Fuck Bruce Springsteen

Let me take you back to when I was driving cab at night on the Jersey Shore back in 2008. I’d go in from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., six days a week. My evenings started in a tiny cab stand/dispatch office right off of Main Street in a town notorious for rowdy summertime drinking, and popular with tourists from Northern New Jersey and New York area.

I even had the asshole dudes from the MTV show “Jersey Shore” in my cab one summer night. It was during the first season and I never heard of them or the show. The guy with the spikey hair jumped into the front seat and barked to me “Jever hear of the show Jersey Shore? We’re on it!” I responded “Never heard of it, the fare is still $17.” If I had only known, I would’ve driven all of us head on into a New Jersey Transit commuter train. I could have been the one to have ended that show in the first season if I had any idea of what the future would be. It’s like having been Hitler’s baby sitter and looking back on how you could’ve saved humanity needless suffering if you had only drowned the little shit in the bath tub.

All artwork by Eric T. Styles

I digress. I would sit in the small office waiting for my cab to show up from the day driver ending his shift. We had this one dispatcher, I’ll call him Ron. The time would drag on for what seemed like hours as I sat there and listened to this man. Chronic bullshitter. Nonstop. Only he believed his own bullshit stories. Pathological liar and a pretty crummy human being.

Racist too. Not like today’s “racism” you know, milk is racist, time is racist, math is racist, crosswalks are racist, etc. I’m talking actual, hateful ignorant racist. Always used the “N-word” whenever Black people weren’t around. Constant use of the word, belittling and demeaning comments about Blacks and Mexicans. A true racist.

In 2008, I was mildly following the primaries for presidential nominations. I never would vote for either a Republican or Democrat, which are the same things in my view. I won’t partake in your farce of the two-party system. I follow politics the same way some guys follow sports. During elections I like to say, “When watching a knife fight, I’ll cheer for the knives.” Politics are a dirty business of manipulation and spin.

Barrack Obama was just starting to come out of virtually nowhere and was the center of attention for being the first establishment black candidate that might have enough support to win the nomination. The press was fawning over him and it would only get more and more cringe. I even kind of liked the guy and hoped he would get the nomination just to flip out assholes like Ron.

Ron: “Can you believe the Democrats are actually thinking of nominating an (N-word) with an Arab name? 9-11 was only seven years ago and they want to elect a fucking towel head to President.” (His words, not mine)

Night after night he would go off on Obama. Watermelon and fried chicken in the White House jokes, Black House jokes, spinner wheel rims on the POTUS limo jokes. I couldn’t wait for my Mercury to pull up so I could get out of his fucking Klan meeting. We drivers kept our mouths shut. He would’ve given anyone who contradicted him the crappiest car in the fleet just for chastising him. You can’t fix other people’s stupid.

I came in after my one day a week off and walked past Ron’s pick up truck in the parking lot. Yes, a raised Chevy 4-wheel-drive pickup truck. Talk about stereotypes, we had them in Jersey too. I noticed on his back bumper an “OBAMA BIDEN 08” bumper sticker. I laughed my ass off. Someone had trolled him good by slapping that on his pride and joy. He will flip the fuck out when he finally sees it on his truck I thought.

I could hear his bellowing blow hard voice 20 feet from the door of the office. He had a “dry drunk” personality. Sober for a decade or more but still that loud, obnoxious opinionated drunk character. “Christ, he’s talking politics again.” As I stepped into the office while he was spouting off.

“FUCK John McCain! That mother fucker will just get us in more damn wars like Bush did. He’ll ban abortion, you know it. No, I listened to Obama’s speech and that man is a fucking genius. Best thing for America right now. Fuck Republicans.”

I stepped back out and checked to make sure that I had the right building, went back in. Yep, it was dysfunction junction all right. I sat down to start my paper work and to try and understand the slip in the space time continuum that I was experiencing.

Only 48 hours earlier he was using terms like “tap-dancing monkey” now he is campaigning for Obama. What the actual fuck was my mantra as I jumped into my rig and headed to the 7-Eleven on Ocean Avenue for my first 20-ounce coffee of the night. I got back in my cab and turned-on the radio for news from an New York City AM radio station.

“On Sunday New Jersey’s favorite son Bruce Springsteen announced his endorsement for Presidential hopeful Barrack Obama.” The dark roast coffee ejaculated from my nose onto the steering wheel mid sip.

THAT’S WHY!

Reason number one why I hate Springsteen: So many fucking people in New Jersey think the sun rises out of Springsteen’s ass crack every morning. They all claim to have met him. Guys from the ages of 40 to 90 claimed to have gone to school with him, or lived next door to him.

He was from our area, Belmar, New Jersey. The music store where he bought his iconic guitar was in the center of our town. Shit, I even lived in an apartment on Eleventh Avenue and E Street. I used to pick up or drop off at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park every weekend. I got really sick of even hearing his name and listening to bullshitters like Ron talk about how Bruce was their best buddy.

That was why Ron had flipped a full 180 degrees on Obama. His hero, his man love, his idol Springsteen had endorsed him. A few nights later during a rant, I guess he caught my smirking to his praising of Obama. “Yea I know I was talking shit about Obama in the beginning, but I’ll vote for a (N word) before I vote for McCain.” Now that would be a hell of a campaign bumper sticker I thought to myself.

This also why I hate pop culture getting involved with politics and I think it’s much more prevalent in 2021 with social media. Mindless sheep who put no thought into issues, consequences or policies just regurgitate whatever their pop icons push. The same talking points and narratives, just like their favorite Hollywood actors or pop singers.

If you control the news and entertainment media, you can control the nation. Why I bring this up, today on my day off I had a long on-going debate on Twitter with a YouTuber film critic over Springsteen and his pompous air of “working class hero.” Man of the people in a multi-million dollar mansion, his daughter competing in the equestrian competition in the Tokyo Olympics. No White privilege to see here.

Rumor has it Bruce worked at a gas station in Freehold one summer when he was a teen. That’s the extent of his blue collar experience. His father was a union bus driver in Monmouth County, and supported and financed his musical career at an early age. I actually ended up driving that same bus route in the 1990s, by the way.

Another reason to despise him: Bruce will sing about mills closing down, bad economies, oil refineries not hiring veterans, etc. Yet he fully endorsed Joe Biden for president even after Biden made it clear he would not allow new oil pipe lines and help to expedite the end of the oil industry in America.

Bruce will sing songs about pointless wars and disenfranchised vets. Yet he endorsed Obama twice even though Obama had more wars than George W. Bush and killed more Muslims than George did. Twenty years later, we’re still there and Biden extends it even more after Donald Trump tried to bring it to a close.

Who the fuck are you trying to fool, Bruce? You are an establishment elitist. There is fucking nothing “Rock and Roll” or “Working class hero” about you. You are an arrogant corporate shill. Bourgeoisie hypocrite.

(BTW, you should have called a cab to pick you up, it would have saved you the D.U.I. charge.)

If you’re listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you’re a bigger moron than they are.
Alice Cooper

Dr. Sick: Take care of the creative people in your community

(Graphic by Eric T. Styles)
Seventeen years ago, I quit my last full-time job and became an entertainer, artist and occasional jack-of-all-trades. I’ve had very little training in any field except for music, so any side hustle has been incredibly short-lived, less than two months. My chosen industry just did the big math for 2020 losses. Pollstar had predicted a roughly $12 Billion fiscal year and just announced that since the cancellation of concerts since March, we were an estimated $10 Billion short of that prediction.

Billion. $12 Billion. How much of that would have gone to me? Four figures at most. You see, most of my performances aren’t known by PollStar. The bigger dollars that I make are at novelty festivals, like Tales of the Cocktail, or corporate events that want a specific style of music that requires a director’s touch.

Then, of course, there’s playing with Squirrel Nut Zippers and my bands in New Orleans. I know the Zippers are listed on Pollstar’s database (but most of my shows are not). That is how MOST concerts in the U.S. are. Just because you’re listed in the paper for playing at a dive bar, doesn’t mean that you are listed on the national database of concerts; and just because you’re not playing at an arena doesn’t mean that your bills didn’t get paid by live performances. And, shout out to my burlesque dancer family, I can almost guarantee there are only a handful of acts listed on Pollstar, namely Dita Von Tease or anything happening at a corporate venue like House of Blues or theaters, or in Vegas.

But I digress. For the sake of this math, let’s stay within live music performances. Now, a lot of people might think that 12 billion is an inflated figure, but I don’t think that it reflects the blue-collar musicians in the U.S. who, day in and day out, perform in bars and clubs, in the streets and the subways, playing shitty cover band gigs in Bourbon Street (Nola) or 6th Street (Atx) or Broadway (Nashville) or weddings, WHATEVER, just to fund their own music career and pay their bills and still be able to look in the mirror and say “I’m a professional musician, nothing more.” I’d hope that there’s another billion unaccounted for, even if the vast majority of players have to share the table scraps of an incredibly corrupt industry.

“If that’s how you feel, why don’t you quit and get a real job?”

I have rehearsed so many excuses for why I am not qualified for gainful employment in any conventional manner. But I guess the real fact is, when I look in the mirror, I know I’m not supposed to do anything else but make noise and invite people together to be affected by it, for better or worse. I would’ve been the caveman banging rocks and sticks together at the fire pit to bring the hunter gatherers back to camp and to shew the predators. And I’d have been domesticated much like the wolves. Table scraps then, table scraps now. But the only place I’ve ever felt comfortable in this world is behind an instrument.

As this year is coming to a close, we can see the finish line for this hundred year plague. Modern science has moved rapidly in a way it never has before, and although things will be different than before, relative normalcy will return relatively shortly.

I expect the Internet will be treated much the same as the market of yesteryear or the street corner. People playing their guitars and singing their songs trying to make ends meet, and then someone with deep pockets deciding whether they are allowed to make money and survive or not. With public performance, there seems to be a prohibition or bureaucratic red tape.

What I mean is, if you wanna play in the street, it’s either illegal or you need a permit or something like that. That way the rich make money off of the artist class. I can already see Mark Zuckerberg starting to censor people for performances on the platform that he started, and the other platforms that he’s purchased. Basically the same thing as a cop harassing someone for playing harmonica at a bus stop for tips. New Normal. Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss.

Whatever happens next, make sure to take care of the creative people in your community. We can be a hyper-sensitive ilk, prone to anxiety and depression. But it’s through those anti rose-colored lenses that we can occasionally interpret the world in a way that draws members of society subconsciously towards undeniable truths of the human condition. That’s a fancy way of saying for instance, “Hank Williams had his problems, but when he sang about them it made me feel like I wasn’t alone”

That said, I’m going to do a couple more online shows this year. Next Friday my band will be held hostage by the Consortium of Genius, 8 p.m. Then I think I’ll do my one man version of Nightmare Before Christmas in the days leading up to said holiday.

I feel very fortunate for all of the support I’ve gotten from friends, family and fans, and I hope I’ve helped y’all relax into this necessary temporary isolation, which I suppose in a way is the exact opposite what my caveman artists and ancestors are prone to do. On one hand, they inspired people to congregate, whereas I’ve attempted to inspire social distance. On the other hand, the caveman and I have the common goal of keeping our community alive, and I plan to continue along that path until it’s my turn to rest.

If you made it this far, thanks for letting me rant. Now let’s all wash our hands while singing the chorus to Jolene twice.

Dr. Sick’s Sextette will perform live on Escape from the Secret Lab, a live and interactive online musical game show, at 8 p.m. CST on Friday, Dec. 18. For more information, visit the event page.

Dr. Sick is a burlesque manager and a member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. He can be reached at fiddlekiller.com, by email fiddlekiller@gmail.com, on Facebook and Instagram @fiddlekiller. This post was slightly edited for clarity and the original version can be found here.

How Little Richard’s ‘Tutti Frutti’ came to be inside this French Quarter music studio

(Picture: the location of the former J & M Recording Studio at 840 N. Rampart St., where Little Richard recorded “Tutti Frutti” in 1955. Jason Riedy/CC Flickr)
Little Richard (born Richard Penniman in Macon Georgia) passed away on May 9 at the age of 87 and was earned the nicknames such as “The Innovator” for his contributions to rock and roll music, even though he didn’t invent the genre. Penniman’s hit single “Tutti Frutti,” which was recorded inside a French Quarter studio, is often credited with shifting the evolution of rock music for the next 60-plus years.

J & M Recording Studio, located at 840 N. Rampart St., was operated by Cosimo Matassa, a young sound engineer and Tulane chemistry dropout who recorded Penniman’s single, along with some of rock and roll’s earlier hits. The historic building, which many consider the birthplace of rock music, currently houses a laundromat.

Archived interview footage, including with Penniman and other historical figures, provide brief, first-hand accounts on the genesis of Tutti Frutti inside J & M.

While historians often cite late 1940s hits performed by Fats Domino and Roy Brown as some of its earliest examples of rock and roll recorded at J & M, Penniman’s recording of Tutti Frutti in 1955 changed things.

It wasn’t just Penniman’s energetic piano playing, but also his vocal ability and flamboyant showmanship, which included fancy dress and flashy hair styles, that added to his repertoire.

“Everything he did was dynamic,” Matassa told WGBH in 1995. “He’s an exciting performer. He performs as one of the best and he believes he’s the best, and he plays that way and he sings that way.”

Daniel Hartwig | CC Flickr

Penniman had recorded under several labels before Los Angeles-based Specialty Records sent him to New Orleans to record in early 1955, although it took several months for inspiration to manifest itself.

Tutti Frutti’s exact origins aren’t clear, although rock historian Richie Unterberger said it was an obscene little ditty played by Penniman in between recording sessions. Penniman gives a similar account, according to one interview.

According to biographer David Kirby, the song refers to anal sex. Penniman gave such a clue during a 1987 interview with David Brenner.

Dorothy LaBostrie, a songwriter hired to work with Penniman, offered a different version of events in an interview with WGBH. While she acknowledged Penniman’s tendency to recite songs with “dirty” lyrics, LaBostrie said Tutti Frutti‘s title was inspired by an ice cream flavor and wrote its lyrics in 15 minutes upon hearing a request from Penniman.

“I listened to his voice and I saw down and I wrote it,” LaBostrie said. “When I came back out and he stood at the piano. He went to banging, banging, hollering and then I took the song up and began to sing wamp poma luma poma lump bam boom. He couldn’t take a word from mine.”

The song was hit and earned Penniman instant fame, along with other subsequent hits. The success, however, was short-lived as Penniman suddenly quit rock and roll in 1957 while on tour in Australia.

Expressing “great fear” over the recent launching of Sputnik by the Soviet government and believing the world would end, Penniman ended his world tour early to “get his affairs in order,” according to the Atlanta Daily World.

Penniman became a gospel music performer and vowed to become an evangelist, enrolling in Seventh-day Adventist school at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama—his reported final resting place, according to Essence magazine.

Penniman returned to rock and roll in the early 1960s with a little help from British invasion bands, according to Unterberger, but never regained the success achieved years earlier and instead lived out his days as a living legend.

Big Al Carson, longtime Bourbon Street blues and jazz singer, passes away at 66

Alton ‘Big Al’ Carson, right, performing with guitarist Harry Sterling live at Jazz Fest in 2012. Photo by robbiesaurus | CC.

Big Al Carson, a longtime jazz and blues singer whose vocal eminence packed crowds into Bourbon Street nightclubs for decades, died on Sunday. He was 66 years old.

Carson had suffered a heart attack two weeks ago, although it was later cited as his cause of death on Sunday, according to several local news reports.

Born Alton Carson in New Orleans on October 2, 1953, Carson grew up in the Lafitte Housing Projects and went on to study at Xavier University. He started off as a tuba player for local Bourbon Street brass bands before settling on a singing career, according to Offbeat.

Carson performed at Tropical Isle and Funky Pirate several nights each week for more than two decades with his band, The Blues Masters, which also included bassist Harold Scott, guitarist Harry Sterling and drummer Rodney Rollins.

As his weight approached 500 pounds, he’d use it to pull crowds off Bourbon Street and into bars with his “495 pounds of pure New Orleans” slogan advertised on placards displayed outside the door.

Carson’s power to sway a crowd occasionally included reminding them to not smoke cigars in his presence (he disliked the smell of the smoke), which was always obliged.

The Blues Masters performed regularly at Funky Pirate until Carson took time off to recover from health issues in 2013 before returning to the stage.

Carson and The Blues Masters were also regular performers at Jazz Fest and French Quarter Festivals.

Aside from performing live, Carson recorded several albums, including three in the 1990s under the Mardi Gras Records label.

On Sunday, the Tropical Isle and Funky Pirate released a Facebook statement on his passing.

“It is with a heavy heart that we extend our warmest condolences to his wife, Corina, and family, his friends and all that knew him, appreciated him – not only for his talents, but for who he was, his strength, his kind soul, his infectious smile, his sense of humor and, of course, his music.

“We were so fortunate to have him share his brillance with us for over 25 years at the Bourton St. Honky Tonky (Funky Pirate).”

Watch Big Al Carson and The Blues Masters perform at Funky Pirate in 2011:

Bourbon Street independent record store Skully’z Recordz loses lease, closes Feb. 17

Skully’z Recordz via Facebook.

Skully’z Recordz, an independent record store located on Bourbon Street for the last 13 years, announced Saturday on social media that it will close permanently. The store’s last day is Feb. 17.

According to a Jan. 18 Facebook post by owner Scott Wells, the store lost the lease at its current location at 907 Bourbon Street. It’s unclear where, or if, Wells will relocate the business.