase? Because I am that guy!

The road to rock and roll heaven is definitely paved with the bleached skulls of guys like me! Guys who toiled in the slagheap, down in the trenches, and rose to the top. Guys who overcame the odds and broke through, only to realize it was only the first step of yet another journey. Guys who had a few hit records, got a taste of the big time, and then…

It’s even worse if you made it to the top of the mountain a couple of times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m damn proud of what I achieved, and I feel blessed to have even had the opportunity. But, let’s face it, I’m probably not going to make the R&R Hall Of Fame, unless the nominating committee gets really lax and they start running out of warm bodies. That’s OK. At this point in time I’d probably stand a better chance going in as a writer or a broadcaster. How’s that for irony?

I had a great run, and, more importantly, I’ve made the most of my post rock star days. I feel like I have the best of both worlds. The band still plays and I still get a kick out of it, but the pressure is off. I don’t have to prove myself anymore; I can just focus on having fun.

Actually, I’m quite happy with my lot in life. I’m doing great. There are plenty of bitter ex-rockers who feel that they should have had more success, but I’m sure not one of them. Not by a long shot. It’s all about life after rock and roll. The bleached skulls. Let’s deconstruct that phrase and get to the chewy center. There comes a point in most professional musician’s careers, where they are poised on the brink of mega-stardom, but something happens. They either move on up the ladder of success or they get stymied and start to lose ground. The Rock and Roll Gods decide the fates. As far as we mere mortals are concerned, it’s out of our hands. Yes, we work our fingers to the bone, but there’s something more.

When I started the band, all we wanted was to be able to make a living and have some fun playing gigs. We were young and idealistic. We considered ourselves artists. Once we got to the big leagues and started making records, we realized it was all business. We had to deliver time and time again. Sometimes we hit the bulls-eye, sometimes we didn’t. In those days, you could get album cuts played on FM radio and we could tour and play clubs based on the homegrown airplay. It was a simpler world then. We didn’t have a bona fide hit single until our 7th album, which would be unheard of nowadays. No matter. Hard work and determination paid off eventually.

Nothing came easy for my band. We had to prove ourselves every night, every record, every song. We didn’t have huge budgets and giant record companies and high-powered booking agents. We had to work harder. We had to get lucky.

You can’t do it unless you love it. Fame is a harsh mistress. I was a babe in the woods when we started. Good thing, too, because if I had known how much work it would be, I probably would have dropped out. But, who thinks about that kind of stuff when you’re starting a band? Certainly not I. The template for most bands goes something like this: you’re the Beatles and all the world is the Ed Sullivan show. You never think about ten or twenty years later.

The number one occupational hazard of being a rock star is losing your mind. It happens all the time. Amazingly, I still have my wits about me. After a lifetime of rock and roll you’d think I’d be sitting off in a corner drooling. But, no, I live to fight another day.

Once the roller coaster went over the top of that first big incline, and started down the chute, the ride for my band was intense. We hung on for dear life. Some were thrown from the train. I watched them go over the side, arms and legs akimbo, grasping for footholds that weren’t there. Somehow, I managed to hang on. Looking back on my music career, I can definitely see the fickle finger of fate at work. If I hadn’t reinvented myself several times over the years, I’d have gone bonkers.

No one explained to me that the odds for success were a million to one. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. To this day I always begin a new project like that. I don’t think about the odds; I just jump in and start swimming.

I didn’t know it was hard to write novels, I just wrote a couple to see how it went and before you knew it, I got published. Same thing when I got into radio. I didn’t think about it, I just did it. The microphone goes on- you talk. The microphone goes off- you stop talking. Simple, right? Neal Schon once told me, “If you’re thinkin’, you’re stinkin’.” Man, was he right.

The bleached skulls? Indeed. They are we. And we are they.

Trod upon them lightly.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ruby Tuesday Tuesday 03-09-2010

I got another inspirational email from Julie DeMaria at Operation Care and Comfort following our "Support The Troops" night at the Shark Tank last Saturday night. They collected $10,500! That's really gonna help.

In a related story, here's the email I received from Julie today. I think it says it all:

Dear San Jose Sharks and Greg Kihn,
I just received this and have the biggest lump in my throat, and tears in my eyes. I think that even I did not understand how much our efforts mean to those we serve- our troops. This email is from Sgt Abell- the soldier who rode the zamboni. He told me beforehand, that he did not feel that he was worthy of this honor because so many more had sacrificed more, but he agreed to ride the zamboni so he did not disappoint his Commander. I wanted to share it with you. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity to "welcome home" one of our wounded warriors. Thanks, too, for encouraging folks to donate tickets to us, allowing us to collect money, etc. I look forward to being able to present the gift from our troops to the San Jose Sharks soon.


PS: OCC folks- look what you all did! :-)

Thank you Julie for everything you do for our Troops!! >From the truest place of every families heart that you touch daily. Here is a biggest reward in all this: “A Soldiers thank you

Read below and take it all in.

Ms. Sharron J. Finley

7th PSYOP Group

Ms. Finley,
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for everything you did for me with the Zamboni ride. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined I would have received the "Welcome Home" I had always wanted, but missed. Because of my injuries and being MEDEVAC'd, I came home after everyone else did and therefore missed all of the fanfare, there wasn't even anyone from the unit at the airport with Jessica when I flew in.

Anyways, the Zamboni ride gave me the "welcome home" that perhaps deep down inside I needed to get some closure on this deployment. Although you may not understand the psychology behind all of this or why it was such a big deal for me, I wanted everyone involved to know just how meaningful it turned out to be. I had no concept going in to this that the experience would be so powerful and moving.

Thank you all so very much! Please feel free to pass my thanks (or this email) along to all of those involved, including Julie and my Commander. I have a video of this posted on my Facebook if you have access to it.

Thanks again,


Tomorrow is another day. I'll see ya then! Don't do anything I wouldn't do. And support the troops, OK? They appreciate it when you do. I'm bringing in another load of troop stuff tomorrow for Julie to pick up. If you want to drop off any items for the troops, feel free to leave it here at the station (during business hours) and our receptionist will make sure I get it, and of course, I will turn it all over to Julie to be mailed to our soldiers all over the world just as soon as possible.